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Best of, Credit Cards

Longest 0% Purchase Credit Card Offers From Banks & Credit Unions – January 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

0% purchase credit card
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If you’re about to make a big purchase that you need time to pay off, using a 0% introductory purchase offer on a credit card could be the cheapest way to spread the payment out over time.

  • You can currently find 0% deals for as long as 20 months with no fees, but since rates after the intro period are high, only use these deals if you’re sure you can handle paying off the debt before the period is up.
  • When searching for 0% purchase cards, make sure you select a card that waives interest. Far too many cards, especially those offered by retailers only defer the interest which means you can get get a nasty surprise when the intro period is up.

Below we list the longest 0% purchase credit cards broken up by length of 0% intro period from our database of over 3,000 credit card products from banks and credit unions:

20 Months 0% Intro APR

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

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on US Bank’s secure website


The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers a long 0% introductory APR for the first 18 billing cycles for purchases and an 0% introductory APR for the first 18 billing cycles for balances transferred within 60 days from account opening (after, 14.74% to 25.74% Variable APR). However, this card offers few other benefits. There is no rewards program, but there is cellphone protection that can reimburse you for damage or theft up to $600 (with a $25 deductible), for up to two claims ($1,200) per 12-month period when you pay your cellphone bill with your card.

18 Months 0% Intro APR

TruWest Visa® Signature Card

TruWest Visa® Signature Card

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on TruWest Credit Union’s secure website


The 0% introductory APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers for the TruWest Visa® Signature Card is one of the highest for a credit union. It also has a very low ongoing APR of 10.15%-11.15% Variable after the intro period ends. This card is restricted to people who live, work, own a business or go to school in select Arizona and Texas communities or who work for select employers. You can read more about membership eligibility on TruWest’s website. You can earn 1 point per dollar spent, and up to 10 extra points per dollar spent by taking advantage of bonus point offers with the Get Extra Points Rewards Program. You can also earn up to 1.5% cash back with the trurewards program.

TruWest Visa Platinum Card

TruWest Visa Platinum Card

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on TruWest Credit Union’s secure website


Another card from TruWest that offers a long intro period is the TruWest Visa Platinum Card, with 0% introductory APR for 18 months on purchases. Again, this card is only available to TruWest Credit Union members. This card has one of the lowest starting variable APR ranges at 8.20% - 22.20% Variable, which is beneficial for anyone who qualifies for the low rate and may carry a balance after the intro period ends (though we recommend paying off debt beforehand).

TruWest Platinum Points Visa Rewards Card

TruWest Platinum Points Visa Rewards Card

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on TruWest Credit Union’s secure website


The TruWest Platinum Points Visa Rewards Card has a competitive 0% introductory APR for 18 months on all purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, the purchase APR is 10.15% - 17.15% Variablee. As with the other TruWest cards, this one is only available to members. You can benefit from a rewards program where you Automatically earn up to 1 point for every $1 you spend, and earn up to 10 extra points per dollar spent. Also, earn up to 1.5% cash back with the TruRewards program. However, this is a low rewards rate compared to other 0% intro purchase cards on this list.

15 Months 0% Intro APR

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers an intro 0% for 15 Months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, your APR will be 14.99%-25.99% Variable. This card is a great choice for people who want to take advantage of the 0% intro periods and earn rewards. With the cash back program, you can earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases.

The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® provides a 0% Intro APR for 15 months
on purchases and a 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers — that is shorter than other flat-rate cash back cards. After those 15 months, purchases are subject to a standard APR of 16.99% - 25.74% Variable. With the cash back program, you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it’s automatic.
The information related to the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

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on Chase Bank’s secure website


The 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months on purchases and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months means that the Chase Freedom® offers is complemented with a cash back program that is great for those looking to maximize cash back in bonus categories. You can Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. After the promotional period, the purchase APR is 16.99% - 25.74% Variable.

BankAmericard® credit card

BankAmericard® Credit Card

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on Bank Of America’s secure website


The BankAmericard® credit card has a 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles
(after that, a 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR applies). There are no rewards; however, this card may be a good option if you plan on making large purchases.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees


The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers an introductory 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, your APR will be 15.24%-26.24% Variable. There is also a cash back program — earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card

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on Wells Fargo Bank’s secure website


The Wells Fargo Platinum Card has a long period for you to pay off debt with a an intro 0% for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers. Following the intro period, theAPR on purchases will be 13.74%-27.24% (Variable). Besides the promotional APR, this card is fairly basic. It does have one other notable perk: You can receive up to $600 of cellphone protection (subject to $25 deductible) against eligible reasons when you pay your monthly cellphone bill with your card.*

PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card

PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card

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on PNC Bank’s secure website


The PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card is a basic card that offers Introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 billing cycles following account opening, then 12.24%-22.24% Variable APR, based on your credit. There is no rewards program or noteable perks. However, there is U.S.-based customer service available 7 days a week.

