Having a credit card as a college student allows you to start building credit for your big purchases that you have coming up.
Things like the brand new car that everyone buys themselves when they graduate.
Things like a house when you decide to settle down.
Or refinancing that student loan debt into the best possible interest rate.
We’re going to go over the best credit cards for college students in 2020 for students with little or no credit history and the ones for the best cash back rewards.
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Today we’re going over the top three student credit cards for college students.
But these credit cards ones felt like they were the best fit for college students.
And the first on is the Discover It Student Cards.
Discover It Student Credit Cards
Now I’ll go ahead and say that this is the card that I got when I started college.
I’ve had it for 12 years and it’s the oldest account on my credit history.
I set up my Spotify and my phone bill to get paid automatically by this card.
Then, I set up an automatic transfer that pays off that credit card each month without my involvement.
This way, I have been able to set and forget the credit card while it increases my credit score, basically on autopilot.
Discover offers two credit cards for college students.
And Discover REALLY focuses on tailoring these to college students, which makes them the best credit cards for college students.
The Discover It Student Cash Back Card is the best no annual fee cash back card for students.
With this credit card, you can earn up to 5% cash back on your purchases.
But you don’t get 5% back on ALL of your purchases.
This isn’t a charity.
Every 3 months, Discover will send you an email telling you what category you’re able to earn cash back for this quarter.
The categories are Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations.
And a useless 5% cash back on Home Depot.
How many students are going to be doing home improvement projects?
But here’s the catch. You have to SIGN UP for these 5% cash back programs.
You don’t get automatically enrolled.
So, when you get this email, make sure you sign up whether you are planning on using it or not.
The Discover It Student Chrome is the best no annual fee credit card for college students if you are looking to raise your credit score fast.
Okay, so these credit cards are basically the same when it comes to interest rates, no annual fees, and required credit score.
So, what makes them different?
Why wouldn’t you just choose Discover it student cash back card as an obvious choice?
The 5% cash back ONLY applies to specific categories.
These categories normally are grocery stores, home improvement, restaurants, and Amazon as the most notable.
Meaning, one quarter, you may get 5% cash back on restaurants, then the next quarter, you get 5% cash back on Home Depot.
It’s not like you’re getting 5% cash back on Amazon orders year round.
If you’re NOT buying things in the specific category, then you’re only going to get a 1% cash back reward.
This means that your cash back rewards are probably going to suck.
A better approach may be to get the Discover It Chrome credit card and just get a 2% cash back on every purchase.
So, let’s talk about what it takes to get a credit card from Discover.
Discover It Credit Card Requirements
These two credit cards are some of the best credit cards for starters.
The credit score to get a credit card from Discover is low.
For the Discover student cards, the minimum credit score for a credit card is 630 points.
While it does take SOME credit to get this card, you don’t need a long credit history just to qualify.
Which makes this also a great card if you’re building credit as a college student.
Discover It Credit Card Benefits
Discover is really good about tailoring their services to college students.
They know that you’re on the beginning of your financial journey, so they don’t hammer you with fees and penalties.
First, they have no annual fees when you use their cards.
No Annual Fees on Their Credit Cards
You don’t want to have to pay to use a credit card.
As a broke college student, you’re not going to be spending enough money to make your rewards points outweigh your annual fees.
So, getting a credit card with no annual fees will save you some money.
As we all know, in college, every dollar counts.
The second benefit is that Discover rewards college students with good grades.
Good Grade Rewards
When you get a 3.0 or higher, Discover will give you a $20 credit on your account.
The good grade reward can only be earned once per school year.
Meaning, you don’t get $20 every semester.
They will give you this $20 reward every year for up to 5 years.
Thank goodness too, because if you screwed off for several years like I did in college, you’re not going to make it out in 4 years anyways.
The third benefit is Unlimited Cash Back Matching.
Unlimited Cash Back Matching
For the first year that you own a Discover credit card, Discover will automatically match the cash back rewards that you’ve earned.
But beware of this. Psychologically, this could motivate you to spend more money on your Discover card.
If you do spend more money to maximize your cash back rewards, make sure you’re able to pay off your credit card debt each month.
Otherwise, you’re going to be sitting on a pile of credit card debt and you’ll be getting charged 21% interest.
You just lost all of that money you “earned.”
Another benefit is that paying late won’t raise your interest rates.
Paying Late Won’t Raise Your Interest Rates
With college, we’re pretty irresponsible.
Between late night studying, partying, and our social life, missing a credit card payment is one of the easiest things you can accomplish.
But, besides DESTROYING your credit score and being charged late fees, you’ll be virtually unaffected.
