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November 11, 2015

Student Credit Card Reviews

The Best Student Credit Cards

We narrowed the list down to 10 student credit cards and reviewed the 4 best cards based on 34 distinct features.

Editor's Choice

Discover it® for Students

Other top picks

Journey℠ Student Rewards from Capital One®

Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card for College Students

Citi Forward® Card for College Students

What student credit card features matter and why


Rewards refers to the points or cash back that are earned with each dollar spent on the student credit card as well as any stipulations associated with the rewards. The best cards will have rewards that don't expire and provide multiple ways to earn bonus rewards. The majority of the top student cards are cash back cards, but points-based cards are also available. Rewards is the most important category because it measures how generously students are rewarded with purchases made on the card.

The most important rewards features
  • 2:1 Rewards or More - The credit card offers 2 Points, 2% Cash Back, or 2 Miles or more for every dollar spent.
  • Additional 2:1 Rewards Categories - The credit card offers 2:1 rewards or more for at least one additional purchase category - like dining, travel, gas, groceries, shopping, or other.
  • Bonus Points Offered - The credit card offers bonus points you can earn throughout the year.
  • No Blackout Dates - There are no blackout travel dates to use your points, miles, or cash back rewards.
  • No Expiration - Your rewards points, miles, or cash back rewards will never expire.
  • Offers Companion Reward - The airline credit card offers a companion airfare reward.
  • Sign-Up Bonus - The credit card offers a sign-up bonus reward.
  • Unlimited Rewards - You can accumulate an unlimited amount of points, miles, or cash back rewards with your credit card.


Benefits refers to the additional useful features that accompany student credit card ownership. Valuable services like fraud liability protection, 24/7 live service, and access to exclusive events, are included with many cards. Many of the best student credit cards will also include emergency support, a feature parents will also appreciate. Benefits is a less important feature category, but still helps define a quality credit card for students.

The most important benefits
  • 24/7 Live Service - You can speak with a live representative at any time of day about your credit card.
  • Emergency Support - The credit card offers emergency support.
  • Exclusive Events - You have access to exclusive events with the credit card.
  • Fraud Liability - The credit card offers fraud liability protection.
  • Partner Point Transfer - You can exchange your points for equal value with participating partners of the credit card, like hotels or airlines.
  • Price Protection - You will be reimbursed the difference of any purchase made within a certain time period if you find a lower advertised price.
  • Purchase Security - You will receive a refund for any item that a retailer doesn't accept as a return within a certain time period.

Reward Redemption

Reward Redemption covers the different ways that accumulated credit card points can be redeemed for rewards. Relative to popular points cards, the point redemption options for student cards are fairly limited. The top credit card for students will allow the cardholder to redeem points for electronics, music, cash, and even to help pay off student loans.

The most important reward redemption feautres
  • Redeem for Airline Travel - Rewards can be redeemed for airline travel.
  • Redeem for Car Rental - Rewards can be redeemed for car rental
  • Redeem for Cash Back - Rewards can be redeemed as cash back or statement credit.
  • Redeem for Gift Cards - Rewards can be redeemed for gift cards.
  • Redeem for Hotel - Rewards can be redeemed for hotel.
  • Redeem for Merchandise - Rewards can be redeemed for merchandise.
  • Redeem for Other - Rewards can be redeemed for other categories, such as magazine subscriptions or charity donations.
  • Redeem Online - You can redeem your points, miles, or cash back rewards online.


Application is a straightforward category that identifies the different ways to apply for student credit cards and whether the card offers instant approval. College students are often busy with studies, work, and other activities. Having the ability to quickly go online and apply for a credit card is a very convenient feature. Credit cards can be tricky to navigate, so applying for one by phone and speaking with a representative can also be a helpful option. For those times when money is extra tight, finding an issuer with instant approval can make sure funds are available for the necessities.

The most important application options
  • Apply By Phone - You can complete the credit card application process via phone.
  • Apply In Person - You can apply for the credit card live in person.
  • Apply Online - You can complete the entire credit card application process online.
  • Instant Approval - The card offers instant approval for the credit card.

Balance Transfer

Balance Transfers refer to the different methods of transferring money to a card. Balance Transfers includes information on balance fees and rates, as well as specifying whether transferring from other credit cards is permitted. Some of the best cards allow balances from other credit cards to be transferred to the new card, will offer an attractive balance rate, and will not charge for the balance transfer transaction. Balance Transfers is an important category for those with existing credit balances on other credit cards.

The most important balance transfer features
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Rate (APR) - The credit card offers an introductory balance transfer rate (APR).
  • No Introductory Balance Transfer Fee - The credit card doesn't charge a percentage fee on the new balance transferred to the card.
  • Transfer from Credit Cards - You can transfer a balance from another credit card.
  • Transfer from Loans - You can transfer a balance from a loan to the credit card.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance Coverage discusses the additional assurances that are often provided by the credit card issuer. Whether it's back to visit Mom and Dad or backpacking in a distant location, college students are apt to travel and benefits like lost luggage insurance, car rental insurance, roadside assistance, and travel insurance are potentially very useful. Insurance Coverage features can provide a level of security to the cardholder, but the category is less important because these features are more about added personal protection and not fundamental to these cards.

The most important insurance coverage features
  • Car Rental Insurance - The credit card offers car rental insurance.
  • Extended Warranty - The credit card offers an extended warranty on purchases.
  • Flight Insurance - The credit card offers flight insurance.
  • Lost Luggage Insurance - The credit card offers lost luggage insurance.
  • Roadside Assistance - The credit card offers roadside assistance.
  • Travel Insurance - The credit card offers travel insurance.