Truly Simple® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank

Truly Simple® Card from Fifth Third Bank

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on Fifth Third Bank (OH)’s secure website


This card offers a decent intro period at 0% APR for 15 billing cycles, however this card is restricted to residents of Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. There is also no penalty APR if you miss a payment. The standard APR of 13.74%-24.74% variable applies after the intro period ends.

BB&T Bright Card

BB&T Bright Credit Card

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on BB&T’s secure website


The BB&T Bright Card offers a good intro period from a community bank at 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (variable 12.99%-21.99% variable APR after). Note that this card is restricted to residents of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Visa® Platinum Preferred Rewards from APG FCU

Visa® Platinum Preferred Rewards from APG FCU

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on Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU’s secure website


This card offers a competitive 0% intro APR on purchases and qualified balance transfers compared to other credit unions at 0% intro APR for 15 months (12.49% - 17.99% Variable APR after). To qualify for this card you need to live, work, worship, attend school, or volunteer in Harford or Cecil County or certain areas in Middle River, Maryland. There is a subpar rewards program where you can earn one point for every dollar spent on purchases.

KeyBank Latitude® Credit Card

KeyBank Latitude® Credit Card

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on KeyBank’s secure website


The KeyBank Latitude® Credit Card has a decent intro period for purchases at 0.00% Introductory APR for the first 15 monthly billing cycles. It also has a decent intro period for balance transfers at 0.00% Introductory APR for the first 15 monthly billing cycles. After the intro period ends, 12.24% - 22.24% Variable APR applies based on creditworthiness. This card is restricted to people who live in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont and Washington. There is no rewards program.

Chase Slate®

The Chase Slate® has a decent 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, then 16.99% - 25.74% Variable APR, but you can find other cards with longer periods, and/or rewards. This card is predominantly known for its balance transfer offer where you get 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months and an intro Intro $0 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater.
The information related to the Chase Slate® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Deferred versus Waived Interest

Not all 0% offers are created equally. Some credit card companies offer “deferred” interest, whereas others off “waived” interest.

Let’s take a simple example. You spend $1,000 on a credit card with an APR of 18%. You will make payments of $75 every month. There is a special offer that gives you 0% interest for 12 months. On “Credit Card A” interest is deferred. On “Credit Card B” it is waived. After making 12 payments of $75, the remaining balance in month 13 would be $100.

Credit Card A: Deferred Interest

With a “deferred” interest offer, the bank does not forgive the monthly interest accrual. Instead, the bank just keeps track of the interest that would have accrued. If you do not pay the balance in full during the promotional period, you will get retroactively charged the interest at a high interest rate. In the example above, you would be charged approximately $117 in month 13. (I use “approximately” because credit card companies have slightly different ways of calculating and charging interest. But it is safe to assume that you would be charged more than $100 of interest on your remaining $100 balance.)

Credit Card B: Waived Interest

Waived interest is very different. For every month of the promotional period, the credit card company actually forgives the interest. There will never be a retroactive catch up after the promotional period ends. In our example, you would only be charged $3.26 of interest in month 13, compared to more than $100 in the deferred example.

Deferred interest products are surprisingly common. If you are being offered 0% financing by a retailer, you are probably being offered a deferred interest product.

How To Qualify For A 0% Purchase Credit Card

In order to qualify for a 0% intro purchase credit card, you will need to have good credit. If your credit score is above 700, you are highly likely to be approved by one of the issuers. If your score is between 650 and 700, you still have a good chance.

With a credit score below 650, it is highly unlikely that you would be approved, though you may want to check to see if you are pre-qualified for a card before applying. Many of the banks let you check to see what deals they are specifically targeting to you, and you can see a list of them here. Checking what you’re pre-qualified for won’t show up on your credit report or score.

In addition to your credit score, the credit card company will want to ensure that you are employed. And most credit card companies will look at your debt burden.

If your debt burden is more than 50%, it is unlikely that you will be approved.

The lower your debt burden, the better your chances. You calculate your debt burden by dividing the monthly payments on your credit report (which would include your mortgage, auto loans, student loans, personal loans and credit cards) by your monthly paycheck before taxes are taken out.

When Is A Personal Loan Better?

There is no lower interest rate than 0%. So, if you are able to use a 0% credit card to make a purchase, that is your best bet. However, there are a few circumstances where a personal loan might be a better option:

  • Your credit score is too low for a 0% offer. Personal loan companies are offering increasingly competitive interest rates, especially for people with lower credit scores.
  • You need to borrow money for a big cash expense. For example, you might need to pay a contractor who does not accept credit cards. If you need cash, a personal loan is always a better deal than a credit card.
  • You don’t trust yourself with credit cards. Some people feel nervous with credit cards. You might be tempted to spend more than you want. Or, you might be tempted to only pay the minimum due, extending the repayment term. A personal loan can be an easy way to borrow a set amount of money for a set period of time.

