Which credit card should I apply to first as an international student in the U.S.?

by Su Hsiang Yu | In Financial Empowerment, MPOWER VIP | 23 July 2019 | Updated on: March 2nd, 2021

If you’re an international student ready to apply for your first U.S. credit card, keep reading!

You know you have to build your credit score if you are living in the U.S. You absolutely need a credit history in the U.S., but you aren’t building one if you pay with your debit cards or cash. And the sooner you start building it, the better!

You can’t build credit without having credit, and sometimes you can’t get credit as a student without a credit history. Paying your credit card bill each month will help you build your credit history. So where to start? We’re here to help you from the very beginning, and we’ll suggest credit cards that might work for you. 


Which type of credit card should I apply for?

Here is the scenario: an international student comes to the U.S. and needs to build credit from scratch. The best card must be the one that meets his or her specific needs. 

If you’re applying for the first credit card in the U.S. as a student, a student Cash Back card might be the best option for you. Student cash back cards offer students a chance to earn up to 5% on everything they spend with the card. That way, the student can save some money while spending money.

International students ask a lot about credit cards, and it’s important to know that each credit card company has different requirements. Sometimes, the company requires you to have a Social Security number (SSN) to apply; if that’s the case, you can work on campus to get an SSN. On the other hand, some credit cards only require your passport and student ID to be qualified. So, understand what you need before applying for a credit card and try your best to meet the application requirements!

If you are starting to realize the importance of obtaining a credit card, we can help with suggestions. No matter whether you’re building credit from nothing or you’re looking forward to saving money by having a student cash back card on everything in your daily life, you should read on, and take the very first step to applying for a credit card.


Top-ranked international student credit cards

Here are top-ranked credit cards for international students that we think might be a good start for your lifestyle:

1. Discover

Discover provides two top-ranked college credit cards that allow students to get rewards with no annual fee. Plus, you can get $150 back after you spend $500 in the first 3 months after opening your account. Both Discover it® Chrome for Students and Discover it® Student Cash Back pay cash rewards. However, they have different rewards on different things. Pick the card with features designed to meet your specific needs. Also worth mentioning: Discover offers a low introductory rate (0% intro APR* for 6 months on purchases), a FICO® Credit Score for free (on monthly statements, mobile, and online), and up to 5% cash back at different places each quarter

2. Capital One 

Journey® Student Rewards Credit Card provides 1% cashback on all purchases, plus a 0.25% cashback bonus on the cashback you earn if you pay on time. And, there’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee either. This might be a great feature for international students who travel or go to their home countries a lot.

Note: APR = annual percentage rate. It’s most often expressed in terms of an interest rate (%). APR is a measure that attempts to calculate what percentage of the principal you’ll pay per period.


Take your time and choose everything with confidence

Building a credit history in the U.S. requires a lot of patience and good financial habits. If you’re new to the U.S., you might need to spend some time weighing the pros and cons of different credit card offers so you can build up your credit history. Choosing the right one takes a lot of time but it can pay off. 

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Can international students get a credit card in the US?

Yes, international students can get a credit card in the USA. Even though most companies will require you to have a SSN (Social Security Number) before applying for a credit card, but there are some companies who only need your passport and student ID.

What is the best credit card for international students?

Top-ranked credit cards for international students are:

  • Discover it® Student Cash Back
  • Discover it® Chrome for Students
  • Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One®

Does an international student have a credit score?

Most international students will have almost zero financial information in the USA, which means they will not have a credit score.

Author: View all post by Su Hsiang Yu

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