A starter or student credit card is a type of card designed for people with little to no credit history. These cards can help people new to credit obtain a credit card and begin making their own financial decisions. Some of these types of cards come with the opportunity to earn rewards on purchases.
Finding the right card for you requires understanding your own spending habits and needs. For many students, the choice also involves whether to start building credit using a secured or unsecured card.
Please note that Chase does not offer secured credit cards.
Types of student credit cards
Credit cards for students come in two basic varieties: secured and unsecured. The main difference between the two is whether putting money down is required to get a credit card. Both types of cards will generally charge you interest on purchases, and some secured cards do pay cash back or points on purchases.
Secured and unsecured credit cards
Many people can get secured and unsecured credit cards confused. So let’s take a closer look:
Secured cards involve putting money down as collateral after completing an application, typically a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. The amount paid usually determines the initial limit on the secured card. Please note that:
- Unsecured student cards do not require any money down, but keep in mind that for new cardmembers especially, they often come with lower spending limits or higher interest rate.
- Using a secured card responsibly can help a person with limited or no credit history receive unsecured card offers, potentially even within a few months of obtaining the card.
- Secured cards are one option for students who don’t have a parent or guardian to co-sign on an unsecured card. They are also an option for people who may not be able to qualify for a regular revolving balance card, including international students.
Please note that Chase does not offer any secured credit cards.
What to know when applying for a student credit card
Student credit cards are a good option for people under age 21 who have already developed solid budgeting skills and healthy spending habits. But there are a few important factors to consider before applying for one:
Age restrictions on receiving a credit card
The minimum age requirement to obtain a credit card is usually 18. Some credit card companies allow minors under the age of 18 to become authorized users of their parent or guardian’s credit card. For authorized users who happen to be under 18, special terms and conditions apply—check with the credit card issuer.
Proof of income requirements
The CARD Act of 2009 requires card issuers to assess independent income sources for applicants. People ages 18 to 21 applying for a credit card must show proof of independent income—unless they have a co-signer, usually a parent or guardian. If a co-signer is required, the student applicant will need proof of income from the co-signer. Please note that many credit card issuers do not allow co-signers.
Proof of college/university enrollment
Some student credit cards require proof of college enrollment with an application, but others may not have an enrollment requirement. Even if your first credit card requires proof of student status, that does not necessarily mean that after you graduate, you will have to obtain a different credit card. But using your first credit card responsibly in college could lead to better credit card offers. This would particularly be the case if you’ve managed your first card or card accounts responsibly and start a full-time job after graduation.
Type of rewards cards
Student credit cards may come with different features and perks, including the ability to earn rewards. Some rewards are based on select categories of spending such as restaurants, while other cards can earn you cash back on all ordinary purchases. The following is a list of various types of reward cards:
Cash back credit cards
If you do your own shopping and driving, a cash back card that earns points at grocery stores and gas stations may be a good fit. Other cards may allow you to earn in other spending categories such as restaurants.
Retail partner cards
Some credit card companies partner with major national retailers, including big box retailers that sell in bulk. Students who buy food, paper products and other household items for their households, university co-ops, fraternities or sororities could find these cards useful.
Business credit cards
Business credit cards may earn cardmembers rewards for particular kinds of purchases, such as items from office supply stores. Young student entrepreneurs and start-up founders may find these types of cards valuable for tracking their own charges as well as trusted employees' expenses. Business credit cards can also come with travel-related rewards bonuses.
Travel credit cards
If you plan to spend several months studying or traveling abroad, you may want to consider getting a card that earns travel rewards on hotels, rental cars or airfare. On top of the potential to earn rewards or airline miles, some travel cards may offer trip cancellation or lost luggage insurance to help when unfortunate events beyond your control happen away from home.
Airline and hotel partner cards
These are a subset of travel credit cards in that they may earn you rewards that you could then redeem toward plane tickets or hotel stays. Some credit cards may allow you to use points earned on purchases toward flights or stays with these partners. Airline-linked credit cards in particular may come with the perk of a complimentary first checked bag.
Online retailer co-branded partner cards
Credit cards linked to partner online retailers are a type of card which students with a lengthier and more solid credit history may be eligible to receive. Cardmembers with retail partner cards can earn cash back bonuses and other rewards on purchases made through a particular online retailer.
Does Chase offer student credit cards with rewards?
Chase Freedom Rise℠ is a card that offers rewards designed for individuals new to credit cards, including students. It features cash back rewards on all purchases. Freedom Rise has perks that may appeal to students, such as three months of complimentary DoorDash DashPass and Instacart memberships.
Apply in person for Freedom Rise at your local Chase bank branch.