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Best Student Credit Cards for June 2022

Student credit cards offer a way to start building credit for those with limited or no credit.

Student credit cards are a great way to start working on your credit score. They also serve more immediate purposes -- such as earning cash back on your purchases or ensuring you'll have some flexibility in an emergency. You don't have to worry about a lack of a credit history to get a student card, as they're designed for individuals with limited or no credit. The trade-off is that the benefits of these cards will be less than those of typical cash-back credit cards, which generally require good credit. Still, you can work your way up over time with responsible credit behavior.

Best credit card for students overall

Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
APR13.74% - 22.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% for 6 months
Recommended Credit Fair/New to Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR10.99% for 6 months
Balance Transfer APR13.74% - 22.74% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Our Take

The Discover it® Student Cash Back* has the best value proposition of any student credit card. It offers arguably the best cash-back rewards, best welcome bonus and a top-rate introductory APR. Though the flagship rewards category is rotating, it envelops common student expenditures like Amazon purchases, restaurants and gas stations. Discover cards offer an Unlimited Cashback Match in lieu of a typical welcome bonus, meaning that at the end of your first year as a cardholder, Discover will match your cash back earned, dollar for dollar, with no limitations. 

The introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first six months from account opening (13.74% to 22.74% variable APR after that) could buy you some peace of mind that emergency expenses can be carried interest-free for this period of time. Alternatively, it can also help mitigate the burden of frontloaded costs at the beginning of a semester, like dorm room furniture or books.

For student commuters

Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
APR13.74% - 22.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% for 6 months
Recommended Credit Fair/New to Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR10.99% for 6 months
Balance Transfer APR13.74% - 22.74% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Our Take

If you commute to and from school, the Discover it® Student chrome* offers the best consistent cash-back rates available for student credit cards on gas station purchases and restaurants alike. You receive 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and 1% after that and on all other purchases. Not to mention, Discover's Unlimited Cashback Match also applies to this card, to be credited to your account after your account reaches its one-year anniversary. An introductory APR is available with this student card, too.

Best student card for dining and entertainment

Card Highlights
Intro OfferLimited Time Offer: Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months
APR15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Average, Fair, Limited
Reward Rates
  • Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®)
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A
Balance Transfer APR15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®)
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases.

Our Take

If you're studying in a city where there's lots to do, the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card will be a great choice for you. This card offers unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services, and at least 1% cash back on all other purchases -- this is competitive with our picks for nonstudent credit cards for restaurants and dining

Entertainment includes ticket purchases made at movie theaters, sports promoters (professional and semiprofessional live events), theatrical promoters, amusement parks, tourist attractions, aquariums, zoos, dance halls, record stores, pool halls or bowling alleys.

Card Highlights
Intro Offer25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening – which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
APR14.74% - 24.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% Introductory APR for the first 15 Statement Closing Dates following the opening of your account.
Recommended Credit No Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR14.74% - 24.74% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee See Terms
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% Variable
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points

Our Take

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students* offers higher risks and rewards than most other student cards. You get a higher rewards rate -- 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases -- but fewer of the relaxed requirements for credit novices. 

Bank of America will grant you 25,000 online bonus points, equivalent to a $250 statement credit toward travel and dining purchases, when you sign up and spend $1,000 during the first 90 days. That's a higher threshold than you'll find with other student cards, but also a higher reward. Bank of America is also one of the few card issuers that allows cosigners, who can be a parent, guardian -- or anyone with a good credit score who's willing to share the legal liability.

Relaxed requirements for international students

Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR20.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Limited/No Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard
Annual Fee$0
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard

Our Take

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students doesn't offer the best rewards rates -- it offers the standard 1% on all purchases. But the rewards aren't the appeal for this card. This card is designed for students enrolled in a US college that do not have social security numbers to use on their application. There are no foreign transaction fees, either, so you can use this card in the US or abroad without extra costs. But you don't have to be an international student to apply for this card, as US citizens are welcome to apply as well. Either way, you don't need to worry about having a credit history, as the Deserve EDU card accepts applicants with limited or no credit.

FAQs

How does a student credit card work?

Student credit cards typically offer those with limited or no credit a way to start building credit and create a credit history. They generally come with lower credit limits than typical credit cards and don't charge annual fees. And they often have novice-friendly features, including late payment forgiveness, incremental credit limit increases over time and credit education resources. Reward rates may be lower than for standard cash-back and travel credit cards, however, making student credit cards a lower-risk, lower-reward financial tool.

How is a student credit card different from a secured credit card?

While some people choose to build credit with a secured credit card -- that is, a card where you've backed your credit limit with a cash deposit -- student credit cards work a bit differently. Student credit cards don't generally require cash upfront, but these cards typically only offer a small credit line, sometimes just a few hundred bucks. That way, the student can use the card to build credit without the risk of racking up too much credit card debt (which leads to bad credit).

What do you need to qualify for a student credit card?

A typical nonstudent credit card application requires a high credit score (around 650 or so) and at least a few years of credit report history. To get a student credit card, however, you often don't necessarily need either, though some proof of financial experience and responsibility helps when it comes to securing a credit card offer. The issuer may ask you for information regarding any income you may have (even if it's from family), and any checking account or savings account you may have. You do need to prove enrollment generally in a four-year college, community college or other higher education institution.

What are the features of a student credit card?

In addition to more relaxed eligibility requirements, the best student credit cards will offer some of the following features:

  • Special rules for credit newcomers such as minimal late fees and no-penalty APRs
  • Lower credit limits -- usually between $500 and $2,000
  • Cash-back rewards program on spending
  • A "reasonable" APR -- usually between 15% and 20%

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back credit cards, welcome bonus credit cards, travel rewards credit cards and balance transfer credit cards. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

*All information about the Discover it Student Cash BackDiscover it Student chrome, and Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.