Credit cards for college students

As a college student, there are a lot of reasons to consider applying for a student credit card. It can be convenient, offer rewards designed for you and be helpful to have for emergency situations. A student credit card could also help you build your credit history when you use the card responsibly. 

This guide will provide some helpful things to look for when choosing a student credit card.

Key takeaways

  • Doing things like paying your statement balance on time each month—in full, if possible—can help you build credit.
  • Comparing card features, interest rates and terms may help you determine which card is best for you.
  • The process to apply for a student credit card is similar to other credit cards, but you typically have to show you’re enrolled in a college or university. 
  • Capital One offers two student credit cards: SavorOne Rewards for Students and Quicksilver Rewards for Students.

Student rewards credit cards

With responsible use, students can earn cash back rewards today while building credit for tomorrow.

Explore cards

Is it worth getting a credit card as a college student?

Before you apply, be sure to weigh whether you’re ready for your first credit card. A credit card can be a great tool to help you become more responsible and financially independent. And some credit card options may offer additional perks, like cash back rewards, when you use your card. 

But probably the biggest advantage of a student credit card is that you can build good credit if you use it responsibly. 

Responsible credit card use includes making on-time payments and not overspending every month. So look for a card designed with features that help students and first-time cardholders build a healthy relationship with credit. 

You can also use resources like CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise is a free tool that helps you monitor your credit. And it provides a personalized summary of key factors that affect your credit scores. With CreditWise, you can even receive automatic alerts if your TransUnion® credit report changes.

What to look for in a credit card for college students

It’s important to understand how student credit cards work. Here are some important card features to keep in mind:

  • Annual percentage rate (APR): Low introductory interest rates are nice, but find out where the APR will go from there.
  • Additional fees: Check to see if there are annual fees, late fees or other charges.
  • Unauthorized charge coverage: A credit card is a big deal—and an even bigger deal if it’s lost or stolen. Find out if you’re covered by policies like $0 liability for unauthorized charges.
  • Automated payment reminders: During busy times like finals, you can stay focused with automated texts or emails alerting you when your account needs attention.
  • Foreign transaction fees: Some cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees, which is helpful if you’re heading abroad for a semester or the summer.
  • Rewards: Many student cards offer cash back rewards, often with no limit on the amount that can be earned.

How to get a student credit card

The application process for a student credit card is similar to how you apply for a typical credit card: You’ll usually need to provide information like your address, date of birth, and employment or income information. And for student credit cards specifically, you typically need to show proof of enrollment at a college or university. 

Once you’ve submitted your application, the card issuer may provide an answer within seconds. 

  • If it’s approved: You can expect to get your card in the mail within a couple of weeks. And some issuers might let you use virtual cards right away.
  • If it’s pending: The card issuer may need more information before making its decision. 
  • If your application is denied: You can review the main reasons for the denial—which issuers are legally required to provide—and work to remedy any issues.

Student credit card age and income requirements

It’s possible to get a credit card once you’re 18. But issuers aren’t allowed to open accounts for students who are younger than 21 unless they prove they have the income to cover monthly payments or have a co-signer. 

Many major issuers don’t allow co-signers. But another way to access credit is by becoming an authorized user on a parent’s or loved one’s credit card account. If the account is used responsibly, being an authorized user could also help you build credit.

Credit card for students with no credit history

Approval requirements vary based on the card issuer, so some cards may not be an option for those with no credit history. But student credit cards and secured credit cards may have more relaxed approval requirements to accommodate applicants who don’t have any credit yet.

What are the best credit cards for college students from Capital One?

Capital One offers two award-winning student credit cards: SavorOne Rewards for Students and Quicksilver Rewards for Students. NerdWallet named SavorOne Rewards for Students 2023’s best credit card for college students, and CardRatings named Quicksilver Rewards for Students the 2024 best student credit card.1, 2

With both cards, you could get a one-time $50 cash bonus when you spend $100 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account.3 And until Nov. 14, 2024, you can get your Uber One monthly membership fee covered—and earn 10% cash back on purchases you make with either the SavorOne Rewards for Students or the Quicksilver Rewards for Students card on Uber and Uber Eats.4

SavorOne Rewards for Students

The SavorOne Rewards for Students card offers unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores, as well as 1% on all other purchases.5, 6 You could also get 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases.6 And there’s no annual fee. View important rates and disclosures.

Quicksilver Rewards for Students

The Quicksilver Rewards for Students card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. And it comes with a $0 annual fee. View important rates and disclosures.

Learn how to use your student credit card responsibly

Using your student credit card responsibly includes doing things like staying on top of monthly payments to avoid late fees, reading the fine print on card terms and making sure to not spend more than you can afford.

Student credit cards in a nutshell

Building good credit takes time and responsible use. So for many students, it makes sense to start early. And choosing a card and learning how to be a responsible new cardholder can serve you well after you graduate and set out into the world. Think of the opportunity to build a healthy credit history as just one more valuable lesson that comes alongside that degree you’re earning.

Find a student card that fits your needs

Pre-approval makes it quick and easy to browse card offers without impacting your credit score.

Get started

Ready to get started? Apply for a Capital One student credit card today. And if you’re still not sure which one is right for you, you could consider using Capital One’s pre-approval tool. It’s quick and has no effect on your credit scores.

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