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Good Credit Cards For College Students

Chad Said:

What is a good credit card for a college student?

We Answered:

If you are under the age of 21 and live in the United States, you won't be able to get a bank credit card (Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Discover) without an immediate family member co-signing, or unless you can provide proof of income sufficient to meet your credit obligations.

That said, the best credit card for someone trying to establish credit would be a secured card from a credit union, *not* a bank. These cards are excellent ways to establish credit.

This is how they work.
Say you want a $500 credit limit. You will need to deposit $500 into a savings account to back the credit card. Note, this is NOT funding for the card. It is a guarantor savings account that will only be touched in the event your payment is late or you default on the card (both very bad ideas).

The CU issues you a Visa or Mastercard branded credit card for $500. You use it, just like a regular credit card, making timely payments (to better increase your credit score, never go over 30% of your credit limit at any time).

In the meantime, the credit union is reporting your good payment history to the credit bureaus, establishing and raising your credit score. With responsible use, most credit unions will elect to convert your secured card to an unsecured card with a higher credit limit after a year or two. As a bonus, you will still have that money in savings to back your secured card and it will have earned some interest.

The reason I recommend credit unions over banks is because more credit unions offer these cards than banks and second, credit unions won't charge annual membership fees or other bogus fees that banks love to charge, and in all cases, the APR for the card will be lower than secured cards from banks.

You may find you like dealing with a credit union so much, you'll decide to move your other accounts to it. I moved accounts to a credit union ten years ago and never regretted the decision. They treat us as valuable members instead of nuisances or cash cows. We got our last auto loan through them at a much lower interest rate than the banks were charging and, since credit unions are member owned, we get a dividend check deposited into our savings account every year.

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