Ask the Experts: Best Credit Cards for College Students

What attributes would you say the best student credit cards share?

Credit card companies truly like college students because of the students’ earnings and spending potential after graduation. As such, there are lots of good options for college students out there.

The best credit card varies from one person to another – it really depends on how the card will be used. However, college students should look for a few basic features when searching and applying for a card: no annual fees, no foreign transaction fees, and some type of cashback or rewards.

What is the best way for a college student to use a credit card?

The best way to use a credit card is rather straightforward: always pay the full balance before or by the due date. How to get there is trickier. Make sure you are not spending more than you can afford by setting up alerts or using the card for just planned purchases. You can set up a text message or email to alert you when your balance is over $250. You can use the card just for gas or weekly groceries. Set up calendar reminders for payments or auto-pay from your bank account. Do everything you can to pay in time and avoid carrying a balance.

What is the biggest mistake that college students make with credit cards?
Your card balance can also affect your credit. When you use more than 30% of the available line of credit, your credit score might suffer. In other words, if you have just one card with a $1,000 limit, plan not to spend more than $300 per month. Maxing out their credit limits is a mistake that college students (and new cardholders) frequently make.

What is your best piece of advice for a college student who is considering applying for a credit card?

Life is so much easier and cheaper with good credit. Phone carriers do not ask for deposits, auto insurance is discounted, and landlords welcome those with good credit. When used wisely, the first credit card for a college student can be a powerful credit-building tool.