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Best Credit Cards for Students 2024

best student credit cards
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Updated February 28, 2024

Student credit cards are an excellent tool for accessing and building credit. Often they have less stringent credit requirements than traditional cards because card issuers understand that students generally have a limited credit history. Some cards, such as secured cards, are available for those with little to no credit, although they usually require a refundable deposit. Some secured cards charge monthly fees.

Many of these credit cards are geared toward students, with their spending habits and specific needs in mind. Others are more general, but offer good options for students who qualify. Keep reading to learn more about the best credit cards for students in 2024, why we chose them, and how to use credit cards to build your credit while avoiding debt.

card_name

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Credit score
credit_score_needed
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Balance transfer intro apr
balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full

The card_name is a solid flat-rate earnings card with annual_fee_disclaimer annual fee. Although the 1.5% cash back doesn’t seem impressive at first glance, it becomes more valuable when combined with other rewards cards from Chase that can be redeemed for a far greater value.

This card is recommended for everyday use, whether for doctor copays or big box store purchases. It can be a large earner for cardmembers who want to get the most out of their everyday spending.

Best student credit cards: Summary

Why we recommend these student credit cards

Best for bonus cash back: card_name

card_name

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

It's rare to find a student credit card that earns elevated cash-back rates, but that's what you get with the card_name. The card earns unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, streaming service, and grocery store purchases. Plus, the card earns 1% on all other purchases. It also comes with a $50 cash welcome offer after spending $100 in the first three months from account opening.

The card_name has annual_fees annual fee and provides basic travel and extended warranty protections. The card comes with access to CreditWise, Capital One's credit monitoring service.


Best for flat rate cash back: card_name

card_name

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

If you want to earn cash back but don't want to worry about tracking your spending, the card_name earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The card has a annual_fees annual fee but no foreign transaction fees. Cardholders can be automatically considered for credit line increases in as little as six months from card opening.


Best for students studying abroad: card_name

card_name

Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

The card_name has annual_fees annual fee or foreign transaction fees, making it the perfect card for international travel and students studying abroad.

It earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and comes with a $50 cash welcome bonus offer after spending $100 within the first three months from card opening.

Other benefits include free credit monitoring, card lock, virtual card numbers, and travel accident insurance.


Best for rotating bonus categories: card_name

Chase

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Credit score needed
Excellent, Good
Annual fees
$0
Bonus rewards
$200 bonus

card_name earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in total combined purchases in quarterly rotating categories you activate, including gas stations, grocery stores, and Amazon.com. You'll also earn 5% on travel purchased through [Chase Ultimate Rewards](/article/chase-transfer-partners/), 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstore purchases, and 1% on all other purchases.

With the card_name, you will bonus_miles_full. Cardholders also have access to a balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration and intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration (after that a reg_apr,reg_apr_type applies). card_name has annual_fees annual fee but does charge aforeign_transaction_fee foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside of the U.S.


Best for balance transfers: card_name

card_name

Citi Simplicity Card

Citi Simplicity Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

For students with existing credit card debt, the card_name is one of the best for a lengthy introductory APR offer for balance transfers. The card features a balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration and intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration (after that a reg_apr,reg_apr_type applies).

The card_name has annual_fees annual fee but does charge a balance_transfer_fees foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside of the U.S.


Best for travel rewards: card_name

card_name

Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit

Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

While it doesn't pack as much punch as Capital One's higher-tiered travel cards, the card_name is a good option for students who want to travel. The card earns unlimited 1.25x miles on every purchase. Plus, it earns unlimited 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

You can book a trip with miles through Capital One Travel, redeem miles for statement credits, or get reimbursed for past travel purchases made with the card. card_name has annual_fees annual or foreign transaction fees.

Best for no credit: OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

card_name

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

With the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, there is no credit check to apply. The secured credit card has a $35 annual fee with a minimum $200 minimum refundable security deposit. Cardholders can qualify for credit line increases every six months with responsible use and an upgrade to the OpenSky®GoldVisa® Unsecured CreditCardafter six months.


Best for graduate students: card_name

card_name

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

If you're a graduate student with established credit, you may qualify for card_name. You will bonus_miles_full. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

card_name is great for financing large purchases or paying off existing card debt thanks to its balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_durationand intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration (after that a reg_apr,reg_apr_type applies). This Chase cash back card includes partner benefits with DoorDash, Lyft, and Instacart and several travel protections. card_name has annual_fees annual fee.


Best secured card: card_name

card_name

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

Secured credit cards offer entry-level access to credit through a refundable security deposit. Students who don't qualify for a traditional credit card can build their credit using a secured credit card, eventually graduating to an unsecured card. The card_name requires a $49, $99, or $200 minimum refundable deposit but has annual_fees annual or foreign transaction fees.

The card offers automatic credit line reviews in as little as six months and an opportunity to upgrade to a standard card_name with responsible use. The card_name doesn't offer many perks, but it comes with standard benefits, such as account alerts, credit score monitoring, and fraud protection.


Best for medical students: Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

The Citi Double Cash® Card allows you to earn cash back without all of the work of tracking spending, perfect for the rigors of a busy medical student schedule. The card earns 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.

