Best Credit Cards For College Students

A college student credit card is a great way to earn rewards and build your credit. It’s best to start as early as possible building your credit if you plan on larger purchases in the future such as buying a home or purchasing a car. Mortgage lenders and auto loan providers require that you have steady income and good credit history. They also look at the length of your credit history as well as any late payments you may have had. This is why it’s best to start building credit early and paying off the credit card each month. Some banks won’t even lend to college students but others are open into giving college students a small amount of credit hoping they will become long standing customers over time.

What card is the right one for me?

Finding a student credit card that fits your unique needs can be a bit overwhelming once you start doing research and looking at the hundreds of cards available. The toughest part is picking the right card for you. Banks offer all kinds of credit cards to students with no credit history. Some cards offer 0% interest for certain periods of time as well as no penalties for late payments while others make you pay an annual fee. There are also great rewards cards that offer cash back for every purchase you make. If you have no previous credit history, some banks will only let you have a secured credit card, which means you put a refundable deposit in your account. The banks is taking a risk allowing you to have a credit card in the first place, so they are requiring this deposit to see how responsible you are.

What’s the catch?

The catch here is that it takes a disciplined person to get a credit card and use it properly to build your credit. If you can use your credit card responsibly and pay it on time each month without maxing out your credit, then you will have no problem building a good credit score so you can secure the purchase of your first home.

Now let’s look at the best credit cards for college students

We have all the basics out of the way so lets take a look at the best credit cards for college students with no credit history:

  1. Discover it® Student Cash Back Credit Card
    1. The Discover it® Student Cash Back credit card has an amazing introductory offer that we think gets the top placement. All the cash back that you have earned at the end of the first year, Discover will match ALL of it. No questions asked. No ifs, ands or buts. You don’t have to sign up to participate, it automatically happens at the end of your first year. Also, there is no limit to the amount you get back. It’s hard to match that offer 😉
  2. Discover it® Student chrome Credit Card
    1. Much like it’s sibling above, the Discover it® Student chrome credit card has the same match guarantee as the Student Cash Back card from Discover. They will match all the cash back from the previous 12 months and give it back to you. No need to sign up and there’s no limit to the amount matched back.
  3. Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® Credit Card
  4. Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students Credit Card
  5. Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
  6. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Factors to consider

Now that we have presented you with a list of cards to choose from, lets discuss more of what you should look for in a credit card. Keep in mind you are just a college student and your needs differ from someone who travels more frequently for work to build airline miles. Once you have credit established and you are out of college, you can look into other credit card options.

  1. Annual card fees: Some cards have annual fees and others don’t. What this means is that just for having the credit card and keeping it active, you must pay the annual fee. This is just another way the credit card companies capitalize on you. We recommend you find cards with no annual fee. However, if you find a card that suits you and it does have an annual fee, just make a note on your calendar of when it will be due 12 months from now so you can be prepared to pay the additional cost.
  2. Sign up bonuses: The majority of the cards above offer some type of sign up bonus. To earn that bonus, you must spend a certain amount of money within the allotted time frame, usually 3 months or so. They use the sign up bonus to entice you to get their credit card in hopes that you’ll sign up.
  3. Rewards: Besides gaining a credit history, the other main reason to get a card is the awesome rewards! Make sure to find a card that offers cash back rewards on purchases that you make. To get the most out of your card, use it to buy your groceries and gas and everyday purchases, BUT make sure you pay it off as soon as you can. This is where the discipline comes in. If you are responsible with your credit card, you can gain some valuable rewards and cash back.

College Students Encourage Their Schools to Invest in Local Banks

Dollar Bill close-upNovember 5, 2011, was National Bank Transfer Day. This was a day when many Americans were encouraged to move their personal funds from larger financial institutions to smaller, local banks. The goal behind this was to boost local economies while also reducing the risk of another banking crisis in the future.

Many college students participated in National Bank Transfer Day this year. However, some went above and beyond the normal call to action and asked their schools to close their corporate bank accounts as well. These students delivered petitions to college administrators asking that the schools move their funds into local community banks and credit unions.

Dan Apfel is the executive director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition. He said that the schools can make these transfers without taking the risk of compromising any returns on their investments. He also said that by do so, the schools will help create a connection between themselves and the communities that they are located in. Collectively, American colleges and universities have around $350 billion in endowments, so if these schools did invest this money in local banks, it could have a great impact on the local economies.

However, even if the schools are not pursued to change their banking locations, it will not stop students from making a statement.

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How to Ask Your Parents for Money

Whether your college job isn’t cutting it, or you spent a little too much here and there, it’s time to ask your parents for money. You’re probably dreading that uncomfortable experience.

Unless you plan to go to a bank or a money shop, you will eventually have to discuss your finances with your parents. Read below, and find out ways to better handle that conversation.

Decide if you’re asking for a loan or a gift first, and be sure you know what you’re asking for before you meet with your parents. If you are indeed asking for a gift, make sure you say so.  Don’t ask for a loan if  you have know intention of paying them back.

