Top 5 Best Credit Cards For International Students In The U.S: A Comprehensive Guide

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Navigating the world of credit cards as an international student in the U.S. can be daunting. However, the right credit card can help you build a strong credit history, manage your finances, and even earn rewards. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the top 5 best credit cards tailored for international students, ensuring you make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways

  • International students in the U.S. can apply for credit cards, often without needing an SSN.
  • The Deserve EDU Mastercard is ideal for students without a credit history.
  • Discover it Student Cash Back offers excellent rewards for everyday purchases.
  • Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card is perfect for those who love to travel.
  • Capital One Journey Student Rewards focuses on helping students build good credit habits.

1. Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students is an excellent choice for students seeking their first credit card to help them get their education off to a good start. This card is particularly beneficial for international students who may not have a Social Security Number (SSN) or a credit history in the United States. It offers a straightforward way to begin building credit without the need for a security deposit.

Key Features

  • No annual fee
  • No SSN or credit history required for international students
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Amazon Prime Student subscription credit (up to 12 months)
  • Cell phone protection

Important Considerations

While the Deserve EDU Mastercard has many benefits, it is important to note that the APR is on the higher side for a student credit card. Therefore, we recommend paying off the balance in full each month to avoid interest fees. Once you build a credit history and a decent credit score, you might want to consider switching to a credit card from a major issuer that offers better rewards.

The Deserve EDU Mastercard is best as the starter/first credit card for international students because of the low eligibility standards. It provides a valuable opportunity to build credit history and gain financial independence.

2. Discover it Student Cash Back

The Discover it Student Cash Back card is an excellent choice for students looking to maximize their rewards on everyday purchases. This card offers a robust cash-back program that can significantly benefit those who are diligent about activating their rewards each quarter.

3. Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is an excellent choice for those who are frequent travelers. This card offers a flat reward rate on every dollar spent, making it easy to earn travel rewards. Additionally, it comes with a relatively long introductory APR on purchases, no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fees, which is ideal for students traveling outside the U.S.

Key Features

  • Earn 1.5X points on all purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you spend at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Redemption Options

You can redeem rewards as a statement credit to cover the cost of qualifying travel purchases. This is a simple way to reduce the cost of taking a spring break vacation or buying a plane ticket home.

Ideal Candidates

This card is best suited for students who already have an account with Bank of America and want to build credit while managing their accounts. It is also a great option for those who love to travel and want to earn rewards on every purchase.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students delivers solid rewards and a nice sampling of redemption choices when compared to other student credit cards.

4. Capital One Journey Student Rewards

The Capital One Journey Student Rewards card is an excellent choice for students aiming to build their credit history. This card offers a straightforward rewards structure and several benefits tailored to students’ needs. With no annual fee and 1% cash back on all purchases, it provides a solid foundation for financial growth. Additionally, students can boost their cash back to 1.25% for the month they pay on time, encouraging responsible financial behavior.

Key Features

  • No annual fee
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Boost to 1.25% cash back for on-time payments
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Credit limit increases for responsible use

Benefits for Students

The Journey Student Rewards card is particularly beneficial for students who are new to credit. The ability to increase the credit limit after just six months of on-time payments is a significant advantage. This feature not only helps in building a good credit score but also teaches the importance of timely payments.

Comparison with Other Student Cards

When compared to other student credit cards, the Journey Student Rewards card stands out for its simplicity and effectiveness in credit building. While other cards may offer higher cash back percentages in rotating categories, the consistent rewards and benefits of the Journey card make it a reliable choice for students.

The Journey Student Rewards card is a decent card for students who want to start building their credit history. Its straightforward rewards and benefits make it easy to handle and a great option for those new to credit.

5. Citi Rewards+ Student Card

The Citi Rewards+ Student Card is an excellent choice for international students looking to maximize their rewards on everyday purchases. One of the standout features of this card is that it rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase, making it easier to accumulate rewards quickly.

Key Features

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2X ThankYou Points at supermarkets and gas stations (up to a limit)
  • Round up to the nearest 10 points for each expense
  • No foreign transaction fees

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee, making it cost-effective for students
  • 2X points on essential categories like supermarkets and gas stations
  • Rounding up to the nearest 10 points accelerates reward accumulation
  • No foreign transaction fees, which is beneficial for international students

Cons

  • Limited 2X points categories
  • Points may expire if the account is closed

Is It Worth It?

If you’re an international student in the U.S., the Citi Rewards+ Student Card offers a range of benefits that can make your life easier and more rewarding. However, with a 3% foreign transaction fee, you’re better off leaving this card at home when you travel internationally. There are many better card options out there for international travel.

Conclusion

In conclusion, selecting the right credit card as an international student in the U.S. is a crucial step towards building a solid financial foundation. The top five credit cards outlined in this guide offer various benefits tailored to the unique needs of international students, such as no requirement for an SSN, low or no annual fees, and rewards programs. By carefully evaluating these options and considering factors such as eligibility, interest rates, and additional features, international students can make informed decisions that will not only meet their immediate financial needs but also contribute to their long-term credit health. It is essential to conduct thorough research and stay informed about the latest offerings to maximize the benefits of having a credit card during your academic journey in the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best type of credit card for students in the USA?

The best credit card for students in the USA is typically a student credit card or a secured credit card. Student credit cards are designed for students and often come with lower credit limits and student-friendly features. Secured credit cards are a good option for those with little or no credit history.

Can international students get credit cards in the USA?

Yes, international students in the USA can often get a credit card. Some banks and credit card issuers can offer credit cards specifically designed for international students. Additionally, some credit cards do not require a Social Security Number (SSN) for approval.

What are the key factors when choosing a student credit card?

When choosing a student credit card, consider factors such as annual fees, interest rates, rewards programs, and any additional benefits like educational resources. It’s also important to check the eligibility requirements and ensure the card helps in building a good credit history.

How can international students apply for a credit card in the US?

International students can apply for a credit card in the US by providing necessary documentation such as proof of enrollment, a US address, and sometimes a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). It’s advisable to research and select cards that cater specifically to international students.

What features should be there in the best credit card for college students?

College students should prioritize low or no annual fees, rewards programs suitable for their lifestyle, and educational resources. A student credit card with a lower interest rate and a manageable credit limit is also advisable.

Can students get a loan without collateral for education?

Yes, students can get loans without collateral for education. These are often referred to as unsecured student loans and are typically based on the student’s creditworthiness and sometimes require a co-signer.

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