Why College Students Should Have Credit Cards

a young adult checks her credit score on her phone

The concept of credit can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re a college student, picture credit as a financial report card that shapes your opportunities both now and after graduation. Despite the preference to delay thinking about credit until later, the truth is that starting to build credit now is the right financial decision. Don't wait until graduation to start caring about credit—here are the top four reasons why college students should consider building credit today and how a secured credit card can be a game-changer.

1. Student Loan Savings

Building your credit score in college can open up some great financial opportunities. For instance, having a solid credit history allows you to qualify for better interest rates when refinancing student loans with private lenders. The interest rate you receive is closely tied to your credit score, so the higher your score, the lower your rate. This translates to saving hundreds of dollars monthly on student loan payments.

2. Renting Your First Place

One day in the future, you’ll pack up and leave your college dorm room, sorority/fraternity house, or your parent’s home. As you go through this change, the prospect of renting an apartment becomes part of your reality. So where do credit scores come into play? Landlords typically review credit scores to gauge the responsibility of their future tenants. Not only does having a higher credit score increase your chances of getting approved over other applicants, but it also helps you avoid paying additional security deposits or having your application be denied. It’s a small but important step in making your post-college living arrangements hassle-free.

3. Job Opportunities

Understanding the connection between credit and career can give you a special advantage in the job market. Employers often review credit histories to measure an applicant's financial responsibility, looking for signs of reliability and trustworthiness. This credit review takes place for job fields like law enforcement, accounting, temporary services, the military, and even positions like parking booth operators. Job candidates with good credit typically have a competitive edge because their strong financial track record can be seen as a positive sign of personal responsibility and work ethic.

4. Better Terms for Car Loans and Insurance

Having credit card experience in college can pay off when it is time to buy a car. In fact, building a positive credit history can lead to better car loan terms and more favorable insurance rates. This is because lenders and insurance companies prefer applicants who have demonstrated responsible credit use and timely payments. Without credit card activity on your report, you might face higher interest rates or struggle to secure a car loan altogether. Likewise, if you have a less-than-stellar credit history, you might need to put down a deposit for your car insurance. So, buckle up – your credit journey can steer you towards savings on the road.

How Can College Students Start Building Credit?

For those who are just entering the world of credit, we recommend secured credit cards, which help you build credit in a straightforward and manageable way. For example, Academy Bank’s Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is tied to a cash deposit which becomes your spending cap. This deposit acts as a safety net for the card issuer, ensuring everyone is covered if you default on a payment.

The best part? When you responsibly utilize and pay off the credit card, you’re not just spending. You’re also building a payment history that can give your credit score a boost. Plus, this card comes with automatic reporting to the three major credit bureaus, ensuring your credit building efforts don’t go unnoticed.

Additional features include:

  • Set your own credit limit, ranging from $300 to $3,000
  • Add to your credit line in $50 increments
  • No annual fees
  • No application fees
  • No over-limit fees
  • Automatic reporting to the three major credit bureaus to help you build a credit history
  • Added security of EMV chip technology
  • Faster, more secure online transactions when you enroll in Visa® Secure Remote Commerce

Give yourself a head start in building a positive credit history and set yourself up for post-grad financial success! What’s next? Find the perfect credit card for college students, check out our credit tips, or use our financial calculators for more guidance (including the Credit Assessment Calculator and the Credit Card Payoff Calculator).


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Subject to credit approval. Transaction and Penalty fees apply.  Credit Builder Savings account required.  $5.00 quarterly fee charged to the Credit Builder Savings account if not enrolled in eStatements. Improved credit score is not guaranteed. Credit score is determined by credit reporting agencies based on multiple factors, but satisfactory performance on a credit card product can improve your credit score. Default on a credit card, including missed or late payments can damage your credit score. Once added, funds cannot be withdrawn from the Credit Builder Savings account and the Credit Builder credit card without closing the savings account and the credit card.