The Best College Students Credit Cards of 2020

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Obtaining a credit card while being a student in college is actually a good idea as it will help you build up your credit history. It will actually be a first step towards establishing your good credit history.

Good credit may not seem like a big deal at first, but this is where you are definitely wrong. Good credit is required for obtaining loans, even student loans, buying a car, or even buying a house later down the road.

Credit can also be a factor in you landing a good job and being able to rent a decent apartment.

As it turns out, there are credit cards that are geared specifically for students and recently graduated professionals. These cards usually offer discounts and cash back for getting good grades and making purchases.

The only thing is, there are so many card companies that all seem to offer the same things. This is why we are here. We have created a list of credit cards that are the best for college students looking to build their credit.

Here are The Smart Investor Select’s picks for the college students credit cards:

Bank of America Cash Rewards

On Bank Of America Secure Website

Bank of America Cash Rewards

Reward details

3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, 1% cash back on all other purchases

Current Offer

Online $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening

Credit Rating Needed

Good 

Annual Fee

None
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

This card is designed for individuals that primarily charge a purchase daily. It offers students a flexible reward structure that enables them to earn back their cashback while building their credit history with zero annual fees. The card also provides overdraft protection and a 0% introductory annual percentage rate on balance transfers and purchases. To maximize ongoing rewards as a card user, you need to spend up to $2500 quarterly. You can earn a 3% cashback rewards with this card in any of the following categories; gas, dining, travel, drug stores, furniture store. You can also earn a 2% cashback reward at wholesale clubs and grocery stores if you use this card. 

In 2020, Bank Of America Cash Rewards was rated third out of 11 major credit cards with a score of 812 by the J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Study.

 
  • Rewards Plan: 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • APR: 13.99%-23.99%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Sign Up bonus: Online $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 12 months
  • $200 Cashback Sign-Up Bonus
  • 2% Cashback on Groceries and Warehouses, 1% on The Rest
  • 3% Cash Back of Your Choosing
  • No Annual Fee
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate on Balance Transfers and Purchases
  • Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program
  • Cap on Rewards
  • High APR
  • Balance Transfer Fee
  • Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Fraud Protection

Capital One Secured Mastercard

Capital One Secured Card review

On Capital one Secure Website

Capital One Secured Mastercard

Reward details

None

Current Offer

None

Credit Rating Needed

Limited – Average

Annual Fee

None
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

Building your credit with a reliable, secured credit card may be a very smart move; however, not all secured credit cards are designed equal. Capital one secured Mastercard has some unique attributes that can win you over and make you trust them. Capital one secured card makes deposits less formidable, and this one of the unique qualities of capital one secured Mastercard.

Capital One Secured Card does not give any reward. However, using this card comes with some benefits: zero fees on a foreign transaction, travel accident insurance, secondary car rental insurance, extended warranty, and 24-hour travel assistance services. Some of the limitations of using this card are the relatively low initial credit limit and the no bonus offer program than other card issuers.

According to J.D. Power, Capital One was rated 807 in the 2019 customer satisfaction survey, making it 3rd on the list.

 
  • APR: 26.99%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Unknown
  • Rewards Plan: None
  • Sign Up bonus: None
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: None
  • Build Your Credit
  • No Annual Fee
  • No Foreign Transaction / Balance Transfer Fee
  • Flexible Security Deposit
  • No Rewards
  • High APR
  • Put Down a Refundable Deposit

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited review

On Chase Secure Website

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Reward details

1.5% cash back on all purchases

Current Offer

Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Credit Rating Needed

Good

Annual Fee

None
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

The chase freedom unlimited provides an enthralling combination of lavish rewards, including a 5% cashback on travel purchased through the card, 1.5% on other purchases and 3% on dining, including drugstores and takeout. They also offer a higher sign-up bonus than what most cashback cards offer, with a zero-annual fee and a flexible redemption option.

Chase Freedom Unlimited is the best for you if you are looking for a card with enthralling rewards. The Chase Freedom Unlimited gives users five options for claiming your hard-earned rewards and offers a $200 cashback after you have spent $500 within the first three months of using the card. In 2019, chase ranked 4th in the J.D. Power credit card customer satisfaction study.

 
  • APR: 14.99% - 23.74%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Rewards Plan: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Sign Up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 0% Intro APR for the first 15 months that your Account is open.
  • 1.5% Cash Back
  • $200 Sign Up Bonus
  • 0% APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases
  • No Annual Fee
  • Protection & Free Credit Score
  • No Bonus Rewards
  • Balance Transfer Fee
  • Foreign Transaction Fee
  • High APR

Citi Secured Mastercard

citi secured mastercard review

On Citi one Secure Website

Citi Secured Mastercard

Reward details

None

Current Offer

None

Credit Rating Needed

Limited – Average

Annual Fee

None
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

The Citi secured card is different from other secured credit cards. It is designed for individuals that have no credit or individuals with limited credit. Individuals with bad credit are not eligible to have this card. It's a great plus for you if you qualify because they don’t charge an annual fee, and they report all card activities to all the three main credit bureaus.

The Citi Secured Mastercard offers no rewards. Some of the benefits you can get from using this card include; free FICO score access, account alerts and flexible payment due date. However, there is a high annual percentage, which is one of the disadvantages of using this card.

Citi Card was rated 6th out of 11 national card issuers by the J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit satisfaction study.

 
  • APR: 22.49%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Rewards Plan: None
  • Sign Up bonus: None
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: None
  • Build Your Credit
  • No Annual Fee
  • Protection
  • Protection
  • No Rewards/Intro 0% APR Periods / Sign Up Bonus
  • High Ongoing Variable APR
  • Put Down a Refundable Deposit

Discover It Secured

Discover It Secured review

On Discover Secure Website

Discover It Secured

Reward details

Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

Current Offer

Automatically matches the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year

Credit Rating Needed

Limited – Average

Annual Fee

None
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

The Discover It Secured credit card is a great way to build your credit history while still earning cash back rewards like a normal credit card. This is a great credit card option for students as well as folks trying to repair their credit history. Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit from $200-$2500 after being approved. 

Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit. Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.

 
  • Rewards Plan: Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • APR: 22.99%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Sign Up bonus: Automatically matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: Intro Balance Transfer APR is 10.99% for 6 months from date of first transfer
 
  • Build Credit History
  • Cash Back Rewards
  • Flexible Redemption Options
  • Get Extra Money Redeeming as a Gift Card
  • Refer a Friend for Cash Back
  • Put Down a Refundable Deposit
  • 10.99% APR for Balance Transfers
  • Less Merchant Acceptance
  • High Purchase APR