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Top 3 Student Credit Cards in 2023

It pays to build credit as a student.

For many students, college is a good time to begin thinking about getting a student credit card. The length of your credit history is an important factor in your credit score, and credit score is a key piece of your personal data profile that becomes a factor when purchasing a home, securing a car loan, and even applying for jobs.

We judged the below student credit cards on the following:

  • APR: The annual percentage rate (APR) is the annual rate charged for borrowing on a specific card. A “Variable APR” means that the APR can change over time (most cards have this).
  • Annual Fee: Many credit cards require a payment each year that constitutes a hidden cost of the card
  • Perks: On the other hand, rewards programs, cardholder benefits, and student incentive programs can increase the value of a card.
  • Likelihood of Approval: The odds of someone receiving approval for a card based on their credit history (or lack thereof).

Check out our list of the Top 3 Student Credit Cards below, followed by a FAQ section about credit cards for students.

Editorial Note: Scholarships360 receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Related: Should college students have credit cards?

Top 3 student credit cards

After looking closely at what’s out there, the editorial team at Scholarships360 narrowed down the best student credit cards:

  1. The Deserve EDU
  2. Discover it® Student Cash Back
  3. Discover it® Student chrome

1. The Deserve EDU

The Deserve EDU is a great starter credit card for many students. Its alternative model for candidate selection allows students who would not otherwise qualify for a student credit card to receive one. It also offers some unique perks to cardholders.

Who can apply?

Because the issuer has its own underwriting standards, it doesn’t solely rely on the traditional FICO scoring model. Because of this, you don’t need a U.S. credit history, or a Social Security number (SSN) to apply.

How can I apply?

The process to prequalify takes seconds and has no impact to your credit score. Then with just a few more easy steps, you can apply for a card. Apply for the Deserve EDU here.

What’s this card best for?

This is an excellent card for international students and students with limited credit history. On top of the 1% cash back, free Amazon Prime Student is a $60 annual value. Furthermore, the card acts as secondary cell phone insurance when you use the card to pay your monthly bill (up to $600 for a broken phone)!

One downside of this card is it’s higher APR compared to some of our other selections, which is the trade-off for this card having a higher likelihood of approval.

2. Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it Student Cash Back | Student Rewards Credit Card | Discover

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is an excellent card with some of the best cash reward programs for students. You can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, Uber and Lyft rides, and online shopping.

Who can apply?

Discover it® Student Cash Back is designed for cardholders with no or limited credit histories, making it a great first credit card.

How can I apply?

Head over to the Discover website to select your card design and begin the application process.

Who is this card best for?

As an intro offer, Discover automatically matches ALL of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year (with no sign-up, and no limit). This makes the Discover it® Student Cash Back a particularly great card for students predicting heavy expenses in their first year of use.

One downside of this card is the bonus rewards category mentioned above change every quarter (e.g. one quarter you get cash back on, the next quarter on groceries), so make sure to check back every 3 months! Another downside is that Discover cards aren’t as widely accepted by merchants as Visa or MasterCard

3. Discover it® Student chrome

Discover it student chrome credit card

The Discover it® Student chrome offers many of the same great benefits as the Cash Back card, with a few key differences. We’ll explore those differences below .

Who can apply?

Same as Discover it® Student Cash Back.

How can I apply?

Head over to the Discover website to select your card design and begin the application process.

Who is this card best for?

While the Discover it® Student Cash Back offers 5% cash back on certain categories of products and services that you update every quarter, the Discover it® Student chrome rewards program is much simpler: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.

Since you don’t need to keep track of bonus categories each quarter or take any action to update the card, the Discover it® Student chrome rewards program is lower-maintenance, and potentially a better option for students spending more money on gas and restaurants.

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Student Credit Card FAQs

What’s the difference between a student credit card and a normal credit card?

College student cards are typically easier to qualify for than regular cards since they’re meant for people who lack a long credit score. Normal credit cards tend to offer better rewards programs.

Related: Credit cards vs debit cards: All you need to know

Why worry about your credit score at all?

Credit is a key piece of your financial health, and will be checked if you’re trying to buy a car, rent an apartment, finance a mortgage, or apply to credit cards later in life.

What qualifies a student for a student card?

To get a credit card, you’ll generally need to check off a few boxes:

  • Access to income. Check out this guide from NerdWallet on reporting personal income, which has many tips relevant to students.
  • Existing credit history. For more on this, check out the excellent guide on secured credit cards from NerdWallet. To access a secured card, you put down a cash deposit, which lessens the risk for the issuer. By the same token, having bad credit history is its own problem. In that case, check out cards designed for people with bad credit.
  • Age. Federal law limits who can get credit cards under age 21. If you’re under 21 years of age, you still may qualify for a card although you must provide proof of income or a co-signer.

What are alternatives to student cards?

If you’re intent on building your credit score but aren’t quite ready for a credit card or simply don’t need one, you can have your parent add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards, which will contribute to your credit history.

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