Best Student Credit Cards in October 2022

The best student cards do away with annual fees and let you earn cash back. Examples of cards that fit the bill include the Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One and the Deserve EDU Card.

Advertising & Editorial DisclosureLast Updated: 10/2/2022
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Last Updated: 10/2/2022

A first credit card can be an intimidating commitment for some and, more so, a difficult one to navigate and understand. With a long list of options, finding the student credit card that best works for your needs and spending habits can be challenging. When analyzing student credit cards, there are a few key benefits and elements to keep in mind.

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MoneyGeek’s Take: Top 10 Credit Cards for Students

We’ve taken multiple factors into account to arrive at our list of the top student credit cards. While most of the cards we’ve selected come with no annual fees and let you earn cash back, you may look forward to added features/perks too. For instance, the Capital One Quicksilver Student Rewards does not charge foreign transaction fees, making it perfect to use outside the U.S.

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The links in the table above will take you to one of our partner's sites where you can compare and apply for a selected credit card.

On This Page:

Best Credit Card Offers for Students

Every month, we evaluate and analyze the best student credit card offers. Many credit cards offer introductory offers as an incentive to get new customers. These offers are a great way to benefit from a new credit card product in your wallet. The introductory offers can range from matched cash back to travel rewards.

The best student credit cards combine valuable introductory offers and benefits that extend throughout card membership so that students can benefit throughout college from each card.

>> MORE: Best Student Credit Cards for Cash Back

Best Credit Cards for Students and Young Adults

The top credit cards for active students are based on a few factors: low fees, offers to earn cash back and incentives to pay on time. These factors are a great way to encourage responsible credit use and keep fees and interest to a minimum.


  • Chase Freedom® Student credit card

    A solid card with rewards students are sure to appreciate


    • Limited-FairCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

    A great student credit card with high cash back on bonus categories


    • Limited-FairCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1% - 3% Cash BackRewards Rate

  • Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

    Best student cash back card for limited credit history


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

  • Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

    A good no annual fee student credit card that offers cash back


    • Limited-FairCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1.5% Cash BackRewards Rate

  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

    Best student credit card with up to 1.25% cash back


    • Limited-FairCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1.25% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

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If you are a young adult not currently enrolled in school, a secured credit card could be a good option. These can equally help build your credit score while giving you purchasing flexibility.

Secured Credit Cards to Consider

Secured credit cards come with more relaxed eligibility criteria than regular credit cards, giving students the means to start building their credit histories with ease. Getting a secured card requires that you provide a security deposit, which then serves as your credit line. The best secured cards are ones that charge no annual fees and allow you to upgrade to unsecured cards if you use your credit responsibly.


  • Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card

    A good secured credit card with no annual fees and interest


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • UnspecifiedAPR
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit

  • Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Secured Credit Card

    Best credit card for training good financial habits


    • PoorCredit Needed
    • $36*Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 17.45%APR

  • Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Secured Credit Card

    A good secured card for building credit and earning rewards


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 18.00%APR
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 1 Point per $1Rewards Rate

  • Citi® Secured Mastercard®

    Best credit card for building credit with no or limited credit history


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 22.49%APR

  • Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

    Best secured card for building credit on a budget


    • Limited-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $49–$200*Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 26.99%APR

The Best Credit Cards for Students At A Glance

The links in the table below and the following component will take you to one of our partner's sites where you can compare and apply for a selected credit card.

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Other Cards to Consider

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HOW WE RANK STUDENT CREDIT CARDS

MoneyGeek collects 57 data points from credit card issuer websites, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and our partners to give our readers the most accurate information possible. Our experts put all students' cards that are part of our extensive database through our unique ranking methodology to select the best available options. Our ranking methodology assigns specific percentages to different parameters.

  • Average APR: 10%
  • Cash Back/Rewards Rate: 10%
  • Annual Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 5%
  • Duration of APR Offer: 5%
  • Duration of Balance Transfer Offer: 5%

Quick Tips for Comparing Student Credit Card Offers

Comparing credit cards can be a daunting task, but it is important to keep these questions in mind when examining credit card products:

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. How likely is it that you will be approved for the card based on your credit score?
  2. What benefits does each card offer (i.e., cash back, travel rewards, etc.)?
  3. Do the card(s) you are looking at offer features that are important to you, such as cell phone insurance or travel coverage?
  4. What fees does each card have (i.e., annual fee, foreign transaction fee, APR)?
graphic of a student thinking about getting a credit card

Once you have a list of each card’s features and fees, find out what information is needed to apply for each card. It will likely include the applicant’s name, address, phone number, email, Social Security number, proof of income and college/university information.

