12 Best Credit Cards for Students in Canada for 2024

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Written by Enoch Omololu

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As a student, you may want to start using a credit card alongside a debit card. Using a student credit card has numerous benefits – you can start building your credit score while spending responsibly and paying off your balance.

On top of that, many banks offer credit cards with cash back or other rewards – that means you’re being rewarded on every purchase. Who doesn’t want that?

Keep reading for our top picks of the best student credit cards in Canada, including from BMO, TD, Scotiabank, and online banks like KOHO and Tangerine.

Best Credit Cards For Students in Canada

These are the 12 best student credit cards. Most have no annual fees and little to no minimum income requirement.

1. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • Best for: earning cash back
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 19.95%
  • Top rewards: up to 2% cash back
  • Income requirement: $12,000 personal

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for students who want to earn cashback.

You can earn unlimited 2% cash back on any 2 categories of your choice, like groceries, furniture, restaurants, and gas. You can maximize earnings if you spend a lot in a certain category.

If you deposit your cash back into a Tangerine Savings Account, get one more 2% cash back category. Outside those categories, you get unlimited 0.50% cash back on all purchases.

With the Tangerine app, you can easily track and categorize your spending. If you have a part-time job or are making a low income, this credit card is easy to apply for as you only need to make $12,000 annually. 

2. Scotiabank Scene+ Visa Card for Students

  • Best for: earning Scene+ points, first credit card
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: 2x Scene+ points on all purchases
  • Income requirement: N/A

The Scotiabank Scene+ Visa Card for students is a great first credit card and one of the best credit cards for students with no income. You must book an appointment to apply in person.

This credit card has no annual fees. You can earn 2 Scene+ points for every $2 spent at Cineplex and participating grocery stores and 1 Scene+ point for every $1 spent on everything else.

Scene+ points can be redeemed for discounts on movies, entertainment, grocery, and other purchases or applied as a statement credit.

Another perk of this Scotiabank credit card is savings of up to 25% off at participating AVIS and Budget car rental locations.

This credit card does not offer any insurance coverage, but you can add optional Scotia Credit Card Protection.

3. Neo Financial Mastercard

  • Best for: earning cash back
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 19.99%-24.99% on purchases, 21.99%-26.99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: up to 15% cash back
  • Income Requirement: N/A

You can use the Neo Financial Mastercard with no annual fees or minimum balance requirements.

On every transaction, you get a minimum of 0.50% cashback. At over 10,000 merchants across Canada, you get an average of 5% cashback. As a bonus, some Neo partners also offer a 15% cashback bonus on your first purchase.

The Neo Money app allows you to track your spending and saving habits and see how much cash back you get on each purchase.

Neo also offers Bundles, a monthly subscription where you can boost cash back rewards in certain categories.

If you don’t meet the criteria for the regular Neo credit card, you can apply for the Neo Secured Card, where you can be guaranteed approval.

Learn more about the Neo Financial Credit Card.

4. KOHO Prepaid Mastercard

  • Best for: managing your money & earning cash back
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: N/A
  • Top rewards: up to 10% cash back
  • Income requirement: N/A

The KOHO Prepaid Mastercard is not a credit card, as you only spend the money that you load onto the card. You get a digital and physical card along with the KOHO app, where you can manage your spending.

With the free version, you earn 0.5% cash back on every purchase. KOHO Premium allows you to earn 2% cash back on 3 categories of your choice.

For students who want to manage their money and not overspend, KOHO is the card for you.

Here’s a comparison of KOHO cards.

5. American Express Green Card

  • Best for: earning flexible rewards on everyday purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: 1x points on everyday purchases
  • Income requirement: N/A

The American Express Green Card is one of the best overall credit cards for earning points on all purchases.

You can earn 1x Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent on all eligible transactions and 1 additional point on Amex Travel Online.

Membership Rewards points can be redeemed towards eligible card purchases, gift cards, merchandise, Amazon.ca purchases, or you can pay with points at Aircanada.com. You can also transfer points 1:1 to a frequent flyer program.

