2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS
The Art of Adulting (Finding Credit Cards for College Students and the Best Credit Cards for College Grads)
Depending on your level of separation from the nest when you turn eighteen, for most, you officially start living as an adult either when you leave for college or when you graduate from college. This can be an extremely difficult transitionary period.
You have to learn how to cook your own meals, deal with a landlord on your own, and, above all, navigate your personal finances which involves the ever-frustrating credit score.
Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Credit Cards for College Students
Unless you took an extremely proactive approach towards your credit history as a teenager, chances are you have not had a chance to build up your credit and are now looking for the best credit cards for college students. Unfortunately, credit scores are the catch-22 of the personal finance world. You need good credit in order to quality for credit, but in order to build a credit history, you need to be approved for some credit.
Luckily, there are college credit cards or, in other words, cards that are suited for college students/people who have not built up a solid credit history just yet. In a lot of cases, secured credit cards are the best college student credits cards because they are easier to obtain with limited credit. Moreover, they are treated like regular credit cards – the only difference is that you give the provider a security deposit. However, there are a number of unsecured college credit cards that students and recent graduates can go for as well.
AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best College Student Credit Cards
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the credit card names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that credit card):
- BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for Students
- BankAmericard® for Students
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
- Discover it® for Students Card
- U.S. Bank College Visa® Credit Card
- Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card
Top 6 Best College Credit Cards | Brief Comparison & Ranking
Credit Card Names
Balance Transfer APR
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for Students
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
BankAmericard® for Students
0% for 18 months
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
0% for 7 months
Discover it® for Students Card
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
U.S. Bank College Visa® Credit Card
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card
0% for 6 months
0% for 6 months
Table: Top 6 Best College Credit Cards| Above list is sorted alphabetically
What’s Included in the Best Credit Card for a College Student? (What Should College Students Know?)
College students looking for the best credit cards for college students should know what to look for and the most important purpose of their credit card at this point in their lives: to build credit.
Going away to college is the perfect opportunity to participate in a training version of adult life – and this includes more than learning how to cook. It means learning how to manage your finances as well. College students should create a budget so that they are only using their college credit cards to build credit instead of using them as a money crutch.
Image source: Save The Bills
Three things you should be aware of when you’re looking for the best college credit cards are the APR, what a variable versus fixed rate is, and whether there’s an annual fee. The APR on credit cards, such as college student credit cards, is the annual percentage rate. Obviously, you are not charged by your credit card company once a year.
The interest on your college credit card is charged daily if you fail to pay off your balance by the end of the grace period. To get this number, you usually divide your APR by 365 (the number of days in the year), but your bank may use a slightly different number.
Another important factor to consider when you are looking for credit cards for college students is the type of interest rate you are getting. Is it variable or fixed? Credit card providers have started changing to variable interest rates that are tied to an index.
This rate can change depending on the economic climate and whether the Fed raises or lowers the interest rate. Cards come with a minimum and a maximum interest rate.
Additionally, college student credit cards should not come with an annual fee. Since this card is mostly meant to help you build credit, you do not need a card with lots of glitzy features that require an annual fee. Find college credit cards that allow you to spend the least amount of money possible to hold it. All of the best college credit cards reviewed in this article do not have an annual fee.
AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology
What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top rated lists?
Please click here “AdvisoryHQ's Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.
Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best College Student Credit Cards
Below, please find a detailed review of each credit card on our list of the best college student credit cards and the best credit cards for recent college graduates. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these credit cards for college students to score so high in our selection ranking.
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for Students Review
Bank of America offers the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for Students credit card. This is on our list of the best credit cards for college students because it is one of the college credit cards that packs the basics young people need without all the bells and whistles that come with steep annual fees.
Good credit cards for college students provide the usability and convenience that is needed for a busy lifestyle while ensuring that they can build credit safely. The BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card comes with 1 percent cash back on every purchase, 2 percent cash back at grocery stores, and 3 percent on gas. Smart students can use their credit cards for college students in accordance with their budget.
For instance, groceries are an unavoidable expense, and you can use these good credit cards for college students, like the one from Bank of America, to spend the amount of money you allocate for groceries. Afterwards, you should immediately pay off that sum of money on your college credit card so that you do not accrue interest. In this way, you benefit from the cashback program, demonstrate your responsibility as a borrower, and build your credit while sticking to healthy spending habits.
BankAmericard® for Students Review
The BankAmericard® for Students credit card is another option offered by Bank of America. Bank of America’s credit card college student offerings are set up so that you can have some variety. For instance, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for Students packs a larger amount of cash back benefits, but if you take a look at our comparison table above, it has a higher APR.
