Credit cards for college students

We do the legwork and give your the details on the best credit cards for college students

WRITTEN BY: Janelle Vreeland
Credit cards for college students

Students are no strangers to persistent credit card representatives. They lure you in with seductive freebies like athletic gear and coffee mugs just so you can sign up for the new, hottest “it” card. With so many offers, how do you know which are the best credit cards for college students?

Credit card companies know what they’re doing when they conveniently present themselves in front of eager-to-get-access-to-credit college students.

“Credit card companies want to have a consumer for life, so they target young people who are trying to establish credit,” said Mr. Credit Card of the popular site Askmrcreditcard.com

Establishing a credit history is simple.

“Get a credit card and charge small items, knowing you can pay it back,” said Michael Mattone of the Municipal Credit Union, a not-for-profit institution based in New York that services recent grads.

“Moreover, pay the balance in full each month,” said Farnoosh Torabi, Credit.com's money expert and Personal Finance Contributor. “Making on-time payments is a major part of building a healthy credit score,” she added.

Pay off your entire credit card balance and avoid paying only the monthly minimum. Otherwise, it can take decades to get out of debt. If paying your credit card balance in full isn't possible in the first month, aim to pay at least double or triple the minimum the next time.  

With so many options out there, College News examines which the best credit cards for college students:

Best credit card #1: The Discover Student More Card

The Discover Student Card is a favorable choice for college students all over. The company’s ShopDiscover program lets you enjoy rebates from more than 100 retailers in department stores and restaurants. A great feature about this credit card is their $0 Fraud Liability guarantee. It allows you to receive email and mobile alerts when there are any suspicious purchases made with your credit card.

If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, this card is a great choice. Their new Spend Analyzer feature lets you keep track of your spending, which is similar to Mint.com, and their mobile apps really keep you connected.

Best credit card #2: Citi mtvU Platinum Select Visa Card for College Students

This credit card not only rewards you for shopping, but it also rewards you for good grades! 

Students can earn five points for every dollar spent on restaurants, theaters and bookstores, and earn one point for every dollar spent on other purchases. Making timely minimum payments will earn cardholders an additional 25 points. Plus, maintaining a GPA above 2.5 will earn you points, with a 4.0 GPA earning as much as 2,000 points. Being a geek really can pay off.

This card will give students an incentive to study since higher grades earn you more points. The Citi mtvU Platinum credit card doesn’t require a minimum income, nor does it require a co-signer, making credit card approval simple. 

Best credit card #3: CitiForward Card for College Students

Designed with the young adult in mind, the CitiForward credit card, like the mtvU Platinum Select credit card, lets you earn five points for every $1 spent on books, movies, dining and music.  You’ll earn one reward point for every $1 spent on other purchases. 

This card is a viable option for responsible cardholders as it reduces its annual percentage rate when you stay under your credit line and continue to make timely payments.

The fact that it has no annual fee is also a nice little bonus. Additional benefits include free cell phone protection and identity theft protection.

Not only do you get the chance to build your credit history, you get to cash in on all the rewards!

Best credit card #4: Chase +1 Credit Card

Students with social networking skills will be rewarded with good karma, literally. Activate your credit card on Facebook and by paying your bills on time, you can earn “karma points.” Karma points can be shared with friends or donated to charity (good karma indeed). Just for activating your credit card, you’ll be rewarded with 20 points. Earn five more points after passing Chase’s Credit Essentials quiz. Want more? Each time you pay your monthly bill on time, you’ll earn two more points. You can redeem your points at Chase’s online store. Items like cameras and concert tickets are available. The Chase +1 credit card program won’t hit you with a fee for exceeding your credit limit either.

Having a credit card and keeping your credit in good standing is not as difficult as most people think. Challenging? Yes, especially with all that free stuff offered and, not to mention, the possibilities of everything you can buy. But it’s actually very simple. 

“It’s all about personal responsibility,” said Mr. Credit Card. “I’ve never heard of a single person having credit problems who pays their bill in full and on time.”

MORE TIPS

“A generally important tip,” Torabi said, “is avoiding co-signing a credit card with a friend. Mixing money with friends is often a recipe for disaster since you will also be liable for any debt your friend accrues.”

Finally, no matter which credit card you use, check your statement for errors.

“Mistakes happen. Your credit report might erroneously say you’re past due on a card balance or that you have more cards than you really think you opened,” she said.

Follow out guide for best credit cards for college students, and each year, download and review your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com.

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