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How to successfully apply for a student credit card

Start building your credit history from the get-go with a student credit card.

Student credit cards can be a great entrance into the world of credit. While paying on plastic gives a sense of financial freedom, this liberty comes with lots of responsibility. You’ll want to make sure that you’re able to pay off your balance in full each month, and one way to do this is to stick to a low monthly credit limit.

If you think you’re ready to apply for a student credit card, learn how to compare cards and find out how you can successfully apply online.

Compare student credit cards

1 - 5 of 5
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 15% cash back (up to $150) when you spend $1,000 in the first 2 months Until December 29, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
BMO Rewards Mastercard
10,000 points
Up to 1 points per $1 spent
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, get a rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 2% fee applies to transferred balances.
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card
10,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn up to 10,000 bonus Scene+ points. Earn 5,000 Scene+ points when you spend $750 in the first 3 months, and earn 5,000 points when you spend at least $5,000 in your first year. Apply by April 30, 2023.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to max. spend of $2,500).

Compare up to 4 providers

What is the purpose of a student credit card?

A student credit card can help with the following:

  • Provide an easy and safe way to make purchases in person, over the phone and online.
  • Offer simple repayment options.
  • Help cultivate financial discipline.
  • Allow you to work on building your credit score.
  • Provide access to rewards and benefits.

What factors should I consider when comparing student credit cards?

  • Fees. Typically, the more basic the card, the lower the annual fee. As you start to add in better rewards and perks, the annual fees start increasing. You’ll want to avoid an annual fee if you aren’t going to actively use the rewards a card offers.
  • Interest rates. Typical interest rates sit around 19.99%, however, it’s easy to find a low interest rate credit card. If you think you’ll be unable to pay off your balance in full some months, a low rate card could be a handy sidekick.
  • Extra features. If you’re planning on travelling in the near future, you can look at cards offering complimentary travel insurance coverage. Other features like purchase protection and extended warranty are also useful features.
  • Rewards. Some card companies also provide reward points or cash back on eligible purchases. It’s possible to find a no annual fee card that offers cash back or rewards points.
  • Credit history. Student credit cards are often the first introduction to a line of credit. However, if you’ve used other credit products in the past and need to work on your credit score, consider applying for a secured card to rebuild your credit.
  • Managing your account. Your credit card should have an easy online management system where you can quickly access your statements, expenses, limits, interest rates, fees – and find out about any news or offers.

What information will I need when applying?

While the details can differ between credit card providers, some of the most common information required includes:

  • Personal details. Your full name, date of birth, address, email and Social Insurance Number (SIN).
  • Student details. Information about your university or college, program, current year and student ID.
  • Financial details. Your income, expenses, assets and liabilities may be required.

How can I apply?

The application process can vary between credit card providers, however the general process for applying for a credit card is:

  • Do your research. The first step should always include doing thorough research to find the right credit card for your needs. Compare a variety of different credit cards to get an idea of the various benefits and features of each card.
  • Decide on a card. After comparing cards, pick a card which is most suitable for your needs. Check the eligibility criteria for the card and make sure you meet the requirements before you apply.
  • Applying online. Fill out the online application form for the specific credit card, which usually takes around 10 minutes if you have all the necessary details on hand. Make sure that all the information is correct and then submit the form. You may get an almost immediate response indicating whether your application is successful or not. Other providers may require more information or some time to decide whether to approve your application or not.
  • Wait for approval. The final verification of details and other documents can take around three to five business days. Once your application is verified, the credit card provider will contact you. If you’ve been approved, you should usually expect to receive your card in the mail within seven to 10 days.
Did you know?

Credit card providers will look at your credit history while processing your application – and a major aspect of past credit history includes recent credit applications. If you’ve applied for multiple credit cards at once or been rejected for applications recently, it will reflect poorly on your credit rating and can raise red flags for a provider. It’s important to conduct research to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements before applying for a new credit card.

Bottom line

Student credit cards can be an excellent way to learn how to responsibly manage money while building your credit score. Generally, student cards have a lower fee structure because of the limited repayment capacity of students. If you use the credit card responsibly – by only making necessary purchases and paying your bill in full each month – you could start building a good credit history which will benefit you later in life.

Since there are many student credit cards on the market, it’s best to compare your options to find the right credit card for your needs.

Find out more about student credit cards

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