PhD students looking for credit cards baffle banks

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For quite a while now I have been on the hunt for a credit card simply for the purposes of improving my credit score and extra security. I am a PhD student at the University of Manchester and I have been unsure how this might affect my eligibility for a credit card. Well, after a very interesing interaction with Santander today I have been told that it would be best to wait until I have finished my PhD before further pursuing a credit card. I specifically went for an appointment with my local branch to apply for a credit card. The person who held the appointment said I meet all of the criteria (which all online eligbility questionaires aslo agree with), however the application was quickly declined. Following an appeal I finally got a defnitive answer explaining their reasoning. Basically, the non-taxable stipend that PhD students are paid completley baffles banks and places PhD students firmly in a gray area. For instance, I got told that in the eyes of Santander I am unemployed due to this. This is not a fault on the bank or any staff but it is an unfortunate situation. I think more communication between academic/government institutions (e.g. I am funded by the BBSRC) and banks is needed to illuminate this gray area and allow banks to make more informed decisions on providing PhD students with credit cards. 

If you are a PhD student please let me know if you have had any luck in getting a credit card anywhere else? 

I going to give getting a credit card a rest until the end of my PhD but any other advice regarding this situation is welcome. 

All the best, 
Jacob
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Comments

  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 10,457 Forumite
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    I would guess that it's the same thing as with people working on a contract.  There's no long term assurance of an ability to pay.  I've known people who flit from contract to contract every 6 - 12 months and even if they are earning into 6 figures they can sometimes have problems due to not having a permanent job.  

    I think you are right in leaving the cards alone for now.  Maybe look at mobile phone contract, making sure you're registered to vote, have your name on some bills of some sort.  

    good luck with your studies and I hope they lead to interesting employment eventually!
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 35,242 Forumite
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    I going to give getting a credit card a rest until the end of my PhD but any other advice regarding this situation is welcome. 

    You'll be best suited to looking at a sub prime provider, where the risk is more carefully managed. The limit will be low and the APR high, but that doesn't matter because you'll clear in full every month.

    Remember also that you're not looking to improve your credit score, but to build some good credit history.  Don't confuse the two of you'll be tempted to make poor decisions.

  • in_my_wellies
    in_my_wellies Posts: 1,650 Forumite
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    I just checked and my children had CC via Tesco Bank but they have closed now. My youngest son was paid to lock up the lab four evenings a week and this counted as a 'job' which enabled him to open a Santander CC 

    Love living in a village in the country side
  • Jacob271995
    Jacob271995 Posts: 4 Newbie
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    edited 17 August 2022 at 6:40PM
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    I going to give getting a credit card a rest until the end of my PhD but any other advice regarding this situation is welcome. 

    You'll be best suited to looking at a sub prime provider, where the risk is more carefully managed. The limit will be low and the APR high, but that doesn't matter because you'll clear in full every month.

    Remember also that you're not looking to improve your credit score, but to build some good credit history.  Don't confuse the two of you'll be tempted to make poor decisions.

    Yes, I should have been more clear. My credit score is pretty good but I need to build up a credit history. I am registered to vote, pay off my phone contract, and in my flat my name is on the bills, so hopefully it won't sting me too much in the future. However, I am a bit worried as I might be in a position to start looking at the housing market at the end of my PhD (due to my lifetime ISA) and my lack of credit history might limit my options. I guess I will cross that bridge when we get to it. 
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 10,457 Forumite
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    I agree with the idea of applying (maybe in a few months?) for a sub prime card and hopefully working your way up from there.  Put some of your essential spending (groceries? petrol? oyster card?) on it every month and pay off in full each time.  
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • WillPS
    WillPS Posts: 3,581 Forumite
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    It used to be the case that pretty much every bank which offered a student current also offered a student credit card, but it now seems TSB is the only one:
    Student Credit Card | Credit Card | TSB Bank

