If 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 Card||Annual Fee||Rewards||Special Features||Income Requirement||More Info|
|Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card||$0||2% cash back in up to 3 categories|
0.5% for everything else
|No cash-back rewards limit|
Purchase assurance and extended warranty
|BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®*||$0||5% cash back for first three months*||1.99% on balance transfers for nine months|
Extended warranty and purchase protection
|SCENE® Visa* card||$0||1 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||$12,000||Visit Site|
|HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®||$25 (first year annual fee rebate)*||Earn points on every $1 spent in card purchases||Earn 20,000 Points* ($100 travel value). Must apply by December 28, 2020. Conditions Apply.||N/A||Visit Site|
|SimplyCash™ Card from American Express||$0||1.25% cash back on all purchases||Earn 2.5% cashback in your first 3 months (up to $150 cashback)||N/A||Visit Site|
|CIBC Dividend® Visa* Card for Students||$0||2% cash back on eligible grocery purchases and up to 1% cash back on everyday purchases||Welcome Offer: Get $25 cash back after making your first purchase*||$0||Visit Site|
|*Conditions apply |
* Then, get 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments and 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases!*
Best Student Credit Card Overall
Winner: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
- No annual fee
- 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. 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.
Best Student Credit Card for Cash Back
Winner: BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®*
- No annual fee
- Earn 5% cash back for the first three months; 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments and 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases 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 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments and 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases!* 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.
Best Student Credit Card for Rewards
Winner: 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 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.
Best Student Credit With Low Annual Fee
Winner: HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
With the HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®, there is no income qualifier requirement. That makes this credit card an excellent option for students who have their noses in the books and don’t have time for a regular part-time job (although you still need some kind of income to pay your bill). What’s also awesome is the annual fee is dirt cheap ($25) and you earn points on every eligible purchase you make. Here’s how it works: get 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible dining or entertainment purchases and 1 point for every $1 on all other everyday purchases. You can redeem the points for whatever you want: travel, gift cards and merchandise, and financial rewards (yes, you can put your points towards your credit card balance or sock it in an HSBC savings account!).
If you’re carrying a balance, this card has a rock bottom interest rate of 11.9% — one of the lowest in Canada. With that in mind, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t add this credit card to your wallet.
- Annual Fee: $25
- Minimum Income Eligibility: None
- Credit Score Required: N/A
- Welcome Offer: Earn 20,000 Points ($100 travel value) PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($25 value).* Must apply by December 28, 2020. Conditions Apply.
- Additional Perks: Redeem points for travel, financial rewards, gift cards, merchandise, and more; extended warranty and purchase protection; optional travel insurance
- Interest on Purchases: 11.9% | Interest on Balance Transfers & Cash Advances: 11.9%
*This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer)
Best Student Credit Card with a Referral Rewards Program
Winner: SimplyCash™ Card from American Express
- No annual fee
- Earn 2.50% cash back on all purchases charged to this card for the first three months (up to $150 cash back).
- Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases after three-month promotion ends, with no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn
- Refer a friend and earn a bonus of $100 cash back for each approved referral, up to a maximum annual referral bonus of $1,500 Cash Back
If you like using American Express credit cards and you want to earn cash back on all your purchases, the SimplyCash™ Card from American Express is a winner. This no annual fee credit card lets you earn 2.50% cash back on all purchases charged to this card for the first three months (up to $150 cash back). After the welcome rate ends, you’ll earn 1.25% cash back after that on all purchases charged to your credit card. There are no limits on your cashback earnings and no categories, making this one of the most straight-forward cash back credit cards on the market. Despite being a no-fee credit card, the SimplyCash™ Card from American Express offers travel accident insurance, buyer’s assurance, and purchase protection.
Best Student Credit Card For Groceries
CIBC Dividend® Visa* Card for Students
If you’re loading up on groceries, add the CIBC Dividend® Visa* Card for Students to your wallet. This card gives 2% cash back on eligible grocery purchases and up to 1% on everyday purchases like books, movies, food and more.† Plus, there’s no limit to the total cash back you can earn.† It also comes with purchase protection and extended warranty protection on most purchases.† As a welcome offer, new cardholders get $25 cash back after making their first purchase.†
- Annual Fee: $0
- Minimum Income Eligibility: None
- Credit Score Required: Good
- Welcome Bonus: Get $25 cash back after making your first purchase†
- Additional Benefits: Shopping protection, extended warranty, cash back earned on card purchases†
- Annual Interest on Purchases: 19.99%† | Annual Interest on Cash Advances: 22.99%†
Insurance coverage(s) included with CIBC credit cards are underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. You may contact the insurer at 1 866 363-3338 in Canada and the U.S or collect from elsewhere at 905 403-3338 or visit cibccentre.rsagroup.ca. Some insurance coverage(s) require purchase(s), common carrier fares, accommodations and other trip costs to be charged to the card to activate coverage. Other conditions may apply. For important information regarding coverage, eligibility requirements, benefits, pre-existing health/medical conditions, limitations and exclusions, see cibc.com/ca/credit-card/agreements-insurance.html and the insurance certificate(s) in your card package.
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:
- The Best Credit Cards in Canada
- The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards in Canada
- Top 5 Credit Cards for Millennials
- The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada
- Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards in Canada
This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.