The first credit card to have graced the lining of my wallet was the most terrifying piece of plastic that I've encountered in my entire life. As a fiscally-uneducated 18 year-old freshman with no credit history, simply possessing an item that could seemingly make or break my financial future was absolutely daunting and something that was, initially, a burden. So, in anticipation of my impending departure for university in the fall, I sat down with my dad and asked for his advice on how to best use my new credit card.
His advice was simple and succinct: never purchase anything you can’t pay for out of pocket. Thanks to a credit card plan without a spending minimum I was able to put his advice to use; I would make a point of going out and making a small purchase, be it a pack of gum or a slice of pizza, then paying it off almost immediately. I slowly but steadily built up good credit and confidence in my ability to wisely regulate my spending.
College students are ideally placed to begin developing a fiscally responsible lifestyle and spending habits in order to build a strong credit score, if you haven’t already. The first place for any student to start is by signing up for a credit card that meets your needs and complements your anticipated expenditures. But with the myriad of credit cards available to today’s students, how can you be expected to do the research necessary to find out which card is the best fit for you, especially when you could to be studying and discovering the effects of C2H6O on physiological processes and biological development (remember kids: moderation in all things, especially moderation)?
Well, we loaded up on 5-Hour Energy and sugar-free Red Bull, holed ourselves up in the library, and pulled a few all-nighters in order to find the five best credit cards available to students. For this profile, we focused on cards with minimal fees, opportunities for cash back on regular purchases, and programs that reward responsible spending and money management; all important traits with practical applications that any student looking to build their credit should seek in a credit card.
Note: Thanks to the Fed’s Credit Card Act of 2009, anyone under the age of 21 is required to have a cosigner or proof of steady, reliable income by way of full-time employment, so most students will likely need a parent or guardian with a good credit history to help them acquire any of the following credit cards.
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