Best Credit Cards for College Students in 2023
The best way to build credit is to practise good spending habits early. So, the fact that you are a student should not be an excuse to shy away from credit cards. You can use your time spent schooling to also work towards earning a good credit score to qualify for personal loans, high-limit credit cards, a mortgage, and several other financial products after graduation.
This article is the most reliable guide to finding the best credit cards for students in 2023 and beyond. It also contains other relevant information, such as the advantages and disadvantages of using student credit cards.
Do All Students Qualify to Apply for Credit Cards?
In many countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, students who are below the age of 18 do not qualify for credit cards. So, if you are not at least 18 years old yet, we recommend that you go for any of the best bank cards for kids or open any of the best savings accounts for kids to build yourself up financially. But if you are 18 years old or older, please read on.
Credit cards for students are sometimes referred to as “starter cards.” That is because they are typically designed to enable newcomers, who are also known as credit builders, to start working toward having good credit scores. This category of users includes college and university students who are being funded by scholarships, getting financial support from their parents or guardians or are self-funding their education. In essence, students with no credit score can get credit cards, provided that they meet the minimum age requirement.
- Easier requirements for opening a credit card
- Having a credit history is not always necessary
- A fair credit score can get you a credit card with cashback
- Automatic review of payment history for credit line increase
- Automatic payment history reporting to the major credit bureaus
- Opportunity to build your credit score by being an authorised user
- Possibility of adding a cosigner on your account to pay your debts on time
- Access to credit lines with no annual fees and low interest rates
- Eligibility for credit builder cards with no interest rates
- There may be no rewards other than a chance to build or rebuild credit
- A few rewards on offer compared to regular credit cards
- A high likelihood of getting a credit card with a high APR
- Credit limits are likely to be lower than those on regular credit cards
- The need to remember to pay back the borrowed money on time
- Credit score may get hurt when a payment is missed
Top 6 Best Credit Cards for Students
The best credit cards for students come with several attractive features and rewards. The top issuers of these cards include leading traditional banks, neobanks, fintech startups, and other key players in the payment card industry (PCI).
Below is our list of the best student credit cards to use in 2023 and beyond. Please pay attention to the various perks that they offer to credit builders and users with low credit scores and choose the card that is most suitable for meeting your needs.
Chime is a US-based neobank that leverages bank-fintech partnerships to provide safe and secure checking and savings accounts. In addition, it offers a credit card that people can use to start building credit in preparation for a better future.
Students who have no credit history, that is, "credit invisible" students, can get a Chime Credit Builder Secure Credit Card issued by Visa. This card enables anyone who has never taken a loan from a financial institution or had a credit card to start building their credit history. It comes with no annual fee, no credit check, no APR or interest, and no minimum security deposit. Through this payment card offering, Chime is encouraging everyone to build credit for free.
The Chime Credit Builder Secure Credit Card can be used anywhere payments via Visa are accepted, and all foreign transactions are free of charge. This means that the card is supported in many countries and territories in the Americas, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Asia, and other regions of the world.
It is important to note that you need to open a Chime Checking Account before you can apply for its Credit Builder Card. This is necessary because you will need to transfer money from your checking account to your Credit Builder account in order to set a credit limit for yourself. That means Chime does not have a pre-set credit limit on its Credit Builder cards.
When you open a checking account with Chime and get its Credit Builder card, the company will start sending reports about your payments to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, which are the top three credit bureaus. The goal is to help you build credit as you work to gradually increase your points.
To learn more about the Chime Credit Builder Secure Visa Credit Card or open a checking account with Chime right away, use this link.
Varo is a mobile-only bank that uses best-in-class technologies to help customers achieve a lot more with their financial lives. Its range of products includes bank accounts (checking and savings) and payment cards (debit and credit cards).
Varo Bank is one of the best student credit card providers because of its Varo Believe Secured Credit Card, issued by Visa. This payment card is available to Varo bank account holders who need help building their credit histories. Also, their credit scores will not be hurt when they apply for a Varo Believe Secure Credit Card.
There are some notable perks you can get when you use Varo Bank’s student credit card. They include benefits such as no minimum security, no hard credit check, no interest rate, no annual fee, and a chance to earn cashback on your purchases from over 50 brands at online and in-person stores.
The Varo Believe Secured Credit Card is only available to customers who have a Varo Bank Account. This is because there is no pre-set credit limit on the card, and the money for payments to merchants will have to be transferred from the customer’s Varo Bank Account. So, we can compare this card to the Chime Credit Builder Secure Credit Card, which we discussed earlier, noting that funds transfer to the Credit Builder account requires a checking account.
