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My Opinion for the Best Credit Card for a College Student

College students on campus
College students on campus

"As a college student, what do you think is the best credit card for me to get?" That was the question asked! Without hesitation, I responded with the Barclays Advantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard.

"Why that one?" Another question pursued. My response was, "It makes the most logical sense."

Think about it, college students spend money on a handful of things. They are tuition, books, traveling back and forth to school, and food. Maybe the occasional trip for spring break, so why not get something for your spend.

College Library
College Library

Before applying for a credit card, you should know your credit score. Most banks offer services to track this for you. For example, CreditWise from Capital One. However, what you need is your credit report. Not only does it give you all three credit scores from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion but, it also breaks down in detail the score and ways to improve. Your free credit report is available at

Having your credit score allows you to know which cards you are more likely to get approval for. Nerdwallet has this pretty cool feature that lists the credit card and the typical score that often get approved for this card.

Protip: If you don't have enough credit history as a college student, you can also become an authorized user on your parent's card. Doing this will add their credit history to your credit profile. ( Make sure they are in good credit standing as well)

Typically, students will opt for a no-fee credit card but here is why this one makes sense. One of the rewards here is the 50,000 advantage miles after your first purchase and payment of the credit card fee.

Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard
Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

How would I use this?

Once I receive the card, I would head to my nearest CVS and purchase a pack of gum for $1. When the credit card bill arrives, it will include the $1 gum and the $99 fee. In this case, you will pay $100. (This is an investment)

No later than six weeks after, you will receive 50,000 advantage points in your American Airlines Advantage Account. The points can either be redeemed to travel home during breaks or to purchase spring break tickets that you know your parents are not going to buy.

The only other thing I would use this credit card for is to pay my tuition. In some cases, there might be a fee to pay by credit card. I think it's worth it considering the advantages.

Cost of ticket on miles from New Jersey to Daytona Beach
Cost of ticket on miles from New Jersey to Daytona Beach

For example, If your tuition payment is $20,000 a year. Instead of paying $20,000 from your bank account, pay it from your credit card. The extra $15 in fees comes out to be 20,015 American Airline Advantage miles.

And upon your anniversary, you receive a Companion Certificate that's good for one guest. You can redeem the certificate for a future domestic trip within the next 12 months.

Two ways to use this:

First, have your parents travel with you to school and use the companion certificate. It allows them to travel for the price of taxes ($11.20) and carry an additional bag for you. (The both of you get a free bag with the card.)

Second, I would book a roommates flight if we travel together for any reason: Here is how it works: The flight costs $400 for each person. Pay for both flights, collect the cash from your friend and use the companion certificate for their flight.

They paid you $400 and, you paid $11.20 using the companion certificate. You now have $388.80 spending money for your trip. They also get a complimentary bag on your behalf and save $30. (You're welcome)

Remember, credit cards are for emergency use only and should always be paid in full at the end of each month. Only add the tuition to your credit card if the funds are in your account and, you can pay for it immediately.

You can also use the card to make rent payments if your landlord allows it. Don't look at the extra fee but look at the reward of miles redeemed for a free flight.


50,000 Advantage Bonus Miles: Miles added after your first purchase and payment of the annual fee. Perhaps the best offer for all American Airlines co-branded cards due to the small spend requirement.

Statement Credits: Get reimbursed for selective fees incurred while flying. American Airlines has one of the best Wi-Fi while traveling and, the statement credits reduce your overall cost. (Up to $25)

Companion Ticket: Add a plus one for a domestic adventure excluding Hawaii and Puerto Rico for less than the cost of breakfast: This is once a year after your anniversary date and payment of the annual fee.

Earn 2X Miles: Earn double miles on all American Airlines purchases or purchases made on It also includes in-flight purchases.

Earn 1 Mile on everything else: Everything you make purchases outside of American Airlines, you are still rewarded with one mile per dollar.

In-flight Savings: Get 25% off on anything purchased on the airplane. Whether it be another meal or a vodka tonic, a discount is a plus.


First Check Bag free: You and your guests (up to 4) persons can have a complimentary checked bag from the card. All flights must be on the same reservation. It is a savings of $120.

Preferred Boarding: As previously constructed, you will board in group 4. Boarding early allows time to secure an overhead department. (Flights are boarded from back to front in the pandemic)

Flight Cents: This allows for extra advantage miles for rounding up your purchases. (Who doesn't like extra miles.

No Foreign Transaction fees: Travel abroad and spend just like you would at home. There are no additional charges for international purchases. However, always remember to pay in local currency and not the U.S dollar. The rates are more favorable to you.

Travel and Lifestyle services: Since the Barclays Aviator Red is an Elite Mastercard, it comes with a 24/7 concierge service to enhance your already epic travels. All services come with an extra charge.

Travel Coverage: From paying you extra if you are more than 6 hours late to your destination to covering the cost of a fender bender in your rental car. Always inquire what this benefit covers. Knowing this ahead of time can save you a lot at the Rental Car desk.

$0 Fraud Liability Protection: This feature alone is the single most reason I prefer credit cards to debit cards. You are not responsible for purchases done through fraud.

Introductory APR on balance Transfers: What balance Transfer? You should have no debt!

Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved, or endorsed the content listed in this post.


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