    If I were you, I'd get a TSB Student Account open and then apply for one toward the end of the year. If accepted, this would have the advantage of being a 'prime' lender on your credit file.
  • cymruchris
    cymruchris Posts: 5,322 Forumite
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    Would the HSBC Student credit card with a modest £500 limit be useful? The only requirements appear to be being over 18 and a UK resident with a HSBC student account. Might be worth opening the student current account to get the credit card?

    https://www.hsbc.co.uk/credit-cards/products/student/
    An ex-bankrupt on a journey of recovery. Feel free to send me a DM reference credit building credit cards from the usual suspects :) Happy to help others going through what I've been through!
  • AmberDepp
    AmberDepp Posts: 31 Forumite
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    For quite a while now I have been on the hunt for a credit card simply for the purposes of improving my credit score and extra security. I am a PhD student at the University of Manchester and I have been unsure how this might affect my eligibility for a credit card. Well, after a very interesing interaction with Santander today I have been told that it would be best to wait until I have finished my PhD before further pursuing a credit card. I specifically went for an appointment with my local branch to apply for a credit card. The person who held the appointment said I meet all of the criteria (which all online eligbility questionaires aslo agree with), however the application was quickly declined. Following an appeal I finally got a defnitive answer explaining their reasoning. Basically, the non-taxable stipend that PhD students are paid completley baffles banks and places PhD students firmly in a gray area. For instance, I got told that in the eyes of Santander I am unemployed due to this. This is not a fault on the bank or any staff but it is an unfortunate situation. I think more communication between academic/government institutions (e.g. I am funded by the BBSRC) and banks is needed to illuminate this gray area and allow banks to make more informed decisions on providing PhD students with credit cards. 

    If you are a PhD student please let me know if you have had any luck in getting a credit card anywhere else? 

    I going to give getting a credit card a rest until the end of my PhD but any other advice regarding this situation is welcome. 

    All the best, 
    Jacob
    Your "income" is below NMW which is why they won't touch you with a bargepole.
  • JIL
    JIL Posts: 8,708 Forumite
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    edited 6 August 2022 at 1:55AM
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    AmberDepp said:
    For quite a while now I have been on the hunt for a credit card simply for the purposes of improving my credit score and extra security. I am a PhD student at the University of Manchester and I have been unsure how this might affect my eligibility for a credit card. Well, after a very interesing interaction with Santander today I have been told that it would be best to wait until I have finished my PhD before further pursuing a credit card. I specifically went for an appointment with my local branch to apply for a credit card. The person who held the appointment said I meet all of the criteria (which all online eligbility questionaires aslo agree with), however the application was quickly declined. Following an appeal I finally got a defnitive answer explaining their reasoning. Basically, the non-taxable stipend that PhD students are paid completley baffles banks and places PhD students firmly in a gray area. For instance, I got told that in the eyes of Santander I am unemployed due to this. This is not a fault on the bank or any staff but it is an unfortunate situation. I think more communication between academic/government institutions (e.g. I am funded by the BBSRC) and banks is needed to illuminate this gray area and allow banks to make more informed decisions on providing PhD students with credit cards. 

    If you are a PhD student please let me know if you have had any luck in getting a credit card anywhere else? 

    I going to give getting a credit card a rest until the end of my PhD but any other advice regarding this situation is welcome. 

    All the best, 
    Jacob
    Your "income" is below NMW which is why they won't touch you with a bargepole.
    How do you work that out?

    As I understand it the grant is £15,000 to £18,000 per year. No tax is payable. So a net income of up to £1500 per month. 

    It's not repayable and a PhD should lead to a future higher income, just the type of customers that finance sectors would want to encourage. 
  • Chino
    Chino Posts: 2,029 Forumite
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    JIL said:
    and a PhD should lead to a future higher income, just the type of customers that finance sectors would want to encourage.
    Being an expert in some obscure field of knowledge that no one else cares about might not make a candidate as attractive to potential employers as you might expect.
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