The best student credit cards with no annual fee make it easy to open a credit account and help you achieve something that will benefit you for the rest of your life: a good credit score.
Opening a card and using it responsibly can lead to a higher credit score, which can lead to lower interest rates on loans for a home or car purchase and a better rate on your next credit card. We look at seven cards designed specifically for the needs and credit histories of students.
1. Discover it Student Cash Back
The Discover it Student Cash Back credit card is our top choice for many reasons. A big one is that it doesn’t charge an annual fee or a late fee on your first late payment, and Discover won’t change the APR (annual percentage rate) for paying late.
The card also has an unlimited cashback reward program. Called Cashback Match, it automatically matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, you could turn $50 cash back into $100. The Match program is only available for the first year and only to new cardmembers.
2. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
Using the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card responsibly, including by paying the bill on time, can help build your credit history quickly. Credit lines are often low for a college student credit card, and the Journey card automatically considers new cardholders who manage their account responsibly for a higher credit line in as little as six months.
That can make it easier to buy what you need as a student, though you’ll want to use no more than 30% of your available credit, and as little as 10% if possible. This is called credit utilization, which accounts for 30% of a credit score. Using too much of your available credit and carrying a balance may be seen by a lender as being unable to pay your current debts, and it may not extend you new credit.
3. Discover it Student chrome
The Discover it Student chrome card has a feature that pays for being a good student. It gives a $20 statement credit each school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years. The Discover it® Student Cash Back card has the same feature.
The chrome card has a 0% introductory interest rate on purchases for the first six months as a cardholder. That can come in handy if you have a lot of college expenses in the next six months and can then pay them off before interest charges accrue.
4. Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students offers many cash back opportunities. The cardholder chooses the purchase category in which they want to receive the top cashback reward: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings.
If you’re furnishing your apartment, for example, you can use that category for the top cash back reward that month, and then switch it the next month to gas if you’re planning a road trip. Cash rewards don’t expire.
5. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card
The Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card lets students earn cash rewards that can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise, and of course, cash. Cash redemption options include a paper check, a deposit into a Wells Fargo savings account, withdrawals from a Wells Fargo ATM, or applied as a credit toward an eligible Wells Fargo credit product, such as a loan.
An existing Wells Fargo relationship, meaning some sort of account with the bank, is needed to apply online for the card. Wells Fargo has many online tools and credit education resources, including tips on building credit and using its student credit card wisely to build good credit and a credit history.
6. Deserve EDU Mastercard
The Deserve EDU Mastercard has some unique benefits for a student card. It pays for Amazon Prime Student services for one year, offers cellphone protection, and has no international transaction fees. College students traveling overseas who are looking for travel rewards from their credit card may consider no foreign transaction fees a worthwhile benefit, since not paying the fees can save them plenty of cash.
The 13 Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards (2021) also makes it easy for international students to apply and be approved for the card. A Social Security number isn’t needed to apply for the EDU Mastercard, which can help college students and professionals from countries outside of the U.S. start their credit journey and build a credit history.
7. Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students does just what its name implies and offers points that can be redeemed for travel. And it’s one of the few student cards that offers a signup bonus.
Points for this travel rewards credit card are rewarded for everyday purchases, and the points never expire. There are no blackout dates for redeeming the travel rewards, which can be applied as a statement credit to pay for travel and dining purchases.