[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Are you part of the class of 2016? Whether you are finishing high school or graduating from college, many new grads look to apply for a credit card during these times of transition. But with dozens or card issuers offering hundreds of different products, it can be difficult for new graduates to find the card that best meets their needs.
Credit Cards for High School Grads
As students receive their high school diplomas and look forward to college, they should look for a card that will help them to build a strong credit history and stay out of debt. Fortunately, some banks offer credit cards specifically for the needs of college students. Remember, however, the CARD Act of 2009 requires applicants to demonstrate their ability to repay a loan or to have a willing co-signer before being approved for a new account.
1. BankAmericard Credit Card for Students
This basic credit card from Bank of America offers students Bank of America’s lowest standard interest rate, as well as a benefits such as digital wallet technology that’s compatible with Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay. Other features include overdraft protection (to linked Bank of America checking accounts), online and mobile banking, and account alerts to help stay on top of balances and due dates. There is no annual fee for this card.
2. Journey Student Rewards From Capital One
Capital One’s Journey Student Rewards card (see full review here) offers 1% cash back on all purchases, plus an additional 0.25% when payment is made on-time. Other benefits include extended warranty coverage, auto rental insurance, and 24-hour travel assistance services. There is no annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
3. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card For College Students
This Citi card offers students competitive rewards including double points for all restaurant and entertainment purchases, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points can be redeemed for gift cards, travel reservations or merchandise. In addition, new cardholders can earn 2,500 ThankYou points after spending $500 within the first three months of account opening. There is no annual fee for this card. (Full Disclosure: Citibank as well as Capital One, Chase and Barclaycard advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
Credit Cards for College Graduates
When students graduate from college and enter the “real world,” they will want to have access to the security and convenience that credit cards offer. And since most college graduates are over 21, they are able to qualify for their own credit card account with fewer restrictions. At the same time, college graduates with a limited credit history should be looking for simple cards that are easy to manage.
1. Citi Simplicity Card
The Citi Simplicity card (see full review here) offers new applicants 21 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. It also offers no late fees or penalty interest rates, so the consequences of making a mistake are not too severe. There is no annual fee for this card.
2. Chase Slate
The Chase State credit card is another simple card that offers no penalty APR in the event of a late payment. It also features 15 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with no fee for balance transfers completed within 60 days of account opening. Other benefits include a free monthly FICO score and credit dashboard called Credit Score and More. There is no annual fee for this card.
3. Barclaycard Ring MasterCard
The innovative Barclaycard Ring (see full review here) can appeal to recent grads who want not just simple terms, but the chance to actively engage with the community of cardholders and even the card’s product managers. This card users a crowdsourced method that allows users to help shape the card’s policies and engage in discussions about how the card works. In addition, it offers excellent terms including a 8.25% variable APR for purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers, with no balance transfer fee. There is no penalty interest rate, no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
Before signing up for any credit card, it is a good idea to look at the terms and conditions so you understand what you’re agreeing to. Once you find the right card for you, it’s a good idea to track your credit score so you don’t harm the work you’ve done over the years. You can view two of your credit scores each month, for free, on Credit.com.
At publishing time, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One, the Citi ThankYou Preferred for Students, the Citi Simplicity, Chase Slate and Barclaycard Ring cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly..