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Your student card questions, answered.
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Who should apply for a student credit card?
Anyone enrolling or enrolled at an academic institution.
And getting approved for a student credit card isn't too difficult — you don't need a credit history, you don't need an income, and you typically don't even need a parent or guardian to co-sign.
But you do need a credit card to pay your day-to-day bills, especially if you live away from home. Let's face it — paying off expenses like tuition, transportation, and residence is easier with a credit card. In other words, credit cards are becoming a necessity and finding the best student credit card is more important than ever.
What are the benefits of a student credit card?
- You can pay for your expenses quickly and easily. Sometimes the only way to buy a textbook or a bus ticket home is with a credit card — especially if you're shopping online.
- You can use it to start building up your credit history. Use your student credit card to establish good credit early. A good credit history will help you when you apply for a loan, a mortgage, or another credit card with more features and benefits.
- You can use it to monitor your spending habits. With a student credit card, it's easy to log in online and track what purchases you made and when.
How do I decide which student credit card to get?
The best bet for budget-conscious students is a card with no annual fee. But there are a couple other things you should consider when you compare student credit cards:
- Whether you want rewards or cash back on your purchases: With points rewards and cash back, you get something back for spending money. Many student cards also offer reasonable rewards rates, like 1% cash back on purchases or 1 rewards point for every dollar spent on the card.
- How useful the rewards will be: Some rewards points can only be redeemed at fancy hotels or on elite travel, options that probably aren't appropriate for most students.
Are there any drawbacks to having a student credit card?
Most student credit cards come with credit limits that are significantly lower (usually no more than $1,500) than the credit lines on regular cards. Student credit cards also tend to have higher interest rates and a slightly lower rewards return ratio than regular credit cards do.
What should I watch out for when it comes to my student credit card?
Many student credit cards charge interest rates of around 20%, so try to carry a low balance and pay off your student credit card in full every month. That's the best way to dodge interest charges and build up your credit history.
You should also try to avoid withdrawing cash with your credit card. Most student credit cards have a cash advance fee, and cash withdrawals tend to have a higher interest rate than purchases do.
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