How to Get a Student Credit Card (Step by Step Guide)

Having a credit card while you’re in college can be an important lifeline. You can use it to cover purchases and it can also come in handy if you have an emergency and don’t have enough cash. First, you need to know how to get a student credit card, how it works, and how to qualify.

What Is a Student Credit Card?

Student credit cards work the same as regular credit cards. They are unsecured, which means you don’t need to provide collateral. You can make purchases just as you would with a regular credit card and you receive a statement each month for the balance due.

The primary difference is that student credit cards are designed for you to use when you have a limited credit history. Depending on the credit card issuer, a student credit card may have a lower credit limit than usual.

You may qualify for a student credit card more easily than for a regular credit card, which makes it a great tool for building your credit. After using a student credit card during your college years, you may be able to qualify for a regular credit card when you graduate.

How to Qualify for a Student Credit Card

There are certain criteria that you must meet before you can get a student credit card. 

Be at Least 18 Years Old and Employed

You need to be at least 18 years old, but that doesn’t mean you will automatically qualify if you’re old enough. You must also show that you earn an income. 

Be a US Citizen or Legal Resident

To qualify for a student credit card in the U.S., you must be either a citizen or a legal resident. Someone who is attending a school in the U.S. on a student visa, for example, would be a legal resident.

Be Enrolled In a College or University

SFFedCU requires that you be enrolled part- or full-time as a student in a college or university to qualify. You may have to show proof of enrollment when applying, which may include a student ID, class schedule, tuition receipt, or something else. 

How to Apply for a Student Credit Card

If you’re still wondering how to get a student credit card, the good news is that applying is simple. You can apply online, and in just a short time, you’ll be notified if you’re approved. 

Before you apply, you should gather the following information to prevent delays:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security number (for U.S. citizens and permanent residents)
  • Employer information
  • Annual income

What to Do If Your Credit Card Application Is Denied

If your application for a student credit card is denied, there’s another option to consider—a secured credit card. The term “secured” means the card is backed with collateral, which protects the lender and makes it easier for you to qualify. Secured credit cards are ideal if you’re at the beginning of your financial journey and have limited or no credit history.

To qualify for a secured credit card, you will likely need to deposit funds to match your desired credit limit. For example, if you want a $1,000 credit limit, you will make a $1,000 deposit. Your card issuer will hold the deposit for as long as your account is open. You’ll get your deposit back when you close the account or graduate to an unsecured card.

What Makes the Best Student Credit Card?

Now that you know how to get a student credit card, it’s time to consider what you should look for when choosing the best card for you. No doubt, it will be San Francisco Federal Credit Union’s Student Visa! 

Low Fees

Many college students have tight budgets. The more fees you have to pay, the less money you’ll have for necessities. A student credit card shouldn’t have any unnecessary fees — like annual fees, foreign transaction fees, or balance transfer fees.

Low Interest Rate

As a student, you may not be able to pay off your credit card balance in full each month. A student credit card should have a low annual percentage rate (APR) to keep the account balance from growing too much from the compounding of interest.

You also want to choose a card that offers a grace period where you won’t be charged interest if you pay off your purchase within 25 days.

Fraud Protection

If your credit card is ever lost or stolen, or your identity is stolen, fraud protection means you’re not responsible for any unauthorized charges on your account. In general, credit cards offer greater security than debit cards.

Rewards Program

Look for a card that offers cash back on purchases. To get the most benefit, you can use your student credit card for all your purchases, pay your minimum required balance each month, and enjoy the perks of the rewards program.

Using Your Student Credit Card

Each credit card holder uses their credit card in different ways. You may choose to use your student card for everyday purchases so you can earn rewards and take advantage of fraud protection, or you may use it for emergencies only.

How you use your student credit card depends on your personal needs and preferences. Click below to find out which strategy can work best for you.

Scroll to Top