It is a well-known fact that students are dangerous with credit cards; they aren’t aware of the trouble they can create with their credit, and they spend every semester racking up charges for ramen noodles and beer. That said, students can still begin to build their credit while living away at college as long as they are responsible about spending and about paying the minimum payment.
Most major banks offer student credit cards that can be obtained by themselves or through student checking and savings accounts. These cards come with no annual fee, and usually with minimal interest rates. If you are a student or parent looking at credit cards for the college student, it’s important to know the facts about these cards, and to know the benefits of each.
Bank of America
Student Visa Platinum
Bank of America has recently joined with MBNA, and they are now providing cards for US colleges and universities. Rather than just the normal Visa face of the card, you can get them with your school’s logo or mascot instead. They don’t have every school in the country, however, and you can still apply for the regular student Visa card.
There is no co-signer required to obtain this card, and there is no annual fee. Applicants must be earning a minimum of $200 per month after expenses, whether from a job or from the support of a parent. There is no interest rate for the first six months, with a variable 10.99% thereafter. They charge a cash advance fee of 3% and an over credit limit fee of $35.00. The grace period is at least 20 days.
Learn More: Bank of America’s website
Apply Over the Phone: 1-800-932-2775
J.P. Morgan Chase Bank (now combined with Bank One)
Chase Bank offers a total of 35 different student cards, ranging from school names to the Starbucks card to the Sony card. Each of these credit cards offers varying rewards, which can be translated into cash back, assisted tuition, and free gifts.
Chase Student Free Cash
Earn bonuses that result in cash back for every purchase! With no annual fee and 0% interest for the first six billing cycles, this is a great card for the fledgling student. After you earn 2,500 bonus points, you can choose from the following:
-$25 gift certificate retailers like The Home Depot, Borders Books & Music, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, On The Border, Exxon, Sam Goody, JCPenney, Best Buy, BLOCKBUSTER, Pizza Hut, Macy’s and Pier 1 Imports.
You receive 1,000 reward points with your first purchase, which is a great start to earning cash back.
Chase Platinum Student MasterCard
This card doesn’t have any reward points, but after six months, the interest rate is only 13.74%, compared with the Free Cash rate of 17.99%. You can choose between two different card designs, and obtain up to $500,000 travel insurance. This is a great card for someone who wants to slowly build their credit.
Sony Student Card
With this card, you can earn rewards toward purchasing Sony products, which is great if you are into electronics. The interest rate after 6 months is 17.24%, and it delivers full Visa Platinum benefits. You can start earning points toward CD’s, DVD’s, stereo’s, DVD players, and video games.
Starbucks Student Card
The Starbucks card comes in two designs – cup & community – and earns the user “a full blend of rewards.” With each purchase, you earn 1% in Duetto Dollars, which can be redeemed for Starbucks products no matter where you live. As with all of the cards, there is no annual fee and no APR for the first six months. The interest rate is a variable 17.24% for every month thereafter. This card is great if you love coffee and coffee shops.
United College Plus Visa Card
For the traveling students (especially those who study abroad), this is an excellent way to earn free miles. The United College Plus card allows you to accumulate one mile for every $2.00 you charge on the card and up to ten additional miles when you use it at participating restaurants.The credit line starts at $500.00, which is guaranteed if you are approved.
Learn More: Chase’s website
Apply Over the Phone: 1-888-215-3049
Wells Fargo offers the Student Visa Card, which is used by students the world over. Also with no annual fee, this card offers the low introductory rate of 6.99%, and allows you to add any reward program for $19.00/year. You also receive:
– Automatic car rental insurance, extended warranty, and travel and emergency assistance
– 24-hour customer service
– Additional cards at no extra cost
– A quarterly credit education newsletter
Learn More: Wells Fargo’s website
Apply Over the Phone: 1-800-WFB-OPEN (1-800-932-6736)
Remember that when applying for a student credit card from any bank, you will be required to show proof of age, citizenship, and enrollment in a college, university or trade school program. They only require that you be enrolled part-time (at least three hours).