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Best College Student Credit Cards of June 2019

Melissa LambarenaJune 3, 2019

At cheatgame.info, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

cheatgame.info's Best College Student Credit Cards of June 2019

Our pick for

Cash-back rewards

Discover It for Students Credit Card

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

recommended credit score

Pros

This card offers 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter) in categories that change every three months and that you activate. Recent categories have included Amazon, gas stations and restaurants. It pays 1% cash back on all other spending. New cardholders will get their cash back matched at the end of their first 12 billing periods, and students who maintain a 3.0 GPA are eligible for an annual $20 statement credit. There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee and no late fee for your first late payment. Also, late payments will never increase your interest rate.

Cons

Activating the bonus cash-back categories every quarter is a hassle. And Discover isn’t as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard overseas, so beware if you’re studying abroad.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 15.24% - 24.24%.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

No credit history and international students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

on Deserve's website

on Deserve's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.99% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

Students who might not qualify for other cards have a chance here, as this card's issuer uses its own underwriting process to evaluate applications based on alternative criteria. Cardholders get unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases, a statement credit for a 12-month Amazon Prime Student subscription (up to $59) and a $30 statement credit every time you refer a friend who qualifies for the card. The annual fee is $0.

Cons

Rewards are redeemable only for statement credit, and you’ll have to wait until you have $25 in rewards (equal to $2,500 in spending) before you can redeem. Other cards offer higher rewards rates, if you can qualify for them.
  • No SSN required for International students.
  • Available to students (enrollment verification is required).
  • Amazon Prime Student on us (get reimbursed for subscription fees up to a lifetime total of $59).
  • 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases.
  • Credit limits up to $5,000.
  • $0 annual fee & no foreign transaction fees.
  • No security deposit or co-signer required.
  • Helps students build credit history and gain financial independence.
  • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted.
  • Includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Roadside Assistance, Travel Assistance Services, Price Protection, Extended Warranty and ID Theft Protection.
  • Complimentary cellphone insurance up to $600.

Our pick for

Incentives for responsible use

Capital One Journey Student Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

26.96% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

The cash-back rewards are easy to understand and might help you develop good credit habits. You earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and when you pay your bill on time, you’ll receive an extra 0.25% cash back as a bonus. Make your first five payments on time, and you may gain access to a higher credit line. The annual fee is $0, and there are no foreign transaction fees. And you don’t even have to be a student to apply.

Cons

The maximum rewards rate of 1% or 1.25% is lower than the top rate on some other student cards.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone

Our pick for

Gas and restaurant rewards

Discover it Chrome for Students Credit Card

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

recommended credit score

Pros

The Discover it® Student chrome earns 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The annual fee is $0, and there is no late fee for the first late payment. Students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher can earn a $20 statement credit each year for up to five years. There's also Discover's signature bonus for new cardholders: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

Cons

Although there's no foreign transaction fee, Discover isn’t as widely accepted abroad as other cards. If you plan to travel internationally, make sure you have a backup plan.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 15.24% - 24.24%.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Big rewards on small purchases

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

on Citibank's application

on Citibank's application

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

16.74% - 26.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 7 months

recommended credit score

Pros

You get 2 ThankYou points per dollar spent at supermarkets and gas stations (for the first $6,000 spent per year) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. All purchases are automatically rounded up to the nearest 10 points, so a $1 cup of coffee, a $5 notebook or a $9.75 meal would each earn 10 points. Assuming a value of a penny a point, that's a great rate of return on small purchases. The card also offers a 0% APR period and a modest sign-up bonus for an annual fee of $0.

Cons

ThankYou points aren't very flexible. You can redeem them for gift cards at a value of 1 cent per point, but you can't get cash back. The rounding-up feature gets less valuable as the amount of a transaction goes up. For example, a $1 purchase rounds up to 10 points for a 10% rewards rate, but a $201 purchase rounds up to 210 points for a 1.04% rate.
  • Introducing the New Citi Rewards+ Student Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap
  • Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 7 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.74% - 26.74%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • Get 10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year
  • No annual fee

Our pick for

Limited credit

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.49% - 25.49% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

The rewards on this $0-annual-fee card aren't the greatest, but the issuer accepts applications from students with less-than-good credit. That makes it a viable option for those looking to build credit. Rewards come in the form of State Farm Loyalty Rewards points. You get 1 point for every $2 spent on most purchases. You also get 3 points per $1 spent on insurance premium payments, on up to $4,000 spent annually. Cardholders are eligible for student discounts from Visa.

Cons

You can't redeem points for cash, only for merchandise, gift cards, travel, charitable donations or payments for State Farm products. The 3% foreign transaction fee also makes this card less than ideal for those studying abroad.
  • Earn 1 State Farm Loyalty Rewards® point for every $2 spent on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on insurance premium payments, up to $4,000 annually.
  • Competitive annual percentage rates.
  • Many student discounts provided by Visa.

Our pick for

Secured card

Capital One Secured Mastercard Credit Card

on Capital One's website

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Pros

This is a secured credit card, so you must put down a deposit. But you might be able to get a $200 line of credit with only a $49, $99 or $200 deposit. Make your first five monthly payments on time, and the issuer could raise your credit limit without requiring an additional deposit. The annual fee is $0.

