Last year, 56% of college students reported that they had at least one credit card, with 60% of those noting that they used the card as a way to build credit before graduating and entering the real world.
The same study revealed, however, that 40% of college students weren’t taught about how to manage their spending before taking out the card, resulting in maxed out lines of credit and past-due payments. As long as students are able to be financially responsible, a credit card can sometimes be a good idea, especially in financially uncertain times like we’re in now when credit might be the only way to pay bills on time or purchase necessary items for school.
Students need different things out of credit cards than older adults, such as more opportunities to earn rewards, 0% APR, and even a card that doesn’t require a credit check (as most young adults have no credit). Here are our picks for five of the best credit cards for college students in 2020.
Best Credit Cards for College Students in 2020
Rewards, rewards, rewards! That’s what the Discover It Student Cash Back card offers college students. If you’re more interested in what you can gain from spending on a credit card as opposed to building credit, this is the card for you. With the chance to earn up to 5% cashback on certain purchases, it’s one of the highest rates for rewards amongst competing credit cards. On top of that, there's no annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment, and a $20 annual statement credit for good grades. It’s worth noting that Discover also offers a student gas and restaurant credit card, too. However, this card offers more rewards overall.
BOA is typically known for offering great rewards credit cards, and they now extend that same offer to college students, too. If cashback is your goal and you’re using a credit card as part of a savings strategy on top of building credit in college, check out this card. Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice – online shopping, off-campus dining, and more with no annual fee. It’s ranked as the best college credit card for 0% intro APR, and there isn’t a fee associated with making transactions.
As a college student, you likely don’t spend enough to really reap the benefits of most major credit cards. This is where the Citi Rewards+ Student Card really shines. It’s the best college credit card in 2020 for students looking for big rewards on small purchases. You can earn 2X points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent each year at supermarkets and gas stations. And, they automatically round up rewards on purchases to the nearest 10 points, making it even easier to save for those with more conservative spending habits.
Deserve has won awards from Nerd Wallet, Money, and Fast Company for the innovative ways in which they’re giving more back to their credit card users. The EDU Mastercard for students has largely been regarded as one of the best cards for international students or students without credit. Why? They use their own underwriting process to evaluate applications based on alternative criteria, so college students are more likely to get approved. And, like the Cheese Debit Card, you don’t need a Social Security number to apply. Once you’re approved, you’ll gain access to perks such as Amazon Prime Student for a year, 1% cashback on all purchases, a $0 annual fee, and no international transaction fees.
There’s a lot to love about the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card, and that’s what makes it one of the best credit cards for college students in 2020. Let’s start with the APR, which is amongst the lowest when compared against other college credit cards. It starts as low as 11.15%. And, while theirs no introductory award, it’s the best for cashback and other rewards, such as 3% cash rewards earned for up to $2,500 spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first six months. Oh, and you can also get 1% cashback on all other purchases; what a steal for a young credit builder and saver.
No Credit? Opt for a Savings-Optimized Debit Card Instead
If you’re not interested in dealing with the hassle of a credit card or don’t feel financially responsible enough just yet to manage a credit card, opt for a savings-optimized credit card instead.
And, the Cheese Debit Card can help you do just that. Our FDIC-insured debit card comes with $0 in fees on top of lots of great savings opportunities. In fact, you can earn a lot of cashback for simple spending. Let’s say you pay $50,000 in school tuition. With the Cheese Card, you’d get $500 cashback! Working a remote job is a great way to build experience for your future career, but you simply can’t beat these kinds of savings.
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