Student Rewards Credit Cards

The Benefits of Student Rewards Credit Cards

When students take charge of their finances and start shopping for credit cards, most of them have no idea what they need. They don’t have credit histories, so they can't gain approval for conventional credit cards. Also, they have zero experience managing a credit card, so even if they could, they could run down their credit rating in no time at all.
Student credit cards are designed especially for college students looking to establish a good credit history.

Student credit cards, on the other hand, are designed specifically for students and they come with features that ease adoption for new users. The rewards credit cards take things up a notch by allowing students to earn rewards while familiarizing themselves with the ins and outs of credit cards.

What Are Student Rewards Credit Cards

Student credit cards are designed for college students looking to establish a good credit history. Card providers generally grant approval to students that have no credit scores and they send regular reports to the credit reporting agencies. This helps new cardholders build their credit ratings quickly, qualifying them for conventional credit cards in the future.

Since many students don’t have steady sources of income, student credit cards often have low credit limits ($500 on average). However, the better you manage your credit card, the stronger your credit rating becomes and the higher your credit limit. The best student credit cards charge low fees, have reasonably low APRs, and don’t inflict heavy penalties for late repayments.

Student rewards credit cards are a special class of student cards. They provide all the features highlighted above and they still allow cardholders to earn rewards for making purchases with their cards. They offer cash back or points for purchases at grocery stores, gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants and so on. In this regard, they’re similar to conventional credit cards. Some student cards also give out bonuses to students that excel at school and to cardholders that pay off their balances quickly.

While being a college student is the first requirement for applying for student credit cards, federal law dictates that only people 21-years and older can get credit cards. However, this restriction is waived for individuals under 21 that have an independent and verifiable source of income.

How to Maximize a Student Rewards Card

Below are some tips to help students make the most of their rewards credit cards.

Pick a Card That Suits Your Spending Habits

Since student cards typically have low credit limits, it’s important that you only apply for a rewards card that offers bonuses in categories that you spend on regularly. As a student, your biggest expenses will likely involve things like food, phone bills and internet and TV subscriptions. Get cards that incentivize purchases in these categories.

Look Out for Sign-Up Bonuses

In addition to earning cash back for purchases, you can also earn bonuses when you spend a certain amount within a few months of getting your card. Sign-up bonuses may not be as generous as those on conventional credit cards, but for students, every little bit counts. For example, Bank of America Travel Rewards Card offers students a sign-up bonus of as much as $250.

Choose Cards That Offer Introductory APRs

Some student rewards credit cards give cardholders a 0% APR introductory period. This offer allows you to make purchases on your card without paying interest for a couple of months. Cards like these offer good value.

Never Miss Your Monthly Repayments

The main purpose of a student credit card is to build up your credit rating. Once you start missing payments, you damage your credit score and jeopardize your chances of getting a good credit card in the future.

Top 5 Student Rewards Credit Cards

The features to look out for in student cards are low APRs, no annual fees, no late payment penalties and, of course, sizable rewards for purchases. Based on these considerations, these are the top student rewards credit cards:

Discover It® Student Cash Back

The Discover It Student Cash Back Card is chock full of rewards, charges no annual fee, offers a 6 month 0% intro APR for purchases, and is available to students without credit histories. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on rotating categories including restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and Amazon.com, and 1% for other purchases. An intro bonus means Discover will double all cash back earned in the first year without limits, and for every school year that their GPA is above 3.0, cardholders get $20. Phew!

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Wells Fargo’s College Card comes with a 12 month 0% intro APR for eligible purchases, charges no annual fees and, for the first 6 months, gives cardholders 3% cash back for purchases at grocery stores, drugstores and gas stations. Other eligible purchases earn 1% cash back and, after the 6-month promotional period, all categories earn unlimited 1% cash back.

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

With the Citi Rewards+ Student Card, you’re getting 0% intro APR on purchases for 7 months, a $25 gift card from thankyou.com for spending $500 within the first 3 months, 2x points for purchases at supermarkets/gas stations every year (capped at $6,000), and 1x points for other purchases. Generous enough for a $0 annual fee student card.

Journey Students Reward Card from Capital One®

Journey Student Reward cardholders enjoy 1% cash back on all purchases and a bonus 0.25% every month they make timely payments. If you make on-time payments for 5 straight months, you enjoy an increase in your credit limit, a lower APR, and reduced fees. However, the best feature this card has is its “what-if simulator”: a program that allows card users to predict how certain financial actions will affect their credit rating and debt load.

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Great for international students, the Deserve EDU Master Card considers applicants without credit histories and/or Social Security numbers. It also charges no annual fee, offers unlimited 1% cash back for all purchases, and pays your Amazon Prime subscription for a year (worth $59).

The good thing about the low credit limits on student rewards cards is that it makes it unlikely that you’ll overspend on it. Nevertheless, you must be mindful of your spending habits and be sure to not build up a huge balance. Remember, the goal is to establish a strong credit score. Earn rewards, garner points, and take advantage of sign-up bonuses; just don’t lose sight of what is most important.