For DonorsFor Applicants

2024 Student Debit Cards: Guide to Smart Spending & Rewards

Written by Jaeme Velez
Updated: June 12, 2024
13 min read
Deadline9 days left to apply
Create Free Account

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Pathward®.

Remember that awkward silence as your card buzzed "insufficient funds?” Balancing student life with deadlines, social engagements, and looming student loans is no easy feat. In this article, I’ll discuss some great debit card options for students–perfect to help you level up your budgeting game and earn points to pay for school faster.

If you're tired of the monthly service fees and charges or need to gain experience with debit cards, I’ve got your back with some handy financial resources. Let’s explore the benefits of these top debit cards and learn how to accumulate cashback rewards on every purchase!

At, we're here to help you become a wise spender by providing information about checking accounts and debit card choices so you can make a more informed decision.

If you are prepping for your college journey, you can also start applying daily for thousands of scholarships.

bold debit card

Bold Visa® Debit Card

You can enhance your student budget with the Bold Debit Card. While other debit cards offer modest rewards, the Bold Debit Card introduces a unique rewards system for students like you. Forget about ordinary cashback – you can earn Bold Points* that also help you unlock millions in scholarships to help pay down your student loans directly, and forget about a monthly service or monthly maintenance fee.

Here's how you can benefit from our debit account:

  1. Elevated Points Earnings: The Bold Debit Card operates on a simple yet powerful principle: earn points for every dollar spent. For every $2 you spend across any category, you earn 1 Bold Point.
  2. Specialized Rewards: Amplify your points on select purchases made within’s platform. Think of exclusive offers, partnerships, and targeted bonus opportunities with your card transactions.
  3. Take Control of Your Loans: Redeem your Bold Points* to make direct payments toward your student loans, switch accounts, and set up an account for the Bold Debit Card. You have the flexibility to redeem your Bold Points either for cashback or, more significantly, for student loan payments, with 1,000 Bold Points equating to $15 in student loan payments (as opposed to $10 in cashback).*
  4. Customer Service: You can talk to a real person from our customer service team.
  5. Cashback Option*: If you prefer cash, you can always convert your Bold Points into extra spending flexibility to help you with more budgeting tools and master how to manage money.
Get Started with the Bold Debit Card

Earn rewards that help pay for school.* Apply for the Bold Debit Card today!


In addition, these details will help keep your finances safe:

  • Zero Annual Fees: Say goodbye to unnecessary fee expenses. 
  • Robust Security: You can rest easy knowing that your funds are secure. The FDIC insures your deposits at banks and savings institutions that have FDIC insurance, guaranteeing coverage up to $250,000 for each depositor.** This coverage applies to each bank where you have deposits and is valid across each category of account ownership.
  • Direct Deposit & Easy Transfers: Make your financial transactions easier by effortlessly moving money from your existing bank account to your Bold bank account.

The Bold Debit Card represents a revolution in student finance. Sign up for a Bold Debit Card today and unlock a realm of rewards that directly support your education. Put your Bold Points to work. Instead of only cashback – Bold Points can fuel your future by directly paying down your student loans.

bold debit card rewards

Here's how you win:

  1. Unleash a points blitz: Earn 1 Bold Point* for every $2 spent across any category. Groceries, coffee, and clothes all add to the sweet points.
  2. Double tap that reward: Boost your points on specific purchases throughout the platform. Think of exclusive deals, partnerships, and targeted bonus opportunities.
  3. Conquer your loans with rewards: Redeem your Bold Points* for direct student loan payments. Cashback? If loan payments aren't your thing, cash out your Bold Points for extra spending wiggle room.
  4. No annual fees: Bold keeps it 100% free.
  5. Security: Sleep easy, knowing your funds are protected by uncompromising security measures and $250k FDIC insurance, as mentioned above.
  6. Direct deposit & easy transfers: Streamline your finances with seamless money movement options.

The Bold Debit Card is a revolution in student finance. Sign up today and unlock rewards that directly benefit your education. Your future self will thank you!

Apply for the Bold Debit Card today!

2. Alliant Credit Union Card

Alliant Credit Union, unlike traditional banks, is owned by its members. Credit Unions prioritize offering lower fees and better rates, directly benefiting a teen's financial experience. The teenage years are also about learning to manage finances responsibly. With Alliant Teen Checking, parents can empower their teens to become financial gurus while keeping things secure and simple.

