If you’re a student with a limited credit history, the Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One is like taking an introductory course in the credit world. The simple, straightforward flat-rate rewards program gives you the chance to earn some cash back for everyday spending. Even better, you’ll get an extra rewards boost for making on-time payments every month (more on that later).
Your credit line will likely start off low, but the good news is you can graduate to a higher credit limit fairly quickly if you play your cards right. While some other student cards in this category offer rewards programs with higher cash-back rates, or other perks like introductory APR periods or welcome bonuses, those programs may feel a bit advanced for beginners to manage.
A pathway for building credit
Rewards for good credit habits
No pesky fees
No new-cardholder incentives
- A pathway for building credit: Capital One will review your account after six months and may increase your credit limit. While Capital One doesn’t say exactly how it makes its decision, the basic principles of good credit apply: Pay off your balance each month and pay on time, every time.
- Rewards for good credit habits: The 1% cash back you earn on purchases isn’t earth-shattering but it’s competitive among cards designed for students. What’s more, you can boost those earnings to 1.25% just by making on-time payments—a nice motivator for promoting healthy credit habits.
- No pesky fees: Some cards geared toward new credit card users such as secured cards typically have an annual fee, but student cards (including this one) do not. And, you can use the Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One without incurring a foreign transaction fee, which is important if you plan to study abroad or travel outside the U.S.
- High APR: This card’s APR is the highest among popular student credit cards. However, a high APR is irrelevant if you can pay your balance in full each month.
- No new cardholder incentives: While some student cards offer a learning curve in the form of a 0% introductory APR on purchases for a few months, you won’t get that here. Nor will you earn a bonus for new cardholders, as some other cards offer.
Earning Points & Rewards
The appeal of the Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One is its flat-rate cash-back structure. You earn unlimited 1% cash back on nearly every purchase you make, and, if you can pay your bill on time every month, you can earn 1.25%. You can find student cards with higher rewards rates, but those involve rotating categories and somewhat complicated redemption options. Here, your earnings are more predictable—for instance, if you spend $500 per month and pay your bill on time, you’ll earn $75 for the year.
Redemption is as simple as requesting your cash back in any amount at any time as a statement credit or in check form. Also, you can set up automatic redemptions that send a credit to your account whenever your rewards balance hits one of the following thresholds: $25, $50, $100, $200, $500 or $1,500.
If you’d rather redeem for something other than cash, you can get gift cards or credits for previous purchases, but redemption value with those options may vary.
If you close your account, you will forfeit any cash back that you haven’t redeemed.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
The whole point of a student card is to embark on a journey toward using credit cards responsibly and building credit so you can increase your credit score. To do that, make purchases each month, but stay below 30% of your credit line since the credit scoring algorithms put a lot of weight on how you use the credit you have.
So, if your credit limit is $1,000, try not to let your balance go above $300. More importantly, pay that bill on time each month. Do those two things and your credit limit and score will both grow over time, as will your cash-back earnings.
Use as little of your credit limit as possible to help improve your credit score. You’ll often hear 30% is the most you should use, but using less than 10% of your limit is even better.
Most credit cards have ancillary benefits, and some are exceptionally valuable. This card has one benefit The Balance considers an “excellent perk.”
- Travel Accident Insurance: When you use your credit card to purchase your fare, you’ll get automatic insurance for a covered loss of up to $100,000 at no extra charge.
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Extended warranties
- Travel and emergency hotline
Capital One ranked third out of 11 national issuers in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, and its app ranked second out of 10 banks in J.D. Power’s 2020 mobile app study. The issuer offers a 24/7 customer service hotline and its app allows you to pay your bill, view your balance and more.
Another feature that stands out is that you get access to CreditWise, a tool that lets you check your credit score and get alerts when your credit report changes. It also scans the dark web for your Social Security number.
Capital One provides standard security features, including virtual card numbers, account alerts via text and email, and the ability to lock your card instantly if it’s lost or stolen.
The card’s fees are minimal compared to many other cards on the market, and this card doesn’t have an annual fee, foreign transaction fee, or a returned payment fee, though it does have a $40 late fee.