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Credit Cards

Student Credit Cards That Make the Grade

As your college freshman prepares for dorm life, a credit card may be on her must-have list. But the credit card reform law requires that applicants under 21 be able to pay their own credit card bill or find someone over 21 willing to cosign. These three no-fee credit cards offer the best terms to qualified students, but only the Discover card permits a cosigner.

The Citi Forward card (0% introductory rate for seven months; 12.99% to 21.99% thereafter) rewards responsible use of credit. Pay on time and stay below the credit limit three billing periods in a row and your interest rate drops 0.25 percentage point; overall, you can reduce your rate as much as two points. You earn five points for every dollar spent at restaurants and on books and music, and one point for all other spending. Plus, you receive an extra 100 points each month you pay on time and stay below the credit limit.

The Capital One Journey Student Rewards card (19.8% rate, with an average credit limit of $300 to $500) offers 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 25% bonus on the amount you earn each month that you pay on time. The Discover Student More card (0% introductory rate for six months; 12.99% to 19.99% thereafter, with an average credit limit of $1,000) will consider a student’s savings to determine creditworthiness. Discover permits a parent to cosign the application (but before you do, see Janet Bodnar’s note of caution). The card offers a 5% cash-back bonus on various categories that change quarterly, and up to 1% cash back on everything else.