Looking back 8 years ago, I recall being 18 years old and wanting to build my credit and earn hotel/airline points, however I can remember how difficult it was to get a credit card when I had almost zero credit history. Sure, I had my own checking account since I was 16 from Bank of America, yet that alone wasn’t enough history to get a credit card. Instead, each time I applied I got turned down! I was frustrated by this, but then, finally a credit union offered me my first credit card and then I started to apply for other credit cards and now I’m almost a pro credit card churner, opening and closing accounts all the time for points and miles.
Therefore, for those readers who are just starting out, here are a couple of options for you. Most of these won’t earn you points/rewards, but it’s a way to start. Then in the future, once you’ve built some credit (in 6-12 months) then you can try to get some of the better point earning cards.
1) Visit YOUR bank and see if they have a student visa. If you bank with a Big National bank, consider going to a smaller credit union. Often times they are willing to give members credit cards with low limits.
2) Consider a Secured Line of Credit: A secured line of credit is a credit card that you secure with an initial deposit. This means if your credit line is $1000, the consumer gives the bank 1K to hold onto. Often times the bank will refund this money after 12 months of making payments on time.
A number of banks offers Secured credit card, be sure to reviews annual fees and maintenance fees. Every credit card has a different fee structure. Also be sure the credit card reports to the major credit bureaus, this way your credit history is growing.
3) Consider a Student Credit Card: Student credit cards are for students, (Discover does have a card for non studens too) many banks have credit cards with low credit limits for students who are just starting to build credit. Some offer award programs, others do not. My first student credit card was a discover card. Although the discover card has changed and recently revamped itself, Discover still offers credit cards targeted at college students and offers an award program.
There are many student credit cards available, however Discover is the only one I can personally vouch for, and because it is the only student card I ever had. Discover still offers the 5% select cash back rewards that changes every couple of months and 1% back on everything else on the student card. Although this bonus is returned to the consumer in the form of cash, Discover has a great portal where the cash back reward can be multiplied and turned into gift cards, turning $20 into $40 and possibly even more! Although you cannot see the options until you’ve signed up for a card, take it from a Discover card holder when I say there are TONS of options! Some Partners include Shell Gas, Enterprise rent-a-car, Lowe’s, GAP, DSW, CVS, AMC theaters, Hyatt, Carnival Cruise Line, Best Western, Outback Steak House and hundreds more!
Discover is just one of many student options out there, so before making a decision, weigh your options. Yet, if you’re a points hoarder like me, the Discover It™ for students is a good entry level card.
Hope this helps my fellow students and young readers! Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I might have an answer or may be able to point you in the right direction!