Here's why Alliant Teen Checking can be a good fit:

  1. Ages 13-17 welcome: Teens can access real-world money management under safe guidance.
  2. Joint ownership: Parents can maintain ultimate control while fostering responsibility. Parents can also be an Alliant Member and transfer money anytime.
  3. No fees, no fuss: Say goodbye to hidden charges and surprise expenses.
  4. Mobile app: Teens can learn while on the go, tracking purchases, budgeting, and checking balances with ease.
  5. Widespread ATM access: Find fee-free ATMs with their 80,000+ network.
  6. Double the convenience: Both parent and teen get their own contactless Visa® debit card for quick and secure payments.
  7. Bonus interest potential: Opt into eStatements and regular deposits to earn a competitive interest rate, giving teens a taste of financial rewards.
  8. State-of-the-art security: Rest assured, knowing your account is protected by cutting-edge fraud prevention measures.

Learn specific and up-to-date information about the Alliant Credit Union Card on Alliant’s website.

3 Great Debit Cards For Teens: A Student’s Opinion |
Check out debit cards for teens designed to help with financial responsibility and learn to track spending limits.

3. Discover Cashback Debit Card

Here's why Discover’s Cashback Debit account can be a good fit:

  1. Cashback Rewards: Earn 1% cashback on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month, which could total up to $360 cashback annually.
  2. No Monthly Fees or Balance Requirements: Enjoy managing your finances without worrying about monthly service fees or minimum balance requirements.
  3. ATM Access: Access over 60,000 ATMs nationwide without any fees, adding convenience and can save you money on withdrawals.
  4. Online Bill Pay and Mobile Banking: Utilize Discover's easy-to-use mobile app to deposit checks, transfer money, pay bills, and manage your account.
  5. Enhanced Security: Benefit from Discover’s $0 Liability Guarantee, which protects you from unauthorized purchases, and enjoy additional security features like free early warning fraud alerts.

Learn more specific and up-to-date information about the Discover Student Cashback account on Discover’s website.

debit cards for students

Students: Mastering Money Matters

Choosing the right debit card and checking account is like picking your financial future. The wrong match leaves you vulnerable to surprise fees, impulsive swipes, and the dreaded overdraft fees. But the perfect duo empowers you to manage money, navigate the student bank account with ease, and even build credit for a brighter future.

Remember, the earlier you start your money account, the better! Start building healthy money habits now and watch your savings account blossom.

Budgeting 101: From Novice to Financial Ninja

You can earn rewards with every swipe while honing your money management skills.

Mastering your financial education and avoiding overdraft troubles while enjoying purchase protection with the right card isn't hard. From high school students to college seniors, if you start early in your journey to financial literacy, you can take charge of your finances one step at a time!

Step 1: Think of budgeting as your personal finance superpower and track your income and expenses for a month. You might be surprised where your money vanishes. You can download a budgeting app, use a notebook, or your spreadsheet. Taking control of your finances will set you up for success!

Step 2: Dreaming of a post-exam trip to Bali? or start somewhere small. Aim for achievable milestones like reducing daily lattes. Taking baby steps unlocks the key to saving money and also allows you to spend consciously, earn cash rewards with debit cards for students, and save money for your next fun experience.

Step 3: Allocate cash for different categories like food, rent, and fun! Once the cash is gone, that's it! You can create a student checking account with no monthly fee for college students that offers debit cards with spending limits. It's a surprisingly effective way to avoid temptations and learn to prioritize spending like a pro. Money skills will never make you need overdraft protection by creating habits to manage your spending limits.

Budgeting is different for everyone. It is important to consider your current financial situation and spending habits to determine the best budgeting option for you.

debit card rewards for students

Loyal Financial Friend: Your Bank Account Health Matters

Your bank account health is basically your financial report card. Responsible spending and timely payments earn you rewards like lower ATM fees and better debit card options. Building good bank account habits earlier rather than later is crucial for future financial freedom, so let's break down the basics:

Debit Card Types: Debit cards come in checking account debit cards and prepaid debit cards. Checking account debit cards are linked to your checking account, while prepaid debit cards require you to load money onto them beforehand. Both can help you budget and avoid overdraft fees, but prepaid debit cards may have more restrictions on what you can do with them.

Rewards vs. Non-Rewards: Cashback, sign-up bonuses, purchase rewards – the debit card reward world is out there! Choose a card that aligns with your lifestyle. Gamer? Go for a card that offers bonus points on spending. Coffee person? Maybe that 1% back on your debit card will make a difference at your favorite cafe. Remember, rewards are great but prioritize low fees and responsible spending first.

