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The best travel credit cards for students

Pay for everyday expenses with these travel credit cards for students, and get rewards to put towards your next vacation or study abroad term.

There are plenty of reasons to travel as a student, from study-abroad programs to vacations with friends. However, you’ll need to spend money along the way, which means getting a travel credit card can be wise.

In this guide, we’ll give you the scoop on the best travel credit cards for students — and how to pick the right one.

*Disclaimer: How we chose the best travel credit cards for students

We’ve chosen the cards on this page based on the providers available through Finder. These cards are not representative of the entire market. Our top travel credit cards for students offer perks including rewards, travel insurance coverage, signup bonuses and special deals on hotels, flights or car rentals. We’ve also considered annual fees and eligibility requirements.

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

Our best overall pick: Scotiabank American Express Card

Scotiabank American Express Card

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For a card with a $0 annual fee, the Scotiabank American Express Card offers great value like the opportunity to earn points that can be redeemed for thousands of rewards through the Scene+ points program. Earn 1 Scene+ point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases.

Most items purchased with this card are eligible for Price Protection as well as Purchase Security and Extended Warranty Protection.

Cardholders also get travel perks.

Best for AIR MILES collectors: BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students

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Travel miles collectors will enjoy the opportunity to earn 1X the AIR MILES with the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students. Get 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $25 spent elsewhere.

In addition to a $0 annual fee, this card offers a signup bonus for new cardholders. Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).

Best for comprehensive travel perks: Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

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With a fresh new look, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a powerful everyday credit card as well as a strong travel companion. Book and redeem any flight for any time through Scotia Rewards Travel Service, a full-service travel agency. Plus, take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare. Enjoy peace of mind with a broad array of travel insurance options including Emergency Medical (up to $1,000,000), Travel Accident, Trip Cancellation and Interruption, Flight Delay, Delayed or Lost Baggage and Rental Car Collision Loss/Damage.

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Pros and cons of travel credit cards for students

  • You’ll often pay no foreign transaction fees.
  • If your card offers points, you can usually redeem them for a variety of uses.
  • These cards are often great for everyday purchases too.
  • There aren’t many student cards intentionally geared toward travel.
  • Accelerated rewards specifically for travel are uncommon among student cards.

Is a travel credit card right for me?

A travel credit card might be especially useful if:

  • You want to save your rewards for travel. Offsetting your trip cost with rewards can lessen the strain on your budget.
  • You’re taking a trip abroad. Look for a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • You want to pay less interest on your trip. Traveling can be expensive, which means you might not have the funds to pay for it up front. With great caution, you can leverage an intro APR to finance your trip.

How to choose travel credit card for students

  • Ditch the annual fees.
    Plenty of great student cards don’t have annual fees.
  • Check the rewards you’ll earn.
    Many of the best student cards offer some type of rewards on your purchases. For example, you might earn 1% cash back per dollar you spend on your card. You might earn points instead, redeemable for travel purchases.
  • Avoid foreign transaction fees.
    These are fees you incur when you use your card abroad or on international websites. Typically, this comes out to 2.5% of each transaction, which can quickly add up with many purchases.
  • Consider the card network.
    Visa and Mastercard are valid virtually anywhere credit cards are accepted. While you’ll find merchants abroad that take Discover and American Express, these networks lag behind in worldwide acceptance.
  • An intro APR might help.
    If you’re very careful about paying off your card bill, an intro APR can help you finance your trip interest-free.

For example, your card might offer a 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months. You can use your card to buy a $450 plane ticket, then slowly pay it off over the next 9 months before your intro APR expires. If you do, then you won’t accrue any interest.

Compare travel credit cards for students

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
40,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $400 towards travel) and no annual fee in the first year, including supplementary cards. Plus, get a 0.00% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (A 1% balance transfer fee applies). Apply by January 1, 2022.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
800 Miles
1 Mile per $25 spent
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
Scotiabank American Express Card
5,000 points
1 point per $1 spent
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5,000 bonus Scene+ points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Apply by February 28, 2022.
American Express Cobalt Card
50,000 points
Up to 5x points per $1 spent
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your card (up to 30,000 points). Plus, earn a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.

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Be careful with intro APRs

Having an intro purchase APR can feel great: During a period of time, you’ll accrue no interest on what you buy. But every intro APR ends at some point, and cardholders who don’t pay off their balances by then often spiral into debt.

If you’re new to credit cards, now’s a great time to build strong financial habits. Consider this advice: If you take advantage of an intro APR, do everything in your power to pay off your balance completely before your special interest rate expires.

Bottom line

With the right credit card, you can earn rewards while seeing the world. Stay out of debt while watching your credit score, and you can eventually upgrade to more-powerful travel cards.

If the cards mentioned don’t seem right for you, compare more student cards until you find one that meets your financial and travel needs.

Frequently asked questions

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