The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, October 28, 2021

Cash Back Credit Cards For Students in 2021

Cash Back Credit Cards For Students

credit card advice

Eric Bank
By: Eric Bank
Posted: April 28, 2021
Advertiser Disclosure

While not as momentous as selecting which college to attend, your selection among cash back credit cards for students carries some real-world implications. These cards are easy to get and provide a convenient way to build your credit profile. You’ll be grateful you used your card responsibly when you apply later in life for a mortgage or other loans.

Card benefits don’t stop there. A good credit history can help you ingratiate yourself with landlords, employers, utility companies, and others who have access to your credit report. And, let’s face it, cash back on your eligible net purchases is a welcome little boost to your spending power at a time when every dollar counts.

Your cash back can be deposited directly into your checking account, but if you prefer, you can take it as a statement credit, gift card, or check. The benefit of the statement credit approach is that you can set it up to operate automatically each month.

Best Overall | More Cards | FAQs

Best Overall Cash Back Card For Students

There is a lot to like about the Discover it® Student Cash Back card, even beyond its Cashback Match and high cash back percentage on quarterly rotating merchant types up to a purchase limit when activated. Your cash back never expires, and you can redeem your rewards in any amount at any time.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

This card offers several important protective features, such as $0 fraud liability, free security and activity alerts, and immediate account freeze and unfreeze. If you misplace your card, the issuer will ship a replacement Discover credit card overnight for free. And you can pay your bill online or by phone up to midnight of the due date.

More Cash Back Student Cards to Consider

While the Discover it® Student Cash Back card wins our top ranking, each of the following competitors is a worthy alternative with its own unique charms. And after all, there’s no rule limiting you to just one student card. These five will serve you well whether you fit a single one into your wallet or make room for multiple cards.

We omitted a few student cards, for various reasons. For example, the Citi Rewards+ Student Card is not available online, but only at branches.

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Earn $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is a simple card that’s easy to like. You don’t have to worry about different reward tiers or quarterly activations to earn your cash back rewards.

You can also access other Capital One products, including Eno for virtual account numbers and CreditWise for free credit scores. Other perks include ATM location services, $0 fraud liability, security alerts, and no foreign transaction fees. There is no transfer fee with the transfer APR.

Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

The Discover it® Student chrome is almost identical to its sibling, Discover it® Student Cash Back, differing only in its simpler reward scheme that requires no quarterly activation of rotating merchant categories. You’ll be happy to know that a Discover credit card is accepted at 99% of U.S. merchants that take credit cards.

The card lets you tap to pay at millions of locations, shaving a few seconds off each transaction. If you need assistance, the U.S.-based customer service features real humans available around the clock to answer your questions and help you with problems.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★

4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% Introductory APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles (balance transfer fee applies), then a variable APR applies
  • Optional overdraft protection option helps prevent declined purchases, returned checks or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
  • $0 Annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 billing cycles
0% for 15 billing cycles
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
None/Limited

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students offers well-rounded rewards and benefits and is a natural choice to BoA customers. You’re well-supported by flexible appointment scheduling, an award-winning Mobile Banking App, and digital wallet compatibility.

This Visa card provides you with account alerts to let you stay on top of your due dates and balances. You also get free FICO scores, a $0 liability guarantee, and automatic blocking of potential fraud when abnormal spending patterns are detected.

5. Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card

This card is currently not available.

Student Rating

★★★★★

N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

If you have an existing relationship with the bank, you can apply online for the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card. You can then link this Visa card to a Wells Fargo checking account for overdraft protection that lets you avoid costly penalties.

You can leverage your card’s benefits by enrolling in Wells Fargo Online, enabling account alerts, automatic payments, and access to powerful budget tools. You also get cellphone protection, auto rental collision damage waiver, travel and emergency assistance service, and roadside dispatch.

