Guide: Finding the Best College Credit Cards


Finding the best college credit cards can help build a foundation of good financial habits to make finding great loan and insurance rates for the future. Photo courtesy of: US News & World Report

There is no denying that it can be extremely difficult to get by without a credit card.

You certainly can’t rent a car without a credit card, and making hotel or flight reservations is nearly impossible. Even if you are planning on paying with cash, it may be difficult to even rent an apartment or purchase a cell phone without a credit card.

Additionally, credit cards contribute toward an overall credit score. Having a good credit score means getting better financing for car purchases, mortgages, and virtually any other loan that exists.

While most college students don’t need to worry about getting great mortgage rates yet, credit cards for college students do allow students to begin creating a positive credit history.



Using college student credit cards to start establishing credit history will certainly come in handy when looking to take out loans, rent an apartment, or purchase a vehicle. Though most college students are at an age where they haven’t had the opportunity to build credit yet, college credit cards are a safe and effective way to do so.

Many students are wondering how to find the best credit card for college students. It can be difficult to find the best college credit cards, particularly when they aren’t always advertised as such. The process of looking for the best credit card for college students can easily become frustrating.

A USAA college credit card is a great example of this frustration. Instead of offering a USAA college credit card, the USAA provides a traditional credit card, where credit score is a deciding factor. In contrast, although the Chase credit card for college students isn’t necessarily advertised as a student card, the relaxed requirements and added benefits actually make it one of the best credit cards for college students. Without taking an in-depth look into both cards, it would be nearly impossible to see the difference between a USAA college credit card and a Chase credit card for college students.

Thankfully, in order to help students avoid confusion when finding the best college credit cards, we have complied a list of the best credit cards for college students to consider. Each one of these college student credit cards comes with high ratings and enhanced benefits, making them some of the best college credit cards available.

Our comprehensive list will cover college credit cards from the three most popular banks that offer a credit card for college students: Discover, Bank of America, and Chase.

By taking an in-depth look at some of the best credit cards for college students, each and every student will find themselves well-prepared to start building a solid foundation of credit with the best college credit cards.

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Discover College Credit Card for Students

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Using the best credit card for college students often means using a card with high rewards and low risk, like the Discover it® for Students card. Photo courtesy of: Discover

There are two options for a Discover college credit card: the Discover it® for Students card and the Discover it® Chrome for students card. Of these two credit cards for college students, the best credit card for college students is likely the Discover it® for Students card. Not only does it offer a low-maintenance line of credit, but it also provides a range of benefits and perks that most college credit cards can’t match.



Advantages and Disadvantages of the Discover it® for Students Credit Card

As one of the best credit cards for college students, the Discover it® for Students card offers a wide range of benefits and services that are specifically designed to benefit college students. In fact, this particular Discover college credit card has long been viewed as a best credit card for college students, with a total customer satisfaction rating of 4.8/5.0.

As one of the best credit cards for college students, there are a few aspects of the Discover it® for Students card that stand out. The best college credit cards will have multiple options to earn cash rewards, and the Discover it® for Students card certainly has plenty. Those who use this card as the best credit card for a college student can expect the following advantages:

  • Earn 5% cash back in bonus categories: The Discover it® for Students card runs on a 5% cash back calendar, in which certain categories rotate through and become eligible for a higher percentage of rewards every three months. The calendar involves categories like gas, restaurants, movie theaters, and online purchases through Amazon. Any purchases made outside the calendar earn 1% back. With unlimited potential to earn cash for purchases, this card is one of the best college credit cards, particularly for college students who are doing most of their purchases online and eating out at restaurants often.
  • First-year savings match: New cardholders get the opportunity to reap the benefits of the Discover first-year match program. At the end of the first year, Discover will tally up the total amount of cash back earned, and match the amount.


While there are certainly some worthwhile benefits to the Discover college credit card, even the best credit cards for college students will have a few drawbacks. When looking for the best credit card for college students, keep in mind that the Discover It for Students card will carry the following disadvantages:

  • Not widely accepted overseas: It can be difficult to use Discover when outside of the country, as most countries don’t accept Discover cards. The Discover it® for Students card might not be the best credit card for college students who are planning on studying abroad or doing some international travel on break.
  • Overall rewards earnings are low: The Discover it® for Students card is one of the best college credit cards for earning cash back—but only if you spend within specific categories in a specific calendar schedule. If you aren’t spending within those categories, you still get 1% cash back, but this is a relatively low earnings figure in comparison to other college student credit cards.

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Discover it® for Students Card Overview

Although the overall rewards earnings could potentially be much lower, it is difficult to find a card that beats the Discover it® for Students. Part of what makes it one of the best college credit cards is that earnings are easy, particularly if you don’t mind following the 3% cash back calendar. As an additional benefit, this Discover college credit card allows for a cosigner, making it one of the most accessible and best credit cards for college students.


Bank of America College Credit Card

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Text alerts and mobile banking make college credit cards from Bank of America some of the best credit cards for college students. Photo courtesy of: Bank of America

The Bank of America college credit card is steadily rising in popularity as one of the best college credit cards. In order to create the best credit card for college students, Bank of America has taken its popular BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card and formatted it specifically for college students.

In comparison to the original Cash Rewards card, the Cash Rewards Card for Students combines lowered rates and student-oriented cash rewards to create one of the best college credit cards.



Advantages and Disadvantages to the BankAmericard Cash Rewards for Students Card

Part of looking for a top-quality credit card for college students means taking a close look at the Bank of America college credit card. As a nationally recognized bank, the best college credit cards from Bank of America come with a long history of excellence. The BankAmericard college credit card is a great example of a best credit card for college students that offers high levels of value for low levels of maintenance.