Discover will not raise your interest rates if you start missing payments on your credit card.
And Discover understands that you’re going to miss a payment.
That’s why there is no late fee on your first late payment.
This next feature feels pretty standard to me, but they also provide you with a free FICO credit score.
Free FICO Credit Score
This is going to be good if you’re trying to build credit with a credit card.
If you could care less about credit and you’re just getting a credit card so that you don’t have to spend your own money, then disregard this part.
Monitoring your credit score every one or two months will allow you to see if you’re on track to building your credit.
And our next best credit card for college students is the Amazon Prime credi tcar .
Amazon Prime Credit Card
Look, the more I research this card, the more I want it.
Besides groceries, probably 95% of my purchases are made on Amazon.
They have a 5% cash back when you shop on Amazon and use the Amazon credit card.
I really feel like if you use Amazon frequently, then you should be getting this credit card.
At a minimum, just to get a 5% cash back reward on purchases that you’re ALREADY making.
I mean, you’re going to be spending that money anyways… You might as well get paid for it.
Amazon Credit Card Requirements
Let’s talk about the Amazon Credit Card approval.
To get approved for the Amazon credit card, you HAVE to smash that like button.
But you’re going to need SOME credit history.
The minimum requirement here is a 640 credit score.
So, make sure that your credit score is at least 640 before you do a hard inquiry on your credit during the Amazon credit card application.
And while it’s not a requirement that you have an Amazon Prime account, you do get some extra perks if you do.
For instance, you have to have an Amazon Prime account to get 5% cash back.
If you have this card and you do NOT have an Amazon Prime account, then you will only get a 3% cash back on your purchases from Amazon.
But even if you only get 3% cash back, that’s still beating out most of the cash back rewards offered by other credit card companies.
So, what are some of the Amazon credit card benefits?
Amazon Credit Card Benefits
No Annual Fees
I know we talked about this on the Discover Credit Card, but this is a big deal.
You don’t want to pay any annual fees on your credit card unless the rewards that you get for using that card far outweigh the annual fees.
But with the Amazon Credit Card, you don’t have to worry about any of that junk.
There are no annual fees on the Amazon credit card.
Another cool benefit is that you get an instant $70 cash back.
Instant $70 Cash Back
While $70 is not a life changing amount, it’s free money.
This credit will be instantly applied to your Amazon account so that you can use it when you make your next purchase.
Now, let’s talk about the grace period for the credit card.
Grace Period of 23 Days
Amazon gives you a grace period of 23 days to make payments on your credit card.
This means that when you charge something to your card, you have 23 days before you start accruing interest on your charges.
This gives you time to actually pay off your card before you start getting charged interest on your balances.
Max Late Fee of $39
Most credit card companies have a tier system when charging you late fees.
Meaning if you owe $100 on your card and you’re late on your payment, then you’ll get charged $15 in late fees.
Then, if you have a $250 balance, you’ll get a $25 late fee, and so on.
The tier system doesn’t matter as much as what the maximum late fee is.
Other credit card late fees will just continue to crank up their late fees on you.
But not Amazon.
The next benefit is car rental insurance.
Car Rental Insurance
You may be thinking, who cares about that?
But if you’re planning on making a long road trip during spring break, fall break, or you’re driving to see family during Christmas, you might want to rent a car.
This is especially true if you own a junker like I did in college.
That truck was questionable if I was driving more than 20 miles.
If you happen to rent a car for these trips, you won’t have to pay an extra $25 per day to get insurance.
Another useful benefit is no foreign transaction fees.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
If you’re an international student or you’re planning on studying abroad, the Amazon credit cards don’t charge you ANY foreign transaction fees.
And if you plan on having a job after college that requires traveling, just keep this bad boy and travel with it.
Our next best credit card for college students is Deserve EDU.
Deserve EDU Credit Cards
Go on – just get this card.
You deserve it. (Alien Head)
(Finger guns w/ no sounds)
Deserve EDU credit cards makes the list for best credit cards for college students because they really tailor their product to college kids.
This card is really marketed to students with little or no credit and international students who do not have a social security number.
They have plenty of reviews, but whether they are real or not, who knows.
This one on Nerdwallet says, “Before knowing Deserve, I could not find an unsecured credit card I would get approved for, since I was an international student with no credit history.”
So, this card is great if you literally don’t have any credit.
But it’s not ONLY for people without any credit.
Literally ALL of their benefits are aimed at college kids.
You get Amazon Prime for a year, for free.
You get a free $600 cell phone protection plan.
You credits and discounts for Lemonade Insurance, Feather Furniture Rentals, and Mint Mobile.
