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How to choose the best* student credit card

Build your credit while you study and earn rewards to redeem for travel, merchandise, statement credit and more.

Student credit cards typically come with no annual fee and some offer low interest rates for students struggling to pay down their balance on time every month. Plus, many cards offer either cash back or rewards points which you can redeem for statement credit, gift cards, merchandise, travel and more.

*How we chose the best student cards

We’ve chosen the cards on this page based on the providers available through Finder. These cards are not representative of the entire market. We’ve narrowed down our top picks by considering the value of rewards points or cash back, annual fees, interest rates, introductory offers and additional card benefits.

No single student credit card will be the best choice for everyone, so compare your options before picking your new card.

Best for students with no credit history: Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

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If you’ve got no credit history and are looking for a rewards card with a $0 annual fee, the Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card is worth taking a look at – especially if you’re a big movie buff. Earn 5 SCENE points per $1 spent at participating Cineplex theatres or cineplex.com, and earn 1 SCENE point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere. Redeem your SCENE points for movie tickets or take advantage of discounts at participating restaurants.

Pay $0 to add a Supplemental Cardholder to your account. As an added incentive, the Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card offers a appealing signup bonus. Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points when you spend a minimum of $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months as a new SCENE Visa cardholder.Apply by July 1, 2021.

Best for earning cash back: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

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Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else. Categories include groceries, restaurants, hotels, gas, recurring bill payments, drug store, home improvement and entertainment.
Please note: All information about TD Rewards Visa Card has been collected independently by Finder and this card is not available through this site.

Best for earning rewards points: TD Rewards Visa Card

TD Rewards Visa Card

Even though the TD Rewards Visa Card is fairly basic, it does come with a $0 annual fee and a rewards program that lets you redeem points for gift cards, merchandise, travel or even to pay down your card balance. Earn 3 TD Rewards Points per $1 spent on online travel bookings via ExpediaForTD.com, 2 TD Rewards Points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, restaurant and fast food purchases and regularly recurring bill payments, and 1 TD Rewards Point for every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.

Looking for a card that the whole family can use? Not to worry – get additional cards for up to 3 authorized account users, and pay $0 per card. As an added benefit,

Best for signup offer: BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students

BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students

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The BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students offers a $0 annual fee, the chance to earn cash back on your purchases and a competitive balance transfer offer. Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases. Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months, with a 1% fee for every transferred balance. Plus, new cardholders can take advantage of an appealing signup bonus.

Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to a maximum spend of $2,000, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Cardholders can also enjoy car rental perks, Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty benefits.

What is a student card?

Student credit cards are low-cost cards designed to help students begin to build a credit history. These cards often come with no annual fee, a lower credit limit and fewer rewards than a typical credit card. Features between cards will vary, with some student cards offering a low interest rate on unpaid balances while others provide discounts for movies, dining or shopping. Most come with basic insurance like purchase protection and extended warranty, but won’t offer added benefits like travel insurance.

Rewards across student cards vary, which means you can often choose between earning cash back or rewards points that you can use to pay down your balance, travel, shop, earn gift cards and more.

Features of student credit cards

  • No annual fee. You won’t usually pay an annual fee for a student card. If the card comes with an annual fee, it will typically be under $40.00.
  • Low credit limit. Credit limits are usually much lower than with a typical card.
  • Fewer rewards. Many student cards offer only a fraction of the points or cash back on purchases, while others offer zero rewards.
  • Lower interest. Some cards offer a low purchase and cash advance interest rate – a helpful benefit if you’re struggling to pay off your balance in full each month.
  • Basic benefits. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a student card that offers anything more than purchase protection and extended warranty coverage.

How to choose the best student card for you

  • Compare your options. Compare top brands and look for a card that gives the right combination of benefits for the lowest fee.
  • Aim for no annual fee and low interest. Search for a card that charges no annual fee and, if possible, an interest rate below the standard 18–20% APR.
  • Search for a decent return on rewards. Some cards offer more points or cash back per $1 spent than others. You’ll also eat to take a look at the rewards program conversion rate – not all programs are created equally and some points are more valuable than others.
  • Ask about student incentives. Find out if you’ll receive any benefits specifically geared towards students like shopping, entertainment or dining discounts.

Tips for earning reward points

  • Pay an annual fee. You’ll typically get a much higher return on your rewards points if you pay an annual fee. A mid-range fee is around $40 to $99 per year.
  • Search for a signup bonus. Some cards offer a signup bonus when you apply for the card, which entitles you to bonus points or a higher rate of cash back. You’ll usually need to spend over a certain amount in your first few months to receive the signup bonus.
  • Take advantage of referral programs. You might be able to lock in extra rewards by pointing other students towards your credit card.
  • Look for accelerated rewards. Earn more points or cash back when you sign up for a card that offers you a higher return on certain categories of purchases (like gas, groceries, dining or entertainment).
  • Pay your tuition on your credit card. If you’re one of the lucky ones and your institution allows it, you can earn extra points by paying your tuition on your card. Just be sure to pay the balance off immediately with savings or your student loan.

What to watch out for

  • No rewards. Don’t settle for a student card that offers zero rewards when you should be able to get at least a 1% return.
  • Expiration dates. Keep an eye on the expiration dates for rewards because they’re often no longer valid after a certain time period.
  • Caps on rewards. Watch out for caps on rewards and avoid providers that try to limit how much you can earn.
  • Excluded purchases. Some providers don’t offer rewards on certain purchases, like bill payments and cash advance transactions, so it pays to look into what’s covered and what isn’t.

Compare student credit cards

Compare the features and earn rates of student credit cards below.

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
800 Miles
1 Mile per $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Balance transfer offer
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 680
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card
2,500 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points when you spend a minimum of $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months as a new SCENE Visa cardholder. Apply by July 1, 2021.
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months (with a 1% transfer fee).
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Compare up to 4 providers

Students looking for a solid way to earn rewards and build up their credit history are most likely to benefit from a student credit card. These cards tend to be pretty basic and usually come with low or no annual fees and basic rewards programs. Your best bet is to search for a low-cost card with a signup offer, a decent return on rewards and basic insurance coverage.

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