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College can come with a whole host of expenses outside of the cost of tuition — from books and rent payments to groceries and gas. If you’re paying for these costs with cash or a debit card, you may want to consider applying for a student credit card to earn rewards for your spending while establishing a credit history that you’ll inevitably need.
Here are a few student card options that offer distinctive rewards structures, credit-building opportunities or student-specific perks that can ease your day-to-day life on campus.
Discover it®️ Student chrome + Discover it® Student Cash Back
Need more of an incentive to get good grades? It might not be much, but Discover’s two student cards offer rewards for doing so.
Neither card charges an annual fee, and you can decide which card is best for you based on the cash back rewards structures of each.
- The Student chrome offers a flat 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and an unlimited 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
- The Cash Back for Students gets you 5 percent cash back on different categories throughout the year (up to $1,500 each quarter you activate) and 1 percent back on everything else.
Both the Student chrome and Cash Back for Students extend a pretty stellar welcome offer; Discover will match all of the cash back you earn at the end of your first year of card ownership.
Thankfully, both cards are available to those with limited or no credit history. If you’re interested in viewing Discover’s 5 percent cash back calendar, you can do so, here.
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
The cost of books and other school supplies can really add up — not to mention the shipping fees and variable length of time your order can take to arrive.
With the Deserve EDU card, you get a free year of Amazon Prime Student; if you own the card and sign up for an Amazon Prime Student subscription, Deserve reimburses you for up to $59.
Credits are issued to your account as soon as Amazon charges your Deserve EDU card. It’s recommended that you select the annual plan (equal to $59), rather than the monthly plan ($6.49 per month), as you end up paying $18.88 more with the latter.
Compared to Discover’s student credit card options, the Deserve EDU card’s rewards structure is nothing to write home about. You receive 1 percent cash back on all purchases with no welcome bonus opportunities.
This no annual fee card is, though, a great option for international college students studying in the United States; you don’t need a Social Security Number to apply.
State Farm®️ Student Visa®️
Car insurance can be expensive for just about anyone, let alone a college student. With the State Farm®️ Student Visa®️, you can earn rewards for making insurance premium payments with your card.
Get 1 point for every $2 spent on any eligible purchases and 3 points per dollar on insurance premium payments (up to $4,000 annually). Additionally, you can receive a redemption premium when you apply toward a qualifying State Farm product.
When compared to other student cards in this lineup, you earn significantly less for all other purchases with the State Farm Student Visa (1 point per $2 spent compared to most cards’ 1 point per $1). If you aren’t jonesing to earn rewards for insurance payments and save on additional State Farm products, this card isn’t for you.
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
While the Journey®️ Student Rewards from Capital One®️ doesn’t have an exceptionally unique student-related perk to wow you with, it does offer the chance to increase your rewards earning potential with responsible card usage.
You earn 1 percent cash back on every purchase, but if you pay your monthly balance on time, your rewards are boosted to 1.25 percent cash back for that month.
If you’re interested in increasing your credit score, the Journey Student Rewards may be able to help; you can get access to a higher credit line after making five on-time monthly payments in a row. A higher credit line can effectively decrease your credit utilization ratio, a factor that determines 30 percent of your credit score.
You won’t owe an annual fee for owning the Journey Student Rewards and can further monitor your credit score within Capital One’s CreditWise® app.
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
Are a majority of your purchases concentrated at grocery stores and gas stations? Is your main goal for owning a credit card to earn rewards for your purchases? Similar to non-student cards within Citi’s suite, the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card offers a one-of-a-kinda Round-Up feature. Each time you make a purchase, the points you earn are rounded up to the nearest ten, automatically.
The card’s rewards structure is as follows: Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 per year, then 1X) and 1X points on all other purchases. That means if you bought a $2 coffee from your campus coffee shop, for example, you’d earn 10 points (rather than 1 point) for your purchase.
The card doesn’t charge an annual fee, and there’s a small welcome bonus of 2,500 points when you spend $500 in the first 3 months of account opening.
The information about the Citi Rewards+ Student Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
Going forward: Establish healthy credit card habits
While earning rewards for your spending is ideal and building credit is necessary, these beneficial aspects of credit cards can be undermined if the card is used irresponsibly.
Once you choose and apply for a student card, make developing healthy credit card habits a priority. Be sure to only spend what you can afford with your card and, no matter what, pay off your balance each month. Carrying debt can cancel out any rewards you earn with additional money owed in interest, in turn negatively affecting your credit score.