Cons

Although secured cards are easier to qualify for than regular unsecured cards, approval isn't guaranteed. You'll need to be able to show you can pay your bill, and, of course, you'll have to tie money up in a security deposit.
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide

Summary of Best College Student Credit Cards of June 2019

Credit CardIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeLearn More
Discover It for Students Credit Card

Discover it® Student Cash Back

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

on Deserve's website

N/A

20.99% Variable

$0

on Deserve's website

Capital One Journey Student Rewards Credit Card

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

on Capital One's website

N/A

26.96% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

Discover it Chrome for Students Credit Card

Discover it® Student chrome

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

on Citibank's application

0% on Purchases for 7 months

16.74% - 26.74% Variable APR

$0

on Citibank's application

State Farm Student Visa Credit Card Credit Card

State Farm® Student Visa® Credit Card

N/A

17.49% - 25.49% Variable

$0

Learn more
Capital One Secured Mastercard Credit Card

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

on Capital One's website

N/A

26.99% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

Credit CardIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeLearn More
Discover It for Students Credit Card

Discover it® Student Cash Back

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

on Deserve's website

N/A

20.99% Variable

$0

on Deserve's website

Capital One Journey Student Rewards Credit Card

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

on Capital One's website

N/A

26.96% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

Discover it Chrome for Students Credit Card

Discover it® Student chrome

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

on Citibank's application

0% on Purchases for 7 months

16.74% - 26.74% Variable APR

$0

on Citibank's application

State Farm Student Visa Credit Card Credit Card

State Farm® Student Visa® Credit Card

N/A

17.49% - 25.49% Variable

$0

Learn more
Capital One Secured Mastercard Credit Card

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

on Capital One's website

N/A

26.99% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

Who should apply for a student card

Student credit cards are designed for college students — but simply being enrolled as a college student is not enough to qualify for a student credit card.

Eligibility for student credit cards

  • Federal law limits who can get credit cards under age 21. Issuers are prohibited from providing cards to people under 21 unless they have proof of independent income or a co-signer — someone who agrees to be responsible for the debt if the primary cardholder doesn't pay the bill. This can be a roadblock since most major credit card issuers don’t allow co-signers.
  • Most issuers, but not all, require you to be a student to apply for a student card. Check the card's terms and conditions on the issuer's website for application eligibility. For example, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® does not have an explicit student requirement, while the rules for the Discover it® Student Cash Back say, "You must be a college student."

Alternatives to student cards (and options for non-students)

  • If you're under 21 and can't qualify on your own: Have a parent add you as an authorized user on one of their cards. You'll get a card with your name on it that you can use for purchases. Your parent is legally responsible for the debt. Authorized user status can also help you build a credit history.
  • If you're over 21 and still have trouble qualifying: Even with a full-time income, it can be hard to qualify for a traditional credit card if you lack a credit history.
    • Some startup companies have begun offering credit cards for people with no credit or limited credit. These issuers use alternative methods to evaluate applications — looking at income, employment status and assets rather than credit history, for example.
    • Secured credit cards are another excellent option. They're easier to qualify for because they require a security deposit, which reduces the risk for credit card issuers. Use one to build a credit history, then move up to a better card.
  • If you've already established credit and have independent income: Consider bypassing student cards entirely. You might qualify for a credit card that offers better rewards, a generous sign-up bonus or lower interest. If you’re not, these are some of the options you can look forward to as you establish good credit.

How to choose a student credit card

If you can meet the requirements to qualify for a student credit card, consider these factors in your search:

  • Annual fee: When a card has no annual fee, it doesn't cost you anything to keep the account open after you move on to better offers. That can have a positive effect on the portion of your credit score tied to the length of your credit history.
  • Sign-up bonus and rewards: Rewards and bonuses on student cards, when offered at all, may be smaller than on regular cards, but every little bit helps as a student.
  • Reporting to credit bureaus: You want your good payment history to show up on credit reports produced by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. That can happen only if your issuer reports to the bureaus. Our recommended cards report to all three bureaus, with the exception of the  Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students, which says it reports to Experian and TransUnion.
  • Foreign transaction fees: If you plan to travel or study abroad, look for a card that doesn’t charge extra fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Upgrade opportunities: Check whether the issuer allows student cardholders to upgrade to a "regular" card when ready.

For more, see our guide to choosing a student credit card

How our favorites stack up

Card Our pick for ... Key benefits
Discover it® Student Cash Back Cash-back rewards • 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
• $20 annual statement credit available for good grades
Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students No credit history and international students • 1% cash back on all purchases
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® Incentives for responsible use • 1% cash back on all purchases
• 1.25% cash back for any month when you pay on time
Discover it® Student chrome Gas and restaurant rewards • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
• $20 annual statement credit available for good grades
Citi Rewards+ Student Card Big rewards on small purchases • 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and supermarkets on up to $6,000 in combined spending per year
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
• Rewards on all purchases round up to the nearest 10 points
Capital One® Secured Mastercard® Secured card • Potential access to a higher credit line without additional deposit after making your first five monthly payments on time.
• Reports to all three credit bureaus
State Farm® Student Visa® Credit Card Limited credit • 3 points per $1 spent on insurance premiums
• 1 point per $2 spent on other purchases

Last updated on June 3, 2019

Methodology

cheatgame.info's Credit Cards team selects the best credit cards for college students based on overall value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as their suitability for specific kinds of students. Factors in our evaluation include annual fees, rewards programs (both earning rates and redemption options), promotional and ongoing APRs, bonus offers for new cardholders, incentives for responsible behavior, free credit scores and other credit education, availability to applicants with thin or no credit history, and other noteworthy features such as a path to upgrade to a different product later on.