When comparing offers, the best rule of thumb is to always keep in mind your needs and wants and then select the card that best matches those needs.

>> MORE: CAN YOU GET A STUDENT CREDIT CARD WITH NO INCOME?
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Before applying for a student credit card, it’s important to analyze your level of financial responsibility. If you understand the principles behind credit cards and know the risks and rewards of utilizing credit, then an unsecured student credit card may be a good fit for you. If you struggle to control your spending, a prepaid debit card or secured credit card may be a better solution.

What Parents & Students Should Know When Applying for a Credit Card

When first applying for a credit card, there are several factors to take into consideration. A credit card, despite what many financial pundits say, is a financial tool. However, that tool can be used properly or abused.

Pros & Cons of Student Credit Cards

So the first thing parents and students should understand is the pros and cons of using a credit card.

  • Pros

    • Earn rewards on purchases
    • Build credit history
    • Learn financial responsibility
    • Spending flexibility
    • Access to credit card benefits, such as travel insurance
  • Cons

    • Some can lose control of spending
    • High interest rates for consumers who have revolving
      balances
    • Improper use could lead to mounting credit card debt
    • Has the potential to harm your credit score significantly

How to Find & Apply for A Credit Card

Once you fully understand the pros and cons of having a credit card in college, you can begin the next steps of analyzing your spending habits and researching the different card options to find the best student credit card for you.

1

Analyze Spending Habits & Responsibility

While in college, your income may be limited, and having a student credit card may tempt you to spend beyond your means. Before applying for a student credit card, it’s important to analyze your level of financial responsibility. If you understand the principles behind credit cards and know the risks and rewards of utilizing credit, then a student credit card may be a good fit for you. If you struggle to control your spending, a prepaid debit card or secured credit card may be a better solution.

2

Gather Personal Information

After that, the next step is to gather basic personal information. A student will need their address, Social Security number, income, employer information (if applicable), and school information to apply for a credit card. Depending on the credit card issuer, you may only need some of this info.

3

Compare Different Offers & Card Options

Then begin analyzing the different student credit cards available. It is important to not simply apply for the first one you find as each card will offer different benefits, rewards, features, APR and bonuses (if applicable). So take the time to read through a few cards to find one that best fits your spending habits and offers the best benefits for your needs.

4

Find the Right Card & Apply

Once you have selected a card that fits your needs, go ahead and start the application process. A student credit card application process should take no longer than 10 minutes. Once you hit apply, the credit card issuer will review your application, check your credit score using your Social Security number, and will likely give you a decision within 30 seconds of applying.

What to Do if You’re Declined for A Student Card

If you have been approved, congratulations! Your card will be sent to you in the mail, and you should receive it within a few days. If you were declined, don’t fret. There are a few steps you can take from here.

  • Call or Submit Reconsideration
    Request

    In some cases, if this is your very first credit application and you have
    no credit history at all, the card issuer may need to verify your
    identity and other information before they can approve you.

    To do this, search for “______ (insert card issuers name) reconsideration
    line.” You will likely find a phone number you can call to speak with
    customer service about your application.

  • Apply for a Different Card or
    Get a Secured Card

    If this method still does not work, you can always try applying to a
    different credit card issuer or start building your credit through a
    secured credit card.

  • Become an Authorized User

    Another option is simply to have a parent add you as an authorized user
    on their credit card
    . However, they are ultimately responsible for your
    purchases, so if they are open to the idea, be sure to speak with them
    about a payment plan to repay them for your purchases.

Benefits to Establishing Credit Early On

Focusing on school and your academic performance is incredibly important, but considering your life post-college is just as important. And while a student credit card may seem like a small task, starting with baby steps such as this can open up financial doors in the future. Keep in mind that there are also immediate benefits to having a student credit card.

Immediate Benefits of Having a Student Card

cashCard
Spending flexibility

Unlike a debit card that immediately pulls money out of your checking account, a credit card statement is not due for several weeks after the purchase, thus giving you spending flexibility when needed.

rewards
Rewards potential and other perks

Depending on the type of credit card you choose, you can earn valuable rewards, like cash back or travel rewards, for your purchases while building or improving your credit score at the same time.