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College Grads: 3 Ways You Can Better Budget Your Paycheck

June is the the time of year that newly-minted graduates are headed off into a world of resumes, interviews and call-backs, all of which will hopefully lead to a job  and that much-needed paycheck. While most young adults don’t like to be told how to spend their money, planning for your first month’s income isn’t an easy task.

Instead of learning the hard way, I urge college grads to put some thought into their budgets before they even receive their first paycheck. Take the guess work out of your personal finances, and read these tips on how to properly spend and save your money.

Plan for taxes: Depending on which state you live in and your household situation, taxes can take a huge chunk out of your paycheck. To better estimate that amount, use a free paycheck calculator online. Also, start thinking of withholding as a means of saving. More withholding means a larger refund, which could be used to pay off student loans faster, or it could go towards a down payment on a car.

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All Students Need a Savings Account

saving-moneyYay! It’s pay day! You’ve been working all week for this paycheck, and now it’s time to go live it up (a.k.a. spend every penny you’ve earned). Or, instead of blowing your check in one weekend, you could save some of it for a rainy day.

Wait, what? Why would you want to save any of your hard earned money? You’ve worked hard and deserve to go out and have fun on a Friday night, but part of being a responsible, working adult is having an emergency savings fund tucked away. Here are some reasons why it’s crucial to have an emergency fund:

You might need extra cash. There’s no telling what curve balls life will throw at you. It could be something unexpected, like needing to buy new tires for your car, or it might be something cool, like getting the opportunity to take a mini-vacation with your friends one weekend. Either way, it’d be nice if you had some funds stashed away to cover the expense.

You earn money from it. Most savings accounts earn a small amount of interest. However, no matter how little interest your savings account is earning, it’s still more money that you had before. When you have a savings account, the bank literally pays you. Why would you pass up free money?

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Easy Ways to Find Cheap Textbooks

college students studyingIt’s no secret that college can be a financial strain for many seeking a higher education. Tuition costs continually increase year over year, and with that, the costs of textbooks do as well. Here are a few suggestions for reducing college expenses, while still having all of the required textbooks necessary to succeed.

  • Share with Friends. Split your book bill in half by sharing the books with a friend or classmate. Odds are you’d end up studying together anyway, so it’s probably not necessary for both of you to haul around identical books. Read the rest of this entry »

New Reforms Make it Difficult for Students to “Put it on the Card”

The average student graduates college with over $4,000 in credit card debt.

The average student graduates college with over $4,000 in credit card debt.

It is so incredibly easy to apply for a credit card. Companies set up booths during move-in-days at college dorms, send out applications in the mail, and bombard email inboxes with credit card offers. Many credit card companies offer incentives, like a free T-shirt or a free pizza, to those who apply and are approved for a card. This all sounds like a good deal for students; sign up for a Visa and dinner is free! However, a few months later, you open your credit statement and find you owe way more than you are able to pay back. Then, your interest rate goes up and your credit score goes down.

Why is your credit score important? If you have a low credit score, you might not be able to buy a car, rent an apartment, or even get a job. Read the rest of this entry »

Are Americans Financially Illiterate?

Lauren Willis of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Lauren Willis of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

The answer is yes. Most Americans do not have the financial understanding necessary to navigate the terms of their credit card agreement, and yet studies suggest it should stay that way. Lauren Willis of the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles recently wrote a controversial paper entitled “Against Financial Literacy Education” that suggests most people aren’t capable of keeping up with the complex and fast-changing regulations or metrics that drive our financial industry.

In it she states that attempts to financially educate people have been costly to the government and met with limited success, citing several cases in which test scores were lower among those who had received a financial education than those who hadn’t. She further argues that financial education tends to increase the confidence of the consumer, but fails to increase their ability to make good financial decisions. Willis believes that financial matters should be left to experts rather than individual consumers, much like the fields of law and medicine.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

College Student Personal Finance 101

The current economic conditions in the U.S. are leaving many families strapped financially. With college students rushing out the door, they might not fully understand how these times are affecting your family. Students not knowing the financial difficulties they could face later in life by taking out thousands of dollars in student loans are digging themselves into a hole. As of September 2018, student loan debt is over 1.5 trillion dollars and rising. The federal government needs to figure out a solution….quick! Click on to access more information about bankruptcy laws.

Financial expert Dave Ramsey encourages families to talk openly about their finances. Students should not have false expectations. It will help them to learn to manage money responsibly if you start them early.

His recommendations include:

– Don’t get them student credit cards until they are responsible enough to pay them

– Parents should check-in with students often and ask about their money status

– Parents should work with students to design a budget

– Students can get a job to help pay their bills, meals and entertainment

– Be prepared with emergency cash

Keeping yourself in financial check is important. Take a look at your finances each and every month to see where you stand and how you can improve.

College Students Prey for Credit Card Companies

credit cardsWith the start of the new school year, college campuses will be filling up with doe-eyed freshman, school spirit, pink slips for classes… and credit card companies. Luring students with school t-shirts, backpacks and other goods, they wait outside of classrooms, in the Union and at football games.

Be prepared. Understand your credit score, the ramifications of having credit cards and the debt and let your first college lesson be financial responsibility.


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