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How to Choose a Student Credit Card

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Getting your first credit card is a big step, akin to getting your driver's license for the first time. Since you're just starting out with credit, it's wise to choose a credit card that caters to your credit experience. A student credit card is one of the best choices for young people starting out with credit. Here's how you should choose a student credit card.

Can someone with little or no credit be approved?

Because you don't have much experience with credit, you should apply for a credit card that will approve your limited history.

What's the credit limit?

When you're starting out, a low credit limit is best to teach you how not to charge too much. A credit limit that's too high makes it easy for you to charge more than you can afford, which can lead to debt.

What's the interest rate?

A lower interest rate is better because you will end up paying less for keeping a balance on your credit card. In the beginning, you may not be able to get the lowest rates since creditors reserve those for customers with very good credit. If your interest rate is high, i.e. above 14% and especially in the 20%'s, pay your balance in full each month to avoid hefty finance charges.

What's the annual fee?

Ideally, you should choose a student credit card that doesn't have an annual fee. There are many cards that don't charge annual fees, so if you find one that does, keep looking.

Some credit cards waive the fee if you make a purchase within a 12-month period. This kind is acceptable as long as you make a purchase at least once a year.

Are there any other fees?

Make sure you understand the complete fee structure and when you'll get charged. Nearly all cards have late fees and over-the-limit fees. Avoid cards with unfair fees, like an account maintenance fee.

Is a cosigner required?

Having a card that's just your card will help you charge more responsibly. If you have a cosigner you run the risk of neglecting your card because you know your parents will pay the bill. Not only that, when you're late on a payment, it will affect your cosigner's credit too.

Are there rewards?

Having rewards on your student credit card is an added benefit. If you find a good card that doesn't have rewards don't pass it up. On the other hand, if you find a good card that does have rewards, that's even better. Be careful that you don't abuse your credit card just to get more rewards.

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