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Deserve Edu Review: A Credit Steppingstone for Students

Oct. 3, 2018
Credit Cards, Student Credit Cards
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If you’re a student and you lack a credit history, credit card issuers might be unlikely to approve you without a security deposit. If you’re an international student, getting a credit card can be even harder because you may lack the Social Security number that a credit card application typically requires.

The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students offers a gateway to credit for some applicants by removing the credit history and security deposit requirements for all students. For international students, it also waives the Social Security number requirement.

Nerd tip

If you’re a working professional, you might be interested in a different credit card from this issuer: the Deserve® Pro Mastercard. Visit our review of that credit card for more information.

Along with eliminating these roadblocks, the card also offers cash back and other incentives, a rare option for people without a credit history.

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Apply Now on Deserve's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 630
    Average - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with limited credit
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee


    • High APR

    Annual Fees



    • Purchase: 20.49%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 20.49%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases
    • Deserve will pay for Amazon Prime Student, get free Video, Music, and Reading (Up to a lifetime total of $59)
    • Up to a $5,000 credit line
    • $0 annual fee
    • No security deposit or co-signer required (No SSN required for international students)
    • Builds credit history
    • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted with no foreign transaction fees
    • Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Cellphone Protection, Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver, ID Theft Protection, Price Protection, and more

»MORE: Alternative lenders offer credit cards for newcomers to U.S.

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students: Basics and benefits

The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students launched in October 2017 as part of the issuer’s rebranding, replacing the SelfScore Achieve credit card. The new card offers many of the same benefits, but it’s available to all students. The SelfScore Achieve card initially was available only to international students and students at certain schools.

Although Deserve removes some obstacles to credit for many students, by law all applicants under 21 must prove they can pay their bill on their own. Like many other issuers, Deserve doesn’t allow co-signers.

Cardholders can expect:

  • An annual fee of $0
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No security deposit
  • The ongoing APR is 20.49% Variable
  • A credit limit of up to $5,000
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases
  • A report to two credit bureaus, TransUnion and Experian
  • Statement credit for a 12-month Amazon Prime Student subscription
  • Referral bonuses
  • A waiver for the first late fee
  • Mastercard Platinum benefits

Where the Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students shines

With this card, you can:

Apply with no credit history. If you have a credit report, Deserve will screen it for delinquencies or negative issues. But if you don’t have a credit history, Deserve uses its own underwriting process to approve or deny your application. It relies on applicants’ financial documents and a proprietary algorithm to measure their credit potential. It evaluates school, major and likelihood to graduate and get a job. The company also looks at U.S. bank account balances to determine your ability to pay. Your contact information — physical address, email address and phone number — is also a factor. Deserve looks at how that information has changed over the years to determine whether it can reach you easily.

Potentially apply with no Social Security number. International students don’t need a Social Security number to apply, but they will have to provide a student visa, passport ID and school documents such as an I-20 form or DS 2019. Domestic students generally have a Social Security number, and they will have to include it in their applications.

Establish a credit history. The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students reports to two of the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion and Experian. These companies gather the information used to calculate credit scores. They record your payment history, so paying on time can help you build a good credit score.

Save money on fees. The annual fee is $0, and you won’t pay foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad. That’s extra money to put toward late-night food and coffee during midterms or finals. The first late fee is waived, saving you $25 if you slip up while you’re getting the hang of this credit thing. The card also doesn’t require an upfront security deposit for collateral.

Earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases. One percent cash back is low, but it’s a reasonable rate for someone with no credit history. Once your cash-back total reaches $25, it’s redeemed automatically for statement credit if your account is in good standing. Rewards won’t expire as long as your card is active.

Get 12 months of Amazon Prime Student. Enjoy free two-day shipping, access to Prime movies and TV, and more. New subscribers already can get a six-month free trial, and Deserve covers an additional 12 months in the form of a $49.99 statement credit when you use the card to buy the subscription. Your account must be in good standing to get reimbursed.

Earn bonuses for referring friends. Get $30 in statement credit every time you refer a friend who qualifies for the card. Your friend also gets $30 for joining. There’s no limit to the number of friends you can refer. You also get a $200 bonus for every 10th referral.

Enjoy Mastercard Platinum benefits. Benefits include price protection, extended warranty coverage, travel assistance and car rental collision waivers.

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students: Pitfalls and other possibilities

The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students can be an appealing choice for certain applicants, but there are a couple of drawbacks to consider:

  • No cash advances. Not having access to cash advances will save you money in fees and interest, which often run high for this feature. If you’re low on cash, though, it’s an option you might miss.
  • Also, while the Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students is an excellent starter card for people with no credit history, you might qualify for a traditional student credit card if you have at least some established credit and a Social Security number. In that case, you might find better options, especially if you’re seeking:


The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students offers an introductory annual percentage rate of 0% on Purchases for 7 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 26.49% Variable APR. The card also earns 2 ThankYou points per $1 spent on dining at restaurants and entertainment, and 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on everything else. The card has a $0 annual fee.


Discover it® Student Cash Back offers 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter and 1% on all other spending. There is a $0 annual fee. It offers an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.99% Variable APR. At the end of the first year, Discover matches all cash back earned dollar for dollar. You also earn a good grade reward as a $20 statement credit every school year that your grade point average is 3.0 or higher, for up to the next five years. The rewards are attractive, but Discover’s limited acceptance abroad might be a deal breaker.

These student credit cards will require a traditional credit check. If you have bad credit or no credit, you may find it hard to get approved. Secured credit cards may also be an option, but unlike the Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students, those cards will require a security deposit.

Is the Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students right for you?

If you’re a student looking to establish credit, the Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students may clear some obstacles from your path while also earning you cash-back rewards, a rare opportunity when you have no credit record. Just try to avoid carrying ongoing balances so interest charges don’t pile up, and make all of your payments on time.

After graduation, you can continue using the card and possibly get upgraded to the Deserve Pro credit card, which offers more rewards. You’ll also get to preserve the length of your credit history, an important factor in your credit history.

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