If you want to consider a personal loan, you can compare and apply using our personal loan comparison tool. You can check your interest rate and see if you are approved without hurting your credit score at most lenders.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Best of, College Students and Recent Grads, Credit Cards

Best Student Credit Cards January 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Getting a credit card while you’re in college can set you up for financial success, provided you avoid racking up unnecessary charges. If you are over 18 and have a steady income, applying for a card now will kick start your credit history, and you can start building that all-important credit score.

Learning how to choose and use the right student credit card is relatively simple. Make sure you avoid annual fees and go with a bank or credit union you can trust. When you get the card, make sure you use it responsibly and pay the balance in full and on time every month. If you do these things consistently over time, you can leave school with an excellent credit score. And if you want to rent an apartment or buy a car, having a good credit score is very important.

Our Top Pick

Discover it® Student Cash Back

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Regular APR
15.24% - 24.24% Variable
Credit required
fair-credit
Fair Credit

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Good Grades Reward program: Did you study extra hard this year? If you’ve gotten a 3.0 GPA or higher for an entire school year, Discover will reward you with an extra $20 statement credit. You can get this reward for up to five years in a row as long as you’re still a current student when you apply.
  • Free FICO® score: Just like how you have grades for your classes, your FICO® score is your “grade” for your credit. Credit cards have a huge effect on your FICO® score. You can watch how your new credit card affects your score over time with a free FICO® score update on your monthly statement.
  • 5% cash back : You can earn up to 5% cash back at different places that change each quarter, on up to $1,500 in purchases every quarter that you activate. Past categories have included things like Amazon purchases, restaurants, and ground transportation. Even if you don’t buy something in the bonus category, you’ll still earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Cash back match at end of your first year: In addition to rotating 5% cash back categories, new cardmembers will also get an intro bonus. When your first card anniversary comes around, Discover will automatically match your cash back rewards you earned during your first year.

Cons Cons

  • Remember to sign up for bonus places: Even though this card comes with a great cash back rewards program, it comes with a catch: you’ll need to manually activate the bonus places each quarter. You can do this by calling Discover or logging in to your account online. If you forget, you’ll still earn 1% cash back if you make any purchases in the qualifying categories.
  • Gift certificates only available at certain levels: You can redeem your rewards for many things such as Amazon purchases, a statement credit, or a donation to a charity, to name a few. But, if you’d like to get a gift card instead, you’ll need a cash back balance of at least $20 saved up in your account.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers great perks for college students, such as a rewards program for good grades and a free FICO® score so you can learn about your credit firsthand. Its cash back rewards program is our favorite. No other card for students (that we could find) offers the opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back. And with no annual fee, this is our top pick.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Student Cash Back

Best for Commuter Students

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

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on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
Regular Purchase APR
15.49% - 25.49% Variable
Credit required
good-credit

Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Cashback program: You’ll earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. The higher rate you get for gas purchases is great for students who commute to class.
  • Redemption bonus: If you’re a Bank of America customer, you’ll receive a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account. The bonus is even better if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client — you could get a 25-75% bonus. Cardholders who redeem this way will maximize their cash back.
  • Free FICO® Score: A large part of getting a credit card in college is to build your credit score. The hope is that monitoring your FICO® Score on a monthly basis will let you see your score rise through proper credit behavior.

Cons Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee: This card has a foreign transaction fee of 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of each transaction, not suitable for students who travel abroad. You will negate any cash back earned while using this card outside the U.S.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is a great option for students who commute to class and spend on groceries. This card has an added redemption bonus for Bank of America® checking or savings accountholders that is a great way to increase your cash back.

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1% Cash Back on all purchases; 0.25% Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time
Regular Purchase APR
26.96% (Variable)
Credit required
bad-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

Magnify Glass Pros

  • 1.25% cash back if you pay on time: Each purchase you make earns a flat-rate 1% Cash Back on all purchases; 0.25% Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time. This makes it handy for people who want as simple a card as possible. And it rewards great behavior.
  • Higher credit lines after on-time payments: If you’re approved for this card, you’ll receive a credit line of at least $300. If you make five on-time payments in a row, you can call Capital One and ask them to increase your credit line.
  • No foreign transaction fee: This is a great card to take overseas, because you won’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees. Most cards charge an average 3% foreign transaction fee, but Journey allows you to use your card abroad without being charged extra fees.

