Search
  1. Home
  2. Credit cards
  3. Canada’s 9 Best Student Credit Cards of 2021
Published October 22, 2021
Updated October 22, 2021

Canada’s 9 Best Student Credit Cards of 2021

The best student credit cards in Canada have low fees and interest rates while still providing some perks and strengthening your credit profile.

ALSO CONSIDER: Best credit cards || Best travel credit cards || Best cash back credit cards || Best general rewards credit cards || Best no-fee credit cards

Student credit cards can help build your credit profile, enhance your money management skills and provide some financial flexibility. The best student cards, like the ones on this list, come with low or no annual fees, charge reasonable interest rates, and may even provide you with perks and rewards in exchange for responsible spending.

NerdWallet’s picks for the best student credit cards in Canada

 

American Express Essential Credit Card

Our pick for a no-fee, low-interest starter card

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rate
12.99%
12.99% on purchases and funds advances.
Intro Offer
N/A
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    No annual fee and a 12.99% interest rate make the Amex Essential credit card a solid option if you might carry a balance.

    Pros

    • The 12.99% interest rate also applies to cash advances. Plus, it’s permanent, provided you make a minimum payment every month.
    • Up to $100,000 of travel accident insurance.

    Cons

    • You won’t earn cash back or points on purchases, since this is not a rewards card.
    • There’s no intro offer.
  • Product details
    • $0 annual fee.
    • Access to American Express Experiences includes Front of the Line Presale and Reserved tickets, special events, and other special perks.
    • Score deals on select hotel and car rental bookings through American Express Travel Online.
    • Use the Amex App to manage your account, receive notifications, and register for tailored offers in dining, shopping, travel and more.
    • Access to the American Express Installment Program.
    • Three types of insurance are provided: Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan, Purchase Protection Plan, and up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance.
    • Preferred rates: 12.99% for purchases and cash advances. If you have missed payments, the rates will be 23.99% and/or 26.99%.
    • To be eligible, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

BRIM

Our pick for a no-fee reward card with a digital-first experience

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rates
Rates vary by card member
Rewards Rate
1x-30x points
1x points on everyday purchases. Up to 30x on retail partners in the eShop.
Intro Offer
$200
Earn up to $200 in first-time reward bonuses at participating retailers.
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    The standard Brim Mastercard is a tech-savvy, no-fee rewards card. It offers an impressive mobile app with budget tracking, an eShop with hundreds of retailers, partnerships with five mobile wallets, free global Wi-Fi and no foreign transaction fees — even when shopping online.

    Pros

    • Rewards are easy to understand — each point is worth $0.01 — and you can earn up to 30x at select retail partners, including small local businesses and big brands.
    • There’s no fee for additional cardholders or a family card.

    Cons

    • Included insurance types are more limited than the Brim World or World Elite Mastercards.
    • Brim is a virtual bank with no physical bank branches, so you must be comfortable with a digital-first experience.
  • Product details
    • 1x points per dollar on everyday purchases, with no annual spend limit.
    • ​​Up to 30x points per dollar on retail partners in the eShop.
    • Points have a straightforward value of $0.01 and can be redeemed on transactions or as cash back. $1 minimum redemption required. Points do not expire.
    • No annual fee.
    • Brim’s Family Card option lets you add additional card members, set and adjust their spending limits, block types of transactions and track spending — perfect for teaching teens smart budgeting.
    • Enhanced security features allow you to lock your card and block online or foreign transactions instantly.
    • Stay connected with access to over 1 million Boingo Global Wi-Fi hotspots around the world.
    • Access to the Brim Installment plan.
    • Five types of insurance provided: common carrier accident insurance, mobile device insurance, event ticket protection, extended warranty and purchase security insurance.
    • Preferred rates vary by card member.
    • No foreign exchange fees.
    • To be eligible, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students

Our pick for a no-fee Aeroplan student card with flexible travel rewards

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rates
20.99% / 22.99%
20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents).
Rewards Rate
Up to 1x points
1x per $1 spent on gas, groceries and Air Canada travel purchases, and 1x per $1.50 spent on all other purchases.
Intro Offer
10,000 Aeroplan Points
Earn 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase at any time with your card. New cardmembers only.
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    Credit card beginners can use the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students to accumulate travel rewards thanks to a solid earn rate and a generous welcome bonus.

