What is a student credit card?
Student credit cards work in the same way as other credit cards, but they are designed to be more likely to accept people studying full time.
Every credit card comes with different rules on who it will lend to. Many will turn down your application if your income is not high enough or you have no credit history, but student credit cards are more lenient.
Pros and cons of student credit cards
Can provide money in an emergency
Build your credit history
Some offer interest free periods
Higher interest rates
Lower credit limits
Danger of getting into debt
Charges and fees
Can you get one?
Before you get offered a credit card, the provider will check some or all of the following:
You live in the UK
You are at least 18 years old
You do not hold another student credit card with another bank
You have a UK bank account
You have not had previous debt problems like bankruptcy
You are studying or about to start studying a suitable course*
Some providers only offer deals to existing customers and some cards are only available if you open a student bank account with them as well.
What income do you need?
Most credit card companies will only accept your application if you have a regular income.
Student credit cards are different: they will usually consider your application if your income is your student loan, regular payments from your parents or a wage from a part time job.
What happens after you graduate?
You can usually keep your student credit card after graduating or leaving your course.
How to get a credit card
Decide which card you want to apply for - here is how to choose your first credit card.
Make sure you meet the card's eligibility terms.
Check the credit limit will need to be high enough for what you want to spend.
You can then take out the card you choose; here is how to apply.
Avoid applying for several credit cards at once because it can harm your credit history.
How much does a student credit card cost?
Student credit cards often charge a higher interest rate than other credit cards. They can also come with annual fees or charges if you miss a payment or break any other terms of the card.
This guide to credit card charges explains what fees you could face and how to avoid them.
What can go wrong?
The interest and fees on a credit card can be dangerous because you could get further into debt if you do not meet the card's repayments.
Credit cards also come with a credit limit, which is the most you are able to owe on it at once. Spending more than this amount will result in a fee of about £12.
You can damage your credit history if you go over your credit limit or miss repayments.
How to manage your card
Pay off your credit card bill in full each month and avoid breaking its rules - this means you will pay no interest or fees.
This guide to managing your card explains everything you need to know to run your card and keep its costs as low as possible.
Alternatives to a student credit card
If you want to avoid getting a credit card, there are other ways to borrow or access money in an emergency.
Get an interest free overdraft - they can be a much cheaper way to borrow and come with most student current accounts.
Become a secondary cardholder on a parent's credit card instead, which would give your own card to use in an emergency. Your parent would be in charge of paying the bill and managing the account, so would have to trust you not to overspend.