Best Student Credit Cards

Looking for a student credit card with low requirements, a low annual fee and an opportunity to earn rewards? Then check out our list of student credit cards.

WRITTEN BY
Lisa Rennie
Updated November 19, 2020

Being a student comes with a certain set of challenges, and finances are a big one. Not only are you likely not earning much money, but you’re probably not in a position to get approved for a conventional credit card just yet (without your parents’ help).

Luckily, there are several credit cards available to Canadians that are specifically designed with students in mind. They’re easier to get approved for and come with low annual fees. They may also offer opportunities to collect points with every purchase that you can redeem towards various purchases. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best student credit cards available to help you determine which one suits your situation best.

Criteria Used to Evaluate Student Credit Cards

To come up with our list of the best student credit cards, we looked at a few key criteria, including the following:

  • Welcome bonus
  • Interest rate
  • Annual fee
  • Minimum income requirement
  • Perks 

Summary of the Best Student Credit Cards

The following is a list of the best student transfer credit cards:

Credit CardRewardsWelcome BonusAnnual FeeMinimum Income
BMO Preferred Rate MastercardN/A3.99% promotional rate for the first 9 months$20$15,000
BMO CashBack Mastercard– Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases for the first 3 months on the first $2,500 spent. 
– Earn 3% cash back on groceries
– Earn 1% cash back on recurring bill payments
– Earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
– Earn 5% cash back in the first 3 months
– 1.99% promotional rate for the first 9 months
$0$15,000
CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students– Earn 2% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 per year
– Earn 1% cash back after $6,000
 – Earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
$25 cash back after first purchase$0$0
CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students– Earn 1 point for every $1 spent at grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and travel
– Earn 1 point for every $2 spent on all other purchases 
Earn up to 5,000 bonus Aventura Points$0$0
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card– Earn 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex theatres or Cineplex.com
– Earn 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points on $500 spent in the first 3 months$0$0
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card– Earn 2% cash back in up to 3 categories
– Earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
1.95% promotional rate for the first 30 days$0$12,000

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard

The BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard is a great option for students specifically because of its low-interest rate. While the average credit card comes with an APR of 20% or more, the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard features a very attractive 12.99% interest rate on purchases and cash advances. 

That’s about half of what your typical credit card charges, making this particular credit card an attractive option, especially if you tend to carry a balance from month to month.

As if that rate wasn’t low enough, you’ll only be charged 3.99% for the first 9 months. So, if you have another high-interest credit card balance that you’re currently working on paying down, you may want to consider transferring it over to the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard to take advantage of a much lower rate. 

The annual fee is also nominal at $20 per year, which is waived for the first year. Plus, you can benefit from an extended warranty on certain items purchased, as well as Zero Dollar Liability that protects you against unauthorized use of your credit card. 

  • Purchase Interest Rate: 12.99% 
  • Cash Advance Rate: 12.99%
  • Welcome Bonus: 3.99% promotional rate for the first 9 months
  • Annual Fee: $20 (waived for the first year)
  • Minimum Annual Income: $15,000 

BMO CashBack Mastercard

An excellent choice for students is the BMO CashBack Mastercard because of its $0 annual fee and cash back rewards. To entice you to apply, BMO is offering the opportunity to earn as much as 5% cash back on eligible purchases for the first 3 months on the first $2,500 spent. 

Following this promotional period, you can earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments, and 0.5% cash back on everything else. 

You’ll also have insurance coverage, purchase protection, and extended warranty perks. Plus, you only need $1 in cash back rewards before redeeming your points. And if you’re ever in need of a rental car, you can get discounts at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car locations when you book using your BMO CashBack Mastercard.

  • Purchase Interest Rate: 19.99% 
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn 5% cash back in the first 3 months; 1.99% promotional rate for the first 9 months
  • Annual Fee: $0 
  • Minimum Annual Income: $15,000 

CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students

A great points card that’s designed with students in mind is the CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students. Upon making your very first purchase with this card, you’ll receive $25 cash back. 

Following that, you can earn 2% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 per year, 1% cash back after the $6,000 mark has been reached, and 0.5% cash back on all other purchases. There’s no limit on your total cash back earning potential, and you can double the manufacturer’s warranty up to one year on many purchases. 

As a CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students cardholder, you’ll receive a free SPC membership, which provides exclusive access discounts and experiences. Shop deals at over 450 partner retailers with your SPC membership.

There’s no minimum annual income requirement or annual fee, making this card easy to get approved for and affordable to maintain.