    Pros

    • The welcome bonus has no strings attached or hoops to jump through — simply make a purchase a receive 10,000 Aeroplan points.
    • Your Aeroplan membership will help you earn points twice as fast at Aeroplan partners and retailers in the Aeroplan eStore when you pay with your Aeroplan credit card.

    Cons

    • The higher 20.99% interest rate could be a problem for students learning how to use their first credit card.
    • To get the best value, you’ll have to be loyal to Air Canada and the Aeroplan rewards program.
  • Product details
    • Earn 1x Aeroplan points per dollar on gas, groceries and Air Canada travel purchases, up to $40,000 annual spend.
    • Earn 1x Aeroplan points per $1.50 spent on all other purchases, including gas, groceries and Air Canada travel purchases that exceed the $40,000 threshold.
    • Aeroplan Points never expire and can be redeemed for a variety of travel, merchandise, gift card, and other rewards offered by Aeroplan’s participating partners and suppliers.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • Get three free months of Uber Pass for discounts on rides, meals and more.
    • Your Aeroplan membership will help you earn points twice as fast at Aeroplan partners and retailers in the Aeroplan eStore when you pay with your Aeroplan credit card.
    • Earn 1 Aeroplan point for every $6 spent on CIBC Global Money Transfer, with no transaction fees or interest as long as you pay your balance on time.
    • Use the CIBC Pace It feature to make installment payments on large purchases.
    • Four types of insurance are provided: auto rental collision and loss damage insurance, purchase security, extended protection insurance, and $100,000 in common carrier accident insurance.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must have full-time status in a college or university.

CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students

Our pick for a no-fee student card with flexible travel rewards

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rates
20.99% / 22.99%
20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents).
Rewards Rate
Up to 1x points
Earn 1 point per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores, or on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre. Earn 1 point per $2 spent on everything else.
Intro Offer
10,000 bonus Aventura Points
See product details for specifics about this intro offer.
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    The CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students is a smart no-fee option that earns flexible travel rewards on everyday purchases.

    Pros

    • Earn points on every purchase.
    • Access to personalized travel booking and trip planning through Aventura Travel Assistant.

    Cons

    • The earn rate for gas station, grocery store and drugstore purchases is limited to a $6,000 annual spend.
    • The higher 20.99% interest rate could be a problem for students learning how to use their first credit card.
  • Product details
    • Intro offer: 10,000 Aventura Points when you join. 2,500 Aventura Points when you complete all activities within 60 days of your account approval (see full details online). 7,500 Aventura Points after you make your first purchase.
    • 1 Aventura point for every $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores, up to $6,000 annual spend.
    • 1 Aventura point for every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre.
    • 1 Aventura point for every $1 spent on eligible credit card purchases, including gas station, grocery store and drugstore purchases that exceed the $6,000 threshold.
    • Redeem Aventura points to cover full airfare including taxes and fees, to pay down your balance, or for travel rewards from the CIBC Rewards Centre, such as hotel stays, vacation packages, cruises, merchandise, gift cards and one-of-a-kind activities. Aventura points do not expire as long as your account is in good standing.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • Save up to 10 cents per litre on gas at Chevron, Ultramar and Pioneer gas stations by linking your card with Journie Rewards.
    • Enter the Student Life Network Full Ride Contest by December 31, 2021 for a chance to win $35,000 for tuition.
    • Qualify for a free SPC membership and get exclusive access to SPC+ for discounts and over 450 deals, special experiences and more.
    • Use the CIBC Pace It feature to make installment payments on large purchases.
    • Four types of insurance are provided: auto rental collision and loss damage insurance, purchase security, extended protection insurance, and $100,000 in common carrier accident insurance.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must have full-time status in a college or university.

SCENE Visa Card-Student

Our pick for a no-fee rewards card for students who love movies

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rates
19.99% / 22.99%
19.99% on purchases. 22.99% on cash advances.
Rewards Rate
1-5x
5x SCENE points at Cineplex theatres or at cineplex.com, and 1x SCENE points on everything else.
Intro Offer
1,250 bonus SCENE points
Earn 1,250 Bonus SCENE Points after making your first purchase within two months of opening the account. New cardmembers only. Must apply by November 21, 2021.
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    The SCENE Visa Card-Student is a great no-fee starter-card for students who want to earn rewards for movies, meals and entertainment.