Visit Varo now if you would like to get its student credit card and all its features and rewards. But note that, similar to Chime, Varo will send reports on your payment history to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion so that the major credit bureaus can have records of your financial habits and compute your score as time goes on.
Capital One is not only one of the most popular providers of credit cards for individuals and businesses but also a leader in meeting the payment preferences of college and university students. It offers three special credit cards, which they can use to earn more cash while shopping. They are the Journey, Quicksilver, and SavorOne rewards credit cards, and they do not have annual fees. But keep in mind that you need to have fair credit to qualify for any of them, and they all come with interest rates. Let us now look at what they have to offer.
3. Capital One Journey rewards credit card for students
The Capital One Journey credit card enables students to earn 1% cash back on every purchase that they make with it. Moreover, when the cardholder makes monthly payments for the balance on time, Capital One will increase the cashback to 1.25%.
In terms of charges, the Capital One Journey Rewards credit card for students has no annual fee and no transfer fee. However, the cardholder will pay a variable purchase APR of 28.49%.
4. Capital One Quicksilver rewards credit card for students
Students who would like to earn more than 1% in cashback can apply for the Capital One Quicksilver rewards credit card. It offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase and 10% on Uber and Uber Eats payments. The cardholder will also get a one-time $50 cash bonus when they have spent $100 on purchases made within the first three months of opening the account.
Just like every other credit card, the Capital One Quicksilver card comes with interest. So, if the cardholder defaults on payment in respect of their due balance, they will be charged a variable purchase APR of 17.99%–27.99%.
5. Capital One SavorOne rewards credit card for students
The most rewarding student credit card currently offered by Capital One is the SavorOne card. With this payment card, you can significantly benefit from cash rewards on your expenses on groceries, meals at restaurants, entertainment, and popular streaming services. You will receive a 3% cash back on the types of payments mentioned earlier. Also, you can earn the following unique cashback:
- Every other purchase — 1%.
- Capital One Entertainment — 8%.
- Uber and Uber Eats payments — 10%.
In addition to the above perks, with a Capital One SavorOne rewards credit card, a student can earn a one-time $50 bonus in cash as an introductory offer. The money will be credited to the cardholder’s account if they make purchases amounting to $100 in the first three months of their account opening.
Students who choose the Capital One SavorOne rewards credit card will be charged the same APR as that of the Quicksilver card. In other words, the cardholder of the SavorOne rewards credit card from Capital One will be charged a variable purchase APR of 17.99%–27.99%.
Special benefits of Capital One student credit cards
College students often travel for academic and non-academic purposes. Hence, Capital One makes the experience less financially demanding by offering them a 5% cashback. This reward is released when they use any of its student credit cards to book rental cars and hotels through Capital One Travel.
Other benefits that come with any of the Capital One student credit cards include:
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the United States.
- Round-the-clock travel assistance with replacing your credit card and getting a cash advance in case of loss or theft.
- 24/7 customer support.
- An option to set up automatic monthly payments for your account using Autopay.
- Ability to monitor your credit for free using the Capital One CreditWise tool.
- Free continuous account monitoring, prompt alerts, virtual card numbers, and 24/7 help from Eno, your Capital One assistant.
- In-app card lock functionality if your credit card was misplaced, stolen, or lost.
Before you apply for a student credit card from Capital One, we encourage you to use the “See if I’m Pre-Approved” button on the card overview page. This step is necessary to find out whether you are qualified to get a card with no impact on your credit score or see the cards that have already been approved for users like you.
To get the Journey, Quicksilver, or SavorOne rewards credit card for students or find out more information about them, go to Capital One now!
Curve is a financial app and card aggregator for smarter shopping with cashback and other rewards. It offers credit cards that can be used to earn money on purchases while seamlessly managing multiple payment cards on one account. They are the Curve Standard, Curve X, Curve Black, and Curve Metal.
Unlike other Curve cards that come with monthly fees, the Curve Standard credit card is available to the public free of charge. It offers up to 20% cashback from supermarkets, popular fashion brands, and hotels. College and university students can open a Curve account today to get this card.
Curve does not charge foreign transaction fees when its credit cards are used for purchases abroad. And if you use a Curve card to book your flight on Easyjet or Booking.com, you will get 1% cashback.
While most typical credit cards charge more than 17% in APR, Curve offers one of the lowest interest rates on the market. With Curve, you get a credit card that comes with a fixed APR of 14.2%. That sounds amazing, right?!
Go to Curve now to get your payment card with enticing rewards.
