Banking and Finance

The Best Student Credit Cards in 2021

July 27, 2021

According to College Finance, more than a third of college students reported to owning at least one credit card in 2020. Building credit while you’re young and in school is often difficult; you need to build credit but you can’t open lines of credit without existing credit. What? If you’re confused then rest assured that you’re not alone.

Figuring out which credit cards cater to students with little to zero credit is the first step towards building credit while you’re in school. We’ve gone through and ranked the best student credit cards of 2021 so that you’re able to start off on the right foot as you begin your financial journey as an adult.

Do College Students Need Credit Cards?

Before diving into the best credit cards for students in 2021, it’s important to explain just how crucial it is to begin building credit while you’re young. Some of the benfeits of having a credit card in school include:

  • Building your credit from scratch is hard, but with a credit card for students, you’re able to begin without credit history. This is something that’s going to get harder and harder to do as you get older and are no longer a student.
  • The rewards! Student credit cards have some of the best rewards, including travel rewards, cashback on gas and groceries, and more.
  • The chance to create healthy financial habits is invaluable. While you’re young and in college, you likely aren’t spending too much each month. Use this time to build your credit but also to get into the habit of making monthly payments on-time.

With all of that in mind, however, it’s hard to cultivate healthy financial habits if you can’t access a good credit card specifically for students. Here are our top five picks for 2021 and what to know about each card.

The Best Credit Cards for Students in 2021

1. Discover it Student Cash Back

Discover it Student Cash Back
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This ranked as the best student credit card in 2020, and it’s such a great card that we had to rank it No. 1 on our 2021 list, too. What’s the best part about this college credit card? The rewards! You can earn up to 5% cashback on certain purchases, which is a rate that’s hard to find elsewhere. 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.

2. Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students
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If you’re an international student looking to save money while studying in the United States, the Deserve EDU from Mastercard is the best credit card for you! While most other major credit cards for students require that you be a US resident or at least have a Social Security number to register, the process with the Deserve EDU Mastercard is a bit different. Because they’re able to use their own underwriting process, college students and international students with zero credit history are approved more easily than with other cards. And, the perks are great, including the 1% cashback offer and a free membership to Amazon Prime Student for a whole year/

3. Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
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Even for non-students, Bank of America credit cards are a great option for those after lots of great rewards. While this card features a 0% intro APR and no transaction fees, the best part is the fact tha you can earn 3% cashback in the category of your choice. This means you’re able to optimize it according to your spending habits, whether that’s online shopping, groceries, or other areas where you tend to spend the most.

4. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
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If you have a credit history but it’s pretty poor, we’d recommend checking out the Journey Student Rewards card from Capital One. You’re likely to be approved even with a “fair” credit rating, and you’re reward for good habits! On top of earning 1% cashback on all of your purchases, you can earn 0.25% each month that you pay your bill on time plus $5 per month for certain streaming services.

5. Citi Rewards+ Student Card

Citi Rewards+ Student Card
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This is another college credit card that made our list last year and certainly deserves a spot on our list this year. Similar to other credit cards for students, you can expect a $0 annual fee with this Citi card, plus so many other perks. Per their marketing, it’s the only card that rounds up to the nearest ten points on purchases. So, let’s say you purchase a $3 drink at Starbucks; you could earn ten points for that! And, if you spend $1,000 in the first three months (charge your tuition or books, for example), you can earn an additional 15,000 points for free.

No Credit? Use a Debit Card Instead

If you don’t have credit or don’t want to take out a line of credit then there are still options for you that can help you earn rewards. Looking for a savings-optimized debit card to use instead, which means you won’t have to worry about lines of credit, late payments, or interest rates.

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.

Check out the other perks, too:

❌ No Monthly Fee                                     🧀️ $5 cash bonus    

❌ No ATM Fee                                          🧀️ Up to 10% cashback with every purchase/transaction

❌ No Overdraft Fee                                   🧀️ Potential Double Cheese Cashback

❌ No Insufficient Fund Fee                       🧀️ Up to 3% Deposit Bonus

❌ No Minimum Balance Requirement      🧀️ Early Paycheck

Interested in a Cheese debit card? Click here to sign up!