    Pros

    • The great earn rate on SCENE points will become even more flexible after November 22, 2021, when the loyalty program will merge with Scotia Rewards to become Scene+.
    • Intro offer is equal to a free General Admission or 3D movie ticket in a regular auditorium.

    Cons

    • Cinema-lovers will get the most from this card. If you don’t enjoy going to movies, or are nervous about frequenting the theatre during COVID-19, this card won’t be worthwhile.
    • This card’s flat rate is unique, but the accelerated rate is not. All SCENE members can earn 5 SCENE points per dollar spent at Cineplex theatres or at cineplex.com. However, only credit card holders will earn SCENE points on regular, everyday purchases.
  • Product details
    • 5 SCENE points per dollar spent at Cineplex and at cineplex.com, up to 300 points per transaction and a maximum of 600 points per day.
    • 1 SCENE point per dollar spent on everyday credit card purchases.
    • Redeem SCENE points for offers on movies, meals, music and more. 1,250 points for a free General
      Admission or 3D movie ticket in a regular auditorium, 2,000 points for a free Enhanced movie ticket (i.e. UltraAVX, IMAX and D-BOX, including those in 3D), and 2,500 SCENE points for a free VIP Cinemas movie ticket.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • A SCENE Visa Card grants the ability to enter the Scotia Funds Your Future Contest for a chance to win $30,000 towards tuition. Closing date of entry is January 31st, 2022. See the full contest details online.
    • S​​ave up to 25% off base rates at participating AVIS locations and at participating Budget locations in Canada and the U.S.
    • On November 22, 2021, the SCENE program will merge with Scotia Rewards to become Scene+. This new loyalty program is more flexible and will let you redeem points for travel, shopping, dining, statement credits, Cineplex entertainment, and more.
    • No insurance included.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must be a resident of Canada and the age of majority in the province or territory where you live. Credit history is not required and international students can apply.

SimplyCash Card from American Express

Our pick for a flat-rate no-fee cash back card

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rates
19.99% / 21.99%
19.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances.
Rewards Rate
1.25% - 4%
4% cash back during the first six months (up to $5,000 in purchases), then earn unlimited 1.25% cash rewards on purchases.
Intro Offer
$200
Earn 4% cash back during the first six months, up to $5,000 in purchases (equal to $200 cash back). New cardmembers only.
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    A flat rewards rate of 1.25% makes it easy to earn cash back on every purchase — no need to keep track of bonus categories, spending limits or tiered and rotating structures.

    Pros

    • An easy-to-understand 1.25% flat rate on every purchase.
    • Cardholders enjoy exclusive access, special offers and events, and more through American Express Experiences and Front of the Line Reserved tickets and presales.

    Cons

    • Cash-back rate than other cards with specific spending categories and tiered rewards structures.
  • Product details
    • 1.25% on purchases with no spending limits.
    • Redeem cash back as a statement credit in September.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • Refer a friend and earn a maximum annual referral bonus of $750 cash back.
    • Enjoy virtual events, live performances, exclusive tickets and more through American Express Experiences.
    • Access to The American Express® Installment Program.
    • Three types of insurance provided: Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan, Purchase Protection Plan, and $100,000 travel accident insurance.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 21.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Student BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

Our pick for a no-fee student card that earns Air Miles

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rates
19.99% / 22.99%
19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances.
Rewards Rate
1-3 Miles for every $25 spent
Earn 3 Miles for every $25 spent at participating Air Miles Partners. Earn 1 Mile for every $25 spent on everything else.
Intro Offer
800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
Spend $1,000 in the first three months and earn 800 Bonus Miles. Offer available to new accounts only. Applications must be received by December 6, 2022.
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    Students can start earning travel rewards on everyday purchases with this no-fee and easy-entry Air Miles card.

    Pros

    • Generous intro offer and the ability to earn rewards on everyday purchases.
    • Your Air Miles membership will help you earn miles twice as fast at Air Miles partners when you pay with your BMO AIR MILES credit card.

