Best credit cards for college students

discover it cash back credit card

While the semester is coming to a close, you might still be looking for the best credit card as a college student. You’re about to be home for the summer, and now’s when you can really build your credit to enter the next semester with a much better credit score. Well, there are some credit cards designed specifically for college students, so let’s take a look at what the best options are.

Discover it Chrome for Students

APR: 12.99% – 21.99% Variable based on credit score

Annual fee: $0

Cashback percentage: 1%-2%

0% Interest Term: 6-months

The Discover it Chrome for Students is the obvious choice for anyone wanting the best bang-for-your-buck card that’s super simple to use. For each year that you maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, you’ll earn a $20 statement credit. Every purchase you make, you’ll get 1% in cashback, however, gas stations, and restaurants will give you 2% cashback in combined purchases up to $1,000. Plus, at the end of your first year, Discover will double all of the cashback that you’ve gained for the previous 12-months.

You’ll be able to redeem your cashback for any amount at any time, and it never expires as well. Another great feature is that Discover ties in with Amazon nicely, allowing you to spend your cashback there seamlessly at checkout. Discover also promises that your APR won’t be raised if you pay late, there’s no over limit fee, and no foreign transaction fees as well. Plus, should you ever miss a payment, your first late fee will be waived.

Overall, the Discover it Chrome for Students credit card is our top choice for any student since there are no rotating cash back categories to keep on top of.

Discover it Student Cash Back

APR: 12.99% – 21.99% Variable based on credit score

Annual fee: $0

Cashback percentage: 1%-5%

0% Interest Term: 6-months

While the Discover it Chrome for Students is great for its simplicity, the Discover it Student Cash Back card takes the cake for being the better option if you don’t mind keeping on top of specific categories. Instead of giving you just 1% back on all purchases, and 2% back at the grocery store and gas stations, the Student Cash Back card offers rotating categories that change every three months. Here are the rotating cash back categories:

Discover it Student Cash Back rotating categories:

  • January – March
    • Grocery Stores
    • Walgreens
    • CVS
  • April – June
    • Gas stations
    • Uber
    • Lyft
    • Wholesale clubs
  • July – September
    • Restaurants
    • PayPal
  • October – December

So, as you can see, the Discover it Student Cash Back card offers quite a bit more in the terms of actual value over the Discover it Chrome for Students. You’ll still get $20 back on your statements each year you have a 3.0 or higher GPA, there’s still cashback matching at the end of your first year, and all the rest of the features stay the same. Really, the only difference is you have the ability to earn up to 5% back in different categories, but, you’ll need to make sure that each quarter you go in and enable the cashback or you’ll stick to 1% on everything.

Capital One Journey Student

APR: 26.99% Variable based on credit score

Annual fee: $0

Cashback percentage: 1%-1.25%

If you’d rather get a Visa over Discover, then the Capital One Journey Student Credit Card is a great option. It offers an unlimited 1% cashback on every purchase and there’s no annual fee. However, if you pay on time, then your cashback will boost to 1.25% for the following month, so you could earn more cashback just by paying on time.

Something nice that Capital One offers is that you’ll be able to see monthly reoccurring transactions, like subscriptions to Netflix, Apple Music, and more in one place. This can help make sure you’re not spending money that’s not needed once college ends if you don’t plan to keep that Netflix sub going year-round.

Just keep in mind that you’re maxing out at 1.25% cashback here, there’s no $20 bonus for good grades, and no cash back matching at the end of your first year. However, Capital One’s card is designed for those who don’t really have much credit history and can be a great way to build your credit score over time.

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

APR: 14.49% – 24.49% Variable based on credit score

Annual fee: $0

The Citi Rewards+ Student Card takes things in a slightly different way. There’s no direct cashback here, as Citi uses a points-based system to give you rewards. At supermarkets and gas stations, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar for the first $6,000 spent (and 1 point per dollar thereafter). You’ll also earn a point per dollar on everything else, including textbooks, computers, and more.

All of your points, however, will round up to the nearest 10-points, with no cap. This gives you more points as you spend. For example, a $2 coffee would earn 10 points, not 2. But, a $22 dinner earns 30 points, due to the rounding. Plus, you’ll get 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 that you redeem per year, which really helps to rake in the savings. Both Amazon and Best Buy’s websites also tie in with this card, making it super easy to redeem your points without worry. If you’re not shopping at either Amazon or Best Buy, then the points can be redeemed for gift cards or travel, giving you multiple ways to cash in on savings.

Looking for something else?

Now that you’ve got the best credit card as a student, be sure to read through our credit card FAQ. We also lined up how to best utilize your cashback card, so be sure to take a look at that too. Also, why not take a look at some cards to make a choice as to which you should sign up for. We’ve got a roundup of the best cards in every category, as well as some of our favorite 0% interest cards. Plus, we recently outlined the best cashback cards, if that’s something you’re into. For our comprehensive list of the best credit card deals around, check out our guide, which can be found here.

We also recently went over the best Amazon cashback cards to grab if you love shopping at the online retailer. However, if you prefer Target, we’ve also got a guide that helps you earn the most with purchases there, too.

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