6 Reasons Why It Pays to Have a Credit Card in College

Even if you plan to never carry a balance, opening a credit card in college can pay off in many ways, both now and in the future. Still not convinced? Read on for six reasons why you should make credit work for you while in college:

1. Helps Establish an Early Relationship With Your Credit Card Company

What better time to start a new relationship with than when you’re in college? Getting to know your credit card company while you’re on the verge of adulthood can pay off in the long run — after all, one day you’ll graduate and want to apply for a higher credit card limit or a card with different benefits. Having a track record of being a good credit card customer that goes back to your college days may help your future application.

2. Encourages Good Credit Habits

Once you have a student credit card, it’s important to remember that this passport into the adult world comes with adult responsibilities. That’s right – you now have bills to pay, and with the possible exception of a cell phone bill, the student credit card bills you get in college are likely your first experience with budgeting and scheduling bill payments.

Using a credit card requires you to think ahead to your payment due date, and budget to make sure you have the money available to make at least the minimum payment due.

3. May Strengthen Your Rental Application

One day, you’re going to have to move out of that college dorm, frat room, or sorority house. Whether you’re moving into an apartment to finish up your college years, or looking for your first “adult” apartment, a landlord may choose to do a credit check. Once again, a college credit card with a good track record of repayment may help identify you as a responsibly young adult and good tenant, possibly strengthening your rental application.

4. Earn Rewards or Cash Back

One way that having a credit card in college pays is with the cash back, rewards, or points it may generate for you. While other benefits to student cards may take a while to enjoy, student credit card perks can be enjoyed as soon as you’ve met the conditions for redemption.

5. Prepare You For Emergencies

Parents of college students with credit cards may be comforted to know that their children can cover the costs of what they need to in times of emergency or crisis. Students can book flights home, pay for unexpected medical or dental expenses not covered by health care, or even rent a car with a credit card. This may be particularly reassuring for parents with students attending college far from home, as well as the students themselves.

6. Credit Score Tracking

Part of learning good credit management 1includes monitoring your credit score. Some student credit cards may let you see your FICO® Credit Score for free on your monthly statements and online. This is a great way to keep an eye on how your spending, credit card payments, and activity affect credit scoring.

A credit card can be much more than just a convenient way to pay for today’s college expenses. Instead, it can provide peace of mind in emergencies, be a fun way to accumulate rewards and cash back, and be a useful tool to help college students establish life-long good financial habits.


1 https://www.discover.com/company/corporate-responsibility/financial-education/credit-management/skills.html

Legal Disclaimer: The articles and information provided herein are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

FICO is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac are not credit repair organizations as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac do not provide “credit repair” services or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history or credit rating. 

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