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The best student credit cards in Canada will help you build your credit score while also earning rewards. Here’s our pick for the overall best credit cards for students.

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 CardAnnual FeeRewardsSpecial FeaturesMore Info
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card$02% cash back in up to 3 categories
0.5% for everything else
Promo: Earn an extra 10% back* for a limited time with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. (Conditions apply.)
No cash-back rewards limit
Purchase assurance and extended warranty
Visit Site
BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*$05% cash back for first three months*1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months*
Extended warranty and purchase protection

 
Visit Site
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 monthsVisit Site
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®$25Earn points on every $1 spent in card purchases2 Points for every $1 spent on eligible dining or entertainment purchasesVisit Site
SimplyCash™ Card from American Express$01.25% cash back on all purchasesEarn 2.5% cashback in your first 3 months (up to $150 cashback)Visit Site
CIBC Dividend® Visa* Card for Students$02% cash back on eligible grocery purchases
1% cash back on eligible gas, transportation, dining purchases and recurring payments, and
0.5% cash back on everything else†
Get $30 cash back after making your first purchase within the first 4 months†Visit Site
Signature RBC Rewards Visa Card$39 (waived for students and RBC Signature No Limit Banking® clients)1 RBC Rewards Point per $1Includes a suite of insurance benefits Visit Site
American Express® Green Card$01 Membership Rewards point for every $1 you spendWelcome offer: 10,000 Bonus Membership Rewards® points (when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of CardmembershipVisit 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!*

†Conditions apply

Best Student Credit Card Overall

Winner: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

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  • $0 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 6 months (1% transfer fee applies)

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 6 months, as well as purchase assurance and extended warranty. It’s no wonder that this is one of the best credit cards in Canada.

Promo: Earn an extra 10% back* for a limited time with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. (Conditions apply.)

Learn more about the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card


Best Student Credit Card for Cash Back

Winner: BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*

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  • $0 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 (Conditions apply)
  • Introductory 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months, 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred
  • 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 purchases for your first 3 months. The 5% earn rate applies to qualified spend up to $2,500 (up to $500 qualified spend on grocery, up to $500 qualified spend in recurring bill payments, and up to $1500 qualified spend on all other purchases). 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 on the first $500 spent on eligible grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments on the first $500 spent on eligible recurring bill payments per billing cycle 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 9 months (1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred). 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

Winner: SCENE® Visa* card

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  • $0 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.

Learn more about the SCENE® Visa* card.

Best Student Credit With Low Annual Fee

Winner: HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®

Apply Now

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. You will earn 2 Points for every $1 spent on eligible dining or entertainment purchases, and 1 Point for every dollar you spend on everything else. 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.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $25
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: None
  • Credit Score Required: 630+
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 20,000 Points when you spend $2,000 within 6 months of account opening*, and get a first-year annual fee waiver for the primary cardholder when you apply by October 3, 2021. That’s an estimated value of $125! 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: 11.9%Interest on Cash Advances: 11.9%
Learn more about the HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®.

This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).

*Terms and Conditions apply.

®/TM Mastercard and World Elite are registered trademarks, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Used pursuant to license.


Best Student Credit Card with a Referral Rewards Program

Winner: SimplyCash™ Card from American Express

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  • $0 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

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.

Learn more about SimplyCash Card™ from American Express.

Best Student Credit Card For Groceries

Winner: CIBC Dividend® Visa* Card for Students

Apply Now

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, 1% cash back on eligible gas, transportation, dining purchases and recurring payments, and 0.5% cash back on everything else. 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 $30 cash back after making their first purchase within the first 4 months.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Annual Interest on Purchases: 19.99%
  • Annual Interest on Balance Transfers: 22.99%
  • Annual Interest on Cash Advances: 22.99%
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: None
  • Credit Score Required: Good
  • Welcome Bonus: Get $30 cash back after making your first purchase within the first 4 months
  • Additional Benefits: Shopping protection, extended warranty, cash back earned on card purchases

Conditions apply

Quebec Residents – Learn More about this CIBC product here

Résidents du Québec : Pour en savoir plus sur ce produit CIBC, suivez ce lien

Learn more about the CIBC Dividend® Visa* Card for Students.

Best Student Credit Card with Insurance Benefits

The Signature RBC Rewards Visa Card

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While insurance coverage isn’t always the first thing people look for in a student credit card, it can certainly come in handy. Say, for example, you want to buy a new laptop, TV, and mobile phone for the school year. If you charge the purchases to the Signature RBC Rewards Visa Card, you’ll get purchase security against damage, loss and theft for the items, plus you’ll get an extended warranty that could last up to a year after the manufacturer warranty has expired – saving you money in the long run if anything goes wrong. Then there’s also the travel accident and rental car insurance coverage, which is useful if you go to school a bit further afield.

On top of the insurance, you’ll collect RBC Rewards points at a rate of 1 point per $1. You can shop strategically at RBC partners and take advantage of special offers to up your points. At Petro Canada, you’ll also save 3¢ per litre at the pump and earn a 20% bonus in Petro Points when you link your Petro Points with your RBC card.

The $39 annual fee is waived for students with an applicable bank account, so you’ll get all these nice perks without paying a dime.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $39 (waived for students and RBC Signature No Limit Banking® clients)
  • Welcome Bonus: Get the 1st year annual fee waived and 3,500 welcome RBC Rewards points upon approval, offer expires November 1, 2021
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: N/A
  • Credit Score Required: Good
  • Rewards: Earn 1 RBC Rewards point for every $1 spent on qualifying purchases and earn bonus points through card purchases at selected retailers.
  • Additional Perks: Purchase security and extended warranty protection, insurance benefits, savings of 3¢ per litre on fuel at Petro Canada, 20% more RBC Rewards points, and 20% more Petro Points when you link your Petro Points to your RBC card
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%

Learn more about the Signature RBC Rewards Visa Card


Best Student Credit Card with Flexible Rewards

Winner: American Express® Green Card 

Apply Now

Sometimes when you’re a student it’s hard to predict where you’ll need a little extra help with your budget. Here’s where the American Express® Green Card comes in handy: it lets you collect valuable flexible Membership Rewards points without paying an annual fee.

They start you off with a nice generous welcome offer of 10,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $1,000 on your card in the first three months. What exactly can you do with all those points? Plenty of things! You can use them towards eligible card purchases, such as groceries, streaming services, travel, eating out, and more, as well as eligible Amazon.ca purchases. If you see gift cards or merchandise you’d like on Membershiprewards.ca you can use your points there, too. And, in case you’ve got somewhere you need to be, you can use your points on new travel purchases booked on American Express Travel Online through the Flexible Points Travel Program.

Those points keep adding up as you spend: you earn 1 Membership Rewards® point per dollar. And you get access to a bunch of cool entertainment perks such as American Express® Experiences presale and reserved ticket access, Front Of The Line® E-Updates and American Express® Experiences cardmember offers and events.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: N/A
  • Credit Score Required: N/A
  • Welcome Bonus: 10,000 Membership Rewards points
  • Additional Perks: Exclusive entertainment access, earn rewards on every card purchase
  • Purchase APR: 20.99% | Cash Advance APR: 21.99%

Learn more about the American Express® Green 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:

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

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