A student credit card can help you earn rewards and enjoy short-term, interest-free financing. What’s more, a student card is a great first step toward establishing a good credit history, which is crucial for obtaining favorable rates on future loans, renting your own apartment and getting low insurance premiums.

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.

Our pick for

Credit newbies

Discover it® for Students

Apply Now

on Discover's secure website

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.00%
Recommended credit score
630
850
Average - Excellent
We like it for
Cash-back rewards No annual fee Low fees New cardholder bonus Bonus for good grades

Bottom line

This is a good card for a student learning to handle credit. You’ll receive a free FICO score, you won’t be punished for a late payment, you won’t pay many fees, and you’ll earn rewards.

Benefits

Drawbacks

Our pick for

Socializers

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

Apply Now

on Citibank's secure website

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1 point per Dollar
Recommended credit score
690
850
Good - Excellent
We like it for
Rewards for spending on going out Multiple rewards redemption options Sign-up bonus No annual fee

Bottom line

If you often eat out or go to movies or concerts, you’ll benefit from this card’s rewards program. But be aware that the way you redeem the points dictates how much they’re worth.

Benefits

Drawbacks

Our pick for

Responsible students

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Apply Now

on Capital One's secure website

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.25%
Recommended credit score
630
689
Average
We like it for
On-time payment bonus Flat-rate rewards Ability to earn higher credit line Nonstudents allowed No annual fee

Bottom line

This card rewards you for paying on time and has an easy flat-rate rewards structure. Because you don’t have to be a student, those with average credit might want to consider it.

Benefits

Drawbacks

Our pick for

Secured card for students

U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

Apply Now

on US Bank's secure website

Annual fee
$29
Rewards Rate
N/A
Recommended credit score
350
850
Poor - Excellent
We like it for
Path to upgrading Low annual fee Deposit earns interest

Bottom line

You can qualify for this card with a low credit score, and you may be able to move up to an unsecured card within a year. But you’ll have to put up money to create your credit line.

Benefits

Drawbacks

Methodology

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.

NerdWallet staff writer Ellen Cannon contributed to this article. Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire.