5 Things to Know About the Ambition Credit Card

The Ambition Mastercard from College Ave is a low-cost secured credit card designed for students who want to build credit. Issued by Evolve Bank & Trust, it doesn’t charge interest — which could be helpful for those tempted to overspend — and there’s no hard credit check required. But you will eventually be assessed a monthly fee.

That fee is manageable, and the required security deposit is low. But it’s worth keeping in mind that other credit cards for students require neither an upfront deposit nor a monthly fee (although they will charge interest if you carry a balance).

As you get started with credit, the better option for you will depend on your goals and potential habits.

Here’s what to know about the Ambition credit card.

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If you’re approved for the Ambition Mastercard, you don’t have to wait for the physical card to arrive in the mail to make a purchase. You may use it instantly after approval through a digital wallet like Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

1. You can get it with a low deposit, no credit check

When you’re on a student budget, a card with a low security deposit requirement can be one less roadblock on the path to building credit. The Ambition Mastercard requires a minimum deposit of $50 to open the account. For comparison, traditional secured credit cards typically require deposits between $200 and $300.

But as with other secured cards, your deposit sets your credit limit, so if you want more spending power, you’ll have to add more money.

To be eligible for the Ambition credit card, you must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and a student. But notably, you don’t need a credit history, nor will there be a credit check.

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As with most credit card applications, you’ll also need to provide a Social Security number to qualify. If you don’t have one, you could consider the Neu Card. Like the Ambition credit card, it charges a monthly fee, but you won’t pay interest or other fees.

2. There’s no APR or late fees

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The Ambition Mastercard doesn’t charge interest or late fees because you can’t carry a balance from one month to the next. You’re required to pay off the balance each month. If you don’t do so, the funds are automatically withdrawn from your secured deposit account, then, you’ll have to remember to add funds back to that account to use the card again.

While such built-in safeguards can help prevent you from overspending or getting into debt, be aware that they won’t prepare you for managing more traditional credit cards when you’re ready to graduate to one with better features and benefits. (And since there’s no upgrade path with the Ambition Mastercard, you’ll have to go to another issuer when you’re ready to move on.)

If you prefer a more traditional credit card for beginners, consider the $0-annual-fee Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card. It doesn’t require a security deposit, and it offers 1.5% cash back on purchases. There’s also a sign-up offer: Earn $50 when you spend $100 in the first three months. Yes, you can incur interest charges with it, but — as with any credit card — you don’t owe any interest if you pay your monthly bill in full and on time. And unlike the Ambition credit card, you may eventually have the option to product change to a different card within Capital One’s portfolio.

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If you’re planning to study abroad, consider an alternative payment method. The Ambition Mastercard charges a foreign transaction fee of 3% when you make purchases in another country.

3. There’s a low monthly fee

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A $2 monthly fee ($24 annually) will begin to apply after the first six months. That’s on the low side, but plenty of student credit cards charge no such monthly or annual fees.

For example, the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Student Chrome, which doesn’t require a security deposit, earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases.

If you can qualify for an option like this and pay off the balance in full every month to avoid interest charges, it’s possible to build credit at no cost.

4. Rewards fall short compared with other options

The Ambition credit card earns the following rewards:

  • 1.25% cash back on streaming services: Purchases that qualify include those made through Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Apple TV+, Max, HBO, Hulu, iHeartRadio, Netflix, Pandora, Prime Video, SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite, Spotify, YouTube Music Premium, YouTube Premium and YouTube TV.

  • 1.25% cash back on food deliveries: Eligible purchases include those made through UberEats, Postmates, DoorDash/Caviar, GrubHub, Instacart and GoPuff. 

  • 1.25% cash back on rideshare services: Purchases that qualify are those made with Uber, Lyft, taxicabs and limousines.

  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases: Everything else earns 0.75% less than the other rewards categories.  

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
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That’s not bad, and when you’re working on building credit, rewards aren’t necessarily the priority anyway. But you can do better.

With a card like the $0-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card, you could get 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, streaming services, and purchases at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target). Other purchases earn 1% back.

A security deposit isn’t required, and there’s a sign-up offer: Earn $50 when you spend $100 in the first three months.

5. Payments are reported to major credit bureaus

As a credit beginner, it’s important to have a credit card that reports payments to these companies because they record the information used to calculate your credit scores.

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