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The Best Student Credit Card Rewards and Offers

Published 12/9/07 (Modified 3/20/14)
By MoneyBlueBook

The Best Credit Cards For College Students and Graduates To Learn Credit Responsibility

If you are a college or graduate student, it's important to understand that proper rewards credit card management is a trait and skill that should be developed sooner than later in life. If you are the parent of a teenage child who is currently a college student, it's very important to teach him or her the importance of building up a good credit history while he or she is still in school, before entering the real working world where credit card mistakes and shortcomings are more brutal. The FICO credit score is heavily dependent on the length and quality of each person's long term credit history, so it's in the student's best interest to develop good credit usage habits and responsible management skills early on. Avoiding credit altogether out of fear or mistrust of credit cards is a misguided approach in my opinion. How else will a student develop the financial management skills he or she will need to succeed in this technologically and financially driven world?

Knowledge and Education Is Power, So If You Are A Parent, Be Sure To Teach Your Student Or Teen Financial Responsibility Early and Often

Many parents today are afraid of giving their college age teen the huge financial responsibility of using a credit card. But shielding them away from this altogether may hurt them in the future due to their lack of exposure to basic finance skills and their lack of credit history. They may be at a disadvantage if and when they choose to purchase a home or a car on their own. Of course not all credit cards are suitable for students, teens, and credit novices, but with the right student credit card, it can be an invaluable financial teaching tool. Here are some ways and ideas to help your college age child or teenage student better understand the financial basics of using a student credit card:

  1. Keep the initial credit limit under $500 - It's best not to give the student too high of a credit limit initially to discourage overeager spending or purchases beyond their means or needs.
  2. Teach them to make timely online payments - This is the internet age we are in so students need to know how to timely pay off their credit card balance online. Setting up automatic debit payments is a convenient option as well.
  3. Set rules on what they can use the credit card for - Students need to learn to discern what they should buy and what they should not. They need to know the rules of responsible spending.
  4. Make sure they know that they must pay off the balance in full each month - New credit card holders may initially have statement shock, having no experience at knowing how high their accumulated monthly statement balance may be each month. The student needs to learn how to mentally keep tracking of his or her spending and know the importance of paying the statement balance off regularly.
  5. Teach and explain credit terms such as finance charges, fees, annual percentage rates, and grace periods.
  6. Show the student how to track their cash back earned and reward points so they learn the benefits of reward credit cards and understand why responsible use can help one maximize overall financial potential. The key phrase here is "responsible use".

Most of the uniquely designed student credit cards out there may be advertised and promoted as for college students only, but usually any type of student can qualify for them, including those attending graduate school. Frequently, the card application will request some form of student status identification, such as a copy of your tuition bill, student ID card, or simply a signed affirmation that you are indeed a student.

The ideal college and graduate student credit card will contain No Annual Fee, a 0% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) introductory purchase or balance transfer period to offer the student a trial usage period, and cash back rewards or other usage incentives to teach them the benefits and rewarding aspects of responsible credit card use. Pursuant to these characteristics, none of the following suggested student credit card offers below have minimum income or co-signer requirements either - ideal for college students or recent graduates who usually have minimal income information to offer anyway. Of course, make sure you can afford what you buy with your newly applied for credit cards. Be smart, pay off your monthly balances, and don't fall into the trap of unpaid credit card debt.

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