Student credit cards work in the same way as standard credit cards – but they are designed to cater specifically for college and university students who don’t have the income and credit history required to be approved for one.
Student credit cards, which are typically offered alongside student current accounts, can be seen as ‘starter credit cards’ offering smaller spending limits and fewer rewards.
Benefits of student credit cards
There are plenty of reasons why, used responsibly, it can make sense to keep a student credit card in your wallet.
Up to 56 days interest-free purchases
No annual fee
Safe credit limits (of around £500) so you can’t overspend
Discounts – for example on rail fares, clothes, coffee or international travel
Access to loyalty points or instant cashback rewards
Protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (this means you can get a full refund from the card provider if items or services you bought on the card costing between £100 and £30,000 are damaged, don’t arrive, or the retailer goes bust).
Used responsibly, a student credit card can be a great way to manage your finances and build your credit score for the future.
And even if you leave it in a drawer unused, it can be a handy fallback in the case of a financial emergency.
Which providers offer student credit cards?
Student credit cards are offered by the major UK high street banks such as Natwest, HSBC, TSB, Barclays, as well as some smaller providers including Marbles and Aqua. You will probably need a student current account with the bank to qualify.
Student credit cards: potential pitfalls
It’s great to be successful with your student credit card application – but now it’s time to exercise caution by avoiding these pitfalls:
Spending what you can’t repay: Interest of at least 18.9% APR will apply to any balance you have not cleared by the end of any 0% offer period. Track your spending as you go with an app on your phone
Going over your spending limit: This will incur hefty penalty charges and potentially damage your credit score which will impact future your borrowing
Using it to withdraw cash: This will trigger a pricey cash advance fee. You will also be charged interest with immediate effect, even if you pay the balance off at the end of the month
Making too many applications: Be selective in applying for a student credit card and opt for a pre-approved option where you can. If you are rejected for any reason, it will leave a mark on your credit score
Make sure student credit cards work to your advantage: They are intended as a revolving credit facility – to use regularly and repay in full.
How do you apply?
In order to apply for a student credit card, you’ll need to tick the following boxes:
Be at least 18 years old
A resident of the UK for at least three years
Proof of studying at college, university or a place of further education
Hold an existing student current account with the student credit card provider.
Getting the best deal
When applying for a student credit card it is important to ‘shop around’ for the best deals and look out for pre-approved cards which will protect your credit score.