In order to have the wiggle room to carry a balance on their credit card, college students may prefer to trade in the cashback perks for a better APR. They can do that with BankAmericard for Students, which has a variable APR of 11.24%–21.24%, compared to the cashback card’s APR of 13.24%–23.24%.
Additionally, the bank’s credit card college student offer provides a 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months. This is great for students who have already accumulated some debt on another credit card and want to find the best credit cards for a college student that will allow them to chip away at their debt without being hindered by interest payments.
This is also one of the best credit cards for college graduates. The best credit cards for college grads will allow a new graduate, who now has a full-time job, to start aggressively paying down debt with the grace of a full year of no interest accrued. If you are a parent trying to find the best credit cards for recent college graduates before your child leaves school, this card from Bank of America is one place to start.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students Review
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students from Citi makes our list of the best credit cards for college students because it allows students to build their credit, have access to credit, and earn rewards as they use this top rated best credit card for a college student.
Like all of the other college credit cards on this list, this is one of the best college student credit cards that has with no annual fee. And that may come as a surprise to some people since this is a top ranked best credit card for a college student that comes with an attached rewards program.
Every $1 spent on this card on our list of good credit cards for college students earns one ThankYou point, and every $1 spent on dining and entertainment purchases comes with 2 ThankYou points. While the 2-point offer for wining and dining can be tempting, particularly with your college social life, try to stay away from putting too many discretionary expenses on your college credit cards.
Instead, use your college credit cards for things you have already budgeted for, like gas and groceries. If you want to go out to eat, make sure you already have the cash set aside so that you can automatically move it over to your credit card. Using the best college student credit cards in this way will set you up for a sweet credit score that allows you to score the best credit cards for recent college graduates when you finally finish school.
Discover it® for Students Card Review
The Discover it® for Students Card from Discover comes with an interesting offer that sets it apart from the other cards on our list of best college student credit cards. For each school year that a cardholder’s GPA is at 3.0, Discover will give the student $20 cash back. So you gain access to credit, build your credit score, and make some extra money for being a hard worker. Sounds like a fierce contender for the best credit card for a college student.
Source: Discover it® for Students Card
This is also one of the college credit cards that comes with an introductory offer on purchase APR: 0 percent for the first 6 months. This means that you have a bit of leeway if you wish (or need) to carry a balance on your card within the first six months of getting one of these good credit cards for college students.
This highly rated card on our list of the best credit cards for college students also comes with the cashback program that people have come to expect from their college credit cards. The Discover it for Students Card even comes with a bonus cashback program where certain purchases can qualify for up to 5 percent cash back!
U.S. Bank College Visa® Credit Card Review
When you leave school, the way to find the best credit cards for college grads is to have established a strong enough credit score to score the top rated best credit cards for college graduates. The best credit cards for recent college graduates come with travel rewards, low interest rates, and high credit limits that allow new grads to have the most flexibility.
The U.S. Bank College Visa® Credit Card from U.S. Bank comes with built-in tools to help cardholders become responsible borrowers and develop healthy financial habits. Searching for the best credit cards for college graduates will be much easier with a credit score and minimal outstanding loan balance that makes you attractive to lenders.
Customers can set up automatic payments so that they do not miss a payment they could technically afford to make over the course of their busy student schedule. One of the worst things you can do for your credit score is miss a minimum payment. Affecting your credit score in this way can seriously hinder your search for the best credit cards for college graduates after graduation, so it is a good idea to use a feature like this if you believe you’ll have difficulties remembering payment due dates.
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card Review
A college student with a high GPA and high checking account balance is a happy college student, indeed. This is why cashback offers are so attractive for students. The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card from Wells Fargo is on our list of the best college credit cards.
With this highly rated card on our list of the best credit cards for college students, cardholders benefit from a low APR, a nonexistent annual fee, and cash back. There is 1 percent cash rewards on regular purchases and 3 percent cash rewards on certain bonus purchases, like gas and groceries.
The card also comes with free access to financial education resources and tools for cardholders. For cardholders who happen to be college students, this is a great way to prepare themselves financially so they can score the best credit cards for college graduates.
Conclusion – Top 6 Best Credit Cards for College Students
Securing college student credit cards is not simply a matter of having extra money while in school. Having a credit card is an effective way to build up a credit history so that when you wish to rent an apartment, buy a house or get an auto loan, you have a credit history (and credit score!) that lenders can look at.
Finding the best college student credit cards is more than looking for the card with the highest limit you can get approved for. Instead, students should think about the APR, introductory offers, and annual fees to make sure they are getting the most bang for their buck. This way, when they leave school, they can qualify for the best credit cards for college grads.
The six credit cards reviewed in this list of the best college credit cards are a terrific place to start.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer: Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info. Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:
Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.
Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.