(The information related to the Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)

Deserve EDU Mastercard Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★

4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases + Amazon Prime Student on us for 1 year
  • Cellphone protection up to $600
  • Prequalify in just seconds with no impact to your credit score
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No Social Security number required for international students to apply
  • $0 Annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.74% (variable)
$0
None/Limited

Utah’s Celtic Bank issues the student-friendly Deserve EDU Mastercard to consumers with limited or no credit history. The convenient Deserve mobile app enables card management wherever you travel.

You can prequalify for this card in a few easy steps without impacting your credit score. You also get the full range of Mastercard Platinum Benefits, including ID theft protection, global services, and airport concierge. This card doesn’t offer balance transfer transactions.

What is a Student Credit Card?

A student credit card works like any other credit card, but with a few extra perks and requirements. To qualify for a student card, you must meet the issuer’s enrollment requirements, which usually amount to at least half-time enrollment in an eligible school.

However, the trusting issuer of the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One apparently doesn’t need you to prove you’re enrolled in college.

All cards require you to submit information regarding your residency, age, and Social Security number, (except for the Deserve EDU Mastercard, which was specifically created for students who don’t have a SSN), but they don’t reject applicants just because of low credit scores or limited credit history.

Typically, these cards have modest credit limits and immodest APRs, reflecting the limited credit profiles of young borrowers. Most of these cards stress protective perks like fraud protection and alerts, cellphone insurance, roadside assistance, and other features that a parent will love. Some also offer statement credits for successful referrals, and many come with introductory rewards for new cardmembers.

Should a College Student Get a Credit Card?

We think every college student should be armed with a credit card. To start with, one shouldn’t graduate college without understanding how credit cards work and how to manage them responsibly. This kind of knowledge simply isn’t taught in schools, so it’s up to students to learn about credit cards and many other personal finance topics through direct participation.

Equally important, you will profit by using your college years to establish a credit history that can help you once you graduate. You’ll find that many employers, landlords, and other powerful entities will review your credit reports to better understand how you manage your finances. Having a positive credit profile will open doors that remain closed to others with no credit history or low credit scores.

Should a College Student Get a Credit Card

Things like renting an apartment and buying a car are easier with an established credit history, and responsibly managing a credit card during college can help you achieve that.

Many college students live on a shoestring budget, making the ability to charge an eligible purchase and get a cash advance from the card a valuable convenience from time to time. Because student cards usually set tight credit limits, there is little potential to plunge yourself into crippling credit card debt — that’s the job of your student loans.

All things being equal, you can save a little money by limiting your selection to cards that charge no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.

How Do I Apply For a Student Credit Card?

The application process is straightforward, but it’s what you do before applying that deserves the most attention. By that, we mean the effort you expend identifying the best card for your personal situation.

Here are some important things to look at while sizing up a student credit card:

  • Annual percentage rate (APR): This is the interest rate you’ll be charged on balances you don’t pay in full by the due date. Student card APRs generally range between 13% and 26%, but exceptions exist. For one thing, a cash advance usually carries a higher APR that is applied immediately and continues until the advance is repaid.
  • Grace period: All the cards in this review provide a grace period, which is the interval between the payment cycle end date (or statement date) and the payment due date in which no interest is charged on new eligible net purchases. If a grace period exists, then it must be at least 21 days by law, although many cards offer up to 25 days. Longer grace periods are better since they give you more time to come up with the money to pay your balance.
  • Penalties: Some cards are more punitive than others when your payment is late, your check bounces, or you charge more than your credit limit. Penalties can include fees (usually around $40 per infraction) and a penalty APR, usually around 30%, that replaces your original card APR. The Discover it® Student Cash Back card is the most enlightened in this regard, charging no penalty APR and forgiving the fee for your first late payment.
  • Cash back rewards: Your lifestyle should influence the type of cash back rewards you’ll earn. Some cards offer a flat rate, albeit a relatively low one, on every eligible purchase. That’s good if you spread your money around to all sorts of merchants. Other cards offer higher tiers of rewards for specified merchant types, sometimes rotating the merchant category every three months and requiring you to activate the category to reap the higher rewards. If you aren’t particularly well-organized, you may not appreciate the quarterly rotating rewards that you continually forget to activate. Also, watch for limits on your card’s rewards. Many cards offer higher rewards on only a limited amount spent on qualifying purchases. The remainder of your purchases earn the rate for everyday purchases, usually 1%. Cards advertise unlimited rewards whenever they can, so if you don’t see that word, limits probably exist that reduce the cash back potential of the card.
  • Introductory offers: To entice new students to apply, most cards offer introductory deals such as a welcome bonus and interest-free periods. A welcome bonus (also called a sign up bonus) lets you earn a set cash reward by spending a specified amount on purchases during the first three months after opening the account. A 0% introductory APR lets you carry an unpaid purchase balance for free during the reward period, which typically runs from six to 18 months after opening a new account. If you get a Discover card, you’ll collect the Cashback Match on the cash rewards you earn during the first year of card ownership. This applies only to new cardmembers for cash back rewards processed during the first year of ownership.

