MoneyGeek's Take

Best Student Credit Cards for Cash Back in 2023

A number of student credit cards give you the ability to earn cash back. The best of the lot come with no annual fees and competitive APRs. However, even the best student credit cards for cash back work well only if you pay off your balances in full every month.

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This article is part of our larger series on Best Student Credit Cards

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While student credit cards tend to come with lower credit limits than regular cards, you get to choose from several alternatives that offer cash back. However, the cash back you stand to earn through a student credit card is also typically lower than that offered by regular cards. What helps is that the best cash back student credit cards charge no annual fees.

Most cash back student credit cards limit their cash back to 1%, although there are exceptions. For example, the Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One lets you earn additional 0.25% cash back over the standard 1% cash back when you make your payments on time. With the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students Card, you earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Some of the top cash back student credit cards also come with introductory bonus offers, statement credits and no foreign transaction fees.

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Methodology

Experts at MoneyGeek review their selection of the best student credit cards for cash back every month. They look at all the student credit cards present in our extensive database and check for any possible changes in the credit needed to apply, cash back offers, fees and interest rates.

This article is part of our larger series on
Best Student Credit Cards

MoneyGeek’s Take: Top 3 Student Credit Cards for Cash Back

Quick Summary

The best student cards that offer cash back vary based on individual requirements. MoneyGeek has narrowed down on the top three based on factors such as the cash back you stand to earn, the credit level needed to apply, annual fees, interest rates and added benefits. Scroll further down the page for more recommendations.


  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

    Best student credit card with up to 1.25% cash back


    • Limited–FairRecommended Credit
    • $0Annual Fee
    • up to 1.25% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

    Best student cash back card for limited credit history


    • None–PoorRecommended Credit
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping
    • 1xRewards Rate on Groceries

    Terms, rates and fees apply

Summary of the Best Student Cards for Cash Back

Most student credit cards steer clear of providing premium benefits. However, you may still find alternatives with no annual fees, no foreign transaction fees, fraud liability and introductory bonus offers. Check the corresponding table and determine if any of the student cards listed here might work well for you.

  • Credit Card
    Best For
    Avg. Reward Rate
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
  • Chase Freedom® Student credit card
    A solid card with rewards students are sure to appreciate
    1% Cash Back
    $0
  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
    Best student credit card with up to 1.25% cash back
    up to 1.25% Cash Back
    $0
  • Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
    Best student cash back card for limited credit history
    1% Cash Back
    $0
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"Earning cash back can provide extra money for college expenses and fun spending. However, don't spend more than you can afford to pay off each month just to earn additional rewards." -- Lee Huffman, credit card expert at BaldThoughts.com.

How to Compare Student Credit Cards & Intro Offers

Pay attention to the factors mentioned below and your individual requirements when carrying out your cash back student card comparison. This is because while a particular card might work well for someone you know, you might be better off using a different one.

1

Cash back rate

Since card issuers provide student credit cards to individuals with little to no credit history, cash back rates tend to be lower than similar cards for working adults. Most student cash back credit cards offer 1% cash back, whereas a few give you the ability to earn more. The Quicksilver Rewards for Students Card from Capital One offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The Discover it Student Cash Back Card lets you earn up to 5% cash back on category-based spending, and this changes to up to 3% with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students.

2

Credit needed

You might have to limit your search based on your existing creditworthiness because student credit cards come with different credit requirements. For instance, you need at least limited/fair credit to apply for the Chase Freedom® Student credit Card or the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One Card. But you may apply for the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students with poor or no credit history at all.

3

Introductory offers

Introductory offers are not as commonplace with student credit cards as they are with regular credit cards, although a few cards do come with them. With the Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One, you stand to earn a $5 statement credit per month for the first 12 months on select streaming subscriptions by making your payments on time. The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students currently offers a $200 cash rewards bonus if you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

4

Interest rates

Student credit cards tend to come with higher annual percentage rates (APRs) than regular cash back cards because issuers view students with little to no credit history as high-risk borrowers. However, APRs vary from one student credit card to the next, thereby requiring your attention, all the more so if you plan to keep rolling balances over from one billing cycle to the next.

5

Foreign transaction fees

This factor plays a role if you plan to use your card outside of the U.S. With cards that charge foreign transaction fees, you might need to pay up to 3% on each international transaction. Some cash back student credit cards that do away with this fee include the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One Card, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students Card and the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students.

6

Added perks

Given that most student cards charge no annual fees, premium benefits are typically hard to find. However, you may still look for features such as $0 fraud liability, extended warranty, travel assistance services, travel accident insurance and cell phone protection, as well as the ability to add authorized users.

7

Annual fees

Annual fees can create a hurdle that you must overcome with your rewards before that cash back card is worth it. While our list of the top cash back student credit cards focused on those with no annual fee, some cards do have a fee. It may make sense to pick a card with a lower cash back rate and no annual fee if your spending doesn't justify the larger annual fee.

Expert Advice For Finding the Right Card

We’ve sought advice from financial experts surrounding different aspects of cash back student credit cards so you may choose a suitable alternative and then use it in the right manner.

Expert Advice for Finding the Right Card

  1. Should students who don’t plan to pay off their balances in full every month consider getting cash back credit cards, or do they have better alternatives?
  2. Are there any possible pitfalls in using student credit cards to earn cash back even when cardholders pay their balances in full each month?
  3. Is it possible for students to get cash back credit cards with joint applicants?
Dr. Andrew Burnstine
Dr. Andrew Burnstine

Associate Professor of Marketing at Lynn University

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

Wendy Habegger
Wendy Habegger

Lecturer at James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University

Stephen Calkins
Stephen Calkins

Professor of Law at Wayne State University

Further Reading

About the Author


expert-profile

Rajiv Baniwal has been writing about different financial topics for over 15 years. Meticulous in his research, he makes sure he provides accurate and up-to-date information. His areas of expertise include mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, insurance and international money transfers.


*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. Learn more aboutour editorial policies andexpert editorial team.
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