The Best Reward Cards for College Students

Students looking for a rewards credit card will find that many issuers have designed cards aimed at their age group. Student rewards credit cards often offer deep discounts on common student spending categories, such as restaurants or gas. Or student cards can pay a healthy flat rate of cash back on every purchase.

Using a credit card wisely can be a great way for a student to build up a credit history. But opening and managing a credit card is new territory for most college students, so it’s especially important to make sure you understand how to avoid paying interest and boost your credit score. To protect your credit and avoid late fees, be sure to pay your bill on time each month. And to avoid high interest charges, pay your bill in full rather than just making the minimum payment.

To help you choose a student card, we have listed some interesting options here. For each, we calculated a typical annual rebate that assumes $3,000 is billed annually to the card.

To subscribe to Kiplinger’s personal finances

Be a smarter, more informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s free email newsletters

Enjoy and thrive with Kiplinger’s best expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more – straight to your email.

Profit and thrive with the best expert advice from Kiplinger – straight to your email.

If you’re looking for a card that offers solid cash rewards for users of all ages instead, check out The Best Cash Back Credit Cards. And if you want to open a card that offers points or miles to travelers, check out The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards.

Capital One SavorOne Rewards for Mastercard Students

  • Website: www.capitalone.com
  • Interest rate: 17.99% to 27.99%
  • Annual subscription : None
  • Better reward rate: 3% back on restaurant, entertainment, streaming and grocery purchases
  • Sign-up bonuses: $100 back if you spend $100 in the first three months
  • Typical annual repayment: $70

Capital One offers a student version of its dining rewards credit card, and the maximum discount categories can fit well into a typical college student’s budget. Cardholders earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment (including ticket purchases at movie theaters, amusement parks, professional sporting events, bowling alleys and more), some streaming services and in grocery stores. They also get 8% cash back on purchases through the Capital One Entertainment ticketing platform as well as Vivid Seats ticket purchases and 5% back on hotel and car rental bookings through Capital One Travel. All other expenses earn 1%. Redeem cash back in any amount as a check or statement credit.

The $100 spending requirement to earn an initial bonus is relatively low, making it manageable for many students. If you plan to study abroad, take this card with you – it charges no foreign transaction fees.

Check it out Student Chrome

  • Website: www.discover.com
  • Interest rate: 0% for six months, then 15.99% to 24.99%
  • Annual subscription : None
  • Best Reward Rate: 2% discount at gas stations and restaurants
  • Sign-up bonuses: A cashback match won after one year, doubling your rewards
  • Typical annual repayment: $44

This card from Discover offers clear rewards in categories that make sense to students: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined quarterly spending) and 1% on other purchases. Cash back can be redeemed in any amount as an account credit, bank account deposit or charitable donation. You can also apply cash back to make purchases from certain merchants, such as Amazon, or to purchase gift cards.

The upfront bonus structure is a good idea for students, who get matched with the cashback they’ve earned after one year. Most other cards require you to spend a certain amount in the first few months to get a bonus, which can be a steep climb (and also encourage less careful spending). The card is also forgiving for young people starting out with a credit card: it never charges a penalty interest rate after a late payment and it waives late fees for the first missed payment. You get one strike – not three, but it’s better than zero.

Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards for Visa Students

  • Website: www.bankofamerica.com
  • Interest rate: 0% for 18 months, then 16.99% to 26.99%
  • Annual subscription : None
  • Best Reward Rate: 1.5% cashback on all expenses
  • Sign-up bonuses: $200 back if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Typical annual repayment: $45

This card is well suited for students who want simple, flat-rate cash back on all their expenses. It offers 1.5% back on purchases, redeemable as a statement credit, a one-time deposit to a Bank of America checking or savings account, or a one-time credit to a Merrill cash management account eligible (automatic redemptions in such accounts come with a $25 minimum).

Comments are closed.