College students looking for a rewards credit card will find that many issuers have designed cards targeting their age group. Student rewards credit cards often offer high rebates on popular spending categories for college students, such as dining out or gas. Or student cards might pay a healthy flat rate for cashback on every purchase.
Using a credit card wisely can be a great way for a college student to do so Building a credit history. But credit card opening and management is a new field for most college students, so it’s especially important to make sure you understand how to avoid paying interest and Increase your credit score. To protect your balance and avoid late fees, be sure to pay your bill on time each month. And to avoid exorbitant interest charges, pay your bill in full instead of just paying the minimum.
To help you select a student card, we’ve listed some great options here. For each, we calculated a typical annual deduction that assumes $3,000 is debited from the card annually.
If you are instead looking for a card that offers powerful cashback rewards for users of all ages, check out Best Cash Back Credit Cards. And if you want to open a card that offers points or miles to travelers, see Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards.
Capital One SavorOne Rewards for MasterCard Students
- website: www.capitalone.com
- interest rate: 17.99% to 27.99%
- Annual fee: no one
- Highest rate of rewards: 3% return on purchases of restaurants, entertainment, live broadcasts and groceries
- Subscription bonus: $100 back if you spend $100 in the first 3 months
- Typical annual discount: $70
Capital One offers a student version of its Food Rewards credit card, and the maximum discount categories may fit well into a typical college student’s budget. Cardholders get 3% cashback on food and entertainment (including purchase of tickets at movie theaters, theme parks, professional sporting events, bowling alleys, and more), some streaming services and in grocery stores. They also get 8% cashback on purchases through the Capital One Entertainment ticketing platform as well as on purchases of Vivid Seats tickets and 5% cashback on hotel and rental car reservations through Capital One Travel. Every other spend earns 1%. Cashback in any amount as a check or statement credit.
The requirement to spend $100 to earn an initial bonus is relatively low, which makes it manageable for many college students. If you plan to study abroad, take this card with you – it does not charge any foreign transaction fees.
Discover it by Student Chrome
- website: www.discover.com
- interest rate: 0% for six months, then 15.99% to 24.99%
- Annual fee: no one
- Highest reward rate: 2% return at gas stations and restaurants
- Subscription bonus: A cashback match is won after 1 year, double your rewards
- Typical annual discount: $44
This Discover card offers clear rewards in categories that make sense to students: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined quarterly spending) and 1% on other purchases. Cash can be redeemed in any amount as account credit, bank account deposit or charitable gift. You can also redeem cash for making purchases with select merchants, such as Amazon, or for purchasing gift cards.
The initial bonus structure is a nice touch for students, who get the cash equivalent they got after a year – most other cards require you to spend a certain amount within the first few months to get a bonus, which can be a steep hill to climb (also encourage less wise spending) . The card is also tolerant of young people who stumble on credit card management: it never charges a penalty interest rate after a late payment, and it waives late fees for the first missed payment. You get one hit – not three, but it’s better than zero.
Unlimited Cash Rewards from Bank of America for Student Visa
- website: www.bankofamerica.com
- interest rate: 0% for 18 months, then 16.99% to 26.99%
- Annual fee: no one
- Highest reward rate: 1.5% back on all spend
- Subscription bonus: Get $200 back if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
- Typical annual discount: $45
This card is well suited for students who want a simple flat rate of money back on all expenses. Offers a 1.5% refund on purchases, and can be redeemed for any amount as a statement credit, one-time deposit to a Bank of America checking or savings account, or one-time credit to an eligible Merrill cash management account (auto-refunds at such a minimum of $25 ).