Student Credit Cards
The Balance's Guide to Student Credit Cards
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a student credit card?
Student credit cards are credit cards tailored specifically to college students. Functionally, student credit cards are no different from regular credit cards: You make purchases, earn rewards (in some cases), and pay interest if you carry a balance. Student cards often have less stringent credit requirements than regular cards because most student applicants tend to have weak or nonexistent credit histories.
Can I pay tuition with a student credit card?
Depending on your school’s policies, you can pay for tuition with a credit card, although in most cases, your tuition likely exceeds the credit limit on your student credit card. A student credit card that offers rewards on your spending would be a good choice for other school costs—like textbooks—as long as you’re sure to pay off the balance when it is due.
What should I look for in a student credit card?
You should look for the same things you would in a traditional credit card: low interest rate (or APR), low or no annual fee, few fees, a credit limit you can responsibly manage. If you opt for a rewards card, choose one with a rewards program that matches your spending habits and that doesn’t encourage you to spend beyond your budget.
Can non-students get a student credit card?
The short answer is no. Most student credit card applications will ask for details about your current education status—where you go to school, your year, and other questions. The issuer may also ask you to provide proof of enrollment, or it may contact the school listed on the application to confirm the details you provide.
A credit score is a number that evaluates and rates your creditworthiness based on your credit history. Lenders use credit scores to decide whether to approve someone for a loan or credit card and to determine what interest rate to charge.
Your credit report contains a wealth of information about your financial history and actions. If you have credit or loan accounts, those accounts and how you pay them are included in your credit report. It’s important to review your credit report at least once a year so you know what your creditors are saying about you.
Revolving credit is a type of credit that can be used repeatedly up to a certain limit as long as the account is open and payments are made on time. With revolving credit, the amount of available credit, the balance, and the minimum payment can go up and down depending on the purchases and payments made to the account.
Credit Utilization Ratio
Your credit utilization ratio compares your credit card balances to your credit limits. In other words, it's how much you're currently borrowing compared to how much you could borrow.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The annual percentage rate (APR) of a loan is the total amount of interest you pay each year. This is calculated before compounding interest is taken into account. APR is represented as a percentage of the loan balance.
Most credit cards allow for a grace period, which is the amount of time you have to pay your balance in full without incurring a finance charge. The grace period usually starts on the first day of the billing cycle and ends a certain number of days later.
A credit bureau is a company that collects and maintains individual credit information and sells it to lenders, creditors, and consumers in the form of a credit report. While there are dozens of credit bureaus across the U.S., most consumers are familiar with the big three: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Credit card rewards come in different forms, but they all provide a benefit for using your card more. The value of the rewards you earn and the types of purchases that earn rewards can vary by credit card.
Credit card annual fees are a cost that your credit card provider automatically charges to your account to allow you to keep the card account open. They are a common type of credit card fee.
Credit Card Network
A credit card network authorizes, processes, and sets the terms of credit card transactions, as well as transfers payments between shoppers, merchants, and their respective banks.
Your credit limit is the maximum outstanding balance you can have on a credit card or line of credit without being penalized. Managing your credit limit is important both for staying out of debt and building a good credit score.