Cons Cons

  • High APR: This card carries an APR of 26.96% (Variable). That’s almost twice as high as some other student credit cards, such as the Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card with a rate as low as 12.90% - 22.90% Variable APR. It’s just one more incentive to pay off your bill in full each month.
Bottom line

Bottom line

We really like this card because it actively rewards you for developing good credit-management behavior by offering a small cash back bonus for on-time payments. In addition, the cash back program is straightforward with no confusing categories to remember or opt into, making this card a good option for students who want a simple, flat-rate card.

Read our full review of the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Best Intro Bonus

Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months, 1% cash rewards on virtually all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
12.90% - 22.90% Variable
Credit required
excellent-credit
Good/Excellent

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Interest rates as low as 12.90% - 22.90% Variable APR: Depending on your credit, your interest rate could be between 12.90% - 22.90% Variable APR, but there is no guarantee you’ll receive the lower rate. This is a lower variable APR range than most student cards, and can help if you aren’t able to pay your balance in full one month.
  • Intro Rewards Bonus: 3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months, 1% cash rewards on virtually all other purchases
  • Access to credit education: Wells Fargo provides you with all sorts of tools and information to learn about things like credit, budgeting, and expense tracking. While this is a nice feature, it’s not exclusive to Wells Fargo. You can get this information from free tools such as Mint, or even reading books and blogs. But it is pretty handy having it right at your fingertips when logged in to your account.

Cons Cons

  • Need to be a Wells Fargo member to apply online: You can go into any one of the 6,000+ branches and apply for the card. You can also apply online, but you’ll need to be an existing Wells Fargo customer. However, anyone can open a checking account online with a minimum deposit of $25.
  • High bars for some cash back redemption options: There are a lot of redemption options available through Wells Fargo’s own online cash back rewards mall. However, if you’d just like straight cash, you have a few options. You can request a direct deposit into your Wells Fargo checking account, savings account, or Wells Fargo credit card (if applicable) in $25 increments, or request a paper check in $20 increments. That can take a long time to accumulate if you’re not spending much with your card.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card is a relatively simple card with a great intro bonus of 3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months, 1% cash rewards on virtually all other purchases In addition, the low variable APR is handy for those who think they’ll be carrying a balance on their credit card from month to month at some point in the future. This is generally something we recommend against, but if you can’t avoid it, the Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card is your best bet.

Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Cash Back CollegeSM Card

Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa® Credit Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Altra’s secure website

Read Full Review

Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa® Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn double Reward Points on every dollar of purchases in the first 60 days after opening your new account, then 1 point per dollar spent.
Regular Purchase APR
15.65% Fixed

Magnify Glass Pros

  • $20 reward for good credit card usage: If you can maintain your account in an “exceptional way” for your first year, you’ll get a bonus $20 reward on your card’s anniversary. All you have to do is not have any late payments, don’t charge over your card’s limit, and use your card for at least six out of twelve months.
  • Up to $500 random winner each quarter: It’s like playing the lottery, except you don’t have to buy a lottery ticket. Each quarter Altra will choose one student cardholder at random and pay back all of their purchases from the previous month, anywhere between $50 to $500.
  • Earn rewards: For the first 60 days after you open your account, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent. After that you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent. You can redeem these points for cash back, merchandise through their online rewards mall, or travel.
  • Redeem points for a lower interest rate: If you’ll need a car in the future, this might be a good credit card to get. You can trade in 5,000 points for a 0.25% reduction, or 10,000 points for a 0.50% reduction on an auto loan through Altra Federal Credit Union. That could end up saving you a ton of cash in the long run.

Cons Cons

  • 1% foreign transaction fee: This is definitely one card to leave at home if you’ll be traveling or studying abroad. Most credit cards charge a 3% foreign transaction fee, so this is on the low side. Still, it’s not too hard to find a student credit card with no foreign transaction fee, such as the Discover it® Student Cash Back or the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card.
  • Must join Altra Federal Credit Union: Luckily, anyone can join, but it might take a bit of legwork on your part compared to a bank. If you don’t meet certain membership eligibility criteria, you can join the Altra Foundation for $5. Then you’ll need to open a savings account with a minimum $5 deposit that must remain in the account while you have your card open.
Bottom line

Bottom line

If you’re a student who doesn’t mind working with a credit union, Altra provides a card that has several rewards benefits. This card is a good option if you may be taking out an auto loan in the next few years, since you’ll benefit from a reduced interest rate by trading in your rewards points. In addition to earning rewards, using this card responsibly can help you build credit.