Everyone must start somewhere, and building your credit is a financial milestone that will help open doors for students after graduation.

Long-term Benefits of a Student Credit Card

bigHouseRent
Better buying or leveraging power

Paying bills on time and managing your student credit card responsibly can eventually set you up for success post-college because it is the core component that financial institutions refer to when you are applying for things such as a mortgage, car loan, leasing an apartment and refinancing your student loans.

unemployment
Better employment opportunities

This does not mean a great credit score will land you a great job, but a bad credit score can impact employment opportunities for some companies. Depending on the job, an employer may check your credit score during the application process.

Tips From the Pros: Finding & Using the Right Student Card

To help you make wise decisions about student credit cards, MoneyGeek consulted with professionals and subject matter experts with a wide range of backgrounds. All views expressed are those of the contributor.

  1. Many students are not educated on credit card use, managing spending and debt. What tips do you have for new credit card holders or parents looking to teach their students how to properly use a credit card?
  2. International or immigrant students and DACA recipients may face barriers when applying for a credit card in the U.S. What should they expect when applying for a student credit card and what can they do to increase their chances of approval?
  3. What are the most important factors a student should consider when comparing credit cards?
Amit Sinha
Amit Sinha

Professor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University

Joseph Farizo
Joseph Farizo

Assistant Professor of Finance at the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond

David Sacco
David Sacco

Practitioner in Residence at the University of New Haven

Dr. Christopher Newman
Dr. Christopher Newman

Associate Professor of Marketing at The University of Mississippi

Chad Nehring
Chad Nehring

Certified Financial Planner

Dr. Joseph G. Eisenhauer
Dr. Joseph G. Eisenhauer

Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Detroit Mercy

Lora Reinholz
Lora Reinholz

Instructor of Practice, Finance at Marquette University, College of Business Administration

Dr. Karyl B. Leggio
Dr. Karyl B. Leggio

Professor of Finance, Sellinger School of Business at Loyola University Maryland

Dr. Aniruddha Pangarkar
Dr. Aniruddha Pangarkar

Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Matt Elliott
Matt Elliott

CFP®, CSLP®, Founder of Pulse Financial Planning

J. Franklin Potts
J. Franklin Potts

Associate Professor - Finance, Insurance & Real Estate at Baylor University

John Longo
John Longo

Professor of Finance at Rutgers Business School; Author of Buffett's Tips: A Guide to Financial Literacy and Life

Dr. Brandon Di Paolo Harrison
Dr. Brandon Di Paolo Harrison

Assistant Professor of Accounting at Austin Peay State University

Catherine Valega
Catherine Valega

Certified Financial Planning Prof (CFP), and CAIA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst)

Scott W. Hegerty
Scott W. Hegerty

Associate Professor of Economics at Northeastern Illinois University

Carrie Friedberg
Carrie Friedberg

SF Money Coach, Certified Financial Coach and Financial Behavior Specialist®

May Jiang
May Jiang

CPA, CFP®, Founder of Beyond Profit and Wealth Consulting

Sandra D. Adams, CFP®
Sandra D. Adams, CFP®

Lead Financial Planner/Partner at The Center for Financial Planning, Inc.

Jeff Arevalo
Jeff Arevalo

Financial Wellness Counselor, GreenPath Financial Wellness

Catharine Curran, PhD
Catharine Curran, PhD

Associate Professor, Management & Marketing at The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Deanne Butchey
Deanne Butchey

Teaching Professor, Department of Finance at the College of Business, Florida International University

Steven Shagrin
Steven Shagrin

JD, Certified Money Coach/Master Money Coach & Trainer, Certified Professional Retirement Coach, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, Registered Life Planner, Former CFP®

Dr. Jennifer Logan
Dr. Jennifer Logan

Professor of Economics at Southern Arkansas University

Robyn M. Young
Robyn M. Young

Certified Daily Money Manager®, Owner of Money Care, LLC

 Ramiro J. Atristain-Carrion
Ramiro J. Atristain-Carrion

Executive In Residence and Adjunct Professor of Finance at Dominican University

Dr. Christopher Calvin
Dr. Christopher Calvin

Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting at the University of Dayton

