The Credit Card ACT of 2009 has made life more difficult for students looking to apply for a credit card. Previously, if you were a college student, there was no age limit on whether or not you could obtain a credit card. In an effort to protect students from the dangers of credit cards, Congress passed a law requiring all students under the age of 21 to have a parental cosigner OR show sufficient income when applying for a credit card.
As a result of the Credit Card ACT of 2009, credit card rewards and offers have suffered a bit and this has certainly filtered through to college student credit cards. Still, there are a good number of solid student credit card offers represented below. If you own a student credit card you feel deserves to be on this list, let us know and we’ll gladly add it.
But before we get to the list, it’s important to mention that a student must have OK credit in order to be approved for the cards below. If you have bad credit (defaults, many late payments, collections) then applying for a credit card is only going to hurt you. If you do not know your current credit score, both Credit Sesame and Credit Karma offer totally free accounts to check your credit score. Signing up takes one minute, requires no credit card and does not trick you into paying for anything. No free trials or sneaky business, just 100% free credit score accounts.
PT’s Pick for Best College Student Credit Card
Citi® Dividend® Card for College Students – The Citi Dividend Card for College Students is our best overall college student credit card. The card sports a 0% intro APR on purchases for seven months, only requires good credit to be approved and carries no annual fee. As with all Citibank student credit cards, the Citi Dividend Card for College Students does NOT require a cosigner. Perhaps the greatest feature on the Citi Dividend Card for College Students is it’s cash back potential. Cardholders earn 5% cash back every quarter in must-have categories like department stores, travel and more, enrollment each quarter is quick and easy. 1% cash back can be earned on ALL other purchases. The total cash back earned with the card is $300 per calendar year. See Citi Dividend Card Reward Program Information. And if you’re unable to pay off your credit card in full each month, the after intro APR is a respectable 13.99% – 23.99% variable.
Discover it for Students (w/ $20 Bonus) – The big draw from the Discover it for Students card is the $20 up front bonus all new cardholders receive after making just one purchase. Also included is 5% cash back on rotating categories throughout the year and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There is no annual fee to own the Discover it for Students card and another benefit of owning is 10.99% APR on balance transfers for the first six months (standard purchase APR is 12.99% – 21.99% variable)
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students – Earn 2,500 Bonus Points – The only credit card that rewards good behavior, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students – Earn 2,500 Bonus Points offers a 0% intro APR on purchases for seven months, 2x ThankYou Points on dining and entertainment and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students – Earn 2,500 Bonus Point does not have an annual fee and you can earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou Points after you spend $500 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One – For students with average credit, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is the best student credit card available (all other cards on this list require good credit). A 1% cash back bonus is given on all purchases; with a 25% awarded each month you pay your bill on time. This means that effectively, the bonus is 1.25% on all purchases, also the highest on this list. There is no annual fee on this college student credit card and the variable APR is 19.8% variable and the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One also gives access to your monthly credit score, plus an interactive tracking tool to help monitor your credit.