5 Credit Cards to Take Back to College

College is even better with the right credit cards. Don't miss out on deals and cash back!

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

For many students, college offers the first opportunity to forge a path toward independence. It’s also a huge opportunity to learn how to manage personal finances. Credit cards can be a useful tool in that journey, as they require responsible management even as they’re used to build credit, make purchases and even earn rewards.

Many credit card issuers offer cards designed to meet the college student’s needs. Here are five credit cards to consider taking with you to college in the fall.

1. Discover it Chrome Card for College Students

Rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined gas and dining purchases per quarter, 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: Discover will match all cash back earned in the first year.
Annual Fee: $0
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% for six months on purchases, then variable 13.99% to 22.99%; 10.99% for six months on balance transfers, then variable 13.99% to 22.99%
Why We Picked It: Students earn cash back on all purchases, with an extra incentive for dining and gas.
Benefits: Gas station and restaurant purchases earn 2% cash back and all other purchases earn 1% cash back. Discover will match all cash back you earn in the first year, and students will get a $20 cash back bonus every year they maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: If you don’t have a car and don’t dine out much the cash back value tanks.

2. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment, one point per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: 2,500 bonus points when you spend $500 in the first three months. These points can be redeemed on $25 gift cards at select providers.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for six months on purchases, then variable 14.99% to 24.99%; variable 14.99% to 24.99% on balance transfers
Why We Picked It: Students can earn points on all purchases, with extra incentives for dining and entertainment.
Benefits: You’ll earn two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment (including restaurants, bars, concerts and sporting events) and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points can be redeemed for merchandise, travel, cash and more. Citi also provides price and purchase protection, trip cancellation insurance and many other consumer-friendly benefits. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
Drawbacks: If you don’t spend much on dining and entertainment, you may want to keep looking.

3. Journey Student Rewards Credit Card from Capital One

Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases, with a .25% boost when you pay on time
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: Variable 24.99%
Why We Picked It: Students get extra motivation to make timely payments.
Benefits: All purchases automatically earn 1% cash back, but that rate is boosted to 1.25% for every month you make your payment on time. After making your first five timely payments, you can access a higher credit line. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: The APR is extremely high.

4. BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

Rewards: 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases
Signup Bonus: 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases, then variable 15.99% to 23.99; variable 15.99% to 23.99% on balance transfers
Why We Picked It: Students can redeem their points for travel.
Benefits: All purchases earn 1.5 points per dollar. Points can be redeemed for flights, hotels, cruises, car rentals and other travel purchases, with no blackout dates or restrictions. There’s no foreign transaction fee.
Drawbacks: Those who don’t travel should look elsewhere.

5. Citi Simplicity

Rewards: None
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for 21 months, then variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Why We Picked It: Students get a long time to pay off purchases and balance transfers interest free.
Benefits: The card’s primary appeal is its 21-month 0% APR offer. That’s a long time to pay down a balance or make purchases with no interest.
Drawbacks: There are no rewards.

How to Choose a Credit Card for College

If this is your first time with a credit card, your best choice is likely a simple card with minimal fees and an easy way to earn rewards. You may also want to look for a card that’s forgiving on late payments in case you slip up.

If it’s rewards you’re after, choose a card that matches your spending habits and provides rewards you’ll actually use. For instance, frequent diners might choose a card with special rewards for restaurant purchases.
Some cards offer 0% intro APR offers that let you avoid interest on purchases or balance transfers for a limited time. Remember, the best way to use a credit card is to pay your balance off in full each month before interest is applied.

What Credit Is Required for a College Credit Card?

