When leaving home and heading off to college for the first time, there are countless things a young person must learn. From shopping for groceries and maintaining a living space to adapting to a new environment and forming new connections, there is an entire world out there that students are set to experience. With all there is to take in, learn and experience, very few young people start college with an in-depth understanding of personal finance and credit.

The inexperience of young adults in the world of finance often leads to mistakes and poor habits, many of which can have long term consequences and lasting impacts. But even though it may not be the most exciting element of adult life, students who learn to be responsible and educate themselves about credit can successfully begin a good credit history, which will be one of the foundations of financial independence in the future.

Of course, building a solid credit history from scratch can be a difficult task. Luckily, college students are provided with a unique option that allows them to positively begin their credit history, understand the basics of how credit works, learn to manage their own bills and build positive spending habits.

Student Credit Cards

Although it may seem paradoxical to young people, one must have credit in order to build credit, and this is obviously difficult for those who are just starting out. While many people have to begin their credit history with secured loans and secured credit cards, college students may have the opportunity to qualify for an unsecured credit card immediately.

Since college graduates generally have higher incomes than non-graduates, banks and financial institutions are more willing to take a risk on them and offer them an unsecured line of credit. The institutions are also eager to begin a financial relationship with these potentially profitable consumers early on, and student credit cards can have a number of benefits for both the student and the lending institution.

The cards usually have low credit limits, so the lending institutions are not putting themselves at too high of a risk. But they may have many additional perks for students like low interest rates, cash back, bonus points, extended credit limits and many more. There are many options out there, and a few of the best credit cards for students in 2017 are listed below.

Discover it® for Students

With no annual fee, a relatively high credit limit and a number of additional benefits, the Discover It card for students is one of the best all-around options available. It is ideal for anyone who is specifically looking to build positive credit but are also great for regular expenses use.


The cashback benefit is one of the most appealing in the market, at 1% for all purchases and 5% on different categories of items that rotate every three months. The categories usually include items that are particularly helpful to students such as gas stations, restaurants and Amazon. There is also an additional cash back reward for maintaining a 3.0 or higher GPA, and Discover provides a free FICO score to all members.

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

For students who just need a simple way to make purchases and build credit, the Journey Student Rewards card from Capital One may be the best option. The cashback rewards are limited, and the credit line is generally low. However, students receive a bonus for paying their bills on time, and there is the possibility to extend the credit limit after a certain period of responsible use and payment.

Citi Thank You® Preferred Card for College Students

With no annual fee and a low interest rate, the Thank You card from Citi provides a simple option that offers some great benefits. However, the rewards system is unlike other cards and can be slightly more complex. Instead of traditional cash back, students will earn points which can be used for merchandise, travel, gift cards or even student loan payments. The complex system and the lack of cashback is offset by the potential for very high bonuses and rewards.