This credit card also includes a Buyers Assurance Protection Plan and Purchase Protection Plan for all eligible purchases.

6. BMO CashBack Mastercard

  • Best for: earning on grocery purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 20.99% on purchases, 22,99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: up to 3% cash back
  • Income requirement: $15,000

If you buy a lot of groceries, this cashback credit card is for you. It’s perfect for students who like to cook rather than eat out. It saves you money and gets you cash back at the same time!

You earn cash back on all purchases, as per the following:

  • 3% cash back on groceries (up to $500 monthly)
  • 1% cash back on recurring bill payments (up to $500 monthly)
  • 0.5% cash back on everything else

Your cashback rewards never expire, and you can redeem them anytime for as little as $1.

Other benefits include extended warranty and purchase protection, savings up to 25% off at Alamo and National Car Rental locations, and 15% off Cirque Du Soleil shows touring Canada.

7. SimplyCash Card from American Express

  • Best for: earning flat-rate cash back on everyday purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 19.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: 1.25% cash back
  • Income requirement: N/A

The SimplyCash Card from American Express is just that – simple. You can earn an unlimited amount of cash back at a flat rate of 1.25% on most purchases and up to 2% cash back on gas and groceries ($300 annual cap limit).

If you spend money in a bunch of different categories, this card will be more beneficial than one like the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card or the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard.

It includes $100,000 travel accident insurance, buyers assurance protection plan, and a purchase protection plan.

You get access to American Express Experiences and can use the American Express Installment Program to pay off your monthly balance in installments.

Learn more in this detailed review.

Best Credit Cards for Students in Canada-img.

8. CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students

  • Best for: earning cash back with no fees
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: earn up to 2% cash back
  • Income requirement: N/A

With the CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students, you earn 2% cash back on groceries (up to $80,000 annually), 1% cash back on dining, gas, transportation, and recurring payments (up to $20,000 annually), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.

Once you reach the 2% and 1% caps, there is no limit to the amount of cashback rewards you can earn.

This CIBC student credit card includes purchase security and extended warranty insurance. You can save up to 10 cents per litre at participating gas stations when you link your card with Journie Rewards.

Another great perk of this credit card is that you get a free SPC+ membership, which unlocks savings of up to 30% at more than 450 brands.

9. American Express Cobalt Card

  • Best for: earning flexible rewards on all purchases
  • Annual fee: $12.99 monthly/$155.88 annually
  • Interest rate: 20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: earn up to 5x the points on eats & drinks
  • Income requirement: N/A

The American Express Cobalt Card earns you Membership Rewards points, which can be redeemed on almost anything, including gift cards, merchandise, travel, and a statement credit. You can earn:

  • 5x the points on eats & drinks purchases
  • 3x the points on streaming subscriptions
  • 2x the points on transit, gas, and travel purchases
  • 1x the points on everything else

Note that the 5x, 3x, and 2x categories are subject to a $3,000 annual spend cap. Once you reach the limit, you’ll earn 1x the points on all purchases.

As a Cobalt and American Express member, you get access to special Cobalt perks and Amex Front of the Line experiences and events.

This card includes a wide array of travel insurance, mobile device insurance, and shopping coverage.

10. BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

  • Best for: earning travel rewards
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: earn up to 3 Air Miles per $25 spent
  • Income requirement: $15,000

The BMO student credit card earns you Air Miles on every purchase. You can earn:

  • 3 Miles for every $25 spent at Air Miles partners
  • 2 Miles for every $25 spent at eligible grocery stores
  • 2x the Miles at participating partners

You can redeem Air Miles for cash rewards, travel rewards, or dream rewards in the Air Miles Store.

Extended warranty and purchase protection are included for free with this card, along with savings of up to 25% off at Alamo and National Car Rental locations. 

Although this is an Air Miles Mastercard, it does not include any travel insurance or benefits.

