Best Credit Cards for College Students & How to Use It Responsibly


Graduating from college is a significant milestone, often accompanied by exciting life changes and new responsibilities. As you embark on this journey, establishing good financial habits is crucial, and one key aspect is building a positive credit history. A good credit score is not just a number; it opens doors to various opportunities, such as renting an apartment, securing an auto loan, and even obtaining better terms on future credit cards.

Best Credit Cards for College Students & How to Use It Responsibly
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For college students looking to kickstart their credit journey, a student credit card can be a valuable ally. These cards are specifically designed to cater to the unique needs and circumstances of students. They offer an avenue to build credit responsibly while also providing perks and rewards tailored to student lifestyles.

Why a Student Credit Card Matters

Opening a student credit card serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it allows young adults to establish a credit history early on, which is beneficial for their financial future. Secondly, these cards often come with rewards programs and special financing offers, adding a layer of financial incentives to responsible credit management.

READ ALSO: A Comprehensive Guide To Private Student Loans 

Choosing the Right Student Credit Card

With a plethora of student credit cards available, selecting the right one can be overwhelming. To simplify the process, CNBC Select has done the legwork, identifying top contenders in various categories based on spending habits.

Here are some standout options:

1. Best for Cash Back: Discover it® Student Cash Back

This card is ideal for students who want to maximize cash back in rotating categories or need financing for significant purchases, such as a new laptop. With 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter and a welcome bonus where Discover matches all cash back earned in the first year, it's a strong contender.

2. Best for Groceries and Dining: Capital One SavorOne Student Credit Card

For students who prioritize rewards on dining and groceries, this card stands out. With cash back on popular categories and an early spend bonus, it caters to those who enjoy eating out or cooking at home.

3. Best for Travel: Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students

Geared toward students with a penchant for travel, this card offers unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases. It comes with a substantial welcome bonus and a generous 0% APR offer for the first 18 billing cycles.

4. Best for Gas Stations: Discover it® Student Chrome

For students who frequently find themselves at gas stations and restaurants, this card provides 2% cash back on such purchases, along with a welcome bonus where Discover matches all cash back earned in the first year.

5. Best for 0%-APR Offer: BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students

Students planning to make large purchases can benefit from this card's 0% APR offer for the first 18 billing cycles. While it doesn't offer rewards, it provides a financial cushion for those looking to spread out payments.

6. Best for No Credit History: Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

Designed for individuals without an established credit history, this card evaluates eligibility based on banking activity. It offers cash back with no fees, making it an attractive option for those starting their financial journey.

How to Choose and Make the Most of a Student Credit Card

When selecting a student credit card, it's crucial to align the card's features with your spending habits and financial goals. Consider factors such as annual fees, APR, rewards programs, and any special financing offers.

To make the most of your student credit card, focus on responsible credit management. Pay your balance on time and in full each month to avoid interest charges. Understand the card's rewards structure and take advantage of any welcome bonuses. Over time, this responsible behavior will contribute to building a positive credit history.

A student credit card is not just a financial tool; it's a stepping stone towards financial independence. By choosing a card that aligns with your lifestyle and utilizing it responsibly, you not only build a positive credit history but also enjoy perks and rewards along the way. As you navigate post-graduation life, consider a student credit card as a companion on your journey to financial success.

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