Student Programs

I lost my student body long ago, so I have no actual experience with the programs below. But I will list the few I know about in hopes they are useful to some of my readers. Please tell me about your experiences with any of them or any others designed for students.

One way for a student to earn free travel would be to become an expert on all of the miles earning techniques mentioned on this website, starting with Finance and Credit Cards. Then use that expertise to teach parents and grandparents how to earn miles for free, mentioning of course that you would be most appreciative of their using those miles to buy you a ticket to a foreign country. Emphasize the importance of travel to a well rounded education. (Wish I had thought of that when I was a student.)


SmarterTravel     SmarterTravel has a page on its site dedicated to deals and advice for traveling students.


Credit cards for college students     Even when I was a college student in the 60's, some credit card companies recognized that college students are good bets for credit cards. Most will be financially successful, more so than the average person, and so most will be good customers. I started with a gasoline company credit card from American Oil Company, and then proceeded from there. Americam Oil was soliciting customers from all of the students then at Cal. They figured that college grads would be good credit risks.

Currently many banks and credit card companies are offering special credit cards for students. All have no annual fee, and most have some sort of cash back deal. Most require no co-signer.

  • First start by searching my Credit Card section. Click on each page of that section (important) and do a word search on "student". Most have no annual fee, and many give you cash back for your purchases.
  • Discover Credit Cards seem to be easier to get than others. They offer several cards for students.
  • Some banks offer credit cards backed by the assets in a savings account. The credit limit is half the value of the savings account. This would be a good way to establish a credit record.
  • Some banks offer a credit card for students if payment is guaranteed by a parent. This helps you establish a good credit record.
  • This article from The Military Frequent Flyer says that student loans are considered income by most credit card companies. So students without other income can still get a credit card.

It is very important for students to establish an excellent credit record as soon as possible. Establishing a good credit score now can get your good mortgage and car loan rates later, good insurance rates, and even make the difference between getting and not getting a job. Employers like people with a history of being honest and paying their bills on time, and so many do check the credit scores of applicants. And of course a good credit score will help you get the excellent miles producing credit cards I list on this website.

Be sure to always pay your credit card bill on time and in full. Don't miss - ever -absolutely for sure - no exceptions. And try to keep your credit usage under 30% of your credit limit.

The Points Guy wrote a good article titled "Top 7 Ways For College Students To Build Credit and Rack Up Points and Miles". So did One Mile at a Time.

Here are some other helpful articles:

Planning a Teen's First Credit Card

Building and Viewing Teenage Credit

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Credit Card?. My advice: Get one (any free one), then use it wisely (always pay it off in full each month) to establish a good credit score.


Student Finance     Everyone saving for college should thoroughly investigate the Upromise program. It provides cash rebates for use of its Mastercard and for purchases through its online shopping portal. This is an easy way for you, parents, grand parents, and anyone else to contribute to your college education. So spread word, or perhaps get your parents to do so.

The 2% cash back on all purchases on your Fidelity Visa credit card can be deposited into your Fidelity-managed 529 College Savings plan. Nice, easy way to fund your college education with your purchases or those of your parents or grandparents.

Earn up to 20,000 United MileagePlus® award miles when borrowing or refinancing your student loans through Credible. Be sure to compare rates to other offers. You may find that you would be paying to much for the miles.

Earn up to 50,000 JetBlue points or 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles when refinancing your student loans through SoFi. Be sure to compare rates to other offers. You may find that you would be paying too much for the points.


American Airlines (and probably other) group discount     Are 10 or more of you and your friends going to the same place for Spring break, Summer vacation, or just going home? American Airlines offers serious group discounts:
Low Group Fares

Groups traveling to any American Airlines destination can secure a low-rate fare and may block space, up to 11 months in advance, when traveling together on American Airlines to the same city. American Airlines Group & Meeting TravelSM provides additional flexibility to these groups by offering the following features with your guaranteed fare:

  • Names and ticketing 30 days prior to departure (ticketing dates vary by destination)
  • One name change per ticket
  • Saturday-night or minimum stay waived
Be sure to compare the actual fare offered against the best fares shown on American's website.

I believe most airlines have similar programs. If you find one, please tell me about it. Thanks.


AMTRAK Free Ticket For College Visit     AMTRAK offers high school seniors and juniors and their parent or guardian a "Buy one; get one 50% off” Campus Visit® Discount" when traveling on its trains to visit a college. You must register first. There are blackout dates and terms and conditions. I leave it to you to read them.


Air Canada Program Perks for students     Air Canada's Program Perks offer for for post-secondary students registered in a Canadian institution gives them a unique opportunity to enjoy special travel offers and exclusive perks. It’s totally free to join.


Lufthansa Student Program     Lufthansa's GenerationFly offers discount air fares to students, including access to Star Alliance European Airpass. The reader who told me about this program says
"Basically the only requirement is being an active student or faculty member with a email address. The fares I looked at are cheaper and change fees are lower if you purchase though their special "student website". For example, I booked a ticket to IST in October for only $650 when the cheapest price I could find on the web was $750. Whats more important than the $100 savings is that the ticket (since booked at "Generation Fly") allows for one free change either before or after departure. This is not possible with the $750 fare that I found elsewhere. In addition, if I have to cancel the ticket, all but $150 is refundable. Again, this is not possible with the $750 fare. I feel that this new program is a great deal for students and even if the prices were the same, the additional benefits like one free change of dates is still a huge advantage."


Earn Miles for Tuition     Colleges are starting to allow tuition payments by credit card. So, of course, you would use a mileage producing credit card, an hopefully one offering more than the usual 1 mile per dollar spent. (A reader says that MSU students can do that, and presumes that I know that MSU means Michigan State University, or Mississippi State, or whatever.) Colleges may charge a fee for using a credit card, and the miles earned may not justify the fee, so you have to do the math. But being a college student, this is no problem, right? (Especially after reading my page on the Value of Miles on this web site.)

Along with friendly banter on the pros and cons of attending the University of Georgia this discussion on FlyerTalk describes how anyone paying for an education of anyone at that university can use something called a Bulldog Bucks Card to get miles using your mileage producing credit card to load the card for spending on things like printing, sodas, and food at the student union. When you graduate, you get leftover money in cash. (So be sure there is lots there at that time.) Be sure that the charge is not considered an interest and fee accumulating cash advance before trying this. Please tell me about similar programs at other schools.

  • On August 21, 2012, a reader told me about a similar program at Christopher Newport University for its Captain's Card.


Student College Savings Plans and Loan programs     Look on my Finance Page in the Student Finance section for cash back and mileage earning student savings and student loan programs.


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