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Best Credit Cards for College Graduates

When you toss your cap in the air on graduation day, the world feels like it is at your feet. You’re ready to enter adulthood armed with a degree from college, you’ve got a few job prospects and life feels pretty sweet. That’s until you go to buy your first car and realize that the one thing you didn’t do in college was build yourself a solid credit record. College students have it rough these days. Not only are they graduating with massive amounts of student loan debt, but also they are nowhere near prepared for the financial responsibility of living life. In fact, many millennials have sworn that they will never get a credit card, but that kind of logic doesn’t yield a strong financial future. Most Millennial graduates who have their first job are concerned about just paying bills, but those that are on the lookout for credit card options are demanding features similar to their “adult” card counterparts. According to Matthew Goldman, CEO of Credit Card Optimizer at Wallaby Financial,

Best Credit Cards for College Graduates List

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students is a good credit card for students, offering 2X points per dollar for dining and entertainment purchases.There’s an introductory offer of 2,500 bonus points for spending $500 in the first 3 months, worth up to $25 when redeemed. It’s a pretty small bonus overall, but it’s easy to get.Cardholders also get a 7-month 0% introductory APR on purchases, followed by a regular rate of 16.49%–26.49% Variable.Some shopping and travel protections are included, along with Citi’s Concierge service, a rare find on a student credit card.See how this card compares to another popular student card in the Discover it® for Students vs Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students.

Dcu Credit Card

Digital Federal Credit Union, in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, has a card that can help establish or improve your credit history.A great option for college students, this card offers lenient penalties, very few fees, and travel and online benefits.

Deserve Edu Mastercard

The Deserve Edu credit card is available for students with limited or no credit, both native to the U.S. and international, who are either in school or have recently graduated.You’ll only get 1% cash back for purchases, but you’ll also get 1 free year of Amazon Prime Student. There’s no fee for foreign transactions, and you’ll get a waiver for your first late payment if necessary.You don’t need a SSN to apply for this card, and no security deposit is required. International students will need their student visa, passport ID, school document (e.g. I-20 or DS 2019), and proof of a U.S. bank account balance.When applying for the Deserve credit cards, they will consider not only your credit history but also education, current financial health, future employability, and earnings potential. This gives people with poor credit or thin credit files a better chance of approval.Take note that Deserve will need to connect to your bank account to verify your balance. If you have privacy or security concerns this might worry you, but it seems logical because Deserve bases its decision on more than just an applicant’s credit history.

Student Credit Cards

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

  • Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • 2,500 ThankYou? Points are redeemable for $25 in gift cards, electronics and other great rewards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with Chip Technology
  • No annual fee*

Discover it® for Students Credit Card

  • New! Free Social Security Number alerts, we%u2019ll monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.*
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you%u2019ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like Amazon.com, restaurants, ground transportation and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.99% - 22.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Discover it® chrome for Students Credit Card

  • New! Free Social Security Number alerts, we%u2019ll monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.*
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you%u2019ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.99% - 22.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Journey Student Rewards Credit Card 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
  • There's no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards won't expire for the life of the account
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Pay no annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you

SelfScore Achieve for Students Card

  • Build U.S. credit history with no-cosigner or deposit required
  • No SSN required for international students
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 6 months and then 19.74% variable APR thereafter
  • Credit limit up to $5000
  • No annual fee. No fee on first late payment
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Includes MasterCard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel Assistance, Extended Warranty and Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Start off your professional life with good credit decisions

After years of hard work, speeches and exams, graduation can be a huge relief - until you realize you now have to start being an adult.

One of the most important things to do when starting your financial life right after college is to establish credibility responsibly.But the keywords here are responsible.

Building a credit file is not good for you if you start building bad credit, so be sure to practice responsible credit behavior.

This includes always (always, always) paying your debts and bills on time, keeping credit card balances low, and being stingy about opening new credit lines.

Finding it hard to get credit?

If your credit card application is rejected, one reason may be a lack of evidence that you can borrow money and pay it off on time.

Banks, building societies and credit card companies all want to see that you can be trusted before offering you more loans - but how can you prove that you can handle credit responsibly when no one seems willing to lend you money?

One answer might be to try a credit card.These CARDS have high annual interest rates and are therefore not suitable for long-term borrowing - you should pay the full amount each month to avoid paying interest - but over time you may show smart borrowing behavior.This can help you get cheaper credit in the future.

How to choose the best credit card for new graduates?

The best card for you depends on your personal circumstances.

If you’ve just got your first job and want a credit card that will earn you cashback, or a balance transfer card or a 0% purchases credit card, you can compare the best deals on the market before deciding which to apply for.

If you’re unsure which type of credit card is most suited to your needs, our quick and easy to use credit card decision tree will help you make the right decision.

However, it’s important to be aware that if you don’t have a history of borrowing responsibly (in other words, a good credit history), or if you don’t have a permanent job yet, you might not be accepted for a market-leading credit card.

Get a credit card and be smart about it

One of the ways to establish and improve credit is to open a credit card and make sure you're using it wisely. That means always paying it on time, and ensuring you're not using more than 30% of the card's credit limit.

That's because your credit utilization ratio, or the amount of credit you use compared with the amount of credit you have available to you, is an important factor in determining your credit scores. For a good credit score, you want to keep your utilization under 30%, and for the best scores, under 10%. So if you have a credit card with a limit of $1,000, you will want to keep your monthly balance to $300 or less.

"If you want to build your credit further and faster, opening a new credit card can help you do that—but it only works if you avoid going into debt," Wong says. "If you get a little too excited trying to furnish your first apartment with IKEA and end up revolving a balance and maxing out your cards, that's dangerous territory for your credit. Basically, you want to have a lot of credit available to you, hence opening the card, but you want to use it as little as possible."

Bottom line

Expert’s advice for new grads, “Find a card with no annual fee and make sure you understand how to use the card properly. Since this is your first card, use it to charge predictable monthly expenses like your cable bill, cell phone or Netflix monthly fee. They are easy to pay off, and have the added benefit of creating a positive credit history.”

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