Read our full review of the Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa® Credit Card

Best for Studying Abroad

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

APPLY NOW Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points.
Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Chip + PIN technology: Most credit cards have chip + signature technology, and while this is good inside the U.S. you may face issue when traveling abroad. That’s where a card with chip + PIN functionality is the safest bet when traveling outside the U.S.
  • No foreign transaction fees: When you travel abroad you will not be charged additional fees like other cards.
  • Cashback rewards: You will earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points. This is a decent flat-rate that isn’t limited to bonus categories.
  • Redemption bonus: Bank of America customers will receive a 10% customer bonus every time cash back is redeemed into a Bank of America® checking or savings account. The bonus is even better if you’re a Bank of America® Preferred Rewards client — you could get a 25% – 75% bonus. Redeeming this way allows you to maximize your cash back rewards.
  • Free FICO® Score: The main reason to get a credit card as a student is to boost your credit score. So, actually being able to see your credit score is a huge help, especially as you can watch it climb over time with good credit management.

Cons Cons

  • Subpar cashback rate: The cash back rate for this card is lower than other cards. However, cards with higher cash back rates often charge foreign transactions fees, not making them ideal for students traveling abroad.
Bottom line

Bottom line

Students who are interested in studying abroad should consider the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students. You’ll earn a good cash back rate on all purchases and will not be charge a foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S.

Best Secured Card

Discover it® Secured

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
25.24% Variable
Credit required
bad-credit
Poor/New to Credit

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Cashback program: This card has a feature uncommon to other secure cards — a cashback program. You earn 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.
  • Cashback Match™: Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched (new cardmembers only). This is a great added bonus that increases your cash back in Year 1.
  • Automatic monthly reviews after eight months: Discover makes it easy for you to transition to an unsecured card with monthly reviews of your account starting after eight months. Reviews are based on responsible credit management across all of your credit cards and loans.

Cons Cons

  • Security deposit: You need to deposit a minimum of $200 in order to open this card. This will become your credit line, so a $200 deposit gives you a $200 credit line. If you want a higher credit limit, you need to increase your deposit. The security deposit is refundable, meaning you will receive your deposit back if you close the card, as long as your account is in good standing.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Discover it® Secured is great for students who want to build credit. This card easily transitions you to an unsecured card when the time is right, and you can earn cash back. With proper credit behavior, you’ll soon be on your way to an unsecured card.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Secured

Best for No Credit History

Deserve® EDU Mastercard

APPLY NOW Secured

on Deserve’s secure website

Deserve® EDU Mastercard

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases
Regular Purchase APR
20.99% Variable
Credit required
bad-credit
Fair/Good Credit or No Credit

Magnify Glass Pros

  • No credit history required: You can qualify for this card without any credit history, making this a great option for students new to credit. You don’t even need a Social Security number when applying.
  • Reimbursement for Amazon Prime Student*: This card will reimburse you for the cost of a year of Amazon Prime Student (valued at $49). You need to charge your membership to this card to qualify, and you will not be reimbursed for subsequent years’ membership fees.
  • No foreign transaction fee: Whether you travel abroad or study abroad, you can rest easy: There are no foreign transaction fees with this card.

Cons Cons

  • Low cash back rate: The rewards program has a subpar 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases. You can do better with some of the other cards mentioned in this post. Though as a student, rewards shouldn’t be your primary focus — instead, build your credit so you can qualify for better non-student cards.
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students is a great choice for students who are looking to build credit. Deserve markets their cards for those who may have trouble qualifying for credit, and students who fall into this category may more easily qualify for this card than for cards from traditional banks. You can earn cash back, and receive a great promotional offer of a year of Amazon Prime Student for free*.

Also ConsiderAlso Consider

Golden 1 Platinum Rewards for Students

Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards for Students:

This credit card offers a snazzy rewards program: rather than accumulate points, you’ll get a cash rebate instead. All you have to do is make a purchase. At the end of the month, you’ll get a rebate of 3% of gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases, and 1% of all other purchases deposited back into your Golden 1 savings account at the end of the month. You can join Golden 1 by joining the Financial Fitness Association for $8 per year and keeping at least $5 in a savings account.

What should I look for in a student credit card?

The most important thing to consider when looking for a student credit card is that it charges no annual fee. You should never have to pay to build your credit score. Fortunately, most student cards don’t charge you an annual fee, but it’s still something to watch out for.

The second most important thing you should keep an eye out for are tools that help you learn about credit or even promote good credit-building habits. For example, some student credit cards will give you a free monthly FICO® score update. You can use this freebie to see in real time how your credit score changes as you build credit history by keeping the card open, or paying down your credit card balance, for example.

The last thing you should be considering when picking out a student credit card is the rewards program. I know, I know, it seems counterintuitive. But stick with me — I’ll show you why in the next question.

Why shouldn’t I be concerned about maximizing my rewards while in college?

Rewards cards are nice to have. But if you’re a college student, here’s the truth: you probably won’t spend enough to earn meaningful rewards.

