As weird as it sounds, one of the first things you should do when you go to college or university is to apply for one of the best student credit cards in Canada. This is important because it’ll allow you to build your credit score which is vital if you ever need a loan in the future.

Some of you may be thinking you don’t need a credit card since you already share a credit card with your parents, but the odds are, you’re just an authorized user on their account so you’re not actually building your credit history.

Picking the best student credit card can be tricky. You need to consider the rewards, benefits and any insurance that come with the card. What you want to avoid is the first offer you get. In other words, don’t apply for a credit card just for a free t-shirt or a bag of cookies. Here are the best student credit cards in Canada.

The best student credit cards in Canada

Best student credit card for cash backBMO CashBack Mastercard
Best student credit card for movie loversScotiabank Scene Visa Card
Best student credit card for saving moneyKOHO Prepaid Visa
Best student credit card for rewardsTangerine Money-Back Card
Best student credit card for groceriesPC Financial Mastercard

BMO CashBack Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back (up to $100) on all purchases made in the first three months 
  • 3% cash back on grocery purchases
  • 1% cash back on recurring bill payments
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

The best student credit card in Canada for cash back is the BMO CashBack Mastercard.  You’ll earn 5% cash back (up to $100) on all purchases made in the first three months. If you happen to have a big expense coming up, this credit card could be handy. Once the promotion period ends, you get 3% back for groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on everything else. Your cash back is paid out as long as you’ve accumulated at least $50 in rewards. Another bonus with this card is that you get an extended warranty on your purchases.

Scotiabank Scene Visa Card

  • No annual fee
  • 2,500 SCENE points welcome bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months
  • Earn 5 SCENE points for every $1 you spend at Cineplex theatres or at cineplex.com
  • Earn 1 SCENE point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases
  • Save up to 25% off base rates at participating AVIS and Budget locations in Canada and the U.S.

Many students love movies which is why the Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card is likely a good choice. If you didn’t know, SCENE is the loyalty program at Cineplex. Since Cineplex is the largest movie theatre chain in Canada, you can quickly rack up points. With this card, you get 2,500 SCENE points when you spend $500 in the first three months of card membership which is enough for two free movies. As for your spending, you get 5 SCENE points for every $1 you spend at Cineplex theatres or at cineplex.com while all other purchases earn you 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent. Note that you can combine your Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card with a Scotiabank chequing account to earn even more SCENE points.

KOHO Prepaid Visa

  • No annual fee
  • 1% cash back bonus for 90 days with CASHMONEY referral code  
  • 0.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Automated savings goals
  • Round up each purchase to the nearest $1, $5, or $10
  • Real-time spending insights
  • ApplePay compatible

One of the best student credit cards is also one of the best prepaid cards in Canada. KOHO has become popular in recent years since it helps people manage their money. As a prepaid credit card, you can only spend up to the amount you’ve loaded on your card. You also have the option to round up every purchase to the nearest $1, $5, or $10 which goes into a savings account for you. The normal earn rate is 0.5% cash back on all purchases but if you use my KOHO referral code CASHMONEY, you’ll earn an additional 1% cash back bonus for 90 days. That’s a total of 1.5% cash back for almost three months. There is one major downside to KOHO, since this is a prepaid credit card, your credit history does not get reported to the credit bureaus which means your credit score won’t increase with this card. That said, this is a good student credit card for those who are worried about their spending.

Tangerine Money-Back Card

  • No annual fee
  • 2% cash back on up to 3 categories
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Automatic monthly redemption with no minimum balance required
  • Adjust your credit limit online
  • Automatic pay my balance feature
  • Purchase assurance and extended warranty

The Tangerine Money-Back Card is arguably the best student credit card in Canada since you can earn 2% cash back on up to 3 categories, but you need to have an annual income of $12,000 to qualify for the card. Not many students earn that kind of money, but if you do, this is the card to get. What people love about the Tangerine Money-Back Card is that you get to choose the categories where you earn extra cash back. All other categories earn you 0.5% cash back. Another popular feature is that you can redeem your cash back monthly without any minimum balance required. As you can imagine, this card is also on the list of the best cash back credit cards in Canada and the best credit cards with no annual fee in Canada.

PC Financial Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 25 PC Optimum Points per $1 dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Earn 20 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent at PC Travel
  • Earn 10 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn 30 PC Optimum Points per litre at Esso/Mobil locations
  • Purchase assurance and extended warranty

Rounding out my list of the best student credit cards is the PC Financial Mastercard which is the best card for groceries and/or makeup. With this card, you earn 25 PC Optimum Points per $1 dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart, 20 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent at PC Travel, and 10 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent on all other purchases. If you do a lot of shopping at Loblaws owned grocery stores or Shopper Drug Mart, you can earn even more points through in-store promotions and targeted offers. In case you didn’t know, PC Optimum is the largest retail loyalty program in Canada so these points are easy to use.

What is a student credit card?

Student credit cards aren’t any different from traditional credit cards. You still have a credit limit and you’re still required to make regular payments. What sets them apart is that some credit card providers have cards that are designed for students. As in, they typically have no annual fee, no or low annual income requirement, and benefits that appeal to students. While some credit cards are literally called student credit cards, students aren’t restricted to just those cards. Here are the best student credit cards in Canada.

Why get a student credit card?

The main reason you want to get one of the best student credit cards is that it’ll allow you to build your credit score. Your credit score is a number between 300 – 900. Having a high credit score is vital sine lenders use it as one of their main criteria when deciding if they should lend you or not. Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the more creditworthy you are. Basically, if you ever want to get a mortgage or loan, you’ll want a high credit score. Not sure what you’re credit score is? Check your credit score for free now with Borrowell.

How to pick a student credit card

Although I’ve listed five of the best student credit cards in Canada, it can still be difficult to decide on which one is right for you. Consider the following before you sign up.

  • Annual fee – Many credit cards come with an annual fee (although the ones I listed do not).  Take a look at what the fee is and what benefits/rewards you get. If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough out of a credit card with an annual fee, go with a no fee option.
  • Rewards earned – Generally speaking, credit card rewards fall into two categories: travel and cash back. Travel rewards can be very lucrative but it may take some time before you can make a redemption. Cash back is easy to understand but they’re usually worth less than travel rewards. Pick the type of rewards that you prefer.
  • Shopping habits – If you happen to shop at the same merchants or go to the movies a lot, it’s probably worth getting a co-branded credit card so you can earn more points with their loyalty program. This will allow you to make redemptions more frequently.

Final thoughts

Getting one of the best student credit cards in Canada is one of the first steps to becoming an adult. When used responsibly, they can be a great tool to help you manage your money and an easy way to earn rewards. Always pay your bills in full and on time so you can maintain a high credit score.

The Best Student Credit Cards in Canada

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  1. […] Scotiabank SCENE Visa is one of the best student credit cards in Canada. This assumes that you’re a student that enjoys movies and you’re looking for a no fee […]

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