Christie Matherne, Credit Card Writer
A student credit card is a card designed specifically for college students with limited credit history or better in general. Student credit cards are easier to get than the average credit card, and they usually have $0 annual fees, rewards, and minimum credit limits of $300 or so. Some student credit cards offer low introductory APRs, but the regular APR on student credit cards tends to be above average.
Students generally have less credit history and less income than professionals and older adults. However, they come with assumed future earning potential. So, credit card companies are more willing to approve a student with no credit history than a non-student newcomer. Student credit cards work just like regular credit cards. They’re just aimed at students.
Notable Student Credit Cards
It’s important to remember that student credit cards are definitely real credit cards. So, make sure to use your student credit card responsibly. The high APRs can be a big extra weight if you carry a balance.
What You Should Know About Student Credit Cards
Student credit cards can help students with fair, limited, or no credit build their credit history. The right student card can also teach responsible credit card habits to people who are new to the game. For example, some give bonus rewards for on-time bill payments and/or good grades.
You’ll need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a student credit card, just like with any other credit card. If you’re under 21, you’ll need independent income and won’t be able to use shared household income. Money from even a part-time job will help your approval odds.
Plus, you’ll most likely be asked about your school information on the application. Limited or no credit history usually is not an issue with student cards, but if you already have bad credit, you may not get approved. In that case, you may want to aim for a secured credit card, like the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card.
3. Card perks
Student credit cards tend to offer $0 annual fees and rewards on purchases. These perks aren’t always available on credit cards for people with less-than-good credit. Some student credit cards even offer an initial bonus or a low introductory APR.
4. Reasons to get a student credit card
The main reason why you should get a student credit card is to build credit inexpensively. Most student cards come with no annual fees and accept people with no credit history. Plus, student cards tend to have better rewards and lower APRs than other starter credit cards.
Another good reason to get a credit card as a student is to have some additional security in case of emergency situations.
5. Risks of getting a student card
Missing payments and racking up debt are the biggest concerns when it comes to credit cards as a college student. But there are easy ways to minimize the risk while still reaping all the benefits.
For example, you’ll be less likely to miss any due dates if you set up automatic payments from a bank account. You could also pay any annual fee the card may have and then lock the card away somewhere safe – to resist the temptation to overspend. You’ll still build credit that way.
6. How to apply for a student card
You can generally apply for a student credit card online or at a branch. In some cases, you can also apply over the phone, depending on the card.
Keep in mind that you will need to provide your annual income and your Social Security number (or an applicable alternative for international students). Some other personal information might be required as well, along with information about your school.
Alternative Options for Students Under 18 Years Old
If you’re under 18 and you’re interested in getting your first credit card, you can become an authorized user on someone else’s account. This can help you build credit and be well-positioned when you’re old enough to qualify for your own credit card account.
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