The Best Credit Card Rewards for Graduate Students
Find out how rewards can keep your college life on track
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Whether you’re researching Supreme Court precedents, memorizing the circulatory system or analyzing the finer points of European history, attending graduate school can be an all-consuming challenge. Many graduate students struggle to balance their time, personal lives and especially their finances while completing a degree program. The good news is there are some excellent credit card options available to students that can help you get more out of the money you’re already spending. Keep your finances on track and still enjoy your grad school experience by using a credit card with rewards.
Cards that give you points or cash back for dining and entertainment purchases are a great choice for students. Look for a rewards card that offers higher points for these spending categories or different places that fit your lifestyle. For example, if you commute to school, a card that gives extra rewards for gas purchases can help add more to your rewards bank.
While credit card rewards that fit your lifestyle are a great way to get more out of your budget, avoid going overboard and applying for brand cards at every retailer you frequent. Holding more than a few open lines of credit makes it much easier to miss payments and lose sight of your total amount of debt. Also, each time you apply for a new line of credit the inquiry is recorded on your credit file. Frequent applications for credit in a short time frame can have a negative impact on your credit score2.
If you’re attending a program out-of-state or headed to another country for study abroad, consider a card with excellent travel rewards. To earn more rewards, look for cards that offer miles or hotel points for everyday spending, instead of airline-specific loyalty cards that only give you rewards for actual flight miles. Cash back programs are also a safe bet as cash gives you the flexibility to purchase anything for your travels from baggage fees to souvenirs.
If you’re researching new credit cards to take on an international trip, be sure you understand which countries accept the card and if the card has foreign transaction fees. A 3% transaction fee on every purchase overseas can quickly surpass the value of rewards you receive from the card. Also be certain to contact your credit card company before leaving the country to inform them of your travel plans. Otherwise overseas charges may raise an alert with the fraud protection service and the card could be declined.
Qualify for a More Rewarding Card
The best rewards cards often have higher application requirements than standard credit cards. If you spent time in the workforce and managed credit responsibly between undergraduate and graduate school, you may be able to qualify for cards you didn’t qualify for previously.
Utilizing a rewards card is an excellent way to make your student budget stretch further. However, if you are consistently carrying a balance, a card with a low APR (annual percentage rate) is a better choice than a rewards card. It’s never worth it to go into debt just to earn the extra rewards.
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