The 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.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
16.49% - 26.49% Variable APR
0% on Purchases for 7 months
Recommended Credit Score
Pros & Cons
No annual fee
Compare to Other Cards
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
26.99% Variable APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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If you’re a college student looking for your first credit card, the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students isn't a bad place to start. It offers rewards on dining (yes, takeout counts) and entertainment, has a $0 annual fee, and offers some pretty good perks.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students: Basics
Annual fee: $0
Sign-up bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening (This offer is no longer available on our site).
2 ThankYou points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment.
1 ThankYou point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Points are worth 0.3 to 1 cent apiece, depending on how you redeem, according to NerdWallet valuations.
Interest rate: 0% on Purchases for 7 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 26.49% Variable APR.
Foreign transaction fee: 3%.
Why you might want this card
You love the night life
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students offers 2X rewards on dining and entertainment:
The dining category doesn't just apply to meals in sit-down restaurants and fast-food joints, but also to restaurant takeout, cafes, bars and cocktail lounges.
"Entertainment" includes live entertainment (concerts, theater and sporting events), movie theaters, amusement parks (including zoos, aquariums, circuses and carnivals), tourist attractions (including museums and art galleries), record stores, video rental stores and on-demand internet streaming media.
Going out is a big part of many people's college experience, and it's nice to have a card that provides extra rewards for it.
You have a big purchase coming up
College life can include a few big-ticket purchases here and there — textbooks aren't cheap, and who doesn't want a nice, sturdy couch? The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students includes an introductory 0% interest period, something relatively rare on student cards.
You'd like a sign-up bonus
This card offers a bonus to new cardholders to get them in the habit of using the card: Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening (This offer is no longer available on our site). It's not a huge bonus — the value of 2,500 points tops out at about $25 — but still, it's better than what many student cards offer (which is no bonus at all).
Why you might want a different card
You prefer cash rewards
ThankYou points are worth only half a cent apiece when redeemed for cash back. So if you redeem for cash, your rewards rate on dining and entertainment is 1%, and on everything else it's a paltry 0.5%. There are much better options for cash back.
The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers the same rewards as Discover's regular cash-back cards. It pays 5% cash back in rotating categories that you opt into online (on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter), and 1% back on everything else. Discover offers new cardholders a unique bonus: "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." You can also earn a $20 statement credit each year you maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better, for up to five years. The annual fee is $0.
The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® pays 1% cash back on every purchase. In any month that you pay on time, you earn an extra 0.25% cash back, for a total of 1.25%. And this card rewards you for responsible behavior in another way: If you make your first five monthly payments on time, you can gain access to a higher credit limit. This card, too, has an annual fee of $0.
You're planning to study abroad
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students charges a 3% fee on all purchases made outside the U.S, which can really add up over the course of a semester abroad. Neither of the cards discussed above — the Discover it® Student Cash Back or the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® — charges a foreign transaction fee. However, the Capital One card is a Visa, which is accepted worldwide. Discover's international acceptance is limited.
What it takes to get a student card
Simply being a college student is not enough to qualify for a student credit card. You must be at least 18 years old, and if you are under 21, you must be able to show that you have independent income. Students 21 and over can show that they have “reasonable access” to salary and wages that can be used to pay the bills. If you don't have income of your own, another option is to have a parent or someone else add you as an authorized user on their cards. Read more about student card requirements.
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