The 9 Best Student Credit Cards of 2019

Headed off to college? We've got the best credit cards for you

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Getting a credit card as a student can be confusing, particularly for the first time. There are so many options to choose from, it’s tough to know what to look for and which credit card is the right one. The best student credit cards have a low or no annual fee, a competitive interest rate, as well as rewards or perks that students can enjoy.

The student credit cards on this list are all the best of the best. They’re from reputable credit card issuers and offer rewards on purchases and special perks for students. Some even offer a special 0% introductory interest rate, which can give you time to get used to having a credit card without the extra cost of interest. Our list includes:

  • Best Overall: Discover it Student Cash Back
  • Best Flat-Rate Rewards: Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
  • Best for Dining and Gas Rewards: Discover it Chrome for Students
  • Best Points Rewards Credit Card: Citi Rewards+ Student Card
  • Best for International Students: Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students
  • Best Signup Bonus: Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students
  • Best for Building Credit: Capital One Secured Mastercard
  • Best Low Interest Rate: Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card
  • Best for Those with Existing Good Credit: Chase Freedom Unlimited

Once you’re approved for the credit card of your choice, make sure you keep your balance low and make all your monthly payments on time. These good habits will help build your credit history and allow you to qualify for things like a car, house or apartment in the future. Now, let’s take a look at the best student credit cards.

01
Best Overall: Discover it Student Cash Back

Discover it
Courtesy of Discover

What we like: The Discover it Student Cash Back credit card has great rewards potential for students. Earn 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories up to the maximum amount and 1% back on everything else. You must sign up to earn the 5% cash back in the bonus categories. As an additional reward, Discover will match, dollar-for-dollar, all the cash you've earned back at the end of your first year.

You can also earn $20 cash-back bonus each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher. You can earn the bonus for up to the next five years. The Freeze it feature lets you turn your credit card on and off. Plus monthly access to your FICO score keeps you on top of your credit rating.

What we don't like: Balance transfers that post to your account at the regular APR are charged a higher fee

  • Minimum Credit Required: Good
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 6 months; 10.99% on balance transfers for 6 months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.99% to 23.99% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of transfers that posts to your account by December 10, 2019; 5% of the transfer amount that posts at the regular APR
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup Bonus: None offered

02
Best Flat-Rate Rewards: Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Courtesy of Capital One 

What we like: Flat-rat cash rewards can be much easier to keep up with, especially for students who are already juggling classes and activities. The Journey Student Rewards Credit Card from Capital One pays 1% cash back on all purchases. And, you can boost your cash back up to 1.25% each month you make your payment on time.

Good credit card behavior will allow you to earn another reward: a potential credit limit increase. If you make your first five payments on time, you’re eligible for a credit limit increase. To make it easier to make timely payments, you have the flexibility of choosing your own due date.

What we don't like: The card has a high APR which makes carrying a credit card balance expensive.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Good
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: None offered
  • Ongoing APR: 26.99%
  • Balance Transfer Fee: None
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 3% of the cash advance
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup Bonus: None offered

View details about this ​credit card.

03
Best for Dining and Gas Rewards: Discover it Chrome for Students

Student Chrome
Courtesy of Discover

What we like: Students who spend a lot on dining and gas earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchased every quarter and 1% on everything else. There's no signup needed for purchases to earn at the higher rate.

Like the Discover it Student Cash Back, you can earn $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, for up to the next five years.

What we don't like: Balance transferred at the regular APR are charged a higher fee. And, the 2% rewards bonus is capped at $1,000 each quarter, which is about $334 in monthly dining and gas spending.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Good
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 6 months; 10.99% on balance transfers for 6 months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.99% to 23.99% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of transfers that posts to your account by December 10, 2019; 5% of the transfer amount that posts at the regular APR
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup Bonus: None offered

04
Best Points Rewards Credit Card: Citi Rewards+ Student Card

citi rewards+ student

What we like: The Citi Rewards+ Student Card offers a sign-up bonus. You can earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, there is a low introductory APR for the first 7 months.

Ongoing, you’ll earn two points per dollar at grocery stores and gas stations for the first $6,000 each year and one point per dollar after that. All other purchases earn one point per dollar.

All points earned are rounded up to the nearest 10 on each purchase. You also get 10% back on the first 100,000 ThankYou points you redeem each year. Plus, you can use your points at BestBuy.com or Amazon.com.