Why? With a good rewards program, you can earn points or cash back. A small percentage of your monthly spending can add up quickly. However, given the tight budget that most college students live on, it will probably take a while to earn meaningful rewards. For example, if you earn 1.25% cash back and spend $300 a month on your card, you would earn $45 of cash back during the year.

College students are very good at making good use of $45. And our favorite card offers a great cash back rewards program. Just don’t expect to earn a lot of cash back, given the tight budget of a college student.

Why should I get a credit card as a college student?

There are a lot of great reasons why you should get a credit card, as long as you can commit to using it responsibly.

The single biggest reason why you should get a credit card as a college student is because you can start establishing a credit history now. When you graduate from college, you will need a good credit score to get an apartment. And your future employer will likely check your credit report. Building a good credit history while still in college will help prepare you for life after graduation.

Getting a credit card while in college can also train you to develop good credit habits now. But you need to be honest with yourself. If you find that you can’t avoid the temptation of maxing out your credit card, you might want to switch to a debit card or cash.

Finally, getting a credit card now can be the motivation you need to start learning about credit. These skills aren’t hard to learn, and they could save you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars later in life (when you want a mortgage, for example).

What is the CARD Act and why should I care about it?

Many years ago, credit card companies would market on college campuses. You could get a free beer mug or t-shirt in exchange for a credit card application. And you would be able to qualify for a credit card without having any income. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act was signed into law in May 2009 to change a number of practices.

How did the CARD Act change student credit cards?

The CARD Act made a lot of changes in how credit card issuers do business with students. One of the biggest changes was requiring students to be able to demonstrate an ability to pay. If you are under 21 and do not have sufficient income (a campus job, for example), you would need to get a co-signer.

In addition, colleges must now limit the amount of credit card marketing on campus. The days of free t-shirts and pizzas in exchange for credit card applications are gone. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible for a college student to get a credit card. Some highly reputable banks and credit unions still offer student cards. And building a good credit score while still in college is still highly recommended.

How can I protect myself from racking up debt?

When used properly, credit cards are a very convenient method of repayment. However, when not used properly, you can end up deep in credit card debt. It is important to establish a healthy relationship to credit now, with your first credit card.

You should try to ensure that you pay off your credit card bill in full and on time every month. Ideally, you should set up an automatic monthly payment. And to keep yourself on track, take advantage of alerts offered by most credit card companies. You can even get daily text messages reminding you of your balance.

How can I automate my credit card usage?

If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry. There’s actually a way you can automate your payments so you never even have to bother with the hassle of using a credit card. All it takes is a few minutes of upfront work.

First, you’ll need at least one recurring monthly bill of the same amount, such as Netflix or Spotify. Log in to your account and set up an automatic payment each month using your credit card. Make a note of how much your monthly bill costs.

Next, log in to your bank account. Set up a second automatic payment to go to your credit card each month for the same amount as the bill. If your bank doesn’t offer the option to set up automatic payments, you may also be able to set up your credit card to automatically withdraw the amount of the bill from your bank.

Because you know this bill will be for the same amount each month (barring any price increases), you can literally just leave this running in the background each month on autopilot. You don’t even have to carry your credit card in your wallet if you don’t want to. Then, when you graduate, you’ll automatically have an improved credit score!

What happens to my student credit card when I graduate?

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the finish line. But what about your student credit card? You will have a few options once you graduate and we detail them here.

Here is a summary of our favorite cards:

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Credit Cards

Best Cashback Sign-Up Bonus Offers of January 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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Searching for the best cashback sign-up bonus deals? Look no further. MagnifyMoney has compiled the best cashback card deals right here.

If your reward card spending mirrored that of a millennial in the Department of Labor’s most recent survey, you could potentially charge around $1,800 per month over that two-year period, according to a CompareCards.com* study.  You would earn on average nearly $750 in cashback rewards over two years after taking into account any annual fees the cards assess.

After looking at the available cashback cards, we found five we felt offered the best sign-up bonuses. All five cards offer a cashback bonus without having to spend large amounts of money to get it. Plus, they all offer ongoing cashback options and perks once the cashback intro bonus is gone — all with no annual fees.

