Key takeaways

  • A student card can be an ideal way to start building credit if you have little to no credit history.
  • Most student credit cards are designed for students with student centric perks and relaxed credit requirements.
  • In addition to practicing good credit habits consistently, picking a card that reports to at least one of the three credit bureaus is crucial for tracking your progress when building credit.

Building credit can be challenging when you’re first starting out, and that’s even more true for students who have minimal credit history on their profiles. When you have no credit at all, finding a credit card with good approval odds is even harder.

However, some credit cards are geared to students with no credit history or who have a thin credit profile they would like to build upon. While plenty of cards in this niche are secured, meaning they require a security deposit, there are unsecured credit cards for students, too.

If you want to get approved for a student card but you haven’t started building credit, there’s no reason to despair. Our card recommendations below were made with people like you in mind, so compare them to find the right fit.

Best credit cards for students with no credit

The best credit cards for students with no credit have some of the best approval odds. Read on to learn which cards we recommend, their greatest attributes and who they’re best for.

  • The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is great for people in college because it helps build credit and offers rewards. This card lets users earn a flat 1.5 percent cash back on all their spending with no annual fee. A $200 cash bonus offer is also available to people who can spend $1,000 on new purchases within 90 days of account opening.

    Cardholders also get a free FICO score and access to a 0 percent intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers (transfers must be made within 60 days of account opening) for 15 billing cycles (an intro 3 percent balance transfer fee for 60 days from account opening applies, then 4%). After that, a variable APR of 18.24 percent to 28.24 percent applies.

    The information about the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students was last updated in February. 7, 2024.

  • The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is available for students with fair credit, which entails having a FICO score from 580 to 669. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee, yet you get the chance to earn 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and eligible grocery store spending (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target); 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 8 percent cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 10 percent cash back on purchases made through Uber and Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits (through Nov. 14, 2024); and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.

    There are no foreign transaction fees and you can redeem your rewards for cash back, among other options.
  • If you’re a student who has made mistakes with credit in the past, you may have to start rebuilding your credit with a secured credit card. With this type of card, you have to put down a refundable cash deposit as collateral, but you get to improve your credit score with responsible credit use.

    The Discover it® Secured Credit Card requires a deposit of at least $200 to get started, but it reports your payments to the three credit bureaus to help build your credit profile. There’s no annual fee, and you get to earn 2 percent cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases spent at gas stations and restaurants each quarter (then 1 percent back) and 1 percent cash back on other purchases. Through its Cashback Match™ program, Discover will also double all the rewards earned at the end of your first year.
  • The Chase Freedom® Student credit card* stands out because it lets credit newcomers earn at least 1 percent cash back on all their purchases and it doesn’t charge an annual fee. Cardholders can also earn a $50 cash bonus after they make their first purchase within three months of account opening. You can also monitor your credit score for free with the Chase Credit Journey program.
  • Finally, consider the Discover it® Student chrome with no annual fee. This card is unsecured, and it lets you earn 2 percent cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases spent at gas stations and restaurants each quarter (then 1 percent back) and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. Discover will also match all the rewards you earn at the end of your first year.

    This card also comes with a 0 percent intro APR on purchases for six months, after which a variable APR of 18.24 percent to 27.24 percent applies. That makes it a good option for students who need to buy college textbooks or other school supplies then pay them down without interest over time.

Is a student credit card right for you?

Student credit cards are geared toward individuals who have limited or no credit history, as well as limited incomes. You should consider applying for a student card if you are currently in school, you don’t earn a lot of money and you have limited credit history on your credit reports. If you have never had a credit card or any type of loan before, these factors likely apply in your case.

With that being said, you should note that students ages 18 to 20 can only report their own personal income on their credit card applications, which can include income from jobs or income derived from scholarships or financial aid. As a result, it can be difficult to get approved for a student card if you don’t earn much of an income. If you’re 21 or older you may be able to include household income on your application.

If you have fair credit or better and a regular income, on the other hand, you’re more likely to get approved. You may not even have to choose a student credit card at all. The fact is, there are many credit cards for fair credit or good credit you may be eligible for if you have a job and you pay your own bills.

How can you decide on your next steps? Your best bet is checking your credit score to see where you stand. You can also take steps to build your credit history, including taking out a credit builder loan or using an app like Experian Boost to get credit for subscription services you have or utility bills you pay.

How to choose a student credit card without a credit history

If you are looking at credit cards for no credit, there are several important factors to keep in mind. Here’s everything you need to look at before you choose a new student credit card:

  • Interest rates: Check whether cards you’re considering offer introductory rates on purchases. You’ll also want to know your new card’s ongoing APR, which will impact how much interest you’re charged if you carry a balance.
  • Fees: Look for student credit cards that charge minimal fees or no fees. Don’t settle for cards that charge an annual fee.
  • Rewards: If rewards are interesting to you, compare student cards to find one that offers more rewards in categories you spend a lot in. Conversely, you can also opt for a card that offers a higher flat rate of rewards on everything you buy.
  • Credit reporting: Finally, make sure cards you’re considering report your credit balances and payments to the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Tips for building credit when you have none

If you’re just getting started building credit, there are a few key actions you’ll want to take to ensure you kick off your credit on a positive note.

  • Payment history has the biggest influence on your credit score. Once you open a line of credit, like a credit card, do your best to pay your balances in full whenever possible and always pay on time.
  • The second largest influence on your credit score is your credit utilization ratio, or how much credit you use in relation to how much credit you have available to you. Keeping your credit utilization under 30 percent is one of the best ways to help build your credit.
  • If you aren’t looking to get your own card right away, being an authorized user on someone else’s card could be an alternative. Just make sure that the person you choose is a responsible credit user and someone you can trust.

The bottom line

Student credit cards were built specifically with students in mind, and that’s part of the reason they tend to have better approval odds. As a result, you may be able to get a student credit card with a low credit score or no credit history at all.

Still, it’s possible you might have to apply for a secured credit card at first, which you can use to build credit until you’re eligible for an unsecured credit card. Whatever steps you have to take, building credit will be worth it in the long run.

Frequently asked questions

  • Issuers may approve students for a student credit card if they’re at least 18 years of age and they have their own income. However, qualifying for a student credit card before the age of 21 can be a challenge if you don’t have independent income to report on your application.
  • Many student credit cards offer rewards, although the amount of points or cash back you can earn varies from card to card.
  • Student credit cards help build credit as long as they report your balances and payments to the three credit bureaus. With enough time and responsible use, users can build credit history and increase their credit scores.

*The information about the Chase Freedom® Student credit card has been collected independently by The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.