    Cons

    • Air Miles are not transferable to other accounts or programs.
    • The 19.99% interest rate might be an industry standard, but it’s a pretty high interest rate if this is your first credit card. If a lower rate is important to you, consider the nearly-identical BMO Air Miles Mastercard, which comes with a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months.
  • Product details
    • Earn 1 Mile for every $25 spent on credit card purchases.
    • Earn 3 Miles for every $25 spent at participating Air Miles Partners, including Safeway, Sobeys, Shell, Foodland and more.
    • Your Air Miles membership will help you earn miles twice as fast at AIR MILES partners when you pay with your BMO Air Miles credit card.
    • Redeem Air Miles for Air Miles Cash Rewards, Travel Rewards, or Dream Rewards, including movie tickets, events, etc. Air Miles do not expire as long as your account is active and in good standing.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • Save up to 25% on rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations.
    • Get 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada, and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas.
    • You can use the Air Miles you earn to upgrade to Gold or Onyx status.
    • Two types of insurance are provided: extended warranty and purchase protection.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must be a student between the ages of 18 and 24 at a recognized post-secondary school, earn annual income from employment, scholarship/grant, student loan or family allowance, and have reached the age of majority in the province in which you live. International students can apply for a BMO credit card by visiting a branch.

Student BMO CashBack Mastercard

Our pick for a no-fee student card that earns cash back on groceries

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rates
19.99% / 22.99%
19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances.
Rewards Rate
0.5% - 3%
3% on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments, and 0.5% on everything else.
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    The Student BMO CashBack Mastercard has impressive earn rates — including 3% on groceries — and valuable perks, all without an annual fee.

    Pros

    • Earn flexible and easy-to-redeem cash rewards on everyday purchases.
    • There’s no minimum threshold for redeeming your cash-back rewards. Redeem as little as $1 if you want.

    Cons

    • Accelerated earn rates for groceries and recurring bills are capped at $500 per billing cycle.
    • Insurance is limited to extended warranty and purchase protection.
  • Product details
    • Earn 3% in cash back on grocery purchases, up to $500 in spending per billing cycle.
    • Earn 1% in cash back on recurring bill payments, such as streaming services, subscriptions or monthly utilities, up to $500 in spending per billing cycle.
    • Earn 0.5% in cash back on all other purchases, including grocery purchases and bill payments that exceed the $500 threshold.
    • Cash-back rewards earned can be redeemed as statement credits, or placed in a BMO chequing, savings or InvestorLine account. Student BMO CashBack Mastercard holders can also use the Pay with Points option to redeem points to cover transactions made in the last 30 days. $1 minimum redemption and points do not expire.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • Save up to 25% on rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations.
    • Get 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada, and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas.
    • Helpful security features include transaction monitoring and alerts, zero liability for unauthorized use and Mastercard Identity Check.
    • Two types of insurance are provided: extended warranty and purchase protection.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must be a student between the ages of 18 and 24 at a recognized post-secondary school, earn annual income from employment, scholarship/grant, student loan or family allowance, and have reached the age of majority in the province in which you live. International students can apply for a BMO credit card by visiting a branch.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Our pick for bonus categories tailored to your spending

Annual Fee
$0
Interest Rates
19.95%
19.95% on purchases and cash advances.
Rewards Rate
0.5% - 2%
2% unlimited cash back on up to three categories. 0.50% unlimited cash back on everything else.
Intro Offer
$150
Earn 15% back on up to $1,000 in purchases ($150) during the first two months if you apply by November 30, 2021.
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    You can earn unlimited cash back at a 2% rate in up to three categories of your choice — all while earning 0.50% back on everything else.

    Pros

    • You can tailor the 2% rewards to your spending by choosing up to three categories from Tangerine’s list of 10, which includes basics like gas and groceries as well as unusual picks like furniture and home improvement.
    • Transfer balances within your first 30 days and pay only 1.95% interest on the transferred balance for the first six months (19.95% after that).