What we don't like: You won't earn 2x points on grocery purchases made at superstores, markets, drugstores, and several other businesses that sell food but aren't grocery stores. Gas purchases made at warehouse clubs, stores, and convenience stores won't earn rewards at the higher rate.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Good
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: 0% introductory APR for 7 months from date of account opening. 
  • Ongoing APR: 16.49% to 26.49% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% of the transfer amount
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: 3% of the purchase amount in U.S. dollars
  • Signup Bonus: 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months.

View details about this credit card.

05
Best for International Students: Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students

Deserve Edu
Courtesy of Deserve

What we like: The Deserve Edu MasterCard doesn't require a social security number to be approved, which makes it a great option for international students. You only need proof of a U.S. bank account balance, passport ID, Student Visa, and I-20 Form.

Once you’re approved, you'll earn 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases made on the credit card.

With responsible use, you may become eligible for the Deserve Pro MasterCard. This upgraded pays 3% cash back on travel and entertainment, 2% back on restaurants, and 1% back on all other purchases.

What we don't like: You can't use the credit card to get a cash advance, which can be an inconvenience if you need to use your card to get emergency cash.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Average
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Intro APR: None offered
  • Ongoing APR: 20.74% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Cash Advance Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup bonus: None offered

View details about this credit card.

06
Best Signup Bonus: Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students

BOA Travel Rewards
Courtesy of Bank of America

What we like: Students who want to save up enough rewards for summer travel or a trip home over the holidays can benefit from the  Bank of America Travel Rewards for Student credit card. Students will earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on purchases. Plus, there’s an opportunity to earn a signup bonus worth $250 towards travel.

Students who also have an active Bank of America checking or savings account can earn a 10% bonus on rewards. The card also comes with access to your FICO score.

What we don't like: Students just starting out with credit may not have enough credit history to qualify.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Excellent
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 12 billing cycles
  • Ongoing APR: 16.99% to 24.99% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $10 or 3% of the transfer amount
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 3% of the cash advance
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup Bonus: 25,000 online bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening your account.

View details about this credit card.

07
Best for Building Credit: Capital One Secured Mastercard

What we like: The Capital One Secured MasterCard has a flexible security deposit option that makes the credit card more accessible for students who need to start building their credit. Capital One gives the option of making a minimum security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 for a $200 credit limit. Your exact security deposit depends on your credit history.

Make your first five monthly payments on time and Capital One will consider you for an automatic credit limit increase without an additional security deposit.

What we don't like: The APR is pretty steep which would make carrying a balance relatively expensive.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Poor
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Intro APR: None offered
  • Ongoing APR: 26.99% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Cash Advance Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: None
  • Signup bonus: None offered

View details about this credit card. 

08
Best Low Interest Rate: Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Courtesy of Getty Images

What we like: With the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card, you can earn 3% cash back on up to $2,500 of gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first six months and then 1% cash rewards on all other purchases.

Wells Fargo offer a few options for redeeming your rewards. You can choose to have your rewards automatically deposited into your Wells Fargo savings account in $25 increments, applied as a statement credit to your credit card, or sent to you via paper check. You can also redeem your rewards for travel, gift cards, and more.

What we don't like: You must have a Wells Fargo account to apply. You have the option of using the card for overdraft protection, but you'll be charged $12.50 for overdraft protection advances under $50 and $20 if the advance is more than $50.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Poor
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.15% to 23.15% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% of the transfer amount within the first 120 days from account opening; $5 or 5% after that
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: 3% of the purchase amount in U.S. dollars
  • Signup bonus: None offered

View details about this credit card.

09
Best for Those with Existing Good Credit: Chase Freedom Unlimited

What we like: The Chase Freedom Unlimited isn’t technically a student credit card, so you don’t have to be enrolled in a college to apply for it. That said, it's still a great choice for young adults and you’re more likely to get approved if you already have a good credit score.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 3% cash back on your first $20,000 in purchases made during your first year. You'll also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases after that.

What we don't like: After the first year, your rewards earning potential drops significantly.

  • Minimum Credit Required: Good
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Ongoing APR: 16.99% to 25.74% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 5% of the transfer amount
  • Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance amount
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction Fee: 3% of the amount in U.S. dollars
  • Signup Bonus: Earn 3% cash back on the first $20,000 you spend during your first year. 

View details about this credit card.