Best College Student Credit Cards of 2017
Highlight this: Using one of these cards responsibly while still in school is a giant step toward building great credit.
Keep in mind that simply being a college student may not be enough to qualify you for a “student” card. You’ll generally need access to income, and if you have shaky credit or no credit history at all, you may find it hard to get approved. In that case, consider a secured credit card. These cards require you to put down a cash deposit as collateral. The deposit protects the issuer in case you fail to pay your bill, which reduces the risk of approving you for a card.
If you’re in the market for a new card, here are some of our favorite student card offers.
Intro APR Promotions
0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months
- APR: 13.49% - 22.49% Variable APR
- Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable
Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
- Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
- Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
- No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
- Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements & online.
- Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.49% - 22.49%.
- Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
This card offers 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter) in categories that change every three months. Recent categories have included Amazon, gas stations and restaurants. It pays 1% cash back on all other spending. New cardholders will get their cash back matched at the end of their first 12 billing periods, and students who maintain a 3.0 GPA are eligible for an annual $20 reward. There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee and no fee for paying late once. Late payments will never increase your annual percentage rate.
Complete card details
For a Discover student card with simpler rewards
Discover it® chrome for Students
Intro APR Promotions
- APR: 20.49% Variable APR
- Cash Advance APR: 20.49%, Variable
Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
- Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
- There’s no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards don't expire
- Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
- Pay no annual or foreign transaction fees
- Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
- Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
The cash-back rewards are easy to understand and might help you develop good credit habits. You earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and when you pay your bill on time, you’ll receive an extra 0.25% cash back as a bonus. Make your first five payments on time, and you may gain access to a higher credit line. There are no annual fees and no foreign transaction fees. And you don’t even have to be a student to apply.
Secured card for students
Intro APR Promotions
- Purchase: 19.74%, Variable
- Cash Advance APR: 24.74%, Variable
- No rewards offered
To get started with this card, you’ll make a security deposit of $300 to $5,000 which will become your credit line. The deposit remains in an interest-bearing savings account. You may be upgraded to an unsecured card after 12 months of good credit management. During that time, the issuer reports your card activity to all three credit bureaus, so you’ll be building your credit. Unlike many secured cards, this one doesn’t charge activation fees.
Complete card details | Full NerdWallet review
For a lower deposit requirement
Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.
Last updated Jan. 27, 2017.
To recap our selections...
NerdWallet's Best College Student Credit Cards of 2017
|Credit cards||Best for|
|Discover it® for Students||Credit newbies|
|Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students||Socializers|
|Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®||Responsible students|
|U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card||Secured card for students|