Citi Double Cash® Card offers a balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration (after that a reg_apr,reg_apr_type applies). The card charges a foreign_transaction_fee foreign transaction fee on purchases outside the U.S., so it's not a good choice for medical students traveling overseas.

Best student credit cards comparison chart

Card nameAnnual feesCredit score neededBonus rewards
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
$0
Excellent, Good
$200 bonus
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
credit_score_needed
bonus_miles

Our methodology

To find the best credit cards for students, we compared dozens of cards based on the following criteria:

  • Credit requirements
  • Introductory APR offers
  • Variable APRs
  • Annual fees
  • Card benefits and perks
  • Travel benefits
  • Consumer protections
  • Rewards rates
  • Welcome offers
  • Travel benefits

The typical student looking for a credit card likely hasn't had enough time to build a credit history and score to qualify for the top rewards credit cards or cards featuring higher annual fees. The cards on this list represent the best credit cards for students, either for a specific benefit or based on overall strength of rewards, features, and availability.

How to choose the best student credit card for you

Choosing the right credit card depends on your credit profile and specific needs as a student. You may not qualify for certain cards on our list if you have little to no credit history or a lower credit score. If that's the case, start where you are and work to improve your credit enough to qualify for a better credit card.

Consider which card features are important to you. For example, if you are studying abroad or travel frequently, a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees is ideal. Also, consider your spending habits and look for cards that earn rewards in specific categories aligned with how you spend your money.

What are the requirements to be approved?

Most card issuers rely on credit scores and history, along with other factors, to determine eligibility for a card and set rates and credit limits. Issuers may consider a student's income when approving card applications. Some cards, especially secured credit cards, may not require a credit score or income.

Can students get pre-approved for credit cards?

When possible, look for cards that offer pre-approval, which allows you to check for card offers without negatively impacting your credit score. Pre-approval doesn't guarantee you'll be approved for a particular card, but it's an indicator that you meet the basic criteria to get approved.

How to build credit (and avoid debt) once you get approved

Once you've been approved for a credit card, it's time to practice responsible use and build your credit. Here are a few best practices to implement when using a credit card.

  • Pay on time. Never be late with your monthly payments. Card issuers report payments to credit bureaus, and payment history plays a significant role in your credit score. Set up automatic minimum payments so you never miss a payment.
  • Only spend money you have. Spend within your means. Only use your credit card if you have money available to pay off those purchases or bills.
  • Pay off your balance each month. Paying your full balance each month will help you avoid costly interest charges.
  • Keep your balances low. If you do need to carry a balance from month to month, keep it low. Credit utilization—how much of your available credit you use—is another major factor that affects your credit score.
  • Earn rewards for everyday spending. Don't spend outside your usual everyday spending habits just to earn rewards.

Alternatives to student credit cards

If you don't meet requirements to qualify for a traditional credit card, here are some alternative ways to access and build credit as a student.

  • Secured credit cards. Getting a secured credit card doesn’t depend on a credit inquiry. Instead, they are secured through a refundable deposit, which is often your credit limit. Secured cards are easier to qualify for and provide an opportunity to build credit. Some issuers perform routine account checks after several months of on-time payments to see if you qualify for an upgrade to an unsecured card.
  • Authorized user. Another way to access credit is to become an authorized user on a parent's credit card account. It gives you a credit card to use as needed and can help build up your credit as you make regular, on-time monthly payments.
  • Prepaid debit cards. A prepaid card won't give you a line of credit or build credit history, but it is accepted nearly everywhere, especially those issued by large payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard. It's also more challenging to overspend with a prepaid card versus a credit card. Pay attention to the fees charged, which may include monthly maintenance, transaction, reloading, and inactivity fees.

TIME Stamp: Use student credit cards wisely to build credit

A student credit card can help you learn how to spend responsibly, and it's a great tool for building credit. As you move through life, having good credit opens opportunities for better rates and discounts, and is often required for financing, renting an apartment—and even landing a job.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What do you do with a student credit card after graduation?

If possible, you should keep your credit card account open, as it will increase the length of your credit history. Some card issuers automatically upgrade you to a new credit card when you graduate. If not, you can request to convert to another credit card, get a credit-line increase, or be granted a lower APR.

Which is better: Student credit cards or regular credit cards?

Regular credit cards typically offer better (and more) card benefits and perks than student credit cards. Student credit cards are generally easier to get than a traditional credit card because of less stringent credit requirements.

Do I need a job to get a student credit card?

No, you don’t. However, you'll still need to meet income and credit requirements to be approved for a card. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires credit card issuers to consider the ability to repay credit card debt of any applicant under 21. The card issuer may ask you to document your source of income to make monthly credit card payments.

How do you apply for a student credit card?

You can apply online through the card issuer. The application process varies depending on the card and your age. You generally have to be 18 years of age to get a credit card on your own, although it can be difficult to qualify for a credit card if you're under 21, unless you can demonstrate the financial ability to make card payments or apply with a cosigner.

Credit card issuers typically perform a hard credit inquiry during the application process, although some student and secured cards may not require it. A hard credit inquiry can cause your credit score to drop temporarily. Some student credit cards allow you to check for pre-approved offers without impacting your credit. Pre-approval does not guarantee you'll be approved for a card.

Can international students apply for a credit card?

Yes, they can. Typically, these types of cards offer ways to apply using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), more common for international students, instead of a Social Security number.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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