Cards with the best sign-up bonuses

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The sign-up bonus for this card is earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. It has solid rewards, where cardmembers can earn 4% cash back on dining; 4% cash back on entertainment; 2% cash back at grocery stores; 1% cash back on all other purchases. The card comes with broader cash-back earning categories. Dining includes restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges, fast-food chains and bakeries. Entertainment covers tickets for movies, plays, concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, dance clubs, pool halls and bowling alleys. It also covers purchases at record and video rental stores.You get your rewards without having to worry about rotating cashback bonuses or quarterly sign-ups. Cash back won’t expire as long as the card is active and there are no limits on how much cash back you can earn. The card comes with travel assistance services, a concierge, extended warranty and price protection. Plus, there is no foreign transaction fee.This card is best for those who want to earn more cash back for dining and groceries. Outside of that, there are other cashback cards that offer better rewards in top spending categories. Entertainment rewards don’t include digital streaming and subscription services. Just know, there is an annual fee — $0 intro for first year; $95 after that.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card starts with One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, the highest among the three cards highlighted in this review. Once you spend $500 in three months to get the cashback bonus, it’s applied to your rewards balance within two billing cycles.Cardmembers get a flat 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day, and you don’t have to register every quarter to get it. You’re also not limited to select categories to get the cash back and there’s a None foreign transaction fee.Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month on the card. At unlimited 1.5% cash back, you’ll get $360 at the end of the year. Your rewards don’t expire during the life of the account, and you can redeem cash back for any amount.The perks with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card are pretty good considering it’s a no-fee credit card. There’s the usual benefits that come with Visa Signature®, including free upgrades and special savings at hotels, resorts and spas, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and fine wine and food events, free 24-hour concierge service, shopping and savings and special offers from retailers. There are also popular benefits like purchase security, roadside dispatch, travel and emergency assistance, auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage reimbursement and travel accident insurance.

Other cards may offer more bonus points or miles — for a higher spend — than the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. They may also more in cashback awards, especially in targeted categories like travel and dining, than what’s offered with this card.

Uber Visa Card

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The information related to Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Uber Visa Card

Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else.
New Uber Visa Card members can Earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days. The cashback bonus is applied to your card as soon as you make the required purchases within the first 90 days after you open your account. You don’t pay foreign transaction fees on the card.If you spend around $800 a month on dining, you’ll earn $384 a year in cash back. The cash back in the travel category includes airfare, hotels and home share services like Airbnb. Spend $1,500 a month with the Uber Visa Card on these categories and get $540 back after a year.After your bonus is credited, there are more perks that come with the Uber Visa Card. Music lovers who spend at least $5,000 a year on it can get up to a $50 credit for online digital subscription services. You get up to $600 for mobile phone damage or theft when you pay your mobile phone bill with your card. The card also gives you access to invitations to exclusive events and offers in select U.S. cities.

You can redeem your Uber Visa Card points for Uber credits, gift cards or cash back, all via the Uber app once your balance hits $5 or 500 points. You must add your Uber Visa Card to your Uber account to take advantage of this feature. As long as the account is active and in good standing, your points never expire.

There are other cards that offer higher cash back for popular categories like airfares, hotels and dining. The cashback balance on your Uber Visa Card must reach $25 before you can use it for gift cards, statement credit or direct deposit. Your cash back redemption is capped at $500 a day. And the card doesn’t have an intro balance transfer rate.

TruWest Visa® Signature Card

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on TruWest Credit Union’s secure website

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TruWest Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
10.15%-11.15% Variable
Annual fee
$0
With the TruWest Visa® Signature Card, you earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first 90 days after being approved. It’s not the most lucrative bonus out there, but we like it for a different reason: This is by far the lowest spend requirement among the three cards in this review. The best feature of the TruWest Visa® Signature Card is that it starts with a generous 0% introductory APR for 18 months on all purchases and balance transfers. After 18 months, there’s a very reasonable 10.15%-11.15% Variable APR.

You automatically Earn up to 1.5% cash back with the TruRewards program plus you get up to 1 point for every $1 spent. If you spend $1,000 a month on the card, you’ll get $180 back after a year of spending.

The fine print: You must be a member of the TruWest Credit Union, with a minimum deposit of $5 to qualify, before you can apply for the TruWest Visa® Signature Card. To become a member, you must either: live, work or own a business in Maricopa, Pinal, Pima or Yavapai counties in Arizona, or Travis or Williamson counties in Texas; attend school in Travis or Williamson, Texas; or be related to a member or be the surviving spouse of a deceased member.

How to use points

You can earn 5,000 bonus points when you add a cardholder to your account, which gives you more ways to boost your point totals. You also earn up to 10 extra points per $1 spent when you use them to make qualifying purchases on the TruRewards website.

You can use your points and cash back in the Get Extra Points program, where you can apply your cash back to your credit card account, buy gift cards from TruWest or retailers, book a flight, hotel or cruise, buy more than 300 different items ranging from electronics to jewelry and donate points to your favorite charities. You can choose the split-pay option, where you can redeem points and pay for items using your TruWest Visa® Signature Card.