Always ensure sufficient funds are available. Always. This is the golden rule for debit card use. Insufficient funds can lead to declined transactions and potentially impact your banking relationship. If you’re able, set up automatic transfers from savings to ensure your account always has a buffer. Use calendar reminders or sticky notes wherever you'll see them often—perhaps on your computer or fridge—to help you keep track of your account balance regularly. If you're new to managing finances, consider adding a trusted adult as a co-owner to your account. This can provide an extra layer of oversight and help you manage your spending responsibly.

Remember, it’s important you research different debit cards and accounts to determine the best option for you. 

Debt: The Not-So-Friendly Burden

Student loans. Rent. That phone upgrade you still regret. Debt can feel like a mountain obscuring your finances, but here's the good news: it's not invincible.

Scholarships and Grants: Explore opportunities like those here at to lighten the loan burden. Applying for scholarships on our platform can be one of the best ways to pay your student loans and give yourself and your bank account a break.

Apply for scholarships now to reduce your college costs and deposit leftover funds!

Consolidate and Refinance: If you're juggling multiple loans with different interest rates, consider consolidating them into one loan with a lower rate. It can save you money in the long run and simplify your monthly payments. Keep in mind, though, that if you refinance federal student loans with a private lender (e.g., not the government), you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payments available to federal loans.

We recommend you consult a financial advisor to determine what's best for your unique situation and specific needs.

Explore Repayment Options: Not all loans are the same. Start by doing research on income-based repayment plans, public service loan forgiveness programs, and other options that might make your debt more manageable. Remember, knowledge is power, and using the right tools can help eliminate that debt mountain. It’s a good idea to speak with a financial advisor to figure out what works best for you.

Be ahead of the game: Make extra payments towards your smallest debt first. Once you conquer that one, you can use the extra cash to pay off your next debt, and so on.

Bonus Tip: You can also get debit cards, like the Bold Debit Card, to help you pay for school faster!

All of these tips can be helpful in managing your debt. It’s important that you examine your current situation to determine what’s right for you.

student checking

A Guide to Student Checking & Debit Cards

A Checking account is like your financial fortress, keeping your hard-earned money safe. You can make instant transfers, check your average daily balance, and instantly show your card transactions. On the other hand, Debit cards are the companions you carry in your wallet or phone, letting you spend that money instantly. They let you access your funds too quickly sometimes, and that’s why it is important to maintain good habits and pick the right debit card. 

When you open a checking account with a debit card, you're entering the world of money management.

So, first, decide if you want to set up overdraft protection. Some banks offer this safety net, but remember, it's not free! Compare fees and consider if it's worth it for your budget. Some of them charge up to $35 per card swipe. Even if you just buy some water!

So, if your checking account has free overdraft protection, it's already a win. But make sure to look for other con-features like monthly fees, overdraft fees, or minimum balance requirements.

debit card for a student

Set spending limits: Ask your bank how to set up notifications for card balances. This way, you will know you passed your budget before you cross the limit and avoid those bank fees like a pro.

Different Cards have Different Features: Not all checking accounts or debit cards are equal. Some offer rewards like cashback or discounts on your favorite store, while others keep things simple and fee-free. Starting your financial education as soon as possible will not let your loans and debt build up and take most of your salary when you finish school.

This short guide breaks down the different types of student checking accounts and debit cards to help you find the perfect financial duo for your needs.

Checking Accounts with Debit Cards

  • Traditional Banks: These banks offer checking accounts with debit cards for everyday purchases and ATM access. Remember to look for low or no monthly fees and overdraft protection options.
  • Online Banks: Digital-only banks often boast competitive interest rates, low fees, and convenient mobile apps for managing your account. Their debit cards typically offer features similar to traditional banks, with the added bonus of being tech-savvy!
  • Prepaid Cards: These "card-only" accounts provide a prepaid debit card for responsible spending. They're good for building budgeting skills and controlling impulse buys since you must continue adding cash. They might lack features like checks or direct deposit.

The Virtual Debit Cards

Some student checking accounts may not initially include a physical debit card, but you can still use it! Many student bank accounts also offer:

  • Virtual Debit Cards: These digital cards are perfect for online and mobile payments and add flexibility without the plastic bulk.
  • Later Card Add-on: Request a physical debit card anytime for added convenience, allowing you to transition seamlessly as your needs evolve.

