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Building a good credit score is an important step for a college student or any other young person. Though having a credit card is a way to build credit, it is not easy for a college student to obtain a credit card without having an established credit history. The good news is that there are a number of credit card offers designed for students. A college student looking to obtain a card and build credit should carefully look at the options available and choose the card that is best for his or her specific situation. While many credit cards offer a variety of perks, including cash back and airline points, the best credit card for a college student may be whichever one he or she can qualify to receive.

Student Cards

Credit card companies want to establish relationships with college students. The reason for this is simple: college students are likely to have high lifetime earnings and will need financial services throughout their life. By building a relationship early, a credit card company is hoping to work with the student for decades to come. This relationship can generate a lot of money for the company. To facilitate college students, most credit card companies offer special programs for students. These card programs typically offer low initial credit lines, but offer decent interest rates and low fees. Student card applications are generally available on campus from marketers, in bookstores and other communal areas.

Secured Cards

Secured credit cards are available to almost anyone regardless of credit history. Secured credit cards work in a similar manner to a prepaid card. The borrower makes a deposit which is then used to create the borrowing limit for the card. For example, a borrower deposits $500 into a secured credit card account making their borrowing limit $500. Over time, the deposited amount is returned to the borrower once they have demonstrated an ability to make payments on time and to use the card in an responsible manner.

Authorized User

In many cases, college students can be added as an authorized user on his or her parent’s credit card. Being an authorized user allows the student to have use of the card, but the arrangement may or may not help the student to build credit. If the goal is to build credit, a student should determine whether or not a credit card company will make a report to the credit bureaus if the student is added to an existing credit account.


Another option for students without a credit history to obtain a credit card is through the use of a co-signer. A co-signer can use his or her credit standing to obtain a card for the student. The card will be in the student’s name and activity on the card will generally be reported to the credit bureau’s for both the student and the co-signer.