Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 8:13 pm

Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by ZWorkLess » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:07 pm

We really need to get our college kids (almost 21 and 18) credit cards soon.

The almost-21 year old already has a car loan that my husband co-signed for her last January, and at that time, she was a "ghost". (I.e., when the car dealership ran her credit, she didn't have a file.) Now she's got 9 months of on time payments for the car, so that's good. She has a co-op job while in school, so she has some earnings, if that matters.

Our 18 year old is a college freshman with little-to-no credit history and no near-term expectations for buying a car, etc. I'm sure he's a "ghost" as well.

They each have debit cards that have worked fine thus far for credit-type purchases, and we are on their accounts, so we can easily transfer in money as needed, etc. However, with the possibility of one or both going abroad next summer and/or future semesters, I'd like them to have access to a credit card with maybe 3-5k in credit for emergencies/unforeseen sudden need when we aren't accessible to give a credit card number.

We pay the kids' bills, and they're responsible. We have great credit (800+) and no plans to borrow any money for anything in the foreseeable future, lol. And we have plenty of credit cards with humongous credit lines (why do they do that?!). I don't want to add them as users on a cc with a 30k credit limit . . . But I'd be happy to have a card with a 5k limit that they were users on . . .

How is it best to help them get a card for access to money AND to build their credit files?

I don't want them (i.e., us) to pay fees for a card . . . Should I set aside one of "our" cards as the "kid" card and put them each on as an additional user with their own cards on our account? Should I do this with two separate cards (one for each) or is it just as good to do it with one card? Or just get them their own cards (with us as co-signer?)? Or should we ask our local bank (who likes us, they have all our business accounts as well, so they work hard to keep us happy) about individual cards for them in their own names?

Ideas? Thanks!

Mike Scott
Posts: 938
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by Mike Scott » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:23 pm

Discover still does "student" cards. After a year or so of use they should be able to get a better cash back card.

Posts: 340
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:15 pm
Location: U.S.A.

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by ThePrince » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:49 pm

College kids especially don’t need credit cards. They are a curse, not a blessing.

Posts: 717
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:33 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by drk » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:56 pm

The Discover it card for students is a great option ( for a first solo credit card. If you have any Chase cards, you would be doing your kids a favor by also adding them as authorized users on one of them. That will also help establish some credit history and start to build a relationship with Chase, which is arguably the best bank when it comes to credit cards. Kudos to you for thinking about this.

Posts: 62328
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by livesoft » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:01 pm

We didn't help our kids get credit cards and they have been overseas. They got Discover cards on their own. They got fed up with their parents seeing what they were doing with their bank accounts, so they got their own bank accounts, too.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

Posts: 1322
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:31 pm

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:28 pm

One of mine got a credit card from Bank of America when she was 16. The other one went overseas without a credit card at first, I Just transferred money to her account since I have the same bank.

User avatar
Posts: 491
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:55 pm

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by camillus » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:11 am

Add them as authorized users on your credit cards. Do this without telling them. Make them get their own credit card too - hopefully with a small credit limit and be hands off.

Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:10 pm

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by Maya1234 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:37 am

One of our kids was able to get a credit card through PNC bank because it had an arrangement with her university. The other we made an authorized user on a credit card we opened with Chase which she was responsible for. We used these cc as teaching tools emphasizing that a cc is a convenience which provides more safety and protection than a debit card but that you must monitor use and pay off in full monthly if not more. Both my kids got in the habit of paying off weekly and monitoring spending this way. They both set up daily text alerts to remind them of the balance.

Posts: 238
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:23 pm
Location: New York

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by NYC_Guy » Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:37 am

I like UNFCU for college kids.

I opened an account there and then got a credit card with a $10,000 limit to which I added both my college age children as authorized users. Their credit card is a true Chip+PIN card (first priority is PIN). That was super handy for both of them when they studied abroad. I also find that card very useful when I travel overseas.

The second thing I did for credit building purposes was have them open their own accounts at UNFCU and get credit builder loans. UNFCU only charges 2% for that loan, which means that the cost for a 12 month $1000 secured loan was about $13 total. I can’t think of a cheaper/better/safer way to build credit than that.

Finally, they are authorized users on my Amazon Prime credit card, which has a high credit limit and limited but regular usage (we just use it for the 5% discount at Amazon). They don’t have access to the cards (or the card number).

They each have near 800 credit scores in their early 20s, and other than the UNFCU card they had for travel overseas, never had access to credit as students (their debit cards provided all the “plastic” they needed for things like internet purchases, gas, train/plane tickets, etc...).

User avatar
Posts: 3408
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:14 pm

Re: Best credit cards for our college kids? (credit building)

Post by munemaker » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:45 am

I think it is good to help your kids get credit cards to establish credit. One easy way to do this is to make them authorized users on one of your cards.

Both of my kids are now on their own, and they both had very high credit scores for their ages which helped them get the best mortgage rate on their first homes. In one of their cases, lending officer commented his credit score was unusually high for his age.

Post Reply