If you are a parent or a student who thinks all student credit card offers boil down to just getting a line of credit for school expenses and the like, this is an article you need to read. The truth of the matter is, each parent and student needs to evaluate the long term purpose of getting a credit card in the first place. For example, should a student who can manage to work their way through school without borrowing a dollar get a credit card at all? Another example is for students who already have an established credit history; what is the best type of card for them? So we will explore the 10 best credit cards for students in 2019 and consider a wide variety of purposes and goals that are best suited for the individual situation.
1. Discover it Student
We will start with the all-purpose card that should be right for students who are looking to get a start in the world of credit – Discover’s Discover it Student credit card. Some website reviews make a big deal about the balance transfer aspect of this card, but it really is a useless feature for most first year students. Aside from the fact there is no sign up bonus, you can get an APR between 15 and 25 percent, depending on your creditworthiness. You have to have a good credit rating, and there are the usual Discover 5% discounts on their quarterly categories. If you manage to get a 3.0 GPA at the end of the year, Discover will add $20 to your cash back bonus total.
2. Discover it Chrome
This is the second – and last – Discover card on this list. What distinguishes this from its sister card above is that it is intended to benefit students who spend a lot of money on gas and eating out. “A lot” here is about $330 a month, which for some students may not offer any real benefit. The APRs and GPA benefits are the same as the Discover it Student card, but the real advantage is getting 2% cash back versus 1% on all those foodie trips.
3. Chase Freedom Unlimited
Both of the above cards require the student to have a good credit score, so why not include what is not technically a student card here in the mix? If you can get it, Chase Freedom Unlimited will give you a 3% cash back reward on all your purchases for the first year. One difference is the base APR starts at 17% for the Chase card. Another is that after the first year your cash back reward drops to 1.5%. You can take advantage of this situation by latching on to this Chase card, then switching over to a Discover it card after a year.
4. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card
The issue of APR is a huge one, since after 4 years in college you will probably have some student debt to deal with. When it comes to credit cards, the lower the APR the better off you will be in the long term. Unlike the other cards on this list, your Wells Fargo base APR starts at 13% and tops out at 23%. The 2% may not seem like much, but over the four or more years spent in college it will definitely add up – either to your benefit or your detriment. Even better is that you don’t have to have a good credit score to qualify for the card. But you do have to open a Wells Fargo bank account to get the card. It’s an interesting card worth looking into.
5. Capital One Journey Student Rewards
In contrast to Wells Fargo, this is on the opposite end of APRs on this list. With a fixed APR of 26.99% this card can get a student into serious trouble if they fail to keep a low balance on their card. So why recommend it? First, there is a flat rate rewards benefit of 1%, that can get bumped up to 1.25% later. Instead of worrying whether you meet purchasing requirements or fall into the right calendar quarter to get a higher cash back bonus, the Journey card keeps things simple. If you make your first five payments on time you become eligible for a credit limit increase, something not every card on this list offers.
6. Citi Rewards+ Student Card
If rewards programs are a feature that you love and plan to take advantage of over the long run, consider this card from Citibank. This is the first card on the list that actually offers a sign up bonus: to the tune of 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. There is a 0% APR introductory offer for the first 12 billing cycles, and after that you run into the standard 15 – 25% APR. Those 15,000 points can go a long way for future purchases at places such as Amazon and Best Buy. We’re sure you will want to look into this more.
7. Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students
Up to now most cards require only a good credit rating. The Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students requires an excellent credit rating, drastically reducing the number of eligible applicants. For those who manage to qualify, this offers the best signup bonus of any card on this list. The same $1,000 in spending for the first 90 days as with the Citi Rewards+ Student Card applies, but the signup bonus is a whopping 25,000 points. The base APR is a bit higher at 17%, but you can get an additional 10% bonus points if you open a bank account with Bank of America.
8. State Farm Student VISA Card
If you are a student who finds themselves in a low credit rating situation, there is still hope to get a credit card that will get you something back, in addition to boosting your credit rating. The APR range is not much different than most of the cards on this list: 17 – 25 percent. If you have State Farm insurance you can get rewarded 3 points for every $1 spent, so it fits in nicely with your usual payments. The downside is the points you accumulate cannot be converted into cash, but they can be used to make your State Farm insurance payments and other merchandise offered. Used wisely, this card can get you back on your credit feet before graduating, giving you a fresh start of sorts.
What separates this card from the pack is that students who are completely new to the credit world can apply for this card. There are several other features that makes this card a good choice, including the same APR range as cards requiring good credit (15% – 25%), no annual fee, and a no penalty APR. It’s basic credit building without any of the glamour.
10. Deserve Edu
We haven’t forgotten about the International students among you. Two barriers that accompany being a foreign student are the lack of a social security number and no credit history. The Deserve Edu card has an unsettling 20.99 APR, which actually can be lower than what some American students pay for other cards on this list. The maximum amount of credit you can get with the card is $5,000, which is again higher than many American students will get.