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8 Best Credit Cards for College Students

Start building your credit with these options, which offer cash back, low APRs, and more.
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college students

When you're a student, you have enough on your mind without worrying about how you're going to start building a solid credit score. Fortunately, getting started isn't as difficult as you might think. One of the easiest ways for college students to build credit and establish a positive credit history is by using a credit card.

However, choosing the right credit card when you are already juggling schoolwork, paying for college, and fulfilling the rest of your obligations can seem overwhelming. Before you apply for a credit card, check out these eight cards well-suited to young spenders, and tips on choosing the best credit card for you.

Discover it for Students Card

Fees: No annual fee; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for six months; 10.99% intro APR on balance transfers for six months from the date of first transfer; 13.74% to 22.74%

The Discover it for Students Card awards 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories that can include gas stations, restaurants, Amazon, and others. You earn 1% on all other purchases. As a bonus, Discover will match the cash back you earn in your first year.

SEE ALSO: Should You Get the New Amazon Prime Credit Card?

Discover it Chrome Student Card

Fees: No annual fee; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for six months; 10.99% intro APR on balance transfers for six months from the date of first transfer; 13.74% to 22.74%

The Discover it Chrome student card awards 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. After your first year as a cardholder, Discover will match the cash back you earned.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

Fees: No annual fee; 3% foreign transaction fee

APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for seven months; 14.74% to 24.74%

The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students awards two points per dollar spent on entertainment and dining out, and one point for all other purchases. New cardholders can also earn a bonus of 2,500 points after making $500 in purchases within the first three months.

Journey Student Rewards From Capital One

Fees: No annual fee; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 20.74%

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card awards 1% cash back on all purchases, plus 0.25% cash back each month when you pay on time. It also comes with access to CreditWise for managing your credit, and, after making your payments on time for five months, you could qualify for a credit limit increase.

SEE ALSO: The Top 5 Places to Check Your Credit for FREE

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

Fees: No annual fee; 3% foreign transaction fee

APR: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 statement closing dates; 13.74% to 23.74%

This credit card awards 3% cash back on gas and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, up to $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter. You earn 1% on other purchases. If you make at least $500 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account, you can earn a $100 online cash rewards bonus.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

Fees: No annual fee; no foreign transaction fee

APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 statement closing dates; 15.74% to 23.74%

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students awards 1.5 points for every dollar spent with the card. Plus, new cardholders can earn a bonus of 20,000 points if they make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days. That can be redeemed for $200 to go toward travel purchases.

BankAmericard for Students

Fees: No annual fee; 3% foreign transaction fee

APR: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles, for balances transferred within the first 60 days; 11.74% to 21.74%

This card is a low-interest option for college students that also offers a 0% balance transfer APR for 18 billing cycles. If you have a balance on another card with a high APR, you can save money by transferring it to this card and paying it down. There is a balance transfer fee of $10 or 3%, whichever is greater.

SEE ALSO: How Credit Cards and Student Loan Debt Are Linked (and 5 Ways to Manage Them)

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Fees: No annual fee; 3% foreign transaction fee

APR: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for six months; 11.90% to 21.90%

The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card awards 3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first six months. You get 1% cash rewards on other purchases.

What to Look for When Choosing a Student Card

Although they provide one of the easiest ways to get started on your credit journey, credit cards can also lead you down a path of financial ruin. It's best to use your card for purchases that you would normally make anyway, and then pay the balance in full each month. College student credit cards are known for including higher APRs than normal; those can become costly if you carry a balance from month to month.

If you do carry a balance from month to month, select the card with the lowest APR possible. This might mean choosing a plain vanilla card without any extra rewards or benefits, but it can also mean saving money on interest payments.

Last, consider what you will use the card for the most. If you plan on traveling or using the card for foreign purchases, be aware of any foreign transaction fees, which can end up costing you as much as 3% of every transaction you make outside the U.S.

Make sure you not only choose the right card for you, but also get the most out of your credit card by using it the right way.

Readers, which student credit cards do you recommend? Would you suggest using one during college? Let us know in the comments below!


Contributing Writer

Christina Majaski is a freelance writer and mom of daughter Chloe and dog Monty in Central Minnesota. She has covered social media, personal finance, law, business, and travel for various online and print publications since 2003. You can read her work online at Wise Bread, Digital Trends, PayScale, and many others.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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