What Are Student Credit Cards, and Should You Get One?

Kendra Burgess
what are student credit cards and should you get one
what are student credit cards and should you get one

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Student credit cards are an excellent way for college students to build their credit history and establish good credit habits. But with so many options, it can be tough to decide which card is right for you.

If you’re a student considering getting a credit card, you must do your research first. We’ll cover the pros and cons of having a credit card and how to get one and use it responsibly. We’ll also discuss how private student loans can help with college expenses.

What is a student credit card?

A student credit card is a type of credit card designed specifically for college students. Most issuers require applicants to have a source of income or a cosigner to qualify.

The best student credit cards will help you build your credit history and save money on interest charges. But it’s important to remember that a credit card is a tool, not a free ride. You’ll need to use it responsibly to avoid debt and damage to your credit score.

Investopedia explains that student credit cards are offered to individuals who are attending college, and often do not have credit history. Students can get a credit card through a bank or credit union, and the cards often come with low credit limits to encourage the user to build credit responsibly.

What features set them apart from other credit cards?

The best credit cards for students typically have lower credit limits and interest rates than other credit cards. But they also offer perks like cash back or rewards points for travel, merchandise, or gift cards.

Other features that a student credit card may have:

  • No annual fee: Many student cards don’t have a yearly fee, which can save you money.
  • 0% APR introductory period: Some cards offer a 0% APR for an initial period on purchases and balance transfers. This means you won’t have to pay interest on purchases for a period of time (usually 12 to 21 months).
  • Rewards program: Some student cards have a rewards program that allows you to earn points, cash back, or travel miles for regular spending.

Who can get a student credit card?

You must be a college student to qualify for a student credit card. Whether you’re attending part-time or full-time, you’ll be eligible, but different enrollment levels may require different income criteria, and you may need a cosigner.

You’ll also need a U.S. Social Security number to apply for most credit cards, and you’ll need to be the age of majority in your state. Once you reach the age of 21, credit card companies have fewer restrictions, but you will still need to show that you have some form of income.

Student cards are not just for undergraduates – graduate students can also qualify for a student credit card, but the requirements may be different.

Pros and Cons of Getting a Student Credit Card

There are both pros and cons to getting a credit card for students. Considering both sides will help you make the best decision for your financial future.


  • Builds credit history: Student credit cards can help you establish credit, which is vital to qualify for loans and other financial products.
  • Teaches financial responsibility: If used responsibly and paid on time, credit cards can help you develop good financial habits that will benefit you later in life.
  • Convenience: Credit cards can be a convenient way to pay for expenses like food, clothing, and other costs not covered by student loans.
  • Can help with emergencies: Student credit cards can give you a financial safety net in a crisis. If your car breaks down or you need to replace your computer in a pinch, a student credit card can come in handy.


  • Can lead to debt: If you’re not careful, a credit card can lead to debt. It’s essential only to charge what you can afford to pay back and to make your payments on time.
  • High interest rates: Student credit cards typically have high interest rates, so carrying a balance can be costly.
  • Annual fees: Some student credit cards have annual fees, which can add to the card’s cost.

The pros and cons of having a student credit card show that there are risks and rewards to consider before applying for one. If you’re unsure whether a student credit card is right for you, talk to your parents or another trusted adult about your finances.

How to get a student credit card

If you’re interested in getting a student credit card, the first step is to research your options. Once you’ve chosen a card, you can apply online or in person. You may need proof of income or a cosigner for student credit cards with no credit history.

When applying for a student credit card, you’ll need to provide personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. You’ll also need to provide your school’s name and address.

Once you are approved for a credit card, you’ll need to use it responsibly. This involves charging only what you can afford to repay and making payments on time each month. If you do that, a student credit card can help you build credit history and develop good financial habits.

How to choose the right card

Choosing the right credit card for a student might be difficult since many options exist. Here are some pointers to assist you in selecting the ideal credit card for yourself or your child:

  • Research your options: There are many student credit cards. Be sure to compare features and fees to find the best card for your situation.
  • Consider your needs: What do you need a student credit card for? Do you want to build your credit history or take advantage of rewards? Choose a card that meets your needs.
  • Read the fine print: Be sure to read a student credit card’s terms and conditions before applying to ensure. Pay attention to the APR and any introductory offers that may disappear after a certain time frame has passed.

How to manage and responsibly use a student credit card

Now that you know how to get a student credit card, it’s time to learn how to use it responsibly. Here are a few tips:

  • Create a budget: A budget will help you track your spending and ensure you’re only charging what you can afford to pay back.
  • Pay your bill on time: It’s essential to make your payments on time to avoid late fees and damage to your credit score. Paying your balance in full each month will also avoid interest charges.
  • Keep your balance low: Try to keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit. Credit utilization (how much available credit you are using) is a key factor in determining your credit score.
  • Monitor your credit score: Check your credit score regularly and monitor your account for any fraudulent purchases. If you see any purchases you did not make, dispute them as soon as possible.
  • Enroll in auto-pay: Enrolling in auto-pay can help avoid late payments and fees.

According to The Balance, keeping your oldest credit card open for a long time can improve your credit score. It demonstrates that you have more experience with using credit in general. So, if you can manage your student credit card responsibly, consider keeping it even after you graduate.

If you want to know more about managing your money effectively, read our Budgeting for College Students guide.

How private student loans can help with college expenses

If you’re struggling to finance your education, private student loans are an option to consider before student credit cards. Banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer student loans, which can be used for tuition, room and board, books, and other school-related costs.

Before taking out a private student loan, consider other options, such as scholarships, grants, and federal student loans. Private student loans typically have higher interest rates than federal student loans, so it’s best to exhaust your other options first.

If you decide to take out a private student loan, compare lender rates and terms to get the best deal. Once you’ve chosen a lender, you can apply for a loan online or in person.

To qualify for a private student loan, you’ll need good credit or a cosigner with good credit. You’ll also need to provide proof of income and employment.

Use the student loan responsibly if granted one – that means only borrowing what you need and making payments on time after your grace period ends. It can be tempting to use the funds for entertainment or dining out, but this can cost more than you think in the long run.

In Summary

For students who are just beginning to build credit, student credit cards and student loans can be a good place to start. It’s important to use these tools wisely and to stay on top of your spending, but using credit responsibly will set you up for a healthy financial future. If you need to shop for private student loans, Purefy’s rate comparison tool allows you to compare options from top-rated lenders without affecting your credit. 

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