Credit cards designed for students tend to have looser credit requirements and may be available to students with average or good credit. You should check the credit requirements before you apply. If you aren’t sure about your credit, you can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: Mixmike

At publishing time, the Discover it Chrome Card for College Students, Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, Journey Student Rewards Credit Card from Capital One and Citi Simplicity credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post 5 Credit Cards to Take Back to College appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Stellar Credit Cards for Your College-Bound Teen

Pencils? Check. Shower shoes? Check. A credit card for your teen? Here are some options.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

There’s a laundry list of items your high school grad will need before they head off to get a higher education. Pens, pencils, sheets, shower shoes — and, yes, maybe even a new credit card. That little piece of plastic can provide parents with some peace of mind because it’ll give their freshmen some extra funds in case of an emergency. Plus, college is a great time for a kid, now 18 (or close) and legally an adult, to start building credit. (You can see where your own credit stands by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

Of course, some cards are better than others when it comes to getting started. And, truth be told, you may want to simply add your teen as an authorized user on your personal credit card account (more on how that works here). That way, you can keep an eye on their spending. Lots of issuers even let primary cardholders set spending controls. Plus, they’ll be virtually guaranteed entry, whereas, to get their own credit card, anyone under 21 will need to demonstrate an ability to repay or have a willing co-signer.

Still, if you think your teen is ready for — or can score their own — plastic, they might be best-served by a student credit card. These cards don’t require a security deposit, like the also-easier-to-get secured credit cards do, and tend to carry more favorable terms, like no annual fees, with some even offering rewards on spending.

Here are five solid credit cards to consider for your college-bound teen.

1. Journey Student Rewards From Capital One

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 20.74%

Why We’re Mentioning it: The card’s pretty low cost — there’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and even that straight 20.74% APR is competitive as far as student credit cards go. Still, what we like most about the Journey is that it rewards your teen for developing smart spending habits. Cardholders can get access to a higher credit line after they make their first five monthly payments on time. Plus, they can earn extra rewards for making their due dates: With the Journey, you earn 1% cash back on all your purchases or a total of 1.25% back for each month you pay on-time.

2. Discover it Chrome for Students

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: 0% for the first six months, then variable 13.74% to 22.74%, depending on your credit

Why We’re Mentioning it: Discover’s got two solid credit card for students, but the Chrome requires less precious brain power. It offers cardholders 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter and 1% on all purchases after that. (The Discover it for Students touts revolving 5% cash-back categories your teen will need to sign up for every quarter.) Plus, there’s an incentive to earn good grades: Cardholders will earn $20 cash back each school year their GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years.

3. Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: 0% for the first six months, then variable 11.90% to 21.90%, depending on your credit

Why We’re Mentioning it: Another no-annual-fee student credit card, Well Fargo’s cash back college cardholders can earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery or drugstore purchases for the first six months and 1% cash rewards on almost all other purchases. Plus, your teen will have a 0% introductory APR for six months (variable 11.90% to 21.90%, after that), which could be helpful when it comes to funding their big move.

4. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: 0% for first 7 months, then variable 14.74% to 24.74%, depending on your credit

Why We’re Mentioning it: The card’s got no annual fee, but a nice base rewards program: Your teen can earn 2 points per dollar on dining out and entertainment and one point per dollar everywhere else. Plus, the ThankYou Preferred is one of the few student credit cards that offers a signup bonus. Cardholders can earn 2,500 bonus points if they spending $500 within the first 3 months — though you may not want to play up that offer, lest it lead college kid to overspend. [Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.]

5. Bank Americard Credit Card for Students

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 11.74% to 21.74%, depending on your credit

Why We’re Mentioning it: Bank of America’s student credit card doesn’t tout points, miles or cash back, but that makes it a great option for parents worried the lure of rewards will lead to burgeoning balances their child won’t be able to afford. The card carries no annual fee and a competitive APR range, again as far as student credit cards go. (Per the bank’s website, the card offers the lowest APR available among all its BankAmericard products.)

At publishing time, the Journey Student Rewards, Discover it Chrome, Discover it for Students and Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: BraunS 

The post 5 Stellar Credit Cards for Your College-Bound Teen appeared first on Credit.com.