What Credit Score Do You Need for Student Credit Cards?
College serves as the ideal time to start building credit with a student rewards card. But most students have limited credit history and scores initially. What scores help improve your approval odds?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine typical minimum scores needed for student card approval. We’ll also discuss steps to take if you don’t meet score requirements yet. Let’s explore proven strategies to set yourself up for a successful first card application.
Why Your Credit Score Matters
When reviewing applications, issuers analyze factors like:
- Income and debt levels
- Employment and housing stability
- Reliability making payments on time
- Total available credit versus balances carried
Your credit score encapsulates these creditworthiness factors into a simple three-digit number. Higher scores signal lower lending risk. This helps issuers feel comfortable extending a credit line.
What is Considered a Good Credit Score?
Good credit generally means scores in the ballpark of:
- 700 or higher according to FICO
- 650 or higher according to VantageScore
Scores above these thresholds are considered “good” while scores below are labeled “fair” or “poor”.
But context matters. Different types of credit approvals call for different score requirements. Auto loans may only require a 620 FICO score while mortgage lenders prefer at least 680.
Student card issuers look for applicants with “good” credit, but may offer more flexibility than other types of accounts.
What’s the Minimum Score for Student Cards?
Here are typical FICO score requirements among top student card issuers:
- Capital One – Minimum scores around 670+
- Discover – Prefer 670+ but may approve between 650-669 with strong history
- Bank of America – Generally approve 670+ but may accept 650+
- Deserve – Specifically targets students improving scores with minimum around 640
Ranges reflect the credit risk appetite of different banks. But most look for at least 670+ FICO for unsecured student card approval.
Students with scores below 650 often need to begin with secured cards requiring an upfront deposit.
How Issuers Assess Limited Credit Histories
For applicants with limited histories, issuers also consider:
- Banking relationship – Are you an existing customer with checking/savings accounts? This provides insights into money management habits.
- Income potential – What are your projected earnings from part-time jobs, financial aid, or parents? Minimum $2,000/year is typical.
- Current obligations – What other payments or debts do you have from student loans, car loans, etc that impact your debt-to-income ratio?
- Authorized user status – Being added to a parent’s card temporarily improves approval odds.
While your score carries weight, providing context on your full financial profile helps improve your chances.
Can You Get Approved with No Credit History?
Yes – some student cards like the Deserve EDU Visa specifically cater to those establishing credit for the first time with no prior history.
Requirements may include:
- Providing proof of college enrollment
- Minimum income documentation
- Only acquiring a small starting credit line until responsible usage is proven
- Using banking relationships to provide insights into money habits
- Considering adding a parent as an authorized user if needed to inherit positive history
Building history takes time. But issuers design their underwriting models to work with first-time borrowers diligently focused on improving their profiles.
How to Check Your Credit Score
Monitor your scores routinely using free tools:
- Credit Karma provides VantageScores from Equifax and TransUnion
- Bank of America’s Better Money Habits provides free TransUnion FICO score access
- Many credit card issuers like Discover provide free monthly FICO scores on statements or online
- Federal student loan servicers often provide credit reports and scores for free or discounted
Review your reports too for errors impacting your score unfairly. Dispute any inaccuracies with bureaus.
Steps to Boost Your Credit Score
If your score falls short of approval requirements, take these actions:
- Pay all current and past debts on time going forward to build positive history
- Lower credit utilization by paying down balances and limiting new purchases
- Avoid new credit inquiries by only applying for approval when your profile is optimized
- Become an authorized user on an account in good standing
- Allow time as negative marks fade – derogatory items impact scores less over time
Building scores takes diligence, especially if setbacks exist. But issuers reward improved behaviors.
Recovering from Credit Score Impacts
If issues have dragged your score down, here are recovery times for common hits:
- Late payments – 1 year
- Credit inquiries – 6 months to 2 years
- Credit card default – Up to 7 years
- Debt settlement – Up to 7 years
- Bankruptcy or foreclosure – Up to 10 years
Keep old accounts open and continue making on-time payments to offset past challenges.
Alternatives If You Can’t Get Approved Yet
If you can’t get approved for an unsecured student rewards card presently, consider:
- Secured cards requiring an upfront deposit – Discover and others offer these options
- Retail store cards with lower requirements – Use sparingly and prudently
- Authorized user status on a parent’s card – Make payments on time to build history
- Avoid predatory offers like payday loans or secured cards charging high fees
- Building savings to offset reliance on credit while keeping utilization low
Don’t give up! Persistence pays off if you continue demonstrating responsible financial behaviors over time.
Closing Thoughts on Credit Scores and Student Cards
While approval relies on multiple factors, strong credit scores demonstrate less lending risk and improve approval odds substantially when seeking your first student card.
Monitor your reports routinely and allow time for any past missteps to fade while rehabilitating your profile through diligent payment behaviors.
Withresponsible habits starting early, you can overcome past challenges and qualify for rewards earning opportunities while developing financial skills that pay dividends for life.