Best credit cards for students with no credit

If you’re a student who’s worried that you don’t have enough credit history to qualify for some of the best credit cards on the market, don’t be. There are plenty of great card options for you.

The best credit cards for students with no credit are designed to help students learn how to use credit responsibly, while also offering rewards on everything from purchases to on-time payments. Some student credit cards even offer rewards for good grades!

Here are three of the best credit cards for students with no credit history.

The Chase Freedom® Student credit card: Perfect for building credit

The Chase Freedom® Student credit card

Chase Freedom®
Chase Freedom®
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

If you’d like to build your credit while earning cash back rewards, the Chase Freedom® Student credit card is a solid choice. You’ll earn 1 percent cash back on every purchase, from textbooks to Netflix. You’ll also get access to multiple tools and incentives designed to help you build credit as quickly and easily as possible.

Start by becoming familiar with Chase’s Credit JourneySM tool, which gives you unlimited access to your credit score. Once you make five on-time payments in your first ten months as a cardholder, you’ll get a credit limit increase. You can also earn an extra $20 in Good Standing Rewards every year you keep your account in good standing, for up to five years.

One more tip: even though it’s super-easy to apply for credit cards online, make sure you visit a Chase bank branch and apply for the Chase Freedom Student card in person. You’ll get a $50 bonus, plus a chance to talk to a professional about how to use credit responsibly.

The Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One®: Perfect for studying abroad

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month.

If you’re planning on studying abroad, you need a credit card that doesn’t charge extra fees for making purchases abroad. The Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One® is a student credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

The Journey Student Credit Card is also an excellent card for building credit. You’ll earn 1 percent cash back on every purchase, which bumps up to 1.25 percent if you pay your credit card bill on time that month. Making on-time credit card payments is one of the best ways to boost your credit score.

Getting a credit limit increase is another good way to increase your credit score, and you’ll be eligible for a higher line of credit after making your first five monthly payments on time. Plus, you’ll have access to Capital One’s CreditWise® app, which monitors your credit profile and offers tips to help you continue to improve your credit.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back: Perfect for students with excellent grades

Discover it® Student Cash Back
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

If you’ve got the grades, you’re going to want to consider the Discover it® Student Cash Back card. Every year you maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above, you’ll receive a $20 statement credit—and you can earn that credit for up to five consecutive years.

Those aren’t the only rewards you can earn with the Discover it Student Cash Back card. You’ll also be able to earn 5 percent cash back on quarterly rotating categories such as gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. You’ll need to activate your rewards every quarter before you can earn cash back on these student-friendly spending categories, and your 5 percent cash back rewards apply up to the quarterly maximum. Once you’ve hit that spending maximum, you’ll earn 1 percent cash back—which is also what you’ll earn on the rest of your Discover it Student Cash Back card purchases.

The best thing about signing up for a Discover it Cash Back card? Cashback Match. Discover will literally match all of the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder. You don’t need to take advanced math to understand that if you earn $300 in cash back rewards during your first year with the Discover it Student Cash Back Card, you’ll get a bonus $300 through Cashback Match!

At a glance comparison


RewardsBonus rewardsAPRAnnual Fee
Chase Freedom® Student1% cash back on all purchases$50 when you apply at a bank branch; $20 every year you keep your account in good standing (for your first five years as a cardholder)Variable 17.24% APR$0
Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One®1% cash back on all purchases1.25% cash back on all purchases every month you make an on-time paymentVariable 26.99% APR on purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances$0
Discover it® Student Cash Back5% cash back on categories that rotate every quarter, for up to the quarterly maximum; 1% cash back on all other purchases$20 every year you maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above (for your first five years as a cardholder); Discover’s Cashback Match matches all the cash you earn in your first year as a cardholder0% intro APR on purchases for the first 6 months; variable purchase APR of 15.24% – 24.24% afterward$0

In a nutshell

No credit doesn’t have to mean no credit card. The best credit cards for students without credit help to build a credit history while earning rewards in the process. By taking out a credit card while you’re still a student—and learning how to use that card responsibly—you can get a head start on your financial future.

Nicole Dieker

Personal finance writer and and the author of “Frugal and the Beast.”

Nicole lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and is actively involved in the local performing arts community.