There was a time when credit card issuers were doing everything possible to give students credit cards. There were once kiosks on campus and at college stadiums that offered students prizes just for applying, and accounts were opened for students who didn’t even have the means to repay their charges.
Many considered this practice to be predatory, as many students found themselves mired in debt that they wouldn’t be able to pay back until after graduation. Then the government passed the CARD Act of 2009, prohibiting credit card issuers from offering their products on campuses, or giving away items in return for completed credit applications. In addition, the CARD Act required students and other young adults younger than 21 to show a means to repay a debt before an account could be opened.
While the CARD Act is generally seen as being successful in curbing credit card industry abuses, there are several reasons that some students may still wish to open up a new credit card account before they have a regular, full-time job. (Here are our picks for the best student credit cards.) For example, the responsible use of a credit card is an excellent way to build a student’s credit history and increase his or her credit score. Many students recognize that this will be an important factor after graduation when applying for non-student credit cards as well as for car loans and eventually, a mortgage. In addition, students will want to enjoy the security and convenience of using a credit card for their day to day purchases rather than relying on other methods of payment such as debit cards, cash or checks. Finally, student credit cards can offer valuable benefits such as travel insurance and purchase protection.
Here are four ways to qualify for a student credit card, without a regular job.
1. Consider Other Forms of Income
Just because you don’t yet have a regular job, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t earning any income. Students can earn money in all sorts of ways including a part-time job, paid internships, freelance work or their college’s work-study program.
2. Co-Sign With a Family Member
If you don’t have any form of income, you can open your own credit card account by having a family member co-sign. If your parents or other family members are willing to do so, opening a joint account can help build your credit while giving you access to the rewards and benefits that a student credit card offers. Some credit card issuers call this arrangement a joint account, or a co-signer or a co-applicant, but the idea is that you have an account in your name, but should you not be able to make payments, your co-signer will be responsible for that payment. Missed payments will affect both you and your co-signer’s credit scores.
3. Wait Until You’re 21
After students reach 21 years of age, they are able to apply for a credit card using their household income. This means that students who live with a spouse, partner or family member can count the other person’s income, so long as they have access to those funds. For example, credit card applicants can include the income of a member of their household if they have hold a joint checking account.
4. Become an Authorized User on Another Person’s Credit Card
Another strategy for students who wish to use a credit card is to become an authorized cardholder on another person’s card. While this will not help a student’s credit as much as becoming a primary cardholder, it can help to improve their credit score. You can keep track of your credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com.
More on Credit Cards:
- Credit.com’s Expert Credit Card Shopping Tips
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit
- How Secured Cards Can Help Build Credit