What Happens to a Student Credit Card After Graduation?
Once you graduate, you can keep using your student credit card, cancel it or request an upgrade.
You don’t have to cancel your student credit card after you graduate. In fact, it’s better that you don’t. While some credit card providers let you keep using your card as before, others prefer reclassifying your card to reflect that you are no longer a student.
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- Don’t cancel your student card after you graduate.
- Inform your card provider that you have graduated — they might reclassify or even upgrade your card.
- If you have good creditworthiness, consider getting a second card to build your credit further.
- If you don’t qualify for a regular credit card, consider getting a secured card to build your credit.
Can You Get a Student Credit Card After Graduation?
Student credit cards are meant for students who want to build their credit while still in college. More often than not, qualifying for a student card is easier than for a conventional card.
However, student credit card providers do require that applicants be enrolled in colleges when they apply. Studying full-time or part-time at a university, community college or graduate school meets these qualifications. Some credit card providers also accept applications from trade school students.
An exception to this rule is the Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card, which doesn’t require proof of enrollment when you apply. If you plan to get a student credit card after you graduate, you might benefit from looking at what this card has to offer.
Can You Get a Student Credit Card if You Just Graduated?
Since you need to be enrolled in a college and provide proof of enrollment when you apply for most student credit cards, getting one after you graduate is unlikely. However, you may want to consider applying for the Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card since it doesn’t require proof of enrollment. However, lying about your enrollment status on your credit card application is never a good idea.
Should You Get a Student Credit Card if You’re About to Graduate?
You may consider getting a student credit card if you’re about to graduate as a means to start building your credit, provided you stick to responsible financial habits. After you graduate and depending on the card you get, you may be able to:
- Keep using it as before.
- Ask your card provider to reclassify or upgrade your card.
We reviewed over 80 student credit cards and more than 1,600 regular cards so you can find the best options for your needs. If you don’t qualify for a student or standard card, consider getting a secured card by paying a deposit.
Can You Still Use a Student Credit Card After You Graduate?
Some credit card issuers let cardholders keep using the student cards even after they graduate. For instance, Bank of America and Capital One allow you to keep using your student card as long as you like, provided your account remains in good standing.
While Discover lets you keep using your student credit card in the same form, it also gives you the option of reclassifying and getting rid of your card’s “student” tag. If you opt for the latter, you may still get to retain the benefits and rewards that the original card had to offer. For example, if you have a Discover student card with cash back, you can expect the same benefits from your reclassified card.
If you let your card provider know you’re no longer a student, you may be eligible to get a new card with the same features. This is the case with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students and the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. Both come with the same rewards, fees and annual percentage rate (APR). APR refers to the interest you need to pay on outstanding balances.
Continuing to use your student card after graduating might work well for you if you like its existing features, rewards, fee structure or APR.
What Do You Do With a Student Credit Card After Graduation?
If you wish to keep using your student card after graduating, inform your card provider you’re no longer in college. If you have a full-time job, your card provider might consider increasing your credit limit. Alternatively, you may request a lower APR based on your payment history and income.
The Impact of Closing a Student Card on Your Credit
Since one of the main reasons for getting a student credit card is to build credit, it’s important to understand the impact closing your card could have on your credit score. Closing your student card and getting a new one reduces the length of your credit history because your credit score relies on the average time of your credit, not the age of the oldest account.
Canceling your card also brings down your total available credit, which affects your credit utilization ratio, which, in turn, can lower your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of credit you use compared to the total credit you have available. For example, if your total available credit is $20,000 and you use $4,000, your credit utilization ratio is 20%. If canceling a card drops your total available credit to $10,000, your credit utilization ratio will increase to 40%. The lower your credit utilization ratio, the lower your credit score.
If you’re unhappy with the features or rewards of your existing card, you may ask your card provider to upgrade you to a better card. In this case, you stand to benefit through your current card’s payment history. In addition, there’s a good chance the account opening date on your credit report will remain the same.
Do You Have to Cancel a Student Credit Card When You Graduate?
You don’t have to cancel your student credit card when you graduate — on the contrary, we caution against this because it could harm your credit score. Instead, contact your card provider to explore your available options.
How to Switch From a Student Credit Card to a Regular Card
Switching from a student credit card to a regular card is typically straightforward when you stay with your existing card provider. In this case, contact your card provider and inform them that you’re no longer a student. Depending on your provider, they may allow you to continue using the same card or offer an upgrade.
Credit card providers often send targeted offers to existing cardholders who have their accounts in good standing. You may also benefit from taking advantage of these opportunities.
Adding a Second Card to Your Portfolio
If you have good to excellent creditworthiness, consider adding a second credit card to your portfolio. Doing so can increase the total available credit you have access to and lower your credit utilization ratio. However, you’ll only feel these positive effects if you continue to maintain good financial habits.
If you have outstanding debt on your existing student card that charges a high APR, getting a balance transfer card with an intro APR offer might work well for you, provided you are prudent about paying off your debt within the promotional period.
However, getting a second credit card might not be in your best interest if your credit score is less-than-favorable. The added credit line can also cause concern, especially if you have trouble paying off your monthly balances.
What Age Is a Good Time to Apply for a Regular Credit Card?
Legally speaking, you can apply for a credit card any time after you turn 18. However, the Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires that applicants up to 21 meet stricter eligibility requirements, such as showing proof of income or having adult cosigners. Once you’re 21 years old, these rules no longer apply. However, credit card providers will still look at your income and creditworthiness before accepting your application.
If you have excellent credit, you might qualify for a card with a low APR or one that has a desirable rewards program. However, if you have bad credit because of existing debt, do your best to repay it in a timely manner to improve your credit score.
If you’re new to the world of credit and don’t qualify for a regular credit card because of your lack of credit history, you may consider getting a secured card. This option requires you to pay a deposit that essentially acts as your credit line. A distinct benefit of most secured cards is that they report your payment histories to the country's top three credit bureaus.
"If you are interested in credit card rewards, consider paying your tuition through your credit card if you have the appropriate credit line. However, be sure to have the funds on hand to immediately pay the balance off. If this interests you, contact your university admissions office to see if you are able to pay with a credit card, and if there are any applicable fees." -- Brett Holzhauer
Other Questions You May Have About Student Credit Cards
Below are answers to some of the most common credit card questions asked by students who are about to or have just graduated.
If you're about to graduate or have graduated recently, we suggest informing your student credit card provider. While you might be able to keep using the same card, you might also qualify for more rewards and perks through an upgrade. Think twice before canceling your card since this can lower your credit score. When looking for a new card — either to serve as your first or second — be sure to compare options from several different providers.
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The experts at MoneyGeek analyze students' spending trends based on data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They have studied over 80 student credit cards and more than 1,600 regular cards in detail to help you select the best first or second card for you.
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About the Author
- Federal Trade Commission. "Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (Credit CARD Act)." Accessed August 16, 2021.
- Discover. "What Happens to My Student Credit Card After I Graduate?." Accessed August 16, 2021.
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.