How to Choose the Best Student Credit Card
Having shown you the best credit cards that you can use as a college or university student, we do not expect you to open accounts with all of them. Rather, you are to pick the card that most suitably meets your needs and charges rates and fees that will not stretch your financial capacity to the limit.
Therefore, we recommend that you follow our guide below to choose the best student credit card.
1. Consider free credit cards first
Credit-builder cards like those from Varo and Chime are ideal for students who want free credit services but have no or poor credit histories. Such students are not ready to pay annual fees and interest charges, mostly because they have limited personal budgets. So, if you are one of them, the first two factors to consider when comparing student credit cards are the annual fees and APRs. Go for credit cards without them.
2. Find credit cards with 0% intro APRs
Most credit cards with 0% introductory APRs are not for students; they are for customers with excellent credit scores. College and university students, especially undergraduates, are known to have no credit history or below-average or fair credit scores.
However, if you happen to be an outlier who is a student with an excellent credit score, then congratulations! You can apply for a zero-introductory APR credit card from Capital One or any other top provider.
3. Go for a reward-based credit card if you can afford it
Students who have the capacity to make full payments on their credit cards every month are encouraged to go for cards with rewards. They should max out on cashback on shopping and bonuses such as extra travel miles.
Choosing a credit card with rewards is the smartest decision to make if you are willing to make full payments on your credit card balance monthly. In that case, you can pick any of the student credit cards from Capital One: Journey, Quicksilver, or SavorOne. But remember that failure to make timely payments will attract their variable APRs.
Alternatively, you can choose the Curve Standard credit card. It offers up to 20% cashback and charges a low fixed APR (14.2%).
4. Apply for your credit card with a cosigner
As a student, depending on the bank or card issuer, you may be eligible to apply for a credit card with your parent or another relative who has a good credit score and can stand as a co-signer on your account. This means that your cosigner will take responsibility for your credit card debt whenever you are unable to pay for it. It is a systematic way to build a credit history and try to get a good credit score before graduation day.
5. Request to be added as an authorised user
A better alternative to applying with a cosigner is requesting to be added to another person’s credit card account as an authorised user. You can ask a friend or relative to do you this favour. You can then spend from their credit line without directly incurring debt. It will be the card owner’s responsibility to pay the monthly balance. With time, you will systematically build your credit score.
How to Save Money While Using a Student Credit Card
Finding the ideal student credit card is just a basic first step. To take advantage of funding opportunities, such as loans and mortgages, after graduation, you must also make wise use of your credit card, ensuring that your utmost priority is to build a good credit score. Hence, you should avoid making common credit card mistakes and personal money blunders.
Furthermore, the majority of colleges and universities nowadays provide some kind of financial literacy resources for students. Find out if your school has something like that, and try to make the best use of it. For example, you can attend personal finance classes. Alternatively, you can go to a money management support centre within or around your school or browse reliable online resources, such as our blog, for practical-based financial education.
The best alternatives to student credit cards include, but are not limited to:
- Prepaid cards, which allow them to avoid running into debts.
- Money-saving apps, which are helpful for managing savings.
- Personal budgeting apps, that can assist them with meeting their spending and saving goals.
- Bank cards and apps for kids and teens, that are suitable for students below the age of 18 who cannot legally apply for credit cards in their countries.
There is no way to say yes or no in response to this question. That is because there are some aspects where a student credit card is better than a regular one, and some aspects where it is worse. For example, while a student credit card can be obtained without a credit history, regular credit cards require at least a fair credit score. Also, regular credit cards can come with 0% introductory APRs and low purchase APRs, whereas student credit cards often come with high purchase APRs and no introductory interest rates.
The banks that offer the best credit cards for students include Varo, Chime, Capital One, and Curve.
There are different types of student credit cards. But the most common ones are no-rewards cards, cashback cards, bonus-rewards cards, travel-rewards cards, credit builder cards (starter cards), and credit rebuilder cards. They are classified according to their features and design purposes.
The Bottom Line
Obviously, applying for a student credit card is not as difficult as you probably thought. You can even create an account with no credit history. Besides, students with fair credit can get cashback and other generous rewards to make their expenses less of a pain.
However, there are pros and cons to using student credit cards, and we have discussed them in this article. If you are not required to pay an annual fee on the card, you are likely to have to prepare for a high-interest rate or a low credit limit on a card that comes with some perks.
Now that we have shown you the best credit cards for students, which include those provided by Chime, Varo, Capital One, and Curve, we expect that you will waste no time getting any of them. Start building your credit history today!