Key Considerations

Remember, the perfect debit card should complement your lifestyle and spending habits. Here's what to keep in mind:

  • Fees: Compare monthly fees, overdraft fees, and ATM network charges. Look for accounts with no hidden costs to keep your funds safe.
  • Features: Different cards offer unique perks like cashback rewards, discounts at favorite stores, or student loan payment flexibility. Choose the features that align with your spending habits and goals.
  • Spending Limits: Set alerts and spending limits to stay on track and avoid overdraft drama. Remember, responsible spending is your financial superpower!
student debit card

Frequently Asked Questions About Debit Cards

What is the importance of choosing the right debit card as a student?

  • Mastering Your Money: The right debit card can be your budget manager, helping you track spending, avoid fees, and even build credit for the future.
  • Saving vs. Spending: Earn rewards on everyday purchases, like coffee or clothes, with some student debit cards, giving you more freedom for those weekend adventures.
  • Avoiding Financial Traps: Opt for a card with no fees and overdraft protection if you're uncomfortable with the potential charges.

What are some tips for budgeting as a student?

  • Track your spending: Download a budgeting app, use a spreadsheet or a plain notebook. Knowing where your money goes is the first step to taking control.
  • Set realistic goals: Aim for small milestones like reducing daily coffees or setting aside a weekly "fun fund." Celebrating small wins keeps you motivated. Reward yourself.
  • Prioritize needs over wants: Allocate funds for rent, food, and bills first. Once those are covered, the rest is yours to play with!

How to choose a student debit card?

  • Fees: Compare monthly fees, ATM charges, and overdraft protection costs. Look for fee options!
  • Features: Some cards offer cashback, discounts at specific stores, or even built-in budgeting tools. Choose one that aligns with your spending habits.
  • Spending limits: Set alerts and limits to stay on track and avoid overdraft fees.

Invest in your financial future, choose wisely, and get ready to put into practice your money management tools with the Bold Debit Card alongside access to thousands of scholarships! Visa® Debit Card is a demand deposit account provided by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC. Visa Debit Card is issued by Pathward, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Card can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa U.S.A. Inc. All other trademarks and service marks belong to their respective owners. Register your Card for FDIC insurance eligibility and other protections.

No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article.

*This product or service is independent of Pathward® and Visa and is neither endorsed nor sponsored by Pathward® or Visa.

**Funds are FDIC insured, subject to applicable limitations and restrictions, once Pathward receives the funds deposited to your account.

†The features associated with the Bold Debit Card discussed in this blog post are provided by and are not affiliated with our Bank partners, Pathward®, or Visa.

Jaeme Velez
Content Writer

About Jaeme

Jaeme Velez is an exceptionally dynamic writer, researcher, and avid enthusiast for science and technology. He brings a deep understanding of securing scholarships, obtaining student loans, and navigating the transition from community college to university.

As a first-generation college student, Jaeme began pursuing the dramatic arts and made a significant transition to pursuing academic studies at L.A. Valley College, focusing on Communication and English. He graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Creative Writing at Columbia University in the city of New York. His academic excellence has been recognized through the Casdin Family Scholarship Award and his membership in the Columbia University Honor Society.

Jaeme's academic path is marked by a profound passion for literature and storytelling, particularly in exploring the confluence of diverse cultures and languages while addressing social disparities. Alongside his literary interests, Jaeme maintains a keen curiosity for science and technology, actively engaging in research and projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Design, and human-computer interaction.


Balancing work and full-time studies as a first-generation college student has endowed Jaeme with a wealth of experience and insights. In his role as a Content Writer at, Jaeme shares invaluable wisdom and advice, drawing from his personal journey to provide the guidance he wishes he had received at the start of his academic journey. 

His work is fueled by the desire to equip the next generations of students with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate their unique academic paths. From financial literacy to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Jaeme strives to contribute to the ongoing discourse on education and support the next generations of scholars, regardless of their age, background, or current stage in life, as they traverse the complexities of higher learning.

Since joining the team in 2023 as a Content Writer, Jaeme has employed his distinctive background as a first-generation student alongside his familiarity with scholarships and student loans to guide students through the intricacies of academic life, emphasizing that every student's journey is distinct and worthy of recognition. 

Through his writing and advocacy, Jaeme leverages his personal and professional experiences to provide comprehensive support to students. He is dedicated to empowering students and addressing the challenges they encounter in their pursuit of higher education. 

Quote from Jaeme

“Who is the person? What's their problem? Do your research. Offer solutions.”

Check out our Editorial Policy
Help Fight Student Debt
Share this article with your friends