Used sensibly a student credit card can provide peace of mind and help you start building that all important credit record.
Getting a credit card when you are a student can make it easy to spend money you haven’t got. However, a credit card can be useful in an emergency and help you start building a credit history. Find out more about the pros and cons with our guide.
Student credit cards work in the same way as other credit cards, but are more likely to accept students studying full time.
Every credit card provider has different rules on whom they 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.
You can find out what cards might accept you, and see your chances of getting a card by using our eligibility checker.
|Useful for emergency funds||Higher interest rates|
|Protection on your purchases||Lower credit limits|
|Build your credit history||Danger of getting into debt|
|Some offer interest free periods||Charges and fees|
When you apply for a credit card the provider will check:
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
A suitable course will usually be an undergraduate course of at least two years at a college or university in the UK. You may need to prove that you have been accepted onto the 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.
To get a student credit card you will have to demonstrate that you have some income. This can come from: :
Your student loan
Regular payments from your parents
A wage from a part-time job
If you apply for a standard credit card, most lenders will expect you to have a regular income from work.
Use a free eligibility checker to find out what cards you are likely to be accepted for. Making a real application leaves a trace on your credit file that could affect your credit score and future credit applications. An eligibility checker makes a 'soft' check that doesn't appear on your record to other lenders, so it's a much better idea.
Double check you meet the card's eligibility terms
Check the credit limit is high enough for your needs
You can then take out the card you choose. Here is how to apply
If your application is declined, avoid applying for more credit cards immediately because it can harm your credit history.
Instead, wait at least six months, during which you should take steps to improve your credit score. You can read more about how to improve to your credit here.
All credit cards charge interest on what you borrow if you don't pay off your balance every month.
Student credit cards often charge higher interest rates than other credit cards, making them more expensive. Credit cards also charge you if you miss a payment or break any other terms of the card and some have annual fees. Here's how to understand credit card charges and avoid them
Credit cards can make it very easy for cash-strapped students to get into debt.
This is why it is really important that you don’t spend more than you can realistically afford to repay on your credit card.
If you don’t pay your bill in full each month interest will be charged. This can quickly cause your debt to spiral, especially if you only make the minimum repayment.
Should you go over your credit limit (the maximum you can put on your card) or miss a payment, fees will be added to your debt and you will also damage your credit history.
Find out more about how to manage your credit card and keep the cost as low as possible.
You can usually keep your student credit card after graduating or leaving your course.
If you have managed your student credit card well, you should have built up a good credit history and be in a better position to borrow than those that haven’t had a credit card before.
There are other ways to borrow or access money in an emergency:
Interest-free overdrafts: they can be a cheaper way to borrow and are offered with most student current accounts.
As a secondary cardholder on a parent's credit card: This would give you a card to use in an emergency. Your parent would be in charge of paying the bill and managing the account, so they would have to trust you not to overspend. Here are more student finances tips and our student budget planner has some tips on staying on top of your finances.