Once you choose the card you want, you can fill out the application online by providing your basic identifying and income information. The application shouldn’t take more than five minutes, and the approval decision will happen within seconds of hitting the submit button.

Which Student Card Gives the Most Cash Back?

When judging cash back rewards, be mindful of the limits on the higher reward tiers. Those limits apply to the types of qualifying merchants and to the amount of money spent on purchases at the qualifying merchants each quarter. Everyday purchases earn the default cash back rate, which is typically 1%.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back wins this contest. All cash back earned is doubled for new cardmembers during the first year after opening the account. The 5% top tier reward applies to the first $1,500 in quarterly purchases at rotating merchant categories, and only when you activate the category.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

Even after the Cashback Match expires, we can make the case that this Discover card still offers the highest cash back rate. Its stablemate, the Discover it® Student chrome, offers 2% cash back on selected merchants up to the $1,000 quarterly limit. Cashback Match turns this into a 4% reward for the first year only — not as good as the card’s sibling.

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students may give the Discover it® Student Cash Back a run for its money after the Cashback Match period ends. The BoA card offers 3% cash back on your choice of merchant category and 2% at wholesale clubs and grocery stores, subject to a quarterly $2,500 combined limit on qualifying purchases.

We ran the math, and if you spent up to the quarterly limit on the top tier of each card, you ended up in a numeric tie. However, we’d wager that some of your spending with the BoA card would be at the 2% rate rather than the top 3%, giving a small win to the Discover card.

Trailing the pack are the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One and the Deserve EDU Mastercard, earning 1.25% and 1% cash back, respectively.

While we think the amount of cash back is an important parameter by which to judge a credit card, you shouldn’t let it blind you to the other benefits each card offers. You may be swayed by perks like cellphone protection, introductory promotions, or the low fee structure a card may offer.

If all this gives you a headache, you could just stick with CardRates’ rankings and choose our top-rated card. We did the hard work so you don’t have to.

Can a College Student Get a Credit Card With No Job?

It’s not impossible for a student to get a credit card without a job. The key is to have either a verifiable source of outside income (like a grant or trust), a fat bank account, or a cosigner.

The CARD Act of 2009 is partially responsible for the income requirement. For one thing, the Act raised the minimum age of card ownership (without a cosigner) from 18 to 21. The Act makes an exception for those who are younger than 21 who have verifiable income.

The writers of the Act took the point of view that, absent income or a cosigner, folks under 21 may simply rack up credit card debt with no way to repay it. Many college students probably take the view that attending classes and getting passing grades is their job, but alas, the CARD Act doesn’t budge on the issue.

Recruiting a cosigner is the easiest way for a student to circumvent the Act’s restrictions since the cosigner guarantees that payments will be made on time. A typical card issuer won’t hesitate to come after cosigners when the cardmember misses a payment. Cosigners are likely to respond since their credit scores are as vulnerable as the cardmember’s from missed payments.

Cosigners By Issuer

Unfortunately, not every credit card company allows cosigners, as summarized in the accompanying table.

If you wish to depend on a cosigner, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students may be your best bet — the remaining cards don’t allow cosigners.

