Canada’s Best Credit Cards for College Students

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best student credit cards canadaIf you're a student making occasional purchases like groceries and gas, online shopping, flights, and hotel reservations, a student credit card can make life much easier. Using a student credit card regularly and paying off your purchases also has the additional benefit of helping you establish a credit score, which will set you up for financial success after school. The trick is to find one of the best student credit cards that will also suit your lifestyle and budget. To make things easy, we’ve scoured the market and here are our top picks for the best student credit cards in Canada.

Comparison of the Best Student Credit Cards in Canada

Credit CardAnnual FeeRewardsSpecial FeaturesIncome RequirementMore Info
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card$04% cash back in up to 3 categories for 3 months, 2% after that
0.5% for everything else

No cash-back rewards limit
Purchase assurance and extended warranty
$12,000Learn More
BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®*$05% cash back for first three months, 1% after that1.99% on balance transfers for nine months
Extended warranty and purchase protection

$15,000Learn More
Scotiabank SCENE®* Visa* Card$01 SCENE point for every $1 spent
5 SCENE points per $1 spent at Cineplex theatres
Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points with your first $500 in everyday purchases in 3 months$12,000Learn More

Best Student Credit Card Overall

tangerine money back credit cardWinner: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • Special offer: Earn 4% Money-Back Rewards on purchases in up to three Money-Back Categories (for the first three months) 
  • Earn 2% cash back on two eligible Tangerine spending categories (groceries, gas, drug store, restaurants, recurring bill payments, furniture, home improvements, hotels, entertainment, public transportation/parking)
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • Introductory 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for six months

If you tend to spend a lot of money on one specific thing – like groceries, gas, pharmacy, or recurring bills – then the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card will help you maximize that spending. This credit card lets you earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice, or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account. There is no annual fee and no cap whatsoever on how much you can earn in cash back. You can even switch categories should your spending habits change, so you can supercharge your money-back rewards. If that’s not enough reason to apply, Tangerine is currently offering a promotion until January 31, 2020, that lets new cardholders earn 4% money back in up to three categories for their first three months. The card is also full of additional perks like a low balance transfer interest rate of only 1.95% interest for the first six months, as well as purchase assurance and extended warranty. It’s no wonder that this is one of the best credit cards in Canada.

Learn more about the Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard

Best Student Credit Card for Cash Back

bmo cashback mastercardWinner: BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®*

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5% cash back for the first three months, 1% after that
  • Introductory 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for nine months
  • Extended warranty protection and purchase protection

The BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®* is a fantastic credit card for students that also offer cash back rewards. For starters, it has no annual fee – meaning it costs $0 to add this piece of plastic to your wallet. It also offers a generous sign-up bonus of 5% cash back on all purchases for your first 3 months. You can redeem the cash any way you want: deposit it into your BMO chequing or savings accounts, put it into your Investorline account, or apply the credit to your monthly statement to pay off bills, books, tuition, and other expenses. After the promo period ends, you’ll get 1% cash back on all credit card purchases* with no caps, no category limits! The pay off is plenty for this card, especially when you're a cash-strapped student, and it's why it makes our list for the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

If you have outstanding credit card debt on another card, you can also transfer it onto this card and get a superb 1.99% interest rate on the balance transfer for nine months. That’ll help you pay down your debt a whole lot faster. Plus, this credit card is one of the rare no-fee credit cards that come with perks like discounts on car rentals, extended warranty protection on purchases, and purchase protection.

Learn more about the BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®*

Best Student Credit Card for Rewards

scotiabank scene credit cardWinner: Scotiabank SCENE®* Visa* Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5 SCENE points per dollar spent at Cineplex theatres
  • Earn 1 SCENE point per dollar spent on everything else
  • Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points with your first $500 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months

If you’re a movie lover, the Scotiabank SCENE®* Visa* Card could be an excellent choice. It’s not only a no-fee credit card, but also a rewards credit card to boot: you’ll earn 5 SCENE points for every dollar spent at the movies, and you can redeem your SCENE points for free movie tickets, concessions, live events and more. The redemption rate is really low (starting at 1,000 points), which means you can use this card for everyday purchases and cash in the points for fun things like movies and meals. Even better, the points never expire.

Click here to apply for the Scotiabank SCENE®* Visa* Card

What is a Student Credit Card?

While anyone can apply for the credit cards on our list, they still count as excellent student credit cards in Canada. The best credit cards for students are ones with a low (or no) income requirement and no annual fee, plus offer a few extra perks to cardholders. As a student, you can easily obtain one of these credit cards if you have a part-time job or by using a co-signer to secure the loan.

Why get a Student Credit Card?

There are two main reasons to get a student credit card. First, it makes life easier. Some transactions are best made with a credit card – like booking flights, making hotel reservations, and online shopping. A credit card, even a student credit card with a low limit, will make life easier.

Second, a student credit card will help you build your credit score and finish school on solid financial footing. By using your credit card regularly and paying off the balance each month, you can start building a solid credit score which will help you apply for jobs, obtain an apartment, and secure the lowest interest rates on car loans and eventually a mortgage.

Lastly, you often stand to gain something by getting a credit card. For instance, credit cards sometimes come with protections for their cardholders – such as fraud protection, extended warranty protection, and purchase assurance. You get these protections simply because you paid with plastic. Another perk: rewards! Why not get a little cash back in your wallet for things like grocery spending or recurring bills? You can put that money towards your tuition and buying books, or even your next meal. If you're planning a “post-grad” gap year abroad, check out the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada. You can rack up some serious points to put towards your trip, saving you money in the long run.

The bottom line? There are excellent reasons why you need a credit card, and adding one to your wallet while you’re a student is a savvy strategy – so long as you use it responsibly.

Best Credit Card for College Student: How to Choose?

While none of these credit cards are specifically for students (e.g. you can still apply if you have graduated), they all have the key factors you should look for in a student credit card:

  • No annual fee: A good student credit card should have no annual fee since it’s unlikely that you will spend enough to recoup the cost in rewards.
  • Low income requirement: While each of the credit cards above requires an income, the requirements are low enough that you can meet them with just a part-time job or a co-signer.
  • Useable rewards: Choosing a credit card that offers you rewards is smart, but make sure you can use them. Cash back or SCENE points can easily be redeemed, whereas some credit cards only allow you to redeem points for travel, which may be out of your budget right now.

All of the credit cards above are good choices for students, but if we have to choose just one, our top pick is the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. With no annual fee and flexibility to redeem up to 2% cash back on a monthly basis, it's a winner in our books. Regardless of your choice, just remember to use your credit cards responsibly, pay off your balance every month, and above all, enjoy the rewards.

The Best Credit Cards by Category:

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Jordann Brown

Jordann Brown is a millennial money expert and personal finance blogger based in Nova Scotia, Canada. Jordann is the founder of the popular personal finance blog, My Alternate Life, and she frequently appears as an expert in Canada media.

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