Do You Need Credit History for Student Credit Cards?
College serves as the ideal time to start building credit with your first student card. But most students have very limited credit histories. Will issuers still approve you?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss how prior credit history impacts student card approval odds. We’ll look at ways students with no history can qualify along with options to start establishing responsible records beforehand.
Let’s explore how students can set themselves up for approval and take the first steps toward financial literacy.
Why Credit History Matters for Approval
Credit card issuers analyze these factors when reviewing applications:
- Length of credit history – The older, the better
- Mix of credit types – Loans, mortgages, other credit cards
- Total number of accounts – More accounts shows active management
- Perfect payment history – Zero missed payments or delinquencies
- Low credit utilization – Maintaining small balances relative to limits
For students with no prior accounts, it takes additional steps to demonstrate responsible habits upfront.
Can You Get a Student Card With No Credit History?
The good news is yes, you can absolutely qualify for student starter credit cards with no prior credit history. Here’s how:
- Apply for student cards designed specifically for first-time borrowers with no existing credit records. Capital One, Discover, and Bank of America offer these options.
- Provide documentation verifying your college enrollment and minimum student income from financial aid, grants, part-time work or parents. This gives issuers confidence in limited credit cases.
- Consider becoming an authorized user on a parent’s current credit card temporarily. This establishes payment history without liability for the debt incurred.
- Apply with your primary bank where you hold existing savings and checking accounts in good standing. This provides the issuer insights into your money management habits.
- Accept low starter credit limits around $300 to start while you demonstrate responsible usage and build history.
Student Card Options for No Credit History
Here are some top student cards accessible even with no prior credit accounts:
- Discover it® Student Cash Back – Reports to all three bureaus
- Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students – Reports to all three bureaus
- Capital One Journey® Student Rewards – Reports to all three bureaus
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students – Reports to all three bureaus
- Petal® 1 “Credit Builder” Card – Helps establish credit history
Don’t let lacking prior credit stop you from approaching issuers catering specifically to those with limited histories.
Secured Card Alternatives for No Credit Students
If denied for regular student cards, secured starter cards require an upfront refundable deposit and help build initial history.
Top options include:
- Discover it® Secured Card –Deposit as low as $200
- Capital One Secured Mastercard® – Minimum $49 deposit
- BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card – Minimum $49 deposit
- FNBO Evergreen® Rewards Secured Card – Deposit equal to at least $500 limit
Put down a deposit aligned with your budget and use the secured card diligently before hopefully graduating to unsecured cards.
Does Authorized User Status Count Toward History?
Becoming an authorized user on a parent’s or guardian’s credit card allows you to benefit from their established positive history. However, some caveats exist:
- Being added as an authorized user helps approval odds but doesn’t replace building first-hand history down the road. Avoid relying solely on shared authorized user history forever.
- If the primary cardholder has poor payment behaviors, it negatively impacts your credit just like positive records help. Choose to be added only to accounts in good standing.
- Become an authorized user as a supplemental strategy, but still aim to apply for your own student card independently as soon as possible.
Piggybacking off someone else’s credit record alone won’t set you up for long-term success like individually building history.
Do Student Loans Help Your Credit Profile?
Yes, having federal or private student loan accounts with on-time payments establishes positive history including:
- Shows you handle long-term installment credit, not just revolving credit cards
- Boosts total number of open accounts reported
- Helps demonstrate responsible usage making payments due consistently
- Increases your overall available credit amount
Even without other credit cards, student loans provide a proof point to lenders that you can manage credit diligently over an extended period.
Building Credit History Before Your Student Card
If you’re concerned about limited history, consider strategically establishing responsible records before applying:
- Have your parents add you as an authorized user to their credit card accounts. This lets you inherit their positive history instantly.
- Once you turn 18, apply for a department store credit card with simple eligibility requirements and use prudently.
- Open a secured credit card requiring an upfront deposit and use responsibly for 6-12 months before applying for unsecured cards.
- If you have a reliable form of income, apply for a credit building loan through your bank, especially if you have an existing relationship with them.
Time and diligent behaviors are the ultimate credit cure. But no history doesn’t have to stop you from gaining approval. It just requires additional steps.
Closing Thoughts on Needing Credit History
Don’t let the lack of established credit to date deter you from seeking approval for student starter cards from major issuers. They design their underwriting specifically for those with limited history.
Building positive records while young sets you up for financial success down the road when seeking auto loans, mortgages, and more valuable credit products with elite terms and rewards.
Approach student cards as an opportunity, not a risk. Follow issuer guidelines to overcome limited history using authorized user status, income verification, and relationship building. If initially denied, make prudent financial decisions allowing approval in the near future. With persistence and diligence, you’ll be earning rewards and cashback in no time!