MoneyGeek's Take

Best Student Credit Cards for Cash Back in 2021

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

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 Rewards 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.

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.


  • Capital One Journey Student Rewards

    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

  • Chase Freedom Student

    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

  • 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

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.

Apply for one of the credit cards below on our partner's site CardRatings.com
  • Credit Card
    Best For
    Avg. Reward Rate
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
  • Chase Freedom Student
    A solid card with rewards students are sure to appreciate
    1% Cash Back
    $0
    Limited–Fair
  • Capital One Journey Student Rewards
    Best student credit card with up to 1.25% cash back
    1.25% Cash Back*
    $0
    Limited–Fair
  • Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students
    Best student cash back card for limited credit history
    1% Cash Back
    $0
    None–Poor
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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.

About Our Rankings

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.

Top Rating Criteria for Student Cards

cashBack
Average Cash Back Rate
lowInterestAPR
APR
annualFee
Annual Fee

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 Card or the Capital One Journey Student Rewards 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 card 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 Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card, the Capital One Quicksilver Rewards 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.

Further Reading

About the Author


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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.