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Best Student Credit Cards – Top 3 Picks for 2016

By Mitch Strohm · Bankrate.com
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Posted: 9 am ET

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The type of student credit card you'll benefit from most depends on your individual needs. But the best student credit cards typically offer cash back, rewards and other perks like low interest rates.

These cards offer a way to build credit while still earning rewards geared towards college life. They may come with higher cash back on gas and restaurants or offer breaks on missed payments.

CreditCards.com recently rounded up the best student credit cards for its 2016 student card competition, which were then rated by a panel of judges to narrow down the top 3.

Here are the 3 best student credit cards, according to CreditCards.com:

1.The Discover It® Chrome for Students

This is one of the top student credit cards for cash back and perks. It offers 2% cash back on gas and restaurants and 1% cash back on daily purchases. Plus, students can get a bonus for maintaining good grades.

Highlights:

  • The Discover It® for Students lets you to earn 2% cash back on gas and restaurant purchases with a limit of $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter. On other everyday purchases, the card pays 1%.
  • Maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher gets you an extra $20 cash back each school year for a maximum of 5 years.
  • During the first year, Discover It® for students offers double the cash back on all purchases.
  • The rewards on the Discover It® are easily redeemable, so you can get fast access to your cash.

Fees and APR:

  • This card is low cost with $0 annual fee. It also allows for mistakes, with no penalty APR, no late fee on the first payment and no over-limit fee.
  • The card comes with an APR between 13.24% to 22.24% APR and there are no foreign transaction fees.

Notes:

  • The Discover It® is best for students with a 3.0 GPA or higher who would like to enjoy cash back and perks.

Not only can students earn rewards and perks with this card, they have the ability to learn about their credit score with Discover's free Credit Scorecard.

Disadvantages: Carrying a balance can eat up rewards with the Chrome card. At 13.24% to 22.24%, the APR is a little steeper than other cards. Discover also isn't widely accepted overseas. So while it comes with no foreign transaction fees, it's a less than optimal choice for studying abroad.

2. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa

The Wells Fargo Cash Back Visa ranks 2nd in the CreditCards.com competition for its low APR and free budgeting tools, making it a great student card for those who carry a balance. And the cash back rewards are generous, too. It offers 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drug store purchases within the first 6 months. Students earn 1% cash back on general purchases.

Highlights:

  • The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa offers an impressive 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drug store purchases for the first 6 months. On general purchases, you'll earn 1% cash back.
  • Budgeting tools that come with the Wells Fargo student card allow you to use a visual spending report for purchases, streamlining budget tracking.
  • This card offers free money management courses and education articles, explaining how to build savings and use credit responsibly.

Fees:

  • The Wells Fargo student card is low cost with $0 annual fee and no penalty rate. It also comes with a low 11.4% to 21.4% APR on balances.

Notes:

  • The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa is best for students who typically carry a balance and would like assistance with budget tracking and money management.

Free money management education courses and budgeting tools make this an ideal card for students learning how to build credit.

Disadvantages: While some students may receive a rate as low as 11.4%, others may get hit with a rate as high as 21.4%, diminishing any rewards received.

3. BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students

Generous cash back rewards put the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students as the 3rd best choice in CreditCards.com competition. It offers 3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale clubs and 1% cash back on general purchases. The card also provides rewards for students with a Bank of America checking or savings account.

Highlights:

  • Generous rewards make the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students an attractive choice, with 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale clubs with a $2,500 limit per quarter. Students earn 1% cash back on general purchases.
  • It's easy to earn a $100 bonus for spending $500 within the first 90 days.
  • If you redeem rewards to a Bank of America savings or checking account, the card offers a 10% loyalty bonus.

Fees:

  • The BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students comes with no annual fee and an APR between 13.24% and 23.24%.
  • This card isn't as forgiving as other student cards, with a 29.99% penalty for missed payments and a $37 late payment fee.
  • You'll get 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, beneficial for financing larger purchases or slowly paying off larger balances.

Notes:

  • The BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students is best for students who rarely carry a balance and want to enjoy generous rewards.

Students who are low on cash may benefit from the substantial rewards this BankAmericard provides. And 10% bonus rewards can help put more cash in a Bank of America checking or savings account.

Disadvantages: For students who carry a balance, rewards can easily be eaten up by the high APR on this card. That's increased by the steep 29.99% penalty for missed payments and the $37 late payment fee.

The bottom line

While the best student credit cards tend to offer relevant rewards and perks, these are ideal cards for responsible users who would like to establish a solid credit history early on in life.


This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by any of the referenced financial institutions or companies. Opinions, analysis, reviews or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any financial institutions or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such entity. All products or services are presented without warranty.

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