11. TD Rewards Visa Card

  • Best for: earning points on everyday purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: earn up to 3 TD Rewards points
  • Income Requirement: N/A

This no-annual-fee credit card is a great all-around card for earning points on everyday purchases. You can earn:

  • 3 TD Rewards points for every $1 spent on Expedia travel purchases
  • 2 TD Rewards points for every $1 spent on grocery, fast food, and restaurant purchases, and recurring bill payments (up to $5,000 annually)
  • 1 TD Rewards point for every $1 spent on everything else

TD Rewards points can be redeemed for Amazon.ca purchases, Expedia travel bookings, or as a statement balance.

Some other benefits include earning 50% more TD points and Stars at Starbucks, a Priority Pass membership discount, and up to 10% off participating Avis and Budget car rentals.

12. PC Financial Mastercard

  • Best for: earning PC Optimum points
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 20.97% on purchases, 22.97% on cash advances
  • Top rewards: earn up to 25 points per $1 spent
  • Income requirement: N/A

The PC Financial Mastercard is one to consider if you frequently shop at Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, or any other PC grocery stores.

For no annual fee, you can earn 10 points per $1 spent at PC grocery stores, 25 points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart, 30 points per litre at Esso and Mobil gas stations, and 10 points per $1 spent everywhere else.

If you shop at these stores often, you can easily rack up the points, which can be redeemed at a rate of 10,000 points per $10.

Methodology:
The Snappy Rates team assesses the best student credit cards based on their annual fees, interest rates, welcome bonuses, rewards, top features, categories, insurance coverage, and other perks. We carefully evaluate each credit card and place more weight on the long-term rewards value each card offers. Only credit cards we would personally use are recommended. While these credit cards are some of the best on the market, but may not be right for you. Always do your own research and make informed financial decisions.

Pros of Student Credit Cards

When you sign up for and use a student credit card, you can build good credit and start building your credit score and credit history. Make sure you can pay off your credit card on time and don’t have too many missed or late payments.

Student credit cards are a great way to track your spending, see where your money is going, create a budget, and manage your finances.

Finally, student credit cards can reward you for your spending in several ways, with welcome bonuses and cash back, points, or travel rewards. 

Cons of Student Credit Cards

Getting a credit card as a student is a great idea, though there are some downsides.

You need to ensure that you can pay off your credit card each month, as interest rates can be as high as 22%. Know when your statement cycle ends and when you need to pay the monthly bill; otherwise, you’ll face unnecessary charges.

Second, your credit score can be negatively affected if you overspend or don’t pay your credit card off on time. Having a credit card as a student builds good credit, so watch your spending.

FAQs

Is it worth it to get a credit card as a student?

Yes, it is worth it to get a credit card if you’re a student. Many credit cards have no minimum income requirement, $0 in fees, and can help build your credit score while you earn cash back or other rewards on everyday purchases. However, you need to ensure that you can pay off your balance, as it is not a good idea to carry outstanding debt.

Is a student credit card better than a credit card?

A credit card designed for students is generally better than a regular credit card. It is easier to get approved for and generally has no annual or monthly fees.

How many credit cards should a student have?

There is no one answer for how many credit cards a student should have. If you’re good at managing your money and plan to pay off the balances on time, having multiple credit cards shouldn’t be an issue.

Should a college student get a credit card or debit card?

College students and first-time bank users should get a debit card as it won’t affect their credit score. Students should also get a credit card to start building credit and earn rewards for their spending.

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and has written about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, CBC News, Yahoo Finance, GO Banking Rates, Financial Post, Bankrate, Forbes, Toronto Star, CTV News, and other personal finance publications. He founded Savvy New Canadians, one of Canada’s top financial education platforms.

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  • Earn 6.00% interest rate* on every dollar.
  • One of the best savings rates in Canada.
  • Access to free unlimited chequing account with $400 bonus.
*Terms and conditions apply. Limited time offer.