2019 guide: The best travel credit cards for students

Bank of America’s student cards are excellent choices.

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There are plenty of reasons to travel as a student, from study-abroad programs to vacations with friends. However, you’ll need to spend money along the way, which means getting a travel credit card can be wise.

In this guide, we’ll give you the scoop on the best travel credit cards for students — and how to pick the right one.

Compare travel credit cards for students

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
N/A
1.5% cash back on all purchases
$39
Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.
N/A
1% cash back right away, 1.25% after six on-time payments and 1.5% after 12 on-time payments
$0
Build your credit with no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score.
N/A
N/A
$0
A no-annual-fee card for average credit. Earn a higher credit line after five on-time payments.
N/A
N/A
$0
Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.
N/A
1% cash back on all purchases, 1.25% for months you pay on time
$0
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or get 1.25% cash back for months you pay on time.

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The best travel credit cards for students

While you’ll find many stellar travel credit cards for consumers with established credit, there aren’t many travel products aimed at students. Nevertheless, there are impressive picks among the few that are for students.

We highly recommend each of the following cards for students with a passion for traveling.

Our best overall pick: Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students

Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students

This card checks all the right boxes for a strong student travel card: no annual or foreign transaction fees, solid rewards, an excellent signup bonus, worldwide acceptance and a market-leading intro APR.
The perks
  • Annual fee: None.
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1.5x points on all purchases.
  • Signup bonus: 25,000 bonus points after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account, redeemable for $250 in statement credit.
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 12 billing cycles from account opening. After that, 16.74% to 24.74% variable.

Great for road trips: Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
With this card, you’ll earn accelerated rewards on gas, which you’ll need a lot of for a rollicking road trip. You’ll also like the bonus rewards at supermarkets — common stops for college students — and the solid intro APR on purchases.The card edges out the Discover it® Chrome for Students, a close competitor, with wider international acceptance and a slightly stronger intro APR.
The perks
  • Annual fee: None.
  • Rewards: 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to 6,000 per year, then the rate reverts to 1x points. 1x points on all other purchases.
  • Points boost: Round up to the nearest 10 points on each purchase. 10% points back on the first 100,000 points redeemed.
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 7 months from account opening. After that, 15.99% to 25.99% variable applies.

Top rewards rate on travel: Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students

Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students

You can choose to earn 3% cash back in travel on up to $2,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%, which is an excellent rewards rate. The signup bonus and intro APR are impressive benefits as well. Watch out for the 3% foreign transaction fee, which makes the card better suited for domestic travel.
The perks
  • Annual fee: None.
  • Rewards: 3% cash back in one category of your choice, and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter, then a 1% rate applies. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Signup bonus: $200 cash bonus after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 statement closing dates after account opening.

How we chose our best credit cards

We evaluated cards on factors such as fees, rewards, signup bonuses, international acceptance and intro APRs. Standout credit cards in these areas made our list.

What’s changed in 2019

For the Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students, you can now choose which category in which to earn 3% cash back. You’re allowed to change this category every month.

Pros and cons of travel credit cards for students

ProsCons
  • You’ll often pay no foreign transaction fees.
  • If your card offers points, you can use them for a variety of redemptions.
  • These cards are often great for everyday purchases too.
  • There aren’t many student cards intentionally geared toward travel.
  • Accelerated rewards specifically for travel are uncommon among student cards.
  • These cards are often great for everyday purchases too.

Is a travel credit card right for me?

A travel credit card might be especially useful if:

  • You want to save your rewards for travel. Offsetting your trip cost with rewards can lessen the strain on your budget.
  • You’re taking a trip abroad. Look for a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • You want to pay less interest on your trip. Traveling can be expensive, which means you might not have the funds to pay for it up front. With great caution, you can leverage an intro APR to finance your trip.

How to choose a travel credit card for students

  • Ditch the annual fees.
    Plenty of great student cards don’t have annual fees.
  • Check the rewards you’ll earn.
    Many of the best student cards offer some type of rewards on your purchases. For example, you might earn 1% cash back per dollar you spend on your card. You might earn points instead, redeemable for travel purchases.
  • Avoid foreign transaction fees.
    These are fees you incur when you use your card abroad or on international websites. Typically, this comes out to 3% of each transaction, which can quickly add up with many purchases.
  • Consider the card network.
    Visa and Mastercard are valid virtually anywhere credit cards are accepted. While you’ll find merchants abroad that take Discover and American Express, these networks lag behind in worldwide acceptance.
  • An intro APR might help.
    If you’re very careful about paying off your card bill, an intro APR travel card can help you finance your trip interest-free.

For example, your card might offer a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months. You can use your card to buy your $450 plane ticket, then slowly pay it off throughout the year before your intro APR expires. If you do, you won’t accrue any interest.

Be careful with intro APRs

Having an intro purchase APR can feel great: During a period of time, you’ll accrue no interest on what you buy. But every intro APR ends at some point, and cardholders who don’t pay off their balances by then often spiral into debt.

If you’re new to credit cards, now’s a great time to build strong financial habits. Consider this advice: If you’ll take advantage of an intro APR, do everything in your power to pay off your balance completely before your special interest rate expires.

Bottom line

With the right credit card, you can earn rewards while seeing the world. Stay out of debt while watching your credit score, and you can eventually upgrade to more-powerful travel cards.

If the cards mentioned don’t seem right for you, compare more student cards until you find one that meets your financial and travel needs.

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