Author Topic: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?  (Read 1364 times)

cool7hand

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Hey mustachian peeps! We don't have kids. After watching us FIRE, some of our college-aged nieces and nephews have begun investing and asking for other advice on how to start the FIRE journey early.

One niece is a sophomore in college and wants to start building some credit history. But, she's been denied by several companies that market somewhat reasonable cards for college-aged students (e.g., https://www.nerdwallet.com/best/credit-cards/college-student). Our niece is about twenty-year-old, with no credit history, non-mustachian student loans, and a lot of off-the-books income from waiting tables and nannying.

Can anyone recommend a card that both (1) either has no annual fee (or if that doesn't exist, at least a low annual fee) and; (2) you have personal knowledge or information from someone you trust that the issuing institution approved at least some entry-level credit for someone similar?

Thanks!

chemistk

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2021, 09:36:29 AM »
Was she denied for the Capital One Journey? I'd be genuinely surprised if she was. No annual fee, typically very low starting credit limits, and earns 1% back on all purchases which can be boosted to 1.25% back if statements are paid on time. It's marketed almost exclusively towards students and those rebuilding their credit.

This was/is my first card. I applied without a cosigner and at the time had absolutely no credit history and a small income (from working while in school), but was approved with a $200 credit limit, which was boosted to $500 and then $1000 after a few cycles of paying it off in full. After I graduated, I converted it into a Quicksliver card which I still carry today (well over a decade on it now).

At my recommendation my wife (then girlfriend) was also able to obtain a Journey card under similar circumstances (absolutely no credit history).

cool7hand

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2021, 09:41:38 AM »
Was she denied for the Capital One Journey? I'd be genuinely surprised if she was. No annual fee, typically very low starting credit limits, and earns 1% back on all purchases which can be boosted to 1.25% back if statements are paid on time. It's marketed almost exclusively towards students and those rebuilding their credit.

This was/is my first card. I applied without a cosigner and at the time had absolutely no credit history and a small income (from working while in school), but was approved with a $200 credit limit, which was boosted to $500 and then $1000 after a few cycles of paying it off in full. After I graduated, I converted it into a Quicksliver card which I still carry today (well over a decade on it now).

At my recommendation my wife (then girlfriend) was also able to obtain a Journey card under similar circumstances (absolutely no credit history).

She was denied with the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, which has an even lower credit limit threshold than the Journey card.

chemistk

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2021, 10:15:19 AM »
Ouch.

I have no idea if it's still true but at the time I was looking for cards, most sites were saying that Capital One cards had the best odds for someone with no credit.

Hopefully others can recommend a card that they did have success with. I wonder if her informal income is what's holding things up.

jeninco

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2021, 10:32:20 AM »
Our credit union offers secured cards to 18 year olds. They basically lock up however much the credit limit is (in the kid's own account, of course), but it allows them to build a credit history (of making onetime payments).  The kids each went in and talked to a live person when they turned 18, and had the whole "establishing a good credit history" conversation with someone who wasn't their parents, so we're big fans.

MoseyingAlong

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2021, 02:41:09 PM »

She was denied with the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, which has an even lower credit limit threshold than the Journey card.

Has she pulled her actual credit report?
Maybe she shouldn't have a credit history but does due to fraud, mistake or something else.

This was a long time ago but I started with a secured card where I had my checking account. I think it was $500 secured when I started.

Thanks for being someone she can talk to and help sort this out. Sounds like you are being a good influence. So important.

FreelanceToFreedom

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2021, 06:55:01 PM »
Probably a secured card from a bank she already has an account with (ideally a credit union). Like Jeninco said, some money is locked up so it's barely even a credit card, but it helps build a credit history.

I'd also +1 the suggestion for her to look at her credit report or at least use Credit Karma/Credit Sesame. I don't know why Capital One would deny her for a secured card.

innkeeper77

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2021, 08:18:55 PM »
Discover gave me one when I was just starting out and in college- it may be worth looking into them to see if they still do that! My credit limit over a decade later is still small (around $4k.. I need to use that card and then ask for another increase) but they allowed me to get into better cards quickly!

Rusted Rose

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2021, 09:15:54 PM »
Issuers change the way they do things constantly, so cards that were easy to get a while back may not be anymore. Although denying anyone a secured card sounds insane to me!

Might it be helpful to add any prospective applicant as an authorized user to an existing card or cards? (yours, a parent's, etc.)? That at least starts a credit history for them and if they have no access to the card, they won't actually be using it.

Do check the fine print on any card for their procedures and such, since they all do things differently and some may be more of a PITA than others.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 09:20:45 PM by Rusted Rose »

Frizzle42

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2022, 08:57:08 PM »
Maybe see if their bank offers a secured credit card? When I was 18  with zero credit history, I got one through PNC simply because that's where i had a checking account. It was only a dinky credit limit of $200, but I used it only for putting gas in my car and it built up enough good credit to get a "real" credit card fairly quickly.

draco44

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Re: Any recommendations for a starter credit card for a college student?
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2022, 12:25:41 PM »
Discover gave me one when I was just starting out and in college- it may be worth looking into them to see if they still do that! My credit limit over a decade later is still small (around $4k.. I need to use that card and then ask for another increase) but they allowed me to get into better cards quickly!

Seconding that at least back in the day Discover approved me. I had no outstanding debt or other issues, just a lack of credit history, which it sounds like may be the situation you are describing. I also remember being miffed at Chase because for years they'd been sending me "you're preapproved for a card!" junk mail but when I actually tried to take them up on the offer, they declined because I didn't have sufficient history.