Are your friends planning a last minute Spring Break trip, but you aren't sure how you're going to be able to go?
Don't be left behind at the dorms! Traveling over spring break on some crazy adventure is a rite of passage for college students. You simply haven't lived if you've never booked a flight 24 hours before your spring break starts to travel to the Gulf Coast, Mexico, or New York City.
Or maybe you're like me and you hate flying. Instead you're going to be piling in with four of your friends into a suddenly very inadequately sized sedan to drive to the Grand Canyon and back in four days.
There's only one problem… you blew all of your extra money playing beer pong last weekend. You won't have extra cash until the week after Spring Break and by then it will be too late. Your friends will be waxing poetic as to the great time they had sleeping on the beach and how delightful the sunrise was that morning. You don't want to be regaled with stories of the exotic fun they had — you want to be there!
But how? It's simple: get a student credit card to cover you until you get paid.
Fair warning: it is not often you'll visit Good Financial Cents and see advice on willingly putting money on a credit card without having the funds to immediately pay it off.
But if you're a college student, you've already likely wasted enjoyed spending hundreds of dollars on activities that the people in the real world would roll their eyes at. You are irresponsible by nature.
That's fine. You're in college. You've got to learn how to use credit and you might as well have fun doing it. With no credit history you likely won't be able to get any great airline rewards credit cards just yet. You will need to settle for a student credit card. And we'll show you how to make the best choice in this situation.
What is the Best Student Credit Card for Spring Break?
If you're looking for a credit card for spring break, you have a few solid options:
Discover it® for Students – Good Grades Rewards
One of the best cards currently available in this category is the Discover it® for Students. You'll not only get a student credit card you can use in emergencies, but you'll also get the opportunity to earn some valuable rewards!
The perks of this card include:
- Read here to learn more about the Discover it® for Students.
- 0% APR on your purchases during the first 6 months
- 5% cash back on rotating categories that college students use a lot of: gas stations, restaurants, and department stores
- The standard 1% cash back on every other purchase you make
- No annual fee
- No fee to redeem your cash back
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students offers an array of benefits that can help students build their credit score while also earning rewards. Best of all, the perks it offers comes with no annual fee and we rank it as one of the best travel rewards cards for students.
A summary of this card's benefits:
- Earn 2,500 ThankYou® points after spending just $500 on your card within 90 days
- Earn 2x points on dining and entertainment, plus 1x points on all other purchases
- No annual fee
- Redeem your points for merchandise, cash back, travel rewards, gift cards, and more
What is a Student Credit Card?
Student credit cards are credit card programs targeted specifically at college students. The qualifications necessary to be approved for a card are lower than with other credit cards. The financing companies that issue the credit cards understand that you're in college, you probably have uneven income from waiting tables, and you have a limited credit history. So they give you a small credit line so you can test the waters and see if you can handle responsible credit card use.
It's basic math: lower requirements to get the credit card = lower credit score = minimal or no rewards program.
Aren't Credit Cards Risky for College Students?
Are credit cards the worst thing that can happen to a student's finances?
Yes and No. Credit cards are tools that allow you to float purchases for about 30 days before you have to pay for them.
I always compare credit cards to shovels. (Wait, what???)
How, exactly, are shovels like a piece of plastic that you swipe?
Both are tools that can be used for good and evil, for growth and destruction. A credit card is a financial tool that can help you build up your credit history, earn rewards, and teach responsible spending. Likewise a shovel can be used to dig a trench into the ground to plant seeds that later become your next meal.
On the other hand a shovel can be cause great damage to plants if used incorrectly. Roots can be cut and the plant withers and dies. Likewise irresponsible credit card use can lead to financial ruin with sky high balances, collections calls, and bankruptcy.
Traits of Horrible Student Credit Cards
If you'd like to make a mistake the leads to your eventual financial ruin, pick up a credit card with some of these traits:
- An annual fee. There is absolutely no reason a college student should fork out cash for the “right” to have a credit card. There are too many great student credit cards available to justify paying an annual fee of $25-50 just to have a credit card.
- Bad rewards program. Reward programs that encourage you to spend differently than you normally would are useless. It can be easy to be manipulated into spending at a certain store just to earn a few more reward points. Another trick is to offer you a lot of reward points, but force you to redeem them online where the rewards options are very limited.
- No rewards program. This isn't a deal killer, but if you can get a student card with a rewards program (preferably cash back) then you should.
(Pssst… don't fall for the above credit card tricks. Apply for one of the credit cards listed above instead.)