Another way around the income requirement is to have enough money in your bank account to reassure card issuers that you can pay your bill. For many college students, this is, alas, not a reasonable expectation.

Most colleges offer some kind of employment opportunities to students, such as work-study programs. We can’t make the argument that students should get jobs so they can obtain credit cards, but if you’re going to be working anyway, a credit card is within your grasp.

How Many Student Credit Cards Should I Have?

Americans love credit cards to the tune of four cards owned by the average citizen. However, we doubt this average applies to college students, who usually have limited credit history and income. Having just one card may be good enough to meet the needs of many college students.

A 2019 Sallie Mae study sheds light on student credit card usage. It found that 57% of college students had at least one credit card, and the highest percentage of students (19%) had a single credit card. Yet the study also found that the median number of cards held by enrolled students was two.

There may be a couple of reasons for students to own multiple cards:

  • They may feel that the credit limit on a single card is too low.
  • They want to maximize the complementary rewards offered by multiple cards.

Arrayed against these pros are several cons:

  • Holding multiple cards won’t build your credit any faster than a single card. You build credit by paying your bills on time, regardless of the number of credit cards you own.
  • It can be dangerous to have too many credit cards if you lack the discipline to control your spending.
  • You can build your credit better by having a wide credit mix (i.e., several different forms of credit) than having multiple credit cards. Credit mix accounts for 10% of your FICO score.
  • It’s harder to manage multiple credit cards, as they each have their own payment due dates. If you forget to pay one, your credit score could suffer.

College is a place to experience many new things, but credit overuse need not be one of them. Navigating through four years of college with just a single credit card is a major victory, and there is plenty of time to load up on new cards after you graduate.

What is the Average Credit Limit For a College Student?

Some interesting factoids from the Sallie Mae study dance around the credit limit question without answering it directly. In 2019:

  • The average credit card balance among all students was $1,183. This was the average balance over the most recent 12-month period.
  • 20% of students chose their first credit card based on the credit limit.
  • 29% of students obtained multiple credit cards to increase their total credit limit, which ranked behind (in descending order) improving their credit history, earning different rewards, and serving different purposes.

More to the point, our friends at Money Geek reported that, as of 2019, 80% of students have a credit limit of $1,000 or less.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back and Discover it® Student chrome cards have a minimum credit limit of $500, and several sources report the maximum limit to be $3,500. The minimum credit line on the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is $300.

Forum comments peg the minimum credit limit for the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students at $500, with at least one increase likely within six months for cardholders who make on-time payments.

According to the Deserve EDU Mastercard, its maximum credit limit is $5,000, but it makes no mention of a minimum limit.

Should I Close My Student Credit Card After Graduation?

In general, closing your student credit card account after graduation is not recommended, because it could hurt your credit score in at least two ways:

  • You’ll interrupt the age of your credit history, which accounts for 15% of your FICO score. The fine folks at FICO like to see long and successful credit relationships, lasting seven years or longer.
  • You may increase your credit utilization ratio, which is your credit card balance divided by your total credit available. By eliminating some of your available credit, your CUR will rise and hurt your credit score. In fact, 30% of your score is determined by your amounts owed as measured by your CUR.

A better solution is to have your card reclassified after graduation. In many cases, the credit card company will do this automatically when you can no longer prove undergraduate status. Reclassification will not disrupt your credit history nor increase your CUR.

When your card is reclassified, your account moves to the issuer’s most similar traditional credit card. Note that your benefits, rewards, and credit limit may change as a result, and you will have to authorize the move.

Of course, you are not locked into the same card issuer after you graduate. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are quite popular, even if you didn’t own a Chase Freedom® Student card as an undergraduate.

Are There Drawbacks to Using a Student Credit Card?

The drawbacks associated with student credit cards stem from their misuse. If you use your card responsibly, make your payments on time, and stay below your credit limit, your credit card should be viewed as a useful everyday tool to manage your finances.

