College students are headed back to campus and most probably have a credit card in their wallet.
For many, the college years provide an introduction to the use of credit, and using it wisely can prevent racking up expensive debt and maybe even damaging their credit standing.
Picking the right card can help, according to card comparison site CreditCards.com. It picks the Discover It Chrome for students card as the top choice for students going back to school this fall.
It's a rewards card, paying 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations and 1% on everything else. There are no foreign transaction fees and, for the first time you're late making a payment, there's no late charge.
The card also earns high marks for Discover's Credit Cards 101 feature, an online resource answering many novice card users' frequently asked questions.
Another good choice is the Bank of America Cash Rewards card for students. You get 3% cash back on gasoline, 2% on groceries, and 1% on everything else.
It also provides a $150 sign-up bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months the account is active. It also provides student-tailored credit tools to help card users better manage credit.
The editors at personal finance site WalletHub agree that a student credit card is a useful introduction to credit. It says the first step toward becoming a savvy credit user is to pick the right card.
What to look for
Students should look for generous rewards, 0% intro interest rates, and low fees. Because of the increased competition in the credit card space, there are plenty that fit into that category.
The site ranks cards based on different categories. It says students should pick the card that best matches their spending patterns.
It agrees with CreditCards.com that the Bank of America Cash Rewards card for students is a good choice for consumers primarily purchasing gas and groceries. It also has a 15 month introductory period of 0% on purchases, which is helpful for buying books and paying for them over a period of a few months.
But in the "everyday cash back" category, WalletHub selects the Journey Student Rewards card from Capital One. There is no annual fee and the card pays 1.25% cash back on every purchase.
Besides a credit card, most college students open bank accounts. WalletHub says students should choose one that fits their needs and charges the fewest fees.
In that category, it ranks the Northpointe Bank UltimateAccount as best overall. The bank is based in Grand Rapids, Mich., but allows anyone to open an online account. There's no monthly fee and you can get up to $10 reimbursement for ATM fees each month.