    Cons

    • 2% cash back is a competitive rate, but many cards offer double the rewards on specific categories.
    • Tangerine is a virtual bank with no physical bank branches.
  • Product details
    • 2% on two categories of your choice: grocery, furniture, restaurants, hotel-motel, gas, recurring bill payments, drug store, home improvement, entertainment, or public transportation and parking.
    • Get a third cash-back category by choosing to have your rewards deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account.
    • 0.50% on everything else.
    • Redeem cash back monthly as a statement credit or deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account.
    • No annual fee.
    • Transfer balances within your first 30 days and pay only 1.95% interest on the transferred balance for the first six months (19.95% after that).
    • Get free cards for any authorized users on your account.
    • It only includes purchase assurance and extended protection insurance. For more insurance, consider the Tangerine World Mastercard which requires a minimum personal income of $60,000. If you meet this requirement, you will automatically be considered for the World card if you apply for the Money-Back card.
    • Preferred rates: 19.95% for purchases and cash advances.
    • To be eligible, a $12,000 (individual) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

If you aren’t ready for an unsecured credit card, consider these two options.

 

chatr secured Mastercard

Our pick for a secured credit card that earns cash back rewards

Annual Fee
$60
$5 monthly fee.
Interest Rates
19.99% / 22.99%
19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances.
Rewards Rate
0.5% - 1%
1% cash back on chatr and Rogers products and services, and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Intro Offer
N/A
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    The chatr secured Mastercard offers cash back rewards and the ability to graduate to a standard, unsecured version that earns even more rewards when you’re ready.

    Pros

    • Guaranteed approval.
    • Cash back rewards and the ability to build credit.

    Cons

    • Since this is a secured card, you won’t be borrowing money. You can only use the security funds you have already deposited into your account.
    • If you want the unsecured version, you’ll need to be approved. You can’t apply directly to the unsecured chatr Mastercard.
  • Product details
    • Earn 1% cash back on chatr and Rogers products and services, and 0.5% cash back on all eligible regular purchases. (The unsecured version earns 3% on chatr and Rogers products and services and 1% on everything else.)
    • Redeem cash back rewards instantly in the app for statement credits or for everyday purchases. Must redeem a minimum of $10 in cash back rewards at a time.
    • $5 monthly fee. ($0 annual fee for the unsecured version).
    • Once you meet the eligibility requirements, you can graduate from the secured card to the standard chatr Mastercard. This unsecured no-fee option earns greater rewards.
    • Transaction monitoring and alerts to prevent fraud.
    • Zero liability in the event of unauthorized use.
    • No insurance is provided.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must be able to provide necessary security funds in one transaction, be a resident of Canada and at least the age of majority in your province of residence. You can not have an undischarged bankruptcy on record.

KOHO: Reloadable Prepaid Visa Card

Our pick for a reloadable prepaid Visa card that earns interest and builds credit

Annual Fee
$0 - $84
Standard: $0. Premium: $9 monthly/$84 annual fee
Rewards Rate
Up to 10%
Up to 10% at select KOHO partners. Standard: 0.5% flat rate. Premium: 2% on transportation, groceries and restaurants, and 0.5% on everything else.
Intro Offer
30-day free trial for the KOHO Premium Visa
  • Our take

    Why we like it

    KOHO offers two tiers of prepaid cards: a standard card and a premium card. Both combine the benefits of a debit card and a credit card with cash back rewards, limited fees and the ability to build credit. Plus, KOHO doesn’t charge interest — instead, they let you earn interest on every dollar you save in your KOHO account.

    Pros

    • An app that tracks your spending, helps with budgeting, offers free financial coaching, and the ability to earn 1.2% interest on your entire account.
    • Access to a credit building service that reports your payments for only $7 per month — a rare feature for a prepaid card.