Let’s take a look at some possible drawbacks and how to avoid them:

  • Dependence on credit: You use credit whenever you charge a purchase. This is a convenience, and hopefully will in no way resemble other types of dependencies (like crack cocaine or Ben & Jerry’s). You can avoid overreliance on credit by paying your bill in full each month. This way, you’ll avoid interest charges and your account balance won’t get the chance to balloon out of control.
  • Overspending: Notwithstanding the previous paragraph, some folks have trouble controlling their spending, in which case a credit card becomes a codependent in a possibly serious problem. The solution is to trade in your credit card for a prepaid debit card, which allows you to spend only the money you already have. It’s funny how different it feels to spend “real” money instead of credit.
  • High interest rates: Typically, student credit cards have high APRs, mainly because the issuers have little evidence of your creditworthiness. That makes these cards an expensive way to borrow. Avoid this problem by repaying your balance in full each month.
  • Damaging your future: If you have sloppy financial habits, such as missing your payment due dates, you could end up with derogatory comments on your credit reports. Not only will these hurt your ability to obtain credit in the future, but they may also damage your prospects for getting a job or renting an apartment. Employers, landlords, and other power brokers can access your credit reports, a chilling prospect if you leave school with a tarnished credit history.

Inevitably, some percentage of students will misuse or abuse their credit cards, out of ignorance or worse. If you’ve read this far into our article, chances are you don’t fall into this group. If you take your credit card as seriously as your organic chemistry final, you’re likely to experience your card as a positive part of undergraduate life.

What is the Fastest Way to Build Credit?

Nothing is faster than getting a credit card to build, or rebuild, your credit. A student credit card is perfect in this regard since you don’t need a credit history or good score to get one.

FICO Score Factors

Payment history is the largest credit score factor.

To let your credit card help you improve your credit score, you must actually use it. That means charging at least a few purchases every month.

While it may seem like a great idea to carry a balance, the fact is it’s best to pay your balances in full each month.

If you can’t always pay off your balances, be sure to always meet your minimum payment requirements and to keep your total balance fairly low — don’t let your CUR exceed 30%. You should start to see your credit score rise within six to 12 months. You may also be granted a higher credit limit after five or six months of consecutive on-time payments.

You can usually give your credit score a small boost by incorporating your utility payments into your credit reporting. Services like Experian Boost can help you with this, and it’s free.

Many consumers who don’t happen to be students also need to build their credit. In that vein, certain banks, online sites, and credit unions offer credit-builder programs. These are loan programs that work as follows:

  1. You take out a modest loan (typically around $1,500) and deposit the proceeds into a special account maintained by the lender.
  2. Every month, you send a payment to the lender until you’ve repaid the loan.
  3. Every month, the lender sends your payment information to each credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).
  4. After repaying the loan, the proceeds are returned to you.

By paying your monthly installments on time, you establish a record for reliability that will help your score rise over time — it may take six to 12 months to become fully effective.

Another route for non-students to build credit is through a secured credit card. With these, you deposit an amount (usually equal to your credit line) that collateralizes the card. You don’t need a credit history or good score to get a secured card, and your timely payments will help you build your credit as they do for an unsecured card.

You may want to consider asking to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. This extends the card’s credit to you, and the credit bureaus will track payments for you and the account owner.

Alternatively, you can recruit a cosigner to get an unsecured card even when you otherwise wouldn’t qualify. Both you and the cosigner are responsible for making timely payments, and both of you will have your payment activity tracked by the credit bureaus.

Compare Cash Back Credit Cards For Students Online

In general, cash back credit cards for students are a good deal. You don’t need a credit history or credit score to get one, and they offer cash rewards that will no doubt be helpful to students on a tight budget.

Our review of the best student cash back cards is a great place to compare the various offerings available, and by clicking on the APPLY NOW buttons, you can head to the issuer’s website and further research the cards before applying.

If you happen to travel often, you may want to consider a card that offers travel reward points, like the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students, instead of a cash back card. You can always cash in your travel reward points if you aren’t planning a trip anytime soon.

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