December 17, 2023

How To Get A Student Credit Card?

Discover the essential steps and eligibility criteria to obtain a student credit card. Learn about requirements, application processes, and responsible usage tips for students seeking to build credit and manage finances.

As a student, managing finances is crucial to your journey towards independence. A student credit card can be a valuable tool in this process, offering a way to build credit, manage expenses, and learn responsible financial habits. However, acquiring a student credit card requires understanding the process and responsibilities that come with it.

But before we get into the topic, it is recommended to read about how many Credit Cards you should have in detail by Bright Money!

What is a Student Credit Card?

A student credit card is designed especially for students with limited credit history or income. It typically offers lower credit limits and more forgiving terms to help students establish credit and financial responsibility.

Eligibility Criteria

Student Status

Most credit card issuers offering student cards require applicants to actively enroll in an educational institution such as a college, university, or vocational program. This requirement ensures that the applicant is pursuing education, which can indicate stability and future income potential. 

Age Requirement

Applicants for student credit cards must meet a minimum age criterion, usually set at 18 years old. This age requirement aligns with legal adulthood in many countries and signifies a level of maturity and responsibility necessary for managing credit. 

Income Consideration

  • Proof of Income: Some student credit cards may not require applicants to have a steady income, but some issuers might ask for proof of income. This income can come from various sources, including part-time jobs, scholarships, grants, or parental support. 

  • Expected Future Income: In cases where students do not have a current income, certain credit card issuers consider expected future income. This assessment might involve estimating income from a future job or potential career prospects post-graduation. 

The income requirement, if applicable, is often assessed to ensure that the applicant has the means to manage credit responsibly. Some issuers might offer secured credit cards or cards requiring a cosigner to mitigate the risk for students without income or limited financial resources.

Steps to Get a Student Credit Card

Emily, a college student, diligently researched various student credit cards. She found a card that offered a 0% APR for the first year, no annual fees, and provided cashback rewards on her regular spending categories, making it an ideal choice for her financial needs.

1. Research and Compare Cards

Interest Rates:

When comparing student credit cards, paying attention to the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is crucial. A lower APR means lower interest charges on any carried balances. Some cards might offer an introductory 0% APR for a limited time, providing an opportunity to make purchases without accruing interest. According to a report, the average APR for student credit cards in 2021 was around 17.24%.


Understanding the fee structure is essential. Look out for annual fees, late payment fees, and penalties. Some Student Credit cards may waive the annual fee for the first year or offer no annual fees at all. 

Rewards and Benefits:

Many student credit cards offer rewards like cash back, rewards points, or discounts for specific spending categories like dining, gas, or groceries. 

Emily's chosen card stood out for its introductory benefits, aligning with her goal of managing expenses while maximizing rewards.

2. Understand Credit Scores:

Check Credit Score:

Students often have limited or no credit history. Some credit card issuers offer cards specifically tailored for individuals with no credit history. These cards might have lower credit limits but are designed to help build credit.

Despite her limited credit history, Emily found a student card tailored for newcomers, offering her a chance to build credit with a lower credit limit.

3. Gather Necessary Documents:

Proof of Enrollment:

Most credit card issuers require documentation verifying student status, such as a student ID, enrollment verification letter, or transcripts. This confirms that the applicant meets the student status requirement.

Applying for the card, Emily provided her enrollment verification letter and proof of scholarship income, showcasing her student status and financial responsibility.

4. Apply for the Card:

Online Application:

Most credit card applications can be completed online through the issuer's website or a secure online portal. This process is often straightforward and allows for easy submission of required documentation.

Using the issuer's secure online portal, Emily submitted her application with accurate information, ensuring a smooth and error-free process.

5. Responsible Credit Card Usage:

Use Sparingly:

Using the credit card for necessary expenses is advisable and only charge what can be comfortably paid off each month. Avoiding unnecessary purchases helps in managing credit and expenses effectively.

Once approved, Emily used her credit card for essential expenses like textbooks, maintaining a budget to pay off the balance comfortably each month while monitoring her spending closely to stay within her means.

Tips for Responsible Credit Card Usage

  • Pay in Full:

Paying off the full balance monthly is one of the most crucial tips for responsible credit card usage. Doing so prevents you from accruing any interest charges on the carried balance. It helps maintain financial discipline and prevents the accumulation of debt. Setting up automatic payments or reminders can assist in ensuring timely and full payments.

  • Set a Budget:

Creating a budget is essential to properly controlling spending. To better comprehend your financial boundaries, make a precise budget that includes all of your basic costs (rent, utilities, groceries, etc.) together with your income. To ensure you can pay off your debt in full monthly, set aside a specified amount of your budget for credit card charges.

  • Track Your Expenses:

Utilize budgeting tools or apps to monitor your spending habits regularly. These tools can categorize expenses, track trends, and provide insights into where your money is going. By staying aware of your spending patterns, you can identify areas where you might be overspending and make adjustments to stay within your budget.

  • Avoid Cash Advances:

Cash advances from credit cards can come with higher fees and interest rates than regular purchases. Additionally, interest on cash advances typically starts accruing immediately without a grace period, leading to higher costs. Using your credit card primarily for purchases and avoiding cash advances whenever possible is advisable. If you need cash, consider alternative methods to avoid the associated fees and high interest rates.

Building Credit History

A student credit card is a great way to build your credit history. A good credit history can positively impact your ability to obtain loans, rent apartments, and secure future employment. Bright Builder is a great tool to help you build credit!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Late Payments

Timely payments are paramount when it comes to credit cards. Missing the due date or making late payments can have several adverse effects:

  • Impact on Credit Score: Late payments can significantly impact your credit score. Payment history contributes considerably to your credit score, and even a single late payment can have a detrimental effect.

Maxing Out the Card

Maxing out a credit card means using the entire credit limit or coming close to it. This can have negative repercussions:

  • Credit Utilization Ratio: This ratio compares the amount of credit you use to the total amount available. Using a high percentage of your available credit can negatively impact your credit score. Keeping credit utilization below 30% is generally recommended for maintaining a healthy credit score.

Ignoring Statements

Regularly reviewing credit card statements is crucial for multiple reasons:

  • Error Detection: Reviewing statements credits allows you to promptly identify discrepancies or unauthorized charges. Reporting errors or fraudulent activity early can prevent further issues.


According to a study, 45% of consumers consider a card's security features as a top factor when choosing a credit card. A student credit card can be essential in managing finances and building a credit history. By understanding the application process, responsibilities, and best practices for usage, students can leverage these cards to their advantage. Responsible student credit card use lays the foundation for a healthy financial future. 

Consider alternative options like Bright Credit by Bright Money to build credit, and understand the long-term implications before deciding. 

Must Read: Credit Building Myths Exposed! Unveiling Truths

Best Secured Credit Cards to Build Credit Today!


1. What are the typical eligibility requirements for a student credit card?

Student credit cards often require applicants to be enrolled in a college, university, or vocational program. Additionally, applicants usually need to be at least 18 years old. Some issuers might also request proof of income or offer cards based on expected future income.

2. Can I get a student credit card with no credit history?

Yes, certain credit card issuers offer cards specifically designed for students with limited or no credit history. These cards may have lower credit limits but are meant to help students build their credit profile.

3. Do I need a cosigner to get a student credit card?

While some student credit cards may not require a cosigner, individuals with no credit history or limited income might benefit from having a cosigner, usually a parent or guardian. A cosigner with good credit can strengthen the application and potentially lead to better terms.


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