  • Purchase Interest Rate: 19.99% 
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Welcome Bonus: Get $25 cash back after making your first purchase
  • Annual Fee: $0 
  • Minimum Annual Income: $0 

CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students

CIBC offers another great credit card product for students with its Aventura Visa Card, designed with students in mind. To encourage you to sign up, CIBC is offering as many as 5,000 bonus Aventura Points as a welcome offer within 60 days of getting your card. Then, you can make another 2,500 points with your very first purchase.  

Following that, you can earn 1 point for every $1 you spend at grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and travel purchases through the CIBC Rewards Centre. Earn 1 point for every $2 you spend using your card on everything else. 

The card also comes with Aventura Travel Assistant, which helps you reserve travel without any booking fees, as well as extra 90-day protection on new purchases in the event of theft or damage. 

Like the CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students, the CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students provides you with a complimentary membership to SPC, which comes with a myriad of discounts and experiences. There are more than 450 partners associated with SPC where you can shop and save.

  • Purchase Interest Rate: 19.99% 
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 5,000 bonus Aventura Points
  • Annual Fee: $0 
  • Minimum Annual Income: $0 

Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

If you’re a movie buff, then you may want to add the Scotiabank SCENE Visa to your shortlist of credit cards. It’s a great way to get free movies just by using your credit card for everyday purchases and collecting points. 

With the Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card, you can earn 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex theatres or Cineplex.com using your credit card, and 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on everything else. And when you first sign up, you’ll earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points with your first $500 spent over the first 3 months. That’s worth 5 free movies!

There’s no annual fee, no minimum income required, and you can get $10 off at participating restaurants in exchange for 1,000 points. Plus, you can save as much as 25% at participating AVIS and Budget car rental locations across Canada and the US. 

  • Purchase Interest Rate: 19.99% 
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points on $500 spent in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $0 
  • Minimum Annual Income: $0 

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine is an online-only bank known for its high-interest savings account. But in addition to this popular product, Tangerine also offers its Money-Back credit card, which currently comes with a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for 30 days. 

If you’ve got any high-interest debt that you want to pay down, you may be able to use that 30-day period to take advantage of this rock-bottom rate to pay much of it down. After the 30 days are up, the rate jumps to 19.95%. 

Other than the attractive promotional rate, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers a convenient way to rack up points with every expenditure that you make. 

You can then redeem those points to be put towards a variety of purchases. Or, you can use your accumulated points to pay down your credit card balance or redeem them into your Tangerine savings account.

Earn 2% cash back in up to 3 categories, including supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations, pharmacies, and more. Earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, there’s no limit on the number of rewards you can earn. 

  • Purchase Interest Rate: 19.95%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 19.95%
  • Welcome Bonus: 1.95% promotional rate for the first 30 days 
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Minimum Annual Income: $12,000 

Why Apply For a Student Credit Card?

A student credit card can be an excellent way to start building healthy credit. After all, the only way to establish credit is to prove to the credit bureaus that you are responsible with your money and are able to make your bill payments on time every month. By the time you finish school, you should be able to have established some level of credit just by using a credit card for your purchases and paying them off every billing period. 

Plus, credit cards are often the only way to make certain purchases, such as online purchases and travel reservations. Without a credit card, you might be limited to what you can and can’t buy. 

Credit cards can be difficult to get approved for, as they often have a minimum income requirement that is way out of reach for most students. Thankfully, student credit cards are much easier to qualify for, and some don’t have any minimum income requirement at all. 

Want a low interest rate? Check out these low interest rate credit cards?

What to Look For in a Student Credit Card?

There are plenty of great choices out there when it comes to credit cards geared toward students. Here are some important factors to consider before settling on one for you:

Annual fee. Obviously, the lower the fee you need to pay every year, the better.

Minimum income. Students typically earn a very modest income, if any at all. As such, look for a card that you can qualify for without requiring a sizable income. 

Rewards. Why not make your money work for you? Many student-based credit cards offer the opportunity to collect and redeem points. If you’re interested in a card like this, look for one that is geared towards your particular lifestyle. For instance, if you’re a cinema fanatic, then collecting points that can be redeemed for free movies make sense; likewise for cards that offer points to be redeemed for travel if you love vacationing. 

Perks. There may be other perks that you might find attractive or even necessary. For instance, if you travel a lot, you may want to look for a card that also comes with some type of travel insurance so you don’t have to purchase a separate policy. 

Final Thoughts

As a student, you’ve already got your plate full with your studies, part-time job, and social life. And if you’re like most other students, finances aren’t your strong point just yet. Considering this, you may want to have a credit card in your wallet that can take your money further and offset many of the student life’s expenses without all the pesky fees that are typical of conventional credit cards.