The Deserve EDU cash back is not as good as Discover or Amazon, but it does give you 1% cash back on ALL of your purchase.
Meaning, if you spend $1,000, you get $10 in rewards.
But if you don’t pay off your balance, you’ll be paying 18.75% interest on your balance. (Tom Cruise Laughing Meme)
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So, let’s go over the Deserve EDU credit card requirements.
Deserve EDU Credit Card Requirements
Since this card REALLY targets college students who don’t have any credit history, there is not really a recommended credit limit to that you HAVE to have to get this card.
You don’t even have to have a Social Security Number.
This is really useful for international students who do not have social security numbers.
Or if you’re just starting out and building college credit.
Deserve EDU Credit Card Benefits
Just a heads up, the benefits that you saw on the Discover It Student Credit Card are going to outshine Deserve EDU’s benefits.
The first benefit is their cash back program.
You get 1% cash back across the board.
That means that for every $100 that you spend, you get $1 in credit card rewards.
Remember, Discover It Student Credit Card cash back ranges from 2% – 5%.
The next benefit is Free Amazon Prime.
Free Amazon Prime
I’d be highly surprised if you didn’t already have an Amazon Prime account.
But if you don’t have one, then good for you because you’re saving $112 per year.
Our third benefit is a cell phone protection plan.
Call Phone Protection Plan
When you own a Deserve EDU credit card, you get a free $600 cell phone protection plan.
Now, you can tell Verizon to beat it with the $15 / month insurance that you won’t ever use.
And the last benefit is you don’t need a social security number to apply.
No Social Security Number
If you’re an international student and you want, or need, to build your credit, then this card is perfect for you.
It’s also perfect if you hardly have any credit history.
This is probably the best card for building credit students can use.
This is the major selling point for this credit card.
While Deserve EDU is not as benefit rich as Discover Student Credit Cards, it’s still a great option if you don’t meet the credit requirements for the Discover cards.
If you’re wondering how to build credit as a college student, I recommend getting this card and getting the $300 limit on it.
Use the credit card for gas ONLY.
Let’s be real, your credit limit is $300, so you don’t have much of a choice here.
Then MAKE sure you pay off the credit card every month.
If you suck at remembering, put it as a recurring event in your calendar.
Use this to build up your credit. Within a year, you’ll have a good credit score and you’ll be able to apply for a card with better rewards if you want to.
But, whatever you do, don’t cancel your credit card with Deserve EDU.
Since there’s no annual fees, keeping the credit card account open costs you zero dollars.
Keep that account open forever. The longer you have it, the larger your credit foundation will be.
And this is how you can start increasing your credit score.
What Makes a Good Student Credit Card?
Student credit cards are a bit different than other first credit cards.
This is because credit card issuers tend to give better offers to students than non-students in similar financial situations.
For example, students can get an unsecured card with rewards, no annual fee, and low fees overall.
But trying to get this as a non student – good luck.
Some credit cards even offer special discounts geared toward students.
All of this is because credit card companies want to get their foot into the door on your credit card usage.
They know that you’re potentially going to school to earn more money.
And that means that you’re going to be spending more money over your lifetime.
If they can snag you as a customer out of the gate during college, then they know the lifetime value will be much higher.
Why Should College Students Have a Credit Card?
Having a credit card in college allows you to start building credit early.
Length of credit history is an important factor in credit scores – and is one that just takes time, unfortunately.
It’s also easier to qualify for your first credit card while you’re still a student, because of the student-specific offers out there.
How Can You Get a Student Credit Card?
Getting a credit card as a student doesn’t require pre-established credit history.
However, if you’re younger than 21 years, you must show you have enough independent income to support making credit card payments.
Otherwise, you need a co-signer who’s older than 21 and has income.
Can a Student Have Multiple Credit Cards?
A student can have multiple credit cards.
However, it makes overcharging too easy.
One card is enough to build credit.
If getting more than one card, pace yourself by waiting a few months to see how you handle your current card.
Unless your parents are loaded, but I’ve never had that problem.
Can I Pay Tuition & School Expenses With a Credit Card?
Your school might allow you to pay tuition with a credit card.
And your credit card company will GLADLY let you pay tuition with the card.
They know that the higher your balance is, the more the can charge you the 21% interest on your money.
However, for textbooks and other regular purchases, you can pay these costs with a credit card, earn rewards, and pay off the balance.
What Happens to Your Student Credit Card After Graduation?
Your credit card company will let you keep your card after you’re no longer a student.
It might even allow you to “upgrade” to the non-student version of your card.
Whatever you do, don’t close the card if it doesn’t have an annual fee.
Keeping your oldest credit card open for a long time will help you establish a good credit history.
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