Home > Credit Cards > 5 Stellar Credit Cards for Your College-Bound Teen

Comments 0 Comments

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Journey Student Rewards From Capital OneDiscover it Chrome for StudentsDiscover it for Students and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

There’s a laundry list of items your high school grad will need before they head off to get a higher education. Pens, pencils, sheets, shower shoes — and, yes, maybe even a new credit card. That little piece of plastic can provide parents with some peace of mind because it’ll give their freshmen some extra funds in case of an emergency. Plus, college is a great time for a kid, now 18 (or close) and legally an adult, to start building credit. (You can see where your own credit stands by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

Of course, some cards are better than others when it comes to getting started. And, truth be told, you may want to simply add your teen as an authorized user on your personal credit card account (more on how that works here). That way, you can keep an eye on their spending. Lots of issuers even let primary cardholders set spending controls. Plus, they’ll be virtually guaranteed entry, whereas, to get their own credit card, anyone under 21 will need to demonstrate an ability to repay or have a willing co-signer.

Still, if you think your teen is ready for — or can score their own — plastic, they might be best-served by a student credit card. These cards don’t require a security deposit, like the also-easier-to-get secured credit cards do, and tend to carry more favorable terms, like no annual fees, with some even offering rewards on spending.

Here are five solid credit cards to consider for your college-bound teen.

1. Journey Student Rewards From Capital One

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 20.74%

Why We’re Mentioning it: The card’s pretty low cost — there’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and even that straight 20.74% APR is competitive as far as student credit cards go. Still, what we like most about the Journey is that it rewards your teen for developing smart spending habits. Cardholders can get access to a higher credit line after they make their first five monthly payments on time. Plus, they can earn extra rewards for making their due dates: With the Journey, you earn 1% cash back on all your purchases or a total of 1.25% back for each month you pay on-time.

2. Discover it Chrome for Students

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: 0% for the first six months, then variable 13.99% to 22.99%, depending on your credit

Why We’re Mentioning it: Discover’s got two solid credit card for students, but the Chrome requires less precious brain power. It offers cardholders 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter and 1% on all purchases after that. (The Discover it for Students touts revolving 5% cash-back categories your teen will need to sign up for every quarter.) Plus, there’s an incentive to earn good grades: Cardholders will earn $20 cash back each school year their GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years.

3. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: 0% for the first six months, then variable 11.90% to 21.90%, depending on your credit

Why We’re Mentioning it: Another no-annual-fee student credit card, Well Fargo’s cash back college cardholders can earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery or drugstore purchases for the first six months and 1% cash rewards on almost all other purchases. Plus, your teen will have a 0% introductory APR for six months (variable 11.90% to 21.90%, after that), which could be helpful when it comes to funding their big move.

4. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: 0% for first 7 months, then variable 14.74% to 24.74%, depending on your credit

Why We’re Mentioning it: The card’s got no annual fee, but a nice base rewards program: Your teen can earn 2 points per dollar on dining out and entertainment and one point per dollar everywhere else. Plus, the ThankYou Preferred is one of the few student credit cards that offers a signup bonus. Cardholders can earn 2,500 bonus points if they spending $500 within the first 3 months — though you may not want to play up that offer, lest it lead college kid to overspend. [Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.]

5. Bank Americard Credit Card for Students

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 11.74% to 21.74%, depending on your credit

Why We’re Mentioning it: Bank of America’s student credit card doesn’t tout points, miles or cash back, but that makes it a great option for parents worried the lure of rewards will lead to burgeoning balances their child won’t be able to afford. The card carries no annual fee and a competitive APR range, again as far as student credit cards go. (Per the bank’s website, the card offers the lowest APR available among all its BankAmericard products.)

At publishing time, the Journey Student Rewards, Discover it Chrome, Discover it for Students and Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students credit 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. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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.

Image: BraunS 

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.



Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team