Q: I’m a 19 year old freshman in college and am looking to get my first credit card. Since I have a checking and savings account at US Bank, I figured it might be a good place to get one. Do you recommend it?
A: Review the pros and cons and decide what’s best for your circumstances…
- No annual fee – The same holds true for most student credit cards.
- Good customer service – US Bank is known for using US call centers (hey given their name, they better!).
- Convenient if you already bank with them – Having a single website for all of your accounts can definitely be convenient, especially while you’re in school because you’re already busy with so many other things to do.
- Reasonable Requirements – You need to be a student (obviously!) who is at least 18 years old and be able to provide your Social Security number and drivers license number (or state ID or military ID) on the application. They don’t disclose the credit score requirements needed, but given that it’s a student card, my guess would be you can probably get approved without any credit history whatsoever. If you have your own income, then no cosigner is required (as is the case with most student cards).
- Experian credit score access – Those with US Bank credit cards (any of them, not just the student Visa) can see their Experian credit score for free. However this is not very useful because the score they give you is called a PLUS Score which is not the same as a FICO (the scoring model that most creditors use). The PLUS Score is for “educational purposes” and it’s not even used by any lender. There are plenty of other websites you can get free non-FICO scores at so this is nothing special.
- Average APR –11.99% to 20.99% variable as I write this. That’s not high, not low, more like right down the middle of what you typically see on student cards. Keep in mind that if you always pay the entire statement balance each month, you won’t have to worry about getting charged interest.
- No rewards program – In my opinion this is the biggest weakness with US Bank’s Visa card for students. A lot of others will give you cash back or points on your purchases, but with this one you don’t get anything. However obviously, what matters more is not having any debt on your account; earning 1% in rewards is hardly worth paying 20% interest for, right?
- Lack of benefits – This is another disappointment. Aside from rewards, one of the main reasons people pay with plastic is for the free benefits you can get on your purchases. For example, Discover offers the “Purchase Protection” benefit that covers eligible purchases for up to $500 in accidental damage during the first 90 days from date of purchase. Unfortunately with US Bank, you’re not getting anything special on this – their listed “benefits” of zero fraud liability, online account access, and worldwide acceptance come standard on virtually any major credit card you apply for.
Verdict for 2013?
No-frills and as vanilla is what you get with the US Bank student credit card. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it is an accurate description. However it’s a convenient option if you bank with them already.
The card I recommend most for students is from Discover. Check out this sponsored offer for them:
Or go here for my full review of the card.
This article was written June 3, 2013.