  • Additional help to establish good credit habits: The Bank of America college credit card is a best credit card for college students because it allows for good credit habits to be established. Payment dates are fixed, so students always know when their balance is due. Additionally, mobile banking and text alerts can help make sure that students stay on top of their finances, helping to maintain responsible credit habits.

While the Bank of America college credit card offers some serious incentives to start creating a positive credit history, there are a few downsides that college students should be aware of. When looking at Bank of America for the best college credit cards, keep the following disadvantages in mind:

  • Limited availability for tiered cash back rates: While college students can earn 2% and 3% cash back on grocery and gas purchases, it is important to note that these rates only apply to the first $2,500 spent on the card. While this certainly is a disadvantage, the good news is that the average college student probably will not spend that much money—at least not right away—which keeps this credit card as one of the best credit cards for college students.
  • Slightly higher APR: While the vast majority of college student credit cards maintain generally low APR percentages, even the best credit card for college students may have a slightly higher APR. This particular Bank of America college credit card falls into a range of 12.99% to 22.99%. With the national average coming in closer to 13%, these Bank of America college credit cards could potentially be above average.

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BankAmericard Cash Rewards for Students Credit Card Overview

For students who plan on actively using their credit card, the Cash Rewards for Students is one of the best credit cards for college students.

The $100 cash bonus is an excellent incentive to use the card, but students will also have to be responsible with paying off their purchases. Although it is one of the best college credit cards, the Cash Rewards for Students card can also potentially come with a high interest rate.

Thankfully, text alerts should be active reminders for payment due dates. The ability to set reminders and alerts maintains this card as the best credit card for college students to consider using.

For students who are disciplined with their spending and can stick to a regular payment schedule, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards for Students line of credit is the best credit card for college students.

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Chase Credit Card for College Students

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A non-traditional, yet popular Chase credit card for college students is the Chase Slate® card. Photo courtesy of: MyBankTracker

While Chase may not have an official Chase credit for college students, they do have lines of credit that are suited well for the needs of a college student. When looking for the best credit cards for college students, the Chase Slate credit card is one of the best college credit cards to look at.

For college students looking to get a simple, yet rewarding Chase credit card for college students, the Chase Slate credit card is a possible option. In fact, this Chase card is consistently highlighted for its low rates, fees, and ease of use, making it one of the best college credit cards overall.

Advantages & Disadvantages of the Chase Slate® Credit Card

When looking for credit cards for college students, the Chase Slate card offers the following advantages:

  • Access to online Student Center: Part of what makes a Chase Slate® card one of the best credit cards for college students is that Chase dedicates an entire webpage to providing student services. The Student Center provides access to credit-building tools and tips on managing credit cards, including various articles on educational and financial topics, making this one of the best college student credit cards.
  • Low introductory rate: APR rates will always be a point of focus for credit cards, particularly if you haven’t had much experience with managing personal lines of credit. What makes the Chase Slate® into a best credit card for college students is that cardholders pay 0% APR for the first 15 months. As an additional benefit, late payments won’t affect APR in the future. College students are likely to miss a payment or two, particularly in the beginning. With credit cards for college students, a little forgiveness can certainly go a long way, helping to make the Chase Slate® card a best credit card for a college student.
  • No annual fee: Another great benefit to using the Slate card as a credit card for college students is that there are no annual fees. Lowered fees are certainly a trademark of college credit cards, and thankfully, the Chase Slate card fits the bill.


Although there are certainly many great advantages to the Chase Slate® credit card, there are few disadvantages as well, particularly when evaluating for the best credit card for college students. When looking for the best credit card for a college student, there may be the following disadvantages:

  • Balance transfers may not affect college students: This particular disadvantage is a bit of a double-edged sword. Because the Chase Slate® card offers 0% interest on balance transfers, it is often regarded as a credit card to help consumers get out of debt. In fact, this is one of the most applauded aspects of the card as a whole. Of course, balance transfers are not necessarily one of the top qualities for college student credit cards, as students will (ideally) not have a significant amount of existing credit card debt. As such, a feature that makes the Chase Slate an affordable and desirable credit card is not necessarily a feature that college credit cards need to have.

Chase Slate® Credit Card Overview

Even without being an official credit card for college students, the Slate credit card has garnered tons of praise for being one of the best credit cards for college students. There are plenty of money management tools and support that comes along with this credit card for college students. As a Chase Slate credit card customer, college students can access their monthly FICO score and Credit Dashboard for free.

Although college students may not need to take advantage of the balance transfer benefits, the Chase Slate credit card is still one of the best credit cards for college students to research, particularly for its 0% interest and supplemental credit tools.


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Conclusion

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College is the best time to learn how to manage your own finances through using the best credit card for college students. Photo courtesy of: CNBC

College student credit cards offer a wide range of benefits for college students. Not only do they afford the opportunity to begin building good credit by demonstrating responsible financial habits, but they also provide a sense of safety and security while away from home.

The best college credit cards will take both present and future financial benefits into concern, offering valuable cash back rewards for the present, and support for future financial stability.

The key to finding the best credit card for college students is taking an in-depth look at the top-rated credit cards for college students that are currently on the market. Establishing a foundation of good credit history and responsible financial management is entirely possible through using the best credit cards for college students.

Our review strives to make the process much simpler by providing a close examination of some of the best college credit cards to consider from the most popular credit card companies.

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