Finding the best student credit cards can be an overwhelming task — especially if you’re a student with no credit card experience whatsoever. When looking at the best student credit cards, there are a few things the finest usually have in common. Here are the top 10 key things to look for:
1. Reasonable Interest Rates
The companies that offer the best student credit cards firmly understand that a student isn’t going to have a long-established credit history, and they are not going to penalize you because of it. A good student credit card will offer a reasonable interest rate (15-percent or less), regardless of this fact.
2. Sensible Credit Limits
Whether you realize it or not, you do not need a $5,000 credit limit while you’re in college. Remember, student credit cards should not be used to finance your college education — that’s what student loans are for. Student credit cards should really be kept for emergency purposes or budgetary reasons only.
The best student credit cards offer sensible credit limits (less than $1,000) and will have a limit of one credit card per student. If a credit card company is willing to give you a credit limit of thousands of dollars, it’s just setting you up for trouble.
3. Rational Grace Periods
A grace period is the period of time from when your credit card billing statement closes to when the payment is due. Unfortunately, during recent years, some credit card companies have employed the less-than-ethical practice of all but eliminating the grace period. Some consumers have even reported receiving their credit card statement days after the payment was due!
The best student credit cards will offer a grace period of at least 20 days, meaning 20 days will elapse from the time the billing statement closes and the bill is sent to the time that the payment needs to be received.
4. Forego the Temptation
Long-time credit card users know all too well that their monthly credit card statements also arrive with offers for special deals and purchases (such as magazine subscriptions or interesting collectibles). The best student credit cards will not bombard you with frivilous impulse purchase offers.
Credit card companies need to take some responsibility for teaching you about responsible spending and the best student credit cards adhere to this philosophy.
5. Pay For What?
Some student credit cards require an application and/or processing fee. However, the credit cards that require these are never the best student credit cards available.
The best student credit cards keep fees to a minimum (foregoing the application fees, processing fees and annual fees) and usually only charge fees for late payments and/or over-the-limit transactions.
6. Online Account Management
Another thing that the best student credit cards have in common is online account management. With online account management, you can review your credit limit, make payments and keep track of your spending right from your dorm room.
While online account management used to be a “novelty,” it is quickly becoming a “must have” and all of the best student credit cards offer it.
7. Rewards Aren’t Just For Adults
Rewards credit cards aren’t just for mom and dad. Students are eligible too. Some of the best student credit cards offer rewards, such as points that can be redeemed for gift certificates or even cash back.
Just remember, student credit cards that do offer rewards usually also have a higher interest rates (16 to 19 percent). Because of this, it’s important that you pay your balance in full each and every month to avoid finance charges if you opt for a rewards credit card rather than a low-interest credit card.
8. Don’t Overlook the Credit Union
Some of the best student credit cards can be found at the credit unions on college campuses. Many college credit unions offer student credit cards with very competitive interest rates and other student benefits. If you haven’t done so yet, check your campus credit union to see what they have to offer.
9. Nurturing Your Credit History
The best student credit cards will report all payments made on the card to the three credit reporting agencies. Pre-paid student credit cards do not do this, which is why they aren’t really good for building your credit rating, nor are they beneficial for teaching you about how revolving credit works.
When applying for student credit cards, make sure that they are legitimate credit cards (not pre-paid deals) and that all account of your activity is reported to the credit bureaus. When you graduate from college and need to buy a car or a house, you’ll be glad you did.
10. They Really Are Student Credit Cards
The best student credit cards really are just what they say they are — student credit cards. Some credit cards advertise themselves as being student credit cards when, in fact, they issue students the same credit cards they issue everyone else.
Because students have unique financial circumstances and needs, you need to apply for a student credit card that is what it says it is. Unless the card you are applying for is specifically tailored to students, it’s not really a student credit card.
Remember, even though the world of student credit cards can be confusing and finding the best student credit cards can feel like a daunting task, these ten priceless bits of advice will get you well on your way to a sound and stable credit card future.
For more tips on getting the best student credit cards saving money and avoiding getting taken a website that specializes in providing credit card tips, advice and resources.
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