How to choose the best card for your situation

College students have a lot to balance: classes, studying, part-time jobs, internships, extracurriculars. It’s no wonder balancing your finances can sometimes take a back seat. There are many options and offers out there for credit but some take advantage of young adults instead of helping them build a solid credit score. The best credit cards for students provide rewards, support building good credit and have zero annual fees. Find the right card for you below.

Do you have a scholarship or financial aid? Chose a rewards card.

Scholarship funding and financial aid checks often come in a lump sum at the beginning of a semester. If you trust yourself to keep your spending in check this can provide an opportunity to earn a lot of points on a credit card that offers rewards or cash back. You can use the card and pay the full balance each month from your funds. Manage this well and you could have enough points to pay for a flight home for the holidays. However, if you find you have a hard time managing your spending throughout a semester, consider using pre-paid cards to help you stay on budget.

A word of warning on using a rewards card to pay your tuition: many colleges and universities now charge a fee for using a credit card on tuition payments. Be sure to check with the bursar’s office of your university to understand the policies associated with a credit card payment or you may end up spending much more in fees than you earn in points.

Discover it® Chrome Student Card


Get Cash Back on Gas and Restaurants with Discover it® Chrome.

Are your parents helping out? Chose a low-limit card.

If you are receiving help from your parents for living expenses it may be in your best interest to choose a card without a sky-high spending cap. Even the most responsible college student can find that a pizza here and a round of golf there add up to much more than what his or her parent agreed to pay each month. This is especially true if this is your first experience with using a credit card. Having a limit is a surefire way to keep your spending in check. 

Are you working your way through college? Chose a card with low interest rates.

Making ends meet and still making grades is a big challenge for most students who work part or full time while earning a degree. No one should sign up for a credit card with the intention of running a balance, but the reality of a working student is that there may be a month where an unexpected car repair forces you to carry a balance until you can pick up some extra shifts. A card with a low interest rate and late payment forgiveness can help keep you out of financial trouble while you’re working toward your goals.

Choose one card that works for your situation and avoid signing up for additional lines of credit at every retailer and free t-shirt giveaway. Signing up for multiple credit cards in a short period of time has a negative effect on your credit score regardless of how responsibly you use them. Building solid credit in college can help you start out on the right path after graduation.


Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.