By Jeanine Skowronski  Fri May 25, 2012

Do I Need to Upgrade My Student Credit Card After Graduation?

Soon-to-be grads may want to check in with their issuers to see if their student credit cards requiring upgrading post-graduation. Some banks prefer you to upgrade to a traditional credit card as opposed to student-branded product once you’re no longer enrolled in school.

Wells Fargo, for instance, says it’s proactive about moving its College Card or Cash back College cardholders onto non-student-branded accounts.

“Accounts are upgraded to like products,” Natalie Brown, a spokeswoman for the bank, says. “For example, a Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card customer would be upgraded to a Wells Fargo Cash Back Card.” Both products carry near-identical terms and conditions.

Other issuers are content to let cardholders keep student-branded cards once they cease to be a student. Bank of America customers, who are become eligible to apply for Student Platinum Plus credit card once they turn 18, can stick with the payment method post-graduation if they choose (provided, of course, their account is in good-standing.)

“Once they graduate, they continue with the same card and aren’t required to make any changes,” Betty Riess, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, says.

Capital One follows a similar policy when it comes to its Journey Student Rewards Credit Card, as does Discover, which markets its Student More and Open Card primarily to those still in school.

“[The cards] have the same features and benefits as our non-student cards so there’s no need for them to switch cards once they graduate,” Kathryn Henry, a spokeswoman for Discover, says.

Reach out

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should skip contacting your credit card issuer once you’re received your diploma. Student cards tend to carry lower credit limits than traditional ones. This is essentially to help new cardholders learn how to manage the card responsibly and to minimize the damage that can be done to their finances should they fail to do so, but the tight limit may not be adequate once a person’s expenses have changed.

If you’re a graduating cardholder looking for a larger line of credit, you can contact your issuer via their customer service hotline to request a bump. You also might want to inquire about upgrading to a product more suited to your changing needs.  For instance, you may qualify for a better rewards program or for a low interest rate.

How well you managed the card while in school will play a big role in determining whether these requests are approved. It also helps to have secured a steady or higher source of income.

“A key consideration in granting line increases to students is an increase in their ability to pay, amongst other factors,” Henry says.

Incoming students should inquire how an issuer handles student cardholder transitions before applying for a card to ensure the process goes smoothly later on. It’s also a good idea to research this issuer’s other credit cards to make sure there is one they would like to upgrade to post-graduation.

Finally, students should take advantage of any financial literacy tools an issuer provides to help them build and manage their credit score so they do qualify for these cards when they finally graduate.

 

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