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Comparing Student Credit Cards: Capital One Journey vs. Citi ThankYou Preferred

Updated May 22, 2018
Credit Cards, Student Credit Cards
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If you’re in the market for a student credit card, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® and the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students are two fine options. They’re geared toward different types of students, however, so it’s worth examining their features more closely. Let’s see how they stack up.

At a glance
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
Annual fee $0 $0
Foreign transaction fee 0% 3%
Rewards program/
sign-up bonus
Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time. 2 ThankYou® Points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment

1 ThankYou® Point per dollar for all other purchases

Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Who would want each card?
Good for:
  • Someone who travels overseas
  • Someone who wants cash back
  • Someone who wants free credit score access
  • Someone who wants rewards for dining and entertainment
  • Someone who wants a sign-up bonus
  • Someone who wants access to exclusive events
Bad for:
  • Someone who wants a sign-up bonus
  • Someone who travels internationally
  • Someone who is not a student

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® vs. Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students: The basics

Perhaps the most noteworthy difference between the two cards is in who is eligible to get them. While both cards are geared toward students, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® does not specifically require you to be a student, while the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students does.

(If you’re under 21 and have a minimal income, it may be hard to qualify for a credit card — even a student credit card. Before applying for any student card, take a look at whether you’re eligible.)

Both cards offer rewards. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® gives you 1% cash back on all purchases and boosts that rate to 1.25% for every month in which you pay on time. If you pay on time for the first five months, you may get a credit line increase. The card offers access to CreditWise, Capital One’s credit tracking tool, so you can begin to manage the all-important credit score.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students pays rewards in ThankYou® Points, which you can redeem for cash, gift cards, merchandise, travel or charitable donations. It also gives you access to Citi Private Pass, so you can take advantage of exclusive experiences such as concerts, movie screenings and presale tickets to events.

For both cards, there is no limit on the rewards you can earn, and rewards never expire.

If you plan to study abroad or travel internationally, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee; the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students charges 3% on each foreign purchase.

Redeeming rewards

Redeeming your rewards is fairly easy with each card.

With Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, you can get your cash back either as a statement credit, which reduces your balance, or as a check sent to you by mail. You can specifically request a redemption or set up automatic redemptions either:

  • Whenever your rewards balance hits a certain amount — $25, $50, $100 or $200.
  • On a selected date each year.

With the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students, you redeem your points online or by phone. You can get a head start on points when you sign up: Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Perks

If you like to go to concerts or attend sporting events, Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students is your ticket. Through Citi Private Pass, you’ll have presale access to hard-to-get tickets for music and theater events and food and wine festivals. You’ll also have the option to attend complimentary events such as movie screenings organized just for Citi Private Pass members.

Like all Citi credit cards, Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students offers Price Rewind. Here’s how it works: You register a purchase online, and Citi tracks prices for that item for 60 days. If it finds a lower price, you can request a refund of the price difference, up to $300 per item with a cap of $1,200 per calendar year.

Which is the best card for you?

If you go out a lot, Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students will reward you for having a good time and for everyday shopping.

If you’re under 21, whether or not you’re a student, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is a good starter card. You get cash back and credit score monitoring, and you may be able to increase your credit line. If you travel abroad, you won’t pay foreign transaction fees. Plus, this card rewards you for responsible use.

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon