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Best Student Credit Cards of 2021

Student credit cards provide the opportunity to build credit while you’re young. Here are the best student cards and how you can benefit.

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As you prepare for your life after college, one of the best financial decisions you can make is to work on building your credit history. Your credit score is a crucial indicator of how well you manage debt, and it helps determine whether you'll qualify for credit in the future and what interest rate you'll have to pay if you do.

The best student credit cards offer an opportunity to establish a positive credit history while also offering rewards and other features that can take a little bit of the stress out of college. Here are our top picks.

2 Partner Offers

Our Top Picks for the Best Student Credit Cards of 2021
Petal<sup>®</sup> 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa<sup>®</sup> Credit Card

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

2% - 10% cash back at select merchants

No annual fee

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

1% cash back on every purchase

1.25% cash back when bill is paid on time

No annual fee

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

Even among most student credit cards, there's no guarantee that you'll get approved if you have no credit history at all. With the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card, though, a credit file isn't required.

Instead, you link your bank account to Petal, and the card issuer uses your banking information to determine how well you manage your income and expenses. In other words, your approval will be based on your overall money management, not just whether you've used credit in the past. If you do have a credit history, Petal will run a credit check.

The card doesn't offer rewards on every purchase, but you can earn 2% to 10% cash back at select merchants. The card doesn't charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees.

Read full review

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

Apply

on Petal's website

Fair - Very Good, New to Credit, Rebuilding

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

APR

19.99% - 29.49% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Rewards

None

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details
  • $0 Annual Fee and no international transaction fees
  • $500 - $5,000 credit limits
  • Earn a credit limit increase in as little as 6 months. Terms and conditions apply.
  • No credit score? No problem. If eligible, we’ll create your Cash Score instead.
  • 2% - 10% cash back from select merchants
  • Variable APRs range from 19.99% - 29.49%
  • Build credit alongside tens of thousands of Petal Card members
  • Petal's mobile app makes it easy to manage your money, track your spending, and automate payments
  • See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • No deposits required
  • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC

Rates and Fees

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is on our list because of how it incentivizes cardholders to manage their card well.

For starters, all cardholders will earn at least 1% cash back on every purchase they make. But if you pay your bill on time every month, you'll get a boost to 1.25% cash back. Also, Capital One will automatically consider you for a higher credit limit after as little as six months with the card.

The card doesn't have a standard welcome offer, but you can get $60 in statement credits toward eligible streaming services during your first 18 months with the card: $5 per month for up to 12 months total.

The card doesn't charge an annual fee or even a foreign transaction fee, making it a solid choice if you're considering studying abroad. However, the interest rate is high at 26.99% variable APR, so plan to pay your bill on time and in full every month to avoid interest charges.

Read full review

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Apply

on Capital One's website

Fair

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

APR

26.99% (Variable)

Intro APR

N/A

Rewards

1% cash back on All Purchases

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Earn $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone

How Is a Student Credit Card Different From a Regular Credit Card?

In general, student credit cards and regular credit cards function the same way. The main difference is that student cards are more accessible to people who haven't had the chance to build a credit history, such as students.

They also tend to offer some benefits to encourage you to use your account wisely. Credit limits are generally lower, and while many of the top student credit cards offer rewards, they're not as lucrative as what you'd get with many traditional credit cards.

Can You Get a Student Credit Card With No Credit?

Yes, it's possible to qualify for a student credit card with no credit. In fact, the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card specializes in helping college students and others who can't lean on their credit history to get approved.

And although it's possible to get approved for a different student credit card with no credit, it could be more difficult to achieve your goal.

What Are the Benefits of Student Credit Cards?

As a college student, here are some of the reasons to consider applying for a student credit card while you're still in school:

  • Build credit for free: Unlike loans and other types of credit-building debt that accrue interest automatically, you can avoid interest charges with a credit card as long as you pay your bill on time and in full every month.
  • Incentives to develop good habits: The sooner you start practicing good credit habits, the better. You don't have to wait until you have access to a full-time salary and high credit limits, either. Many student cards offer certain incentives to encourage you to pay on time and keep your balance low.
  • Earn rewards: Many of the best student credit cards offer rewards when you use them to make purchases. If you're already planning on making that purchase, the extra cash back or points are a nice perk. Plus, over time, those rewards add up.

Do You Have to Be a Student to Get a Student Credit Card?

You generally have to be a college student to qualify for a student credit card. If you're not a college student, your best bet may be the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card or a secured credit card.

You'll also need to meet other eligibility requirements, which can vary by card issuer. In general, you'll need to be at least 18 years old, have a Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, and have at least some form of income to show that you can repay the debt you incur.

Before you apply for a card, review the fine print to help you understand your chances of qualifying. If you can't find the information online, don't be afraid to call and ask or submit a prequalification application.

Use Experian CreditMatch™ to Find Your Odds

If you're looking for a new student credit card, you can use Experian CreditMatch™ to narrow down your list of options. The free service will provide personalized offers based on your unique credit profile. Using CreditMatch™ won't impact your budding credit score, either.

As you start using your student credit card, look for opportunities to learn more about how to build credit and maintain a solid credit history over time. To monitor your progress, make sure you review your free credit score from Experian on an ongoing basis.