Can you keep a student credit card after graduating?

Baona_iStock_Getty Images

Baona_iStock_Getty Images

Several issuers offer credit cards specifically designed for students, with (often) lower limits and (sometimes) rewards and incentives for keeping good grades. So what happens when you graduate? Do you get to keep your student card? Or do you need to apply for a new one?

We asked spokespeople from several issuers of student credit cards for their policies.

Bank of America

Student cards offered: BankAmericard for students; BankAmericard Cash Rewards for Students; BankAmericard Travel Rewards for Students

What happens after graduation?: You’ll keep the same card, a spokesperson told us, and if you have one of the rewards-earning cards listed above, the way you earn rewards won’t change.

If you want to switch to a non-student card, ask to be automatically converted to a non-student card. This won’t require a new application or credit pull, and you’ll keep the same card number and rewards program.

Capital One

Student cards offered: Capital One Journey card for students

What happens after graduation?: Customers can stay on the Journey card for as long as they like, even after they’re no longer students, a Capital One spokesperson told us. In fact, you don’t even need to be a student to apply in the first place and get access to the card’s benefits — like a rewards boost for on-time payments and access to a higher credit limit after making the first five payments on time.

The card, account number, terms and benefits will remain the same after you graduate.

Journey cardholders who want to upgrade to a flagship product can request to do so, and this requires no additional credit pull.


Student cards offered: Discover it and Discover it chrome for students

What happens after graduation? Those holding Discover student cards can continue using them after graduation, a spokesperson told us. Yet there are some benefits that are designed specifically for students (like $20 cash back each school year for up to five consecutive years for a GPA of 3.0 or higher).

If a former student wants to convert to a different card in Discover’s portfolio, they can request to do so, and no additional application or credit pull would be required.

We reached out to Citi and U.S. Bank as well and will update if we hear back about their policies.

Should you keep a student card after graduation?

All the issuers above allow you to keep your student card after graduation – but should you?

As student cards tend not to have annual fees, there’s no harm in keeping yours open, and there’s some benefit too, due to how credit scores are calculated.

However, student cards tend to come with low limits because of your limited credit history when you applied. So ask your issuer if it will raise your limit (preferably without an additional credit pull).

Even if you do keep your student card, consider adding more cards to your portfolio to continue to build a credit history and take advantage of better rewards and perks. That’s assuming you don’t plan to carry balances and won’t max out your new cards, of course. Another advantage of getting a new card: Even if your student-card issuer agrees to raise your limit, it may nudge it up by only a percentage of your current (probably low) limit; you might have better luck getting a higher limit with a new card.

If you’re curious to see which cards you’re eligible for and don’t want a hard pull on your credit, use the tool below to see what you’re pre-qualified for. If you’ve been diligently keeping your balances low on your student card and paying on time, you may be pleasantly surprised.

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