Student Credit Cards
Frequent Flyer University primarily goal is to help new mile collectors learn the game. Not surprisingly, a lot of those beginners happen to be college aged students and new graduates who want to travel but have limited funds thus they turn to frequent flyer miles. That’s how I got hooked!
From personal experience, I can 100% assure you that if you do not have any established credit history and try apply for any big offers like the 50,000 Point Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card or 30,000 Point Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, YOU WILL GET DENIED and your credit score will get dinged for the unnecessary inquiry.
The good thing about this topic is that I have been in this situation before, so I have firsthand experience. Also this past Summer I set my brother, who is a college Freshman, up with his first credit card.
First thing is first, you have to check your credit report and credit score.
I know I have been talking a lot about credit scores these past few weeks, but IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
The two services I recommend are Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. For more information about either service, please read my old post on how to get your scores and reports for free.
My Personal Experience Applying For My First Credit Card
When I was 18, the summer before College I figured I probably should get a credit card. I did all the research and narrowed it down to the safe choices but of course I decided to try my luck with American Express.
I don’t remember the exact card I applied for, but as Suze Orman says Denied.
For some reason or the other, I then decided to go with Capital One. They approved me for a credit card except that approved me for their credit card that doesn’t have any rewards, which I still have to this day. In my defense, back in those days, I really had no idea about rewards and was just happy that I was approved for a credit card. I mean it is free money right?
The funny thing about that crappy Capital One card which I still have is that they refuse to increase the credit line on the card from the original $1,050 even though I have a Capital One VentureOne card with a limit 20 times that.
Eventually in college, I saw an offer for a Discover Card that offered a pretty large sign up bonus ($150!!!), so I got that card too.
My Brother’s Experience
Given what I had learned from my experience, I knew not to try and sign him up for any American Express or any Chase airline credit cards because that would be an instant denial.
Therefore I opted to sign him up for the Discover Student Card. I’ll talk about the specifics of the card below but don’t worry there is a reason to the madness.
He was approved and got a $1,000 credit limit.
Why Student Credit Cards?
If you have no credit history like most students, you will not be able to sign up for an airline credit card off the bat because Banks are essentially “paying” you money (or miles) to sign up. Therefore they don’t want to spend 50,000 miles on someone with no credit history because they might not pay their bills.
Therefore you have to get a student credit card to build your history.
Now most student credit cards are pretty lame and the credit card companies know that as a student your options are really limited, so like my first Capital One card, many student credit cards don’t come with rewards.
Now I have heard you can sign up for Store credit cards like Macy’s or Kohl’s and get approved pretty easily. These Store credit cards will help you build your credit history however in my opinion those cards are even lamer than Capital One because you can only use them in the specific store.
The Million Dollar Question – What To Do About Income?
For most college students and new graduates, your monthly income is probably negative due to student loans and tuition costs.
I would not endorse putting down a fake income, as it will get flagged and they will ask for proof.
In my and my brother’s case, we each put down how much we had in our bank accounts at the time, and how much money we made from our summer jobs, for a grand total of about $10,000. That was enough to get us approved.
Student Credit Card Options
Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa For College Students
The Citibank Student Credit Cards are the Cards I recommend the most to Students & recent Graduates who email me saying they don’t have any Credit.
The first Citi Student Credit I would recommend is the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa primarily because it looks and acts just like it is an Adult Card.
It has the same design you would find on a regular Citi Dividend Platinum Card and you get the same awesome rotating 5% Cash Back categories, there is just a lower Credit Limit.
This Card also earns 1% Cashback, which is an awesome perk for a Student Card.
Link To Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa For College Students
Citi Forward Student Card
The Citi Forward Card is also geared towards people who are in College or just graduated College.
The difference between the Citi Forward Student Card and the Citi Dividend Platinum Select College Visa is that the Citi Forward Student Card earns Thank You Points that you can use towards free flights and gift cards.
Ultimately it depends on personal preference for Cashback or Points, however I always recommend Points.
Link To Citi Forward Student Card
Discover Student Card With $25 Sign On Bonus
While most mile collectors shun Discover because they don’t offer any cards that truly earn airline miles, I’ve had a Discover Card for 5 years now and have no complaints.
I actually am a fan of their rotating 5% categories that Chase copied for their Freedom card. If there is 5% off on gas or restaurants, I’ve been known to bust out my Discover Card from time to time.
he other cool thing about Discover is that there is no annual fee on most of their cards. This means you can open a Discover Card and leave it open forever, without having to worry about it, all while building your credit history!
The Discover Student Card is one of the only student credit cards that offers Cash Back of up to 1% plus a $25 sign up bonus!
While it isn’t a glamorous card, it is better than not earning any rewards and not getting any sign up bonus!
Once you have had your Student Card for a while, Discover will typically automatically bump you up to their real credit card and increase your credit limit.
Capital One Journey
Thankfully Capital One now has a student card with rewards!
Although Capital One is another credit card company most frequent flyers shun because they don’t offer any true “mileage earning” credit cards, I’ve always been pretty happy with them.
As I said before, I still have my original no rewards Capital One card. The main reason for this is that besides for extending my credit history, all Capital One cards (including my no rewards card) have NO INTERNATIONAL TRANSACTION FEES!
While I currently have 2 cards that don’t have any international transaction fees, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One VentureOne card, this was not always the case. Before I had those 2 cards, when I would travel I would use the crappy Capital One no rewards card to avoid the 3% international transaction fees. Yes I didn’t earn any rewards, but I also saved 3%.
That being said, if you plan on traveling abroad or studying abroad during college, then the Capital One card might be your go to card! This way you can still earn rewards but avoid necessary fees!
Link To Capital One Journey Card
Moving On Up
After you have had your student credit card for 6-12 months, you can try your luck at applying for the big boy cards.
I would suggest checking Credit Karma and Credit Sesame before applying for any airline cards, as those sites will show you if your credit score has increased and by how much.
My Brother is coming up on his 1 year Discover anniversary, so I will let you know how his application for an Airline Credit Card goes.
Hopefully this post helps the many college aged FFU readers who have asked about student credit cards.
If you have any questions, you can always reach me at FrequentFlyerUniversity@gmail.com