Chip Lupo, Credit Card Writer
To choose a student credit card, compare offers online and identify the $0 annual fee student credit card with the best rewards for your spending habits. Student credit cards usually offer ongoing rewards, initial bonuses, and 0% APR promotions that aren’t always available to non-students with a limited credit history.
If you don’t have bad credit (a credit score of 639 or less), you are at least 18 years old, and you have an independent source of income sufficient to make monthly payments, your odds of approval should be pretty high. Bear in mind, however, that some student credit cards require verification of enrollment, typically at a two- or four-year college or university, so be prepared to provide information such as a college e-mail address or official transcript if requested.
How to Choose a Student Credit Card
1. Rule out cards with annual fees.
Scratch off your list any student credit card that charges an annual fee. Most college students are on a tight budget, so there’s no need to add an annual fee to your list of expenses – especially since there are so many student cards that don’t charge them.
2. Choose rewards based on your spending habits.
Rewards are among the most important factors to consider when choosing a student credit card because students should pay their bill in full every month, which makes interest unimportant. Plus, student credit cards are generally equal in not charging annual fees.
Be sure to seek out a student card with rewards that line up well with your spending, as that will help maximize your earnings. And keep an eye out for student-friendly features such as bonuses for good grades and on-time payments.
3. Make sure the card reports to the three credit bureaus.
Your student credit card should report to all three of the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Credit bureaus use the information reported by your credit card issuer every month to calculate your credit score. The higher your credit score, the greater financial opportunities you’ll have by the time you graduate.
4. Look into cards with no foreign transaction fees.
If you plan to study abroad, a credit card with no foreign transaction fee can be a real lifesaver. Most cards that charge this fee typically add around 3% to all international transactions. That doesn’t seem like very much, but if you’re on an extended stay in another country, those fees can really add up.
5. Consider a card with an introductory 0% APR, in case of an emergency.
You will want to avoid carrying a balance from month to month, but sometimes, you’ll need a way to finance unexpected expenses when you’re short on cash. That’s where 0% APR student credit cards can be a valuable resource. You’ll be able to pay down the balance without interest, if you pay in full before the intro rate expires.
6. Shop around for the best student credit card
Not all student credit card features are for everyone, so do a little comparison shopping to determine which card is best for your particular needs. Our editors’ picks for the best credit cards for students will help you get started.
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