Are you new to the credit game? We have put together the best credit cards for students that can help you save some money.
The trope of “broke college student” is a real one. Student loan debt can put a cramp in spending, and if you’re a full-time student, getting a job to pay your way isn’t always doable. Needless to say, many students are low income as a result of their choice to get educated.
A credit card can help you do a lot of things while you’re in college. It can help you buy food. It can help you establish credit. It can also bail you out of an emergency if things really go wrong. That’s why it’s so important to have a student credit card that works with your budget, even when you’re low income. Here are our top picks, and what makes them great.
Discover it® Student Cash Back Card
A credit card for low-income students doesn’t have to be a credit card without perks. In a category known for its Spartan cards, Discover made a program that will make low-income students smile. The Discover it® line has been around for well over a decade in one form or another, and it’s always known as one of the best cashback rewards cards for low-income earners.
You don’t need a long credit history to qualify, hence the student category. You also get up to 5 percent cash back on purchases ranging from food to hotels, to gas or groceries. By the way, if you get good grades, Discover will reward you, too. You get a special discount as long as you keep up a 3.0!
Best For: Top students who want a little cashback.
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Capital One earned a place in a lot of students’ hearts thanks to their Platinum card line. This line is known for being accepted everywhere, welcoming new students with open arms, and also being quick to increase balances. You don’t need to have a high income for this platinum card and is the go-to card for just about everyone on campus.
If you want, you can customize your Capital One card. Though the interest rates are high, it’s an excellent card choice for people looking to build credit.
Best For: Newbies to credit with a low income and a desire for better credit.
Capital One QuickSilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you’re looking for a little more “zazz” to your credit card plan, you might want to opt for Capital One’s other major offering. The QuickSilver Cash Rewards card gives students 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase you make and also comes with a five-month credit limit review. As long as you pay your card on time, you get a limit increase!
This card comes with a particularly good credit monitoring tool if you’re very serious about keeping your FICO score on point. If you want to get educated on credit, this cashback card will provide you the schooling you need.
Best For: People who are serious about building credit.
For most low-income students, one of the reasons why they avoid signing up for cards deals with prohibitively pricey annual fees. It’s understandable. Why would you want to pay in order to have a credit card, anyway?
Chase Freedom comes with zero annual fee, relatively low rates, and up to 5 percent cash back on select purchases. Even when you don’t splurge on the preferred purchases, you’ll still earn 1.5 percent cash back on your day to day purchases. When you package that up with a 0 percent introductory APR, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best cards out there.
Best For: Students with a decent credit score who want a lot of bang for their buck.
Total Visa® Card
Let’s say your credit is messed up. Like, really messed up. We get it, it happens. When this is the case, you’re probably not going to qualify for a standard credit card with rewards and a low APR. You will need a secured card.
The Total Visa® Card is a good option. Just about everyone is accepted as long as you have a checking account. The card reports good behavior to all three credit bureaus, and yes, it is a genuine credit card you can use too. You will have to secure it with a down payment, but they’re very reasonable about it.
Best For: Students that need a low credit, low-income credit card.
Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
You don’t have to be a “Visa” person if you’re not interested in them. Another secured credit card that many low credit students swear by is the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®. Like the Total card, this is a card that needs to be secured with money prior to activation and works as a genuine credit card.
Capital One is kind enough to report good behavior to credit bureaus, offer up a limit increase after five months of good behavior and gives you an app to monitor spending too.
Best For: Students that want a low FICO credit card they can grow with.
Discover it® Balance Transfer Card
Did you run up another card that just became impossible to pay off? You may want to transfer the card’s balance to this Discover card in order to pay it off. This specialty card gives you zero fees to transfer a balance, and will also match the amount of cashback you earned last year as well.
Like other Discover cards, this offers up to 5 percent cash back on select purchases and 1 percent cash back on all others. There’s no limit to how much cashback you can earn, either.
Best For: Students who want to “graduate” to a better card after building up credit and students that want to pay down debt.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Students with no credit often struggle with getting their first credit card, especially when they have a low income. This credit card is open to anyone who has a Bank of America account, gives you $200 in cash rewards during the first $1000 spent within 30 days, has a 0 percent APR and transfer APR for the first 15 months, and works everywhere a standard card does.
When you pair that with the $0 introductory fee, you have a winning card. Period.
Best For: Students that have no credit, low incomes, and want a great rewards program from their bank.
Deserve® Edu MasterCard for Students
This is one of the few cards that is made with a strict focus on students of all income levels and backgrounds. That’s actually what Deserve® Edu’s line is known for. Though it doesn’t have an introductory APR, it does offer 1 percent cashback.
The inclusivity without securing the card is what makes it a winner. If you have struggled with getting a non-secured card in the past, this is a great pick.
Best For: People who are students that want a no-frills credit card, even when their limited history may have hurt them.
State Farm Bank® Student Visa Card
If you have a bank account with State Farm, you definitely should consider getting this credit card while you’re a student. The insurance juggernaut’s finance department is famous for treating customers like their weight in gold, and when you pair that with the .05 point-per-dollar program, it’s easy to see the pull of this card.
Insurance policyholders also get 3 points for every dollar they spend on insurance premiums. If you rent cars regularly, you’ll also be protected by State Farm’s damage waiver if you keep this card on hand.
Best For: Students that are serious about insurance and love to rent cars.
Citi Rewards Plus Credit Card
Citi Bank isn’t left out of the credit card game, not in the least bit. They rolled out with a low-income student card that doles out rewards like candy. Users who have this card in their wallet get double points at gas stations and groceries. Points are also rounded up, so you are able to rack them up as quickly as possible.
You get to spend the points you earn on a wide range of different goodies, including hotel reservations, statement credits, and gift cards. You’ll feel like a rock star carrying this card, that’s for sure.
Best For: Students that really love points.