Like the, Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, the TruWest Visa® Signature Card gives you access to all the benefits of the Visa Signature program.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

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on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3% cash back in your choice category, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases & 1% cash back on every purchase
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers new cardmembers $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening, one of the highest in this category. Once you meet the spending requirement, the bonus will be applied to your rewards balance after eight to 10 weeks. This card has a flat 3% cash back in your choice category, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases & 1% cash back on every purchase.As of Jan. 14, 2019, the $0 annual fee Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card comes with higher rewards in more rotating categories and more flexibility. Cardmembers can earn higher cash back for gas, dining, travel, online shopping, drug stores and home improvement and furnishings — the latter three are categories that usually aren’t included for higher cash back. You’re free to switch higher cashback categories once a month instead of quarterly, like other competing credit cards, remaining on the last category chosen if you forget or don’t choose to switch.But you still only earn higher cash back on spending of up to $2,500 per quarter. After that, the rewards drop to 1% cash back per dollar spent. The only perk with this card is a free FICO® credit score monthly. While it’s nice that cardmembers can change spending categories every month, there are competing cards that offer more points per dollar spent in popular categories, better perks and more ways to redeem your rewards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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The information related to Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 15 months
Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR for 15 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

New cardmembers earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Use that bonus for cash, gift cards, travel or pay with points. Earn a simple Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.Although the cashback rate on this $0 annual fee card is lower than others, you don’t have to worry about changing bonus reward categories every quarter. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, combine the cash back earned on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with points earned on the other two cards. Use them at the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website, where you can get between 25% and 50% more value when you redeem points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises.If you use this card outside of the country, be prepared to pay a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. Other cards offer higher rewards in categories, such as travel or dining. The only perks that come with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are purchase protection and extended warranty.

Alternatives to these cards

If these cashback bonus offers aren’t quite showing you the money, you may want to consider cards that offer double cashback benefits — with no annual fee, but also no cashback sign-up bonus — as an alternative.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Regular Purchase APR
15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent, Good

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer doesn’t force you to register in order to get cash back. Unlike cards with higher cashback options, almost all of your purchases are covered.

There are no caps on the total amount of cash back you can earn. So if you spend $1,000 a month on the card, that means you’ll get $120 in cashback rewards in a year. And you can get another $30 a year back if you make payments of $250 a month.

Once your cash rewards balance hits $25 or more, you can redeem your cash rewards as a check, a statement credit to your account, a gift card or as credit to a linked Citi savings or checking account or to a checking account where you have paid a Citi credit card bill at least twice.

Benefits that come with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer aren’t as robust as other cards in this category. And don’t use this card when you travel outside the U.S., since it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.

If your account is closed, you won’t be able to earn or redeem your cash rewards, and you forfeit any accumulated cash rewards. Your cash rewards balance will expire if you have not earned any cash back from purchases or payments for 12 months.

Discover it® Cash Back

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

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Discover it® Cash Back

Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 14 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good Credit

The great thing with the Discover it® Cash Back is that it matches all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of their first year. So if you earned $1,200 in cash back in your first year, Discover will match that to $2,400 after your first 12 consecutive billing periods. The cash back is then applied to your account in the following one or two billing periods.

Each quarter, you can earn 5% cash on specific categories up to the quarterly maximum. It’s stand-alone grocery stores in the second quarter, restaurants in the third quarter and Amazon.com and wholesale clubs in the fourth quarter.

You must register for the categories each quarter in order to get the cashback reward. The cashback quarterly maximum is $1,500 for the Discover it® Cash Back, but there’s no limit on the overall amount of cash back you can earn.

If you do a balance transfer, you can save money if you pay off the balance before the end of the card’s 14-month term. But you will pay a 3% balance transfer fee.

The Discover it® Cash Back gives you free access to your FICO® Score on monthly statements, online and on the mobile app, and allows you to use the Freeze it® on/off switch feature that stops purchases, cash advances and balance transfers if you misplace your card.

After the first year, the Discover it® Cash Back’s cashback match rewards goes away, and you don’t get the more robust travel and purchase benefits of other cards.

The bottom line

The introductory cashback bonuses for these credit cards can seem appealing when you first sign up. But you need to ask which benefits remain once you spend that initial bonus. And you need to balance whether the card is just as appealing once the more attractive intro purchase and balance transfer rates expire.

Since you don’t have to worry about annual fees, focus on a card with benefits that go beyond the initial intro cashback bonus. You want to get unlimited rewards with at least 1% cash back at a bare minimum.

It’s even better if you get a card that goes above the usual 1% on items in selected categories. You also want to have access to a website that will let you maximize your cashback rewards and get discounts for shopping. And you want a card that offers secondary perks like travel discounts, purchase and travel insurance and car rental collision coverage.

Keep your balances low and pay your card on time because you may end up paying your credit card company for the privilege of getting cashback rewards.

*CompareCards.com and MagnifyMoney.com are both owned by LendingTree.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Benét J. Wilson
Benét J. Wilson |

Benét J. Wilson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Benét J. at benet@magnifymoney.com

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