How Students with No Income Can Get a Credit Card

I have the best daughter in the world.  Yes, I know some of you think the same thing, but I am confident that mine is the best.  She is in her fourth year at Med School, her big upcoming activity is flying around the U.S. this fall to interview for residency programs.  As such, I have been saving up plenty of miles and points to help her out.

She tells me that many of her fellow students with less points & miles  savvy parents and are on their own to fund these travels.  Being smart – they are future doctors after all – they are tuned in to the benefits of getting credit cards for the free points & miles.  I questioned her on how they could get qualified since they are full-time students with no time for a job to get qualifying income.

She said they had researched the rules for what qualified as income and found that student loans are considered income by most CC companies.  Kind of makes sense since the money is available to the student for whatever their needs are including rent, car loans, food, etc.  Several of her friends have successfully received cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  I thought this was a good tip to pass along in case you, or your kids, are in the same boat.


  1. Thanks for this post. My daughter is in a doctorate program and had difficulty obtaining credit. She used just her stipend for income but I guess she could have included the value of her program as income? To clarify she is tuition free with a monthly stipend. For this she takes classes and works in a lab. I’d be interested in what others think.

    1. I am in a doctorate program, and I have had no problem obtaining credit using only the stipend as income. Assuming the yearly stipend is over 20K (most Ph.D stipends in the US are), it was probably not the deciding factor. I would not use the cost of the program, as there is no way to show it as income on your taxes/paychecks, and the sum normally far exceeds that of the stipend. It’s a risk.

  2. While in grad school in 2012, I picked up the CSP with no income beyond loans. I did have to call recon line though and IIRC they wanted to know expected salary post-graduation.

  3. I have 2 kids in college, a friend of theirs was an 18 year old freshman and applied for a Southwest credit card. So they did too, with only summer job income ~$4000-5000 a year on their applications. They got the cards. A year later one of them opened a checking account with Chase, got a bonus of $200 for opening the account and having a direct deposit (from same summer job as a lifeguard) and then about 3-4 weeks later found she was pre-approved for: United, CSP, Freedom, and/or Freedom unlimited. The Freedom unlimited came with a $300 bonus after spending $500 so she took that free money. Not recommended for anybody who would be irresponsible with the credit cards obviously, but it doesn’t seem like much income is necessary. Kind of scary actually.

  4. My understanding is that if you are a full time student you can report any income that you rely on – including your parents income or any portion of income that they allowance to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.