What Happens to My Student Credit Card When I Graduate?

Quick Answer

Depending on your card issuer, you may have a few different options for what to do with your student credit card after graduation. In some cases, the issuer may automatically convert your card to a new one without the student designation, but you may need to upgrade on your own or apply for a new card.

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If you've been enjoying the perks of a student credit card, you may be wondering whether you get to keep it after you graduate from college. The answer depends on your card issuer and what you want to do as you transition into your career. In many cases, your card will be converted to the equivalent non-student card offered by your card issuer.

Here's what you should know about how card issuers deal with student credit cards after graduation and how you should proceed with your card.

What Happens to My Student Credit Card After Graduation?

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

In some cases, the card issuer may automatically upgrade your credit card to the non-student version of the card. If this occurs, you can keep using your student card until you get the new one in the mail.

If the account number remains the same, you'll just need to activate the new card and continue using it as you were before. If the account number is different, make sure to update your recurring payments so you don't miss one.

Also, because student credit cards typically come with a lower credit limit than traditional cards, you'll also want to update your income, housing information and other details, which the card issuer can use to determine whether you qualify for a credit line increase.

Request an Upgrade

If your card issuer doesn't automatically reclassify your credit card to a non-student version, you may be able to request a product change to a different card the issuer offers.

You can generally only request a product change to a card within the same family. For example, if you have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points with Chase, you can only change to another Ultimate Rewards credit card—switching to one of the bank's hotel or airline cards won't be an option.

If you're thinking of requesting a product change, make sure you compare the cards' rewards rates, benefits and annual fees. Note, however, that you don't qualify for a credit card's intro bonus or intro 0% APR financing if you request a product change—a new application is required.

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. Take your time to compare different credit cards to determine the right fit for you, and be sure to branch out and look at other card issuer offerings. You can easily compare credit cards with Experian CreditMatch™.

Keep in mind that applying for a new credit card will result in a hard credit inquiry, which can temporarily impact your credit score. But it can be worth it if the new card is a better fit for your spending habits and goals.

Should You Cancel Your Student Credit Card?

Whether or not your card issuer converts your student credit card to a non-student version, you may be thinking about canceling the card. In most cases, though, it's best to keep old credit cards open.

The exceptions are when the card has an annual fee or the issuer won't return the deposit on a secured credit card unless you close the account—neither of which typically happens with student credit cards.

Even if you plan to apply for a new card, here are some reasons to consider keeping the student card open:

  • As your oldest card, canceling it will reduce the length of your credit history, which can negatively impact your credit score.
  • Keeping the card open lets you keep the card's available credit, which can help your credit utilization rate remain low and in turn help your credit score.
  • If you keep the card active, the positive payment history can continue to help you build your credit.

Review Your Credit Before You Request an Upgrade

If you're thinking about asking for a product change or applying for a different credit card altogether, it's a good idea to check your credit score first. The best credit cards in terms of rewards and perks typically require a good credit score, which usually means a FICO® Score of 670 or higher.

If your score is high enough, your odds of getting approved for an upgrade or a new card are good, though not guaranteed. If your credit score hasn't been well enough established yet, you may need to continue using your current card until your credit history is in a better state.

You'll also want to take advantage of other credit opportunities, including paying student loans on time and asking to be added as an authorized user on a friend or family member's card, to help improve your credit score.