Autumn Lax
Autumn Lax

Financial Advisor, CFP® at Drucker Wealth Management

Rick Vazza
Rick Vazza

President of Driven Wealth Management

Yutong Xie
Yutong Xie

Assistant Professor of Finance at The College of New Jersey

Vicki Baker
Vicki Baker

Professor at Albion College

Dr. Andrew Burnstine
Dr. Andrew Burnstine

Associate Professor of Marketing at Lynn University

Amanda Schmidt
Amanda Schmidt

Advisor at Moneta

Dr. Yibing Du
Dr. Yibing Du

Clinical Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Arlington

Mark T. Schenkel
Mark T. Schenkel

Associate Editor at Journal of Small Business Management and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Jack C. Massey College of Business

Dee Pridgen
Dee Pridgen

Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Wyoming

Todd Zywicki
Todd Zywicki

Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and Law Professor at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

Dr. Michael Shipman, CPA
Dr. Michael Shipman, CPA

Assistant Professor of Accounting at Mount Aloysius College

Roc Starks
Roc Starks

Associate Teaching Professor at Bowling Green State University, CIC, CRM, ARM, MBA

Callie Renner
Callie Renner

Wealth Advisor at Beacon Pointe Advisors

Kenneth Romanowski, CFP®, CTFA, MBA
Kenneth Romanowski, CFP®, CTFA, MBA

Adjunct Faculty, Rosemont College and Semi-Retired Senior Financial Advisor

Nick Cantrell
Nick Cantrell

Founder, Wealth Advisor at Green Future Wealth Management

David Corsun, Ph.D.
David Corsun, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Director of the Daniels College of Business’ Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management

James A. Roberts
James A. Roberts

Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing at Baylor University

Don Uy-Barreta
Don Uy-Barreta

Professor

Dr. Michael Provitera
Dr. Michael Provitera

Professor of Organizational Behavior at Barry University

Brian Walkup, Ph.D.
Brian Walkup, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Finance, Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College

Dr. Aleksandar (Sasha) Tomic
Dr. Aleksandar (Sasha) Tomic

Economist and Program Director of Boston College's MS in Applied Economics Program, Associate Dean, Strategy, Innovation, & Technology, Woods College of Advancing Studies, Boston College

Pamela Drake
Pamela Drake

Chandler/Universal Eminent Professor of Finance at James Madison University

Karen Ford
Karen Ford

Master Financial Coach and Author

Riley Adams, CPA
Riley Adams, CPA

 Licensed CPA and Owner at Young and the Invested

Steve Tippins
Steve Tippins

Owner at Beyond PhD Coaching

Kat Delgado Kirkwood
Kat Delgado Kirkwood

Senior Vice President of Programs at Junior Achievement

Arthur Guarino
Arthur Guarino

Associate Professor of Professional Practice

Marguerita Cheng
Marguerita Cheng

Certified Financial Planner

Stephen Calkins
Stephen Calkins

Professor of Law at Wayne State University

Common Questions Students Have About Credit Cards

Starting the journey down the line of credit cards can be intimidating and tricky, but it can be done. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about student credit cards to hopefully help answer any remaining questions you may have about student credit cards.

Common Questions Parents Have About Student Credit Cards

While we have provided extensive information about student credit cards, it’s natural to have many questions. Here are some of the most common.

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TIP FOR PARENTS OR GUARDIANS

Keep in mind as the parent or guardian, if you decide to become a cosigner, that there are risks.

  • The largest risk is that if the person who is the primary cardholder is unable to pay their statement, the cosigner is equally responsible for paying the balance.
  • And if the primary cardholder were to default, debt collection agencies can contact you and place an unfavorable mark on your credit report.

Next Steps

Student credit cards are great tools for your everyday spending while you are enrolled in school. It allows you payment flexibility, the ability to earn cash back rewards and build your credit score early into adulthood. However, make sure not to spend more than you can afford, as the interest penalties can quickly grow.

But if you can manage your spending responsibly and avoid interest charges, the benefits of using a student credit card can be outstanding.

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About the Author


Brett Holzhauer is a personal finance reporter that has written for several leading publications and mentioned in many others such as Forbes Advisor, Lending Tree, CNBC and ValuePenguin. An alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State, when he is not reporting, Brett is likely scuba diving, golfing or watching college football. He tweets regularly at @brett_holzhauer.


*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity.
Advertiser Disclosure: MoneyGeek has partnered with CardRatings.com and CreditCards.com for our coverage of credit card products. MoneyGeek, CardRatings and CreditCards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. To ensure thorough comparisons and reviews, MoneyGeek features products from both paid partners and unaffiliated card issuers that are not paid partners.