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How are student credit cards different than regular credit cards?|

In general, student credit cards and regular credit cards function the same. The biggest difference is that student credit cards are more accessible to people who have yet to establish a credit history.

Student credit cards generally have higher interest rates, lower credit limits and more basic rewards programs compared to regular credit cards. However, many student cards offer special perks geared toward students, making them worth it while you're in college.

~How old do I have to be to get approved for a student credit card?|

You need to be 18 to get a credit card. Applicants under 21 years of age need to show proof of independent income to afford their bill. This means you must show the credit card company that you have enough stable cash flow to cover your credit card expenses, whether with paychecks, parental allowance or other income. If you are over 21 years of age, you will still have to show income but you can include income that may come from a spouse, partner or other member of your household.

~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 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.

~Can you get a student credit card with no credit?|

Yes, it's possible to qualify for a student credit card with no credit. There are some student cards that don't require a credit history. Make sure you review the application process to see if the card issuer requires a credit history or instead uses alternative data.

~What happens to my student credit card after I graduate?|

You can still use your student credit card after you graduate, but if you have been using your card responsibly, many issuers will have an upgrade path where you can keep your same account but switch to the non-student version of your credit card.

Upon graduation, the one thing your credit card issuer won't do is close your account. However, different card issuers may take various actions once you're no longer considered a student. It's a good idea to reach out to your card issuer to get the details of what will happen to your card. Here are a few possible outcomes:

  • Get an automatic upgrade: Your card issuer might automatically upgrade your card to the non-student version of the card.
  • Request an upgrade: If your card issuer doesn't automatically upgrade your credit card to a non-student version, you may be able to request a product change to a different card the issuer offers.
  • Apply for a new credit card: If you want a different card your card issuer offers and also want the sign-up bonus—or you want a new credit card that you can't get through a product change—you'll have to submit a new application.

~Can international students apply for a credit card?|

Yes, international students can apply for student credit cards. The process will be different as an international student but they are still eligible to apply. Generally, international applicants will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the IRS and use it instead of a Social Security number. Before applying, check with the card issuer to see if they allow ITINs.

~Do I need a job to get a student credit card?|

No, having a job is not a requirement to get a student credit card. However, a job can increase your chances of being approved for a student credit card. And remember that if you're under 21, you'll need to prove that you have an independent source of income, so it's a good idea to have a job.

~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.