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.
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 sign-up bonuses, those programs may feel a bit advanced for “credit freshmen” to manage. Capital One’s card keeps it simple for those beginning their educational credit journey.
A pathway for building credit
Rewards for good credit habits
No pesky fees
No new cardholder incentives
- A pathway for building credit: The Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One offers a minimum credit line of $300, which just barely pays for a college textbook. However, after making the first five monthly payments on time, you’ll activate Capital One’s Credit Steps program, which may increase your credit limit.
- Rewards for good credit habits: The 1% cash back on all purchases isn’t earth-shattering, but it also doesn’t require a night of cramming to figure out how to maximize points value. 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. You can also 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: Although this is listed as a con, a high APR is a moot point if you can manage to pay your balance in full each month. If you think you’ll carry a balance, however, consider a different student card with a lower APR instead.
- 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 sign-up bonus, 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. It’s designed to be a no-brainer way to earn a few bucks for your spend, plus a little extra for responsible payments. 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, that’ll net you $75 for the year ($5 per month = $60, and the 25% bonus makes it $75).
Redemption is simple with the Journey Student Credit Card. You can get your cash back in any amount at any time as a statement credit, or in check form. If you do plan to close your account, though, redeem what you’ve earned or you’ll lose it. You could also set up automatic redemptions when you reach a certain date or a specific earnings amount.
If you’d rather redeem for something other than cash, you do can get gift cards or credits for previous purchases, but redemption value with those options may vary.
How To Get The Most Out Of This Card
The whole point of a student card is to embark on a journey (hence the card’s name) 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 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. Just as 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 to be 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
- 24-hour travel assistance
Capital One ranks third in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction study, scoring 807 out of a possible 1,000 points. (The industry average was 806.) The issuer offers a 24/7 customer service hotline and a robust mobile app for paying your bill, viewing your balance and more. Capital One’s app ranks fourth in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Survey, with a just-above-average score of 876.
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.
- For online purchases, the card offers a virtual card number that decreases the chance that your actual account information will be compromised.
- You can sign up for account alerts via text or email, not only to remember when your bill is due, but to keep tabs on any suspicious account activity.
- Finally, if you do lose your card or suspect that it was stolen, you can immediately lock your account using your app.
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.