    Cons

    • KOHO is a tech-focused company, so if you’re uncomfortable with digital banking, it may not be the right choice.
    • KOHO isn’t a credit card, which means you can’t borrow any money. You can only access the funds already in your account.
  • Product details
    • Standard KOHO Prepaid Visa card
      • 0.5% cash back on all purchases.
      • Up to 10% cash back at select KOHO partners.
      • Cash back is instantly added to your KOHO Savings account.
      • $0 annual fee.
      • Eligible for a joint account.
      • Ability to round up purchases to the nearest dollar and have the difference added to your savings account.
    • KOHO Premium Visa
      • Up to 10% cash back at select KOHO partners.
      • 2% cash back on transportation, groceries and restaurants.
      • 0.5% cash back on everything else.
      • Cash back is instantly added to your KOHO Savings account.
      • $9 monthly fee/$84 annual fee, + a 30-day free trial.
      • No foreign exchange fees.
      • 1 free international ATM withdrawal per month.
    • Subscribe to Credit Building for $7/month in-app.
    • Earn 1.2% interest on every dollar you save in your KOHO account.
    • KOHO cards are customizable and have cutesy colour schemes, like Gilded Cotton Candy or Blueberried Caviar. While this doesn’t add any real value to your card, a chic look can be a real treat if it’s important to you.
    • No insurance is provided.
    • To be eligible, you must be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Methodology

NerdWallet Canada selects the best credit cards for university students based on overall value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as their suitability for specific kinds of students. Factors in our evaluation include annual fees, rewards programs (both earning rates and redemption options), promotional and ongoing APRs, bonus offers for new cardholders, incentives for responsible behaviour, free credit scores and other credit education, availability to applicants with thin or no credit history, and other noteworthy features such as a path to upgrade to a different product later on.

What is a student credit card?

By Barry Choi

Many students have their first real introduction to credit cards when they’re attending a post-secondary institution. In general, Canadians can apply for a card of their own once they become the age of majority in their province or territory. This stage in life is an excellent time to get your first credit card since it can help establish a good credit history and develop healthy financial habits.

Understanding how credit cards work before applying is vital since they can be an essential part of your life. Here are the basics about student credit cards so you can decide if one is right for you.

How do student credit cards work?

Student credit cards aren’t much different from regular credit cards. You charge purchases to your card and you don’t have to pay for them until your statement due date. Generally speaking, student credit cards are easier to qualify for than premium credit cards. They’ll also help you build your credit score.

Although some financial institutions have official student-branded credit cards, most offer general entry-level cards that are suitable for students. In other words, even if a card isn’t called a student credit card, you may still have a chance at approval.

However, if you have negative marks in your credit history or no credit history at all, make sure to check the eligibility requirements. If a credit history is required, consider a secured credit card or a prepaid card instead.

» MORE: How to get a credit card when you have bad credit

Who should apply for a student credit card?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Canadian citizen or an international student studying in the country; both can apply for most student credit cards. Even if you already have a joint credit card with your parents, it may still be worth it to get your own student credit card. As mentioned, it’ll help you build your credit score. Plus, a credit card can be a vital part of managing your expenses.

» HOW TO: Apply for a credit card and get approved

Why is it wise to build credit as a student?

As you use your student credit card, you’ll build a strong credit history and that will impact your credit score. Your credit score is a number between 300 – 900. The higher your credit score, the more creditworthy you are to creditors. If you ever want to get a loan in the future, lenders will often look at your credit score first.

Your credit score doesn’t become excellent overnight. The credit bureaus want to see an established history of responsible credit use, which is why a credit card under your own name can help. Then, as you make purchases and pay off your bills, your credit history will grow. Over time, you can expect your credit score to increase.

Getting a loan may not seem like a priority right now, but you may want to get a mortgage, auto loan or line of credit in the future. A good credit score is often required for a loan, to rent a home, to land a job, and more — it could be the difference when it comes to being approved or denied.

» FIND OUT: How to check your credit score

How to compare student credit cards

Before you apply for one of the best student credit cards in Canada, you should compare everything available. Here’s what to keep an eye out for.

  • Eligibility requirements. Consider any requirements imposed, such as income, age, credit score or student status.
  • Annual fee. Many credit credits don’t have an annual fee, which is great for students on a fixed income. That said, credit cards with a yearly fee often come with better benefits. See our picks for the best no-fee credit cards in Canada.
  • Rewards. Cash back, travel, movie, grocery and store rewards are just some of the perks you can earn with your credit card. See our picks for the best rewards credit cards in Canada.
  • Additional benefits. Some credit cards give you extra benefits, such as extended warranty, travel insurance, price protection and more.
  • Who you bank with. You can apply for a credit card at any financial institution, but it can be easier to be approved if you go with an issuer you already bank with.

» MORE: How to choose the best credit card for you

How to make the most of your student credit card

Once you have your student credit card in hand, there are many things you can do with it. Use the following tips to ensure you’re making the most of your card.

  • Always pay your bills in full and on time, so you don’t incur any interest charges.
  • Use your card whenever you can to earn rewards and build a credit history.
  • Read your credit card statement and pay attention to your purchases, so you know where your money is going. Some credit cards suitable for students even have an app that analyzes your spending for you.
  • Take advantage of any perks that come with your card (like free extended warranty or rental car discounts), as they could save you some money.
  • Make sure you select a PIN that’s not easy to guess. The last thing you want is for your account to be compromised.

Understand minimum payment requirements

When you receive your monthly statement for your student credit card, you’ll see that there’s a minimum payment requirement. As long as you pay that amount, your account will be in good standing. If you pay less than the entire balance, know that you’ll pay even more in interest on the remainder, which will increase your debt.

It’s also worth mentioning that you can pay your bill whenever you want. Most people will wait for their bill to arrive and then pay it off all at once. Others will pay off their charges as they accumulate to help prevent overspending.

» FIND OUT: The best time to pay your credit card bill

Watch out for missed payment policies

Besides accumulating debt and being charged interest, not much will happen if you miss a single payment. If you miss two or more payments in a row, your financial institution could increase your interest rate or consider your account delinquent. That would instantly have a negative effect on your credit score.

If missing one payment was an honest mistake, make your payment as soon as you can. It’s also worth calling your financial institution to ask if they can waive the interest charges. To avoid missing a payment again, set up account reminders or auto payments.

» MORE: Credit card fees and charges to know

What to do if you can’t get a student credit card

There’s always a chance that you may not qualify for a student credit card. Don’t worry, as there are other solutions available. One option is a secured credit card. These cards work like a regular credit card, but you need to provide a security deposit. That security deposit typically acts as your credit limit.

For example, if you deposited $500 onto your secured credit card, you’d have a $500 spending limit. You can’t use that deposit to pay your credit card bill, but you’d get it back if you ever closed your account in good standing.

Secured credit cards are a good option since they allow you to build credit history. Once you have a good credit score, you can try applying for a student credit card.

What to do with a student credit card after graduation

Many people hang onto their student credit card until they secure a full-time job. Once you have stable employment lined up, you could apply for a credit card with a higher minimum income requirement. Doing so could mean getting better perks, such as increased earn rates, travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees and more.

With that new card in hand, you could cancel your student credit card since you won’t need it anymore. However, there are other steps you should consider before cancelling your card.

  • Update your information with your credit card provider. If your income has increased, or housing has changed, or you have new contact information, share these changes with your provider. They may ask your permission to approve an increase to your credit limit.
  • Request a product change or credit card upgrade. You may be able to ask your provider to switch to a higher-tier credit card if you meet new eligibility requirements. If you have a secured credit card, you may be automatically approved for an upgrade to an unsecured card. If you have a student-branded credit card, your provider might switch you to the non-student version.

Overall, it’s a good idea to hang onto the card since having a credit account open for a long time is good for your credit score. It can also serve as a backup credit card in case your new credit card is not accepted at a merchant for some reason.

  • FAQs

    • How old do I have to be to get a student credit card?

      The minimum age to get a credit card depends on the age of majority in your province or territory. In Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and Manitoba, it’s 18. For all other provinces and territories, the minimum age is 19.

    • Do I need a job to get a student credit card?

      Some student credit cards don’t require that you have an annual income to be approved. Obviously, you would need some kind of income to pay your bills. However, already having a bank account with the financial institution where you’re applying for a credit card can improve your chances of getting approved because as they’ll be able to see your assets.

DIVE EVEN DEEPER

Canada’s 10 Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2021

Cash back is the most flexible type of credit card reward.

How to Choose a Student Bank Account

Student bank accounts offer low or no fees, unlimited transactions and other perks. Here’s how to choose a student bank account in Canada.

Canada’s 10 Best No-Fee Credit Cards of 2021

No-fee credit cards are a smart choice for anyone who doesn’t want to pay an annual fee to use their credit card.

Can I Pay Rent With a Credit Card?

Paying rent with a credit card can offer convenience and flexibility. But make sure you understand how it might affect your wallet and your credit score.