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20 Best Student Credit Cards in Canada for January 2023

The best student credit cards in Canada will help you learn about using credit and also improve your credit score. Even better, they do not have annual fees.

After you graduate from high school at age 18, you are now considered an adult in many provinces, and you should start taking your finances seriously if you are not already doing so. Now is the time to build an excellent credit profile, avoid debt, save money, and plan for a great financial future.

And if you are looking to pick up a credit card upon entry into university or college, this list of the best student credit cards in Canada is a great place to start.

Ten additional credit cards for students are detailed below and may suit your needs depending on what you need a credit card for.

The best student credit cards in Canada

The Best Student Credit Cards in Canada for 2023

These credit cards fit the bill for best student cards and offer no- or ‘low’ fees, everyday rewards, and they have no- or low-minimum income and credit score requirements.

1. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The Tangerine 2% Money-Back Card is a great student card and makes my list of the best cash back credit cards in Canada. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • 2% unlimited cash back on up to 3 categories of spending, including groceries, entertainment, public transportation, recurring bill payments, etc. 
  • 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases
  • Extended warranty and free purchase assurance
  • Balance transfer at a low rate of 1.95% for 6 months

You can choose how you want to redeem your cash back, whether as a credit card statement to pay down your credit card balance or as a deposit in your Tangerine Savings Account. The latter option increases your 2% cash back categories from two to three. 

To qualify for this card, you need a $12,000 minimum personal annual income and a 600+ credit score.

For a limited time, new cardholders earn an extra 15% cash back on up to $1,000 spent in the first two months ($150 value).

You can also read our detailed Tangerine Money-Back Card review.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Rewards: Earn up to 2% unlimited cash back in up to 3 spending categories and 0.50% on all other purchases.

Welcome offer: Get an extra 15% cash back on up to $1,000 in spending in the first 2 months ($150 value).

Interest rates: 19.95% for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.

Annual fee: $0

2. Neo Mastercard

The Neo Mastercard is a top no-annual-fee credit card for earning cash back rewards.

This card does not have a minimum income threshold and only requires a 600 credit score. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • 5% average cash back at Neo partners (over 7,000 retailers and brands)
  • 0.5% average cash back at non-partner stores
  • Access to a free savings account with unlimited transactions
  • Access to a virtual card for quick online payments

You can redeem cash back earned as a statement credit at any time. Learn more about the Neo Card in this review.

Neo Mastercard (Standard)

Rewards: Average of 5% cash back at 10,000+ partners and a minimum of 0.50% cash back across all purchases

Welcome offer: Get 15% cash back on your first purchases, plus a $25 welcome cash bonus.

Interest rates: 19.99% – 26.99% on purchases; 22.99% – 28.99% for cash advances.

Annual fee: $0

3. KOHO Mastercard Prepaid Card

The KOHO Mastercard is the best prepaid card in Canada. Like regular Mastercard credit cards, you can use the KOHO Card to make payments at millions of locations worldwide.

The free KOHO Card offers a bunch of benefits:

  • Up to 5% cash back on purchases
  • Access to a free high interest savings account
  • Access to a free budgeting app

This card does not have a credit score or personal income requirement.

You can redeem KOHO cash back at any time. If you want to grow your credit score, you can also use the KOHO Mastercard by signing up for its optional credit-building service.

New cardholders who sign up here get a $20 cash bonus after making their first purchase (use our referral code CASHBACK when signing up).

KOHO Prepaid Mastercard

Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on groceries and bill payments; Up to 5% cashback at select partners; Earn interest on your balance*.

Welcome offer: Get a $20 bonus when you load and make your first purchase (use promo code CASHBACK during sign-up).

Interest rate fee: 0%

Annual fee: $0

4. SimplyCash Card from American Express

The SimplyCash Card from American Express is one of the best cash back credit cards out there, especially for students. You earn 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases ($300 annual cash back) and 1.25% cash back on all other purchases. Benefits of this card include:

  • $0 annual fee 
  • 1.25% to 2% cash back on purchases 
  • Earn a referral bonus of up to $750 annually 
  • $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance 
  • American Express installment payment program 

There’s no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn. The more you spend, the more you can earn! Get more details in our review.

SimplyCash Card from American Express

Rewards and benefits: Earn up to 2% cash back on gas and groceries; 1.25% cash back on all other purchases; travel accident insurance.

Welcome offer: Earn a $10 statement credit each month you spend $300 in purchases on your Card in the first 10 months (up to $100 value).

Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances.

Annual fee: $0

5. BMO CashBack Mastercard

The BMO CashBack Mastercard is a no-annual-fee credit card that fits well in the student cash back rewards category. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments, and 0.5% cash back on all other purchases. The 1% and 3% cash back categories are subject to maximum spending of $500 per month
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases after the bonus period
  • 0.99% balance transfer rate for 9 months
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • $15,000 minimum annual personal income required

BMO CashBack Mastercard

Rewards: Up to 3% cash back on groceries, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments, and 0.50% back on everything else (3% and 1% cash back rates have monthly spending limits).

Welcome offer: 0.99% introductory balance transfer rate for 9 months (1% fee applies).

Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.

Annual fee: $0

6. Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card

The Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa card is a no-annual-fee flat-rate cash back credit card, perfect for students who don’t need travel rewards or other benefits. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee 
  • $500 minimum credit limit 
  • Earn 1% cash back on gas, drug store, and grocery purchases and recurring payments 
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases 
  • Scotia SelectPay payment plan with no interest rate 
  • Save up to 25% off at participating AVIS and Budget car rental locations 

Here’s a detailed review of the card.

Scotiabank Momentum No-Fee Visa Card

Rewards: Earn 1% cashback on gas, groceries & drugstore purchases; 0.50% cashback on everything else.

Welcome offer: Earn 5% cashback in the first 3 months on up to $2,000 spent ($100 value).

Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases; 22.99% on cash advances.

Annual fee: $0

7. American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt Card is a great student credit card with a low annual fee. You can earn Membership Rewards points on all purchases, including eating out, streaming, travel, and more. 

It offers:

  • $12.99 annual fee
  • Earn 5x points on eats & drinks
  • Earn 3x points on streaming subscriptions
  • Earn 2x points on travel & transit
  • Earn 1x points on Amex Travel Online and everything else
  • Mobile device insurance 
  • American Express Payment Installment Program 

You can redeem your American Express Membership