Best Credit Cards For Students With No Credit

Last Updated on July 3, 2024 by NAMS Editor

As a student just starting out, managing your finances and building credit can feel daunting. However, with some research and responsible use, a credit card can help you establish credit history and earn rewards. In this post, we’ll explore the top options for credit cards designed specifically for students with no credit history or limited credit so you can choose the best card to meet your needs.

Understanding Credit Scores and Reports

Before applying for your first credit card, it’s important to understand a few key concepts about credit scores and reports. Your credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness based on data in your credit report. It ranges from 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating lower credit risk to lenders.

As a student with no credit history, you will not have an established credit score yet. One of the main reasons to get a student credit card is to start reporting positive payment history to the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to build your credit profile from scratch. On-time payments of credit card balances each month are a major factor lenders consider when determining your creditworthiness.

Your credit report contains details of all your credit accounts, loans, bankruptcies, late payments, and other financial interactions reported by lenders. In addition to making payments on a credit card responsibly, it’s wise to check your credit reports annually from each bureau for accuracy using This helps you monitor your progress and catch any errors or signs of potential identity theft early.

Qualifying for a Student Card with No Credit History

The good news is there are credit cards designed specifically with student applicants and their limited or no credit history in mind. Issuers of student credit cards will typically approve applicants who meet the following minimum criteria:

  • Be a college/university student enrolled at least half-time. Many cards require verification of student status.
  • Be at least 18 years old to apply (19 in some states).
  • Provide proof of identity such as a government ID and Social Security number.
  • Have a valid source of funds such as part-time job income, scholarships, or parental support shown on a bank statement.
  • Pay any security deposit or initial credit limit if required, which is fully refundable upon responsible card use and termination.

Given these baseline qualifications, most students should be able to get approved for at least one entry-level student credit card even with no previous credit history. Competition for new customers has led issuers to be more lenient with students starting out.

Features to Consider for Your First Student Credit Card

Now that you understand the qualification criteria, how do you choose the best first credit card? Here are some key factors to evaluate when comparing options:

Credit Limit

Look for a card that offers a credit limit sufficient for modest monthly spending without going over 30% utilization, which has the greatest impact on credit scores. They typically range from $300-$1000.

Annual Fee

Many student cards waive annual fees for the first year, then charge $0-$95. Opt for no annual fee if possible so you aren’t paying just to build credit.

Rewards Program

While you focus on responsible credit habits, look for basic rewards like 1-2% cash back on purchases that provide instant value. Some categories like gas, groceries or streaming may earn higher.

Payment Due Date

Know when your statement closing and payment due date are each month so you pay on time. Late payments severely damage credit.

Credit Reporting

Ensure the card will report payment history to all three credit bureaus monthly for rapid credit building potential.

Credit limit increases

View credit limit increase policies so responsible use may be rewarded with higher spending power over time.

Weighing factors like those above will help you identify the student credit card that sets you up most attractively for credit success. Read on for some top options meeting these criteria to consider.

Top Credit Cards for Students with No Credit History

Here are five highly recommended student credit cards that are attainable even without an established credit history:

1. Discover it® Student Cash Back

  • No annual fee
  • Unlimited 5% cash back in different categories that rotate each quarter like Amazon & Walmart when activated
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Generous rewards even for small budgets
  • Discover doubles all cash back earned after first year
  • Free CreditScorecard reports

2. Capital One Platinum Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earns a flat 1.25% cash back on every purchase
  • Access to Credit Tracker tool for free FICO® Score
  • $300 initial credit limit beneficial for building history
  • Late fees waived the first time for students adjusting

3. Deserve Edu Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • Flat 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus for maximum profile coverage
  • Credit limit increases possible every six months with on-time payments
  • Permanent bonus first purchase at enrollment provides value for newbies

4. Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

  • No annual fee
  • Earns 3% cash back in a category of your choice like gas or shopping each quarter
  • 2% at grocery stores & wholesale clubs
  • 1% on all other purchases
  • Credit limit increases tied to responsible use over time up to $2,000

5. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card for College Students

  • No annual fee
  • Earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on purchases
  • Generous intro APR of 0% for six months after opening (then variable ongoing APR)
  • Reports payments to Experian monthly helping them build that credit file faster
  • Rewards can help offset modest student budgets

Building Habits for Credit Success

Choosing your first student credit card is an important step, but ongoing responsible use is key. Here are a few best practices to establish credit-building habits:

  • Pay your statement balance in full each month by the due date to avoid interest charges and establish a positive payment history.
  • Limit credit utilization (the amount you charge vs. your total credit limit) to 30% or less for maximum credit score benefit.
  • Monitor your credit reports periodically for free via and check for signs of fraud or errors.
  • Check your FICO scores every 3-6 months if your card offers free access so you can track your progress over time.
  • Consider setting up autopay to deliver payments on time without forgetting due dates.
  • Avoid applying for more credit until you’ve had your first card for at least 6 months to steady your credit history.

Following habits like these responsibly is the ultimate vehicle for building strong, lasting credit over your college years and launching your financial future on a positive track. With discipline and care, your first student credit card could be the key to credit acceptance for years to come.

In Summary

Getting your financial independence started as a student through responsible credit use takes focused effort but pays off exponentially in the long run. By understanding key credit scoring factors, qualifying criteria and features that matter, you can identify the right entry-level student credit card to meet your needs. With ongoing discipline making on-time payments and controlling balances, your first card approval is the first step toward establishing attractive creditworthiness for future lending opportunities down the road. With education and good habits, managing credit as a student is not as daunting as it may seem. I hope sharing this thorough overview of the best credit cards for students with no credit history has equipped you to make an informed decision and put you on track for credit success.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *