There are quite a few good credit cards for students in Canada, but some stand out above the rest for their low annual fees and generous perks. I constantly keep up with the latest promotions and changes in the credit card landscape and make recommendations based on years of personal experience.
I recommend the American Express Green Card as the #1 credit card for students in Canada due to its generous welcome bonus, no annual fee, and flexibility for redeeming rewards. With this card, you can request up to 9 additional cards at no cost and transfer your points between other rewards programs like Marriot Bonvoy, Aeroplan, and Avios.
What Is A Student Credit Card?
Student credit cards are a type of credit card that is available only to Canadian students between the ages of 18-24. These cards usually have low-to-no credit history requirements and are a decent stepping stone into the world of credit cards and credit score building. These cards usually have no annual fees and offer generous perks and benefits – better than those offered by regular no-fee credit cards.
Student credit cards are a great way to earn cash back and travel points while you study. To apply for these cards, you just have to declare an income (from a part-time job, allowance, or a scholarship) and provide proof that you’re studying. Most large banks in Canada offer these types of cards plus the option to upgrade to one of their premium credit cards after you’ve built up your credit to an acceptable level.
Without further ado, here are the best student credit cards Canada has to offer:
The Best Student Credit Cards In Canada
- American Express Green Card: Best for no annual fee and welcome bonus
- BMO Air Miles Mastercard: Best for travel perks
- BMO CashBack MasterCard: Best for high promotional cash back rate
- BMO CashBack Mastercard for Students: Best for redeeming cash back instantly
- Home Trust Secured Visa: Best for no credit score minimum
- KOHO Mastercard Prepaid Card: Best for no hard credit checks and referral program
- President's Choice Financial Mastercard: Best for the generous welcome bonus and high earn rate of PC points
- SimplyCash Card from American Express: Best for no cash back limits
- STACK Prepaid Mastercard: Best for instant approval and access to a virtual card
- Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card: Best for customizable cash back categories
How Do Student Credit Cards Work?
Student credit cards work exactly like regular credit cards. You can use them to make purchases and pay your balance when your statement is due. Additionally, most student credit cards will report all your payments to Equifax and TransUnion so you can start building your credit early on.
Student credit cards usually offer lower cash back rates, lower point yields, and more limited features compared to regular credit cards. Still, they also tend to have lower credit score minimums and little-to-no annual income requirements.
Pros & Cons Of Student Cards
Pros: Why A Student Credit Card May Be Worth It
- Apply without a credit card history
- Start building your credit score with a large credit card company
- You can declare income from an allowance or a scholarship to get your card approved
- Very low annual fees
Cons: Why A Student Credit Card May Not Be Worth It
- Student credit cards usually have an age limit of between 18-24 years old
- Benefits and perks are not as good as regular credit cards like the Cobalt.
How To Choose A Student Credit Card In Canada
Here are the things you should consider when looking for a student credit card:
Low Or No Annual Fees
If you’re a student looking for a credit card, you probably don’t have a lot of cash on you to spend on annual fees – or the best setup to maximize the perks of premium credit cards. You should for credit cards that have no annual fees and that allow you to declare your allowance or scholarship as income; this will make it more likely you will get approved.
One of the main reasons for getting a student credit card is to start building your credit early on. Make sure your card provider reports to the three major credit card bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. This will save you a lot of money over time and open up financing opportunities.
Based on your spending habits and the type of credit card you’re looking for, it’s key that you make sure the benefits from the credit card match your goals. It’s usually a good idea to go for a credit card with cash back on purchases or a travel card with miles and travel perks.
Welcome Bonus And Promotional Rates
Most credit cards in Canada come with a welcome bonus or promotional rates – student credit cards are no exception. Welcome bonuses are one-time rewards for new cardholders; they can come in the form of bonus cash back or rewards points.
How To Redeem Your Student Credit Card Rewards
Depending on the type of card you choose (cash back, travel, low interest, or rewards cards), you will have different options to redeem your rewards. Some of the most common options to redeem your rewards include:
- A direct deposit to your checking or savings account
- A check sent to your mail
- A statement credit
- Gift cards
In general, cash back and gift cards are a lot more flexible than store-locked rewards. When choosing a student credit card, confirm the redemption options match your goals.
How To Apply For A Student Card In Canada
Keep in mind that to apply for this card, you need to be a student between the ages of 18- 24, and you will need to provide proof you’re studying in a recognized post-secondary school. You will also need to declare an annual income to make sure you can pay off any balance. This annual income can come from an allowance, scholarship, or employment.
To apply for a student credit card in Canada, you need to be a student between the ages of 18-24. For reference, the age of the majority in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan is 18 years old. In all other provinces, the age of the majority is 19.
Canadian credit cards are available to residents and non-permanent residents. You don't even need a credit history for other card types like prepaid, store, and secured credit cards. At the end of the day, residency requirements will depend on the specific credit card issuer.
Most student credit cards in Canada have very low credit score minimums, as they target young adults with little to no credit history. Still, the higher your credit score, the more likely your application is going to be accepted.
Personal Or Household Income Requirements
Student credit cards don’t usually have hard income requirements; most allow guardians or parents to add authorized users. Alternatively, students may declare employment, allowance, or scholarship income to increase their chance of approval.
Student Credit Card FAQs
Are Student Credit Cards Worth It?
Student cards might be worth it for you:
- If you are a student with no credit history
- If you want to start building your credit history with a large credit card company
- If you want to access financing opportunities and enjoy lower interest fees on auto or home loans
Student cards might not be worth it for you:
- If you’re looking for low-interest rates – students are considered high risk, and thus interest rates tend to be very high
- If you’re looking for high credit limits
- If you want premium perks
What Is The Best Free Student Credit Card In Canada?
The best free Student card in Canada is the Student BMO CashBack Mastercard. It offers 3% cash back on groceries, 1% cash back on subscriptions, and recurring bills payments like streaming services and mobile phones.
Is It Easier To Get A Credit Card As A Student?
Compared to someone with the same credit history, yes, credit card companies make it very easy for students to get a credit card. Still, there are alternatives if you’re not a student; secured credit cards and prepaid credit cards are available to almost everybody, no matter their credit history. You can use these cards to build up your credit score until you can apply for an Amex Gold or another medium-tier card.
Can A Student With No Income Get A Credit Card?
Yes, if you’re a student with no stable income, you can still apply for a student credit card. Most credit card issuers allow students to declare their allowances of school grants as income for the purpose of applying for a credit card.
Even if you don’t have this option, you can still apply for a student credit card. However, the chances of getting approved may be slightly lower. Of course, don't bother applying for an Amex Platinum or another premium cards, since those have a high bar that most students don't reach.
How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?
A common strategy when it comes to credit cards is to have two cards; one with cash back benefits and a specialized card that offers benefits that fit your long-term goals. That way, you earn money on all purchases and also work towards your long-term goals. Usually, it’s a good idea to have cards from the same issuer to keep things as simple as possible, but that’s not always an option.
The major drawback of having too many credit cards is the fees and interest charges on each; you may not earn enough in rewards to justify the annual fee (if applicable). It’s also harder to keep track of several cards, and you might miss a payment.