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Published 17 November 2021

Can I Get a Student Credit Card?

Although your options might be limited, it is possible to get a student credit card in the UK. Used responsibly, they can help you cover unexpected expenses, while also building a credit history for when you’ve left university. Find out more below.

Money can be tight at university. From managing rent and bills for the first time to covering course costs and your social life, you might feel stretched financially.

Luckily, there are a number of ways you can manage your finances, including dedicated student bank accounts, interest-free overdrafts, and a strong student budget.

Another potential tool to help with unexpected expenses is a student credit card.

Like overdrafts, when used responsibly, student credit cards can cover the gaps when you know you have money incoming but need to make a payment now. At the same time, they can help build your credit history for when you graduate. It’s worth remembering that if you can’t keep up with your monthly repayments, credit card debt can quickly grow.

Normally, to successfully apply for a credit card, you will need to have built up a good credit history. However, that’s unlikely, considering the age of most students. Student credit cards therefore allow young adults with little to no financial history to access credit.

Below we take a careful look at student credit cards, how you can apply for one, and what to consider before applying.

» MORE: Everything you need to know about student bank accounts

How to apply for a student credit card

Although there is not an abundance of providers offering specific student credit cards in the UK, they do exist.

Eligible students

To be eligible, you will first need to open a student bank account with one of the banks in question. To do so, you will need to be over 18 and a resident in the UK. This means if you are an international student, you’re unlikely to be eligible for a student credit card.

Some providers may also require you to have a regular income and have had your student account opened for at least three months.

If you meet the various criteria, you can apply online using your banking login, or in branch.

Be aware, however, that even if you meet these requirements, your application is not guaranteed to be successful.

What to look out for

When weighing up your student credit card options, there are a number of factors to consider. These include:

Should I get a student credit card?

Having and using a credit card is a big responsibility. Before applying for a student credit card, you should make sure you are confident you will be able to repay your balance within the interest-free period. If you have doubts about your ability to do so, then you should reconsider.

You should also ideally only use your credit card when you know you have the money to cover your balance in full.

This could be for emergencies, for example if a rent payment needs to be taken before your student loan arrives in your account. Or for big purchases where you want added consumer protection, but still have the funds available immediately – for example, when you’re buying a laptop.

» MORE: Do I need a credit card?

Benefits and disadvantages of a student credit card

There are a number of benefits to consider when deciding whether or not to apply for a student credit card. These include:

However, it is even more important to be aware of the following:

Can you get a normal credit card as a student?

While more difficult, it is also possible to get a normal credit card as a student, providing you meet the provider’s stricter criteria.

This would typically include meeting the bank’s minimum income requirement and having a good credit history. Both of these factors would also dictate the credit limit you are offered.

If you are eligible for a standard credit card, you may also be able to apply for different types of credit cards, including reward cards, 0% purchase cards, and balance transfer cards.

» MORE: How do I choose a credit card?

Image source: Getty Images

About the Author

Connor Campbell

Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The…

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