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7 Excellent Student Credit Cards of 2021

If you’re in college and want to start building credit, check out these student credit cards, some of which are from our partners. Starting early can pay off in a big way down the road.

NerdWallet's Excellent Student Credit Cards of 2021

Excellent for

Cash Rewards for Students and Credit Newbies

Discover it® Student Cash Back
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Discover it® Student Cash Back

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Regular APR

12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.

  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.

  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.

  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.

  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.

  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.

  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.

  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.

  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.

  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.

  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Qualify with limited/bad credit

  • Bonus categories

  • Intro APR period

  • Reports to the three major credit bureaus

Cons

  • Complicated rewards

Read full review

Excellent for

Rewards for students

Discover it® Student chrome
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Discover it® Student chrome

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Regular APR

12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.

  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.

  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.

  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.

  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.

  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • Qualify with average credit

  • Bonus categories

Cons

  • Complicated rewards

Read full review

Excellent for

Simple rewards + easy-to-earn bonuses

Chase Freedom Student Credit Card
Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

4.6

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

14.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases

  • No annual Fee

  • $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years

  • Earn a credit limit increase after making 5 monthly payments on time within 10 months from account opening when meeting credit criteria

  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open

  • Free credit score with Chase Credit Journey

Apply Now

on Chase's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Earns rewards

  • New cardholder bonus offer

Cons

  • No bonus categories

Read full review

Excellent for

Flat-rate cash-back rewards

Capital One Journey Student Rewards Credit Card
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

4.1

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • 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 $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply

  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees

  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this

  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen

  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone

Apply Now

on Capital One's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Qualify with average credit

  • Reports to the three major credit bureaus

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Earns rewards

Cons

  • High APR

Read full review

Excellent for

Building credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Regular APR

22.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.

  • Using your secured credit card helps build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can’t do that.

  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.

  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.

  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

  • View Rates & Fees
Apply Now

on Discover's website, or call 800-347-0264

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Reports to the three major credit bureaus

  • Qualify with limited/bad credit

  • Earns rewards

  • New cardholder bonus offer

Cons

  • Requires minimum deposit

  • High APR

Read full review

Excellent for

Low deposit

Capital One Secured Mastercard Credit Card
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds

  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Secured card responsibly could help

  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line

  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed

  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges

  • Monitor your credit with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone and checking your credit does not hurt your credit score

Apply Now

on Capital One's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Qualify with limited/bad credit

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Report to three major credit bureaus

Cons

  • Requires minimum deposit

  • No rewards

  • High APR

Read full review

Excellent for

No credit history and international students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students
Apply now

on Deserve's website

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

4.6

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Deserve's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.74% Variable

Recommended Credit Score
  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59).

  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.

  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.

  • No deposit required. No annual fees.

  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.

  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.

  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you'll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!

  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.

  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.

  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.

  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention™ and Master Rental®.

Apply Now

on Deserve's website

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Qualify with limited/bad credit

  • Reports to the three major credit bureaus

  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • High APR

Read full review

A student credit card is a great first step in establishing a good credit history

Building good credit might not seem like a priority when you're still in school, but you'll need it down the road if you want to finance a car, buy a house or qualify for the best credit card offers. Your credit can even affect your job prospects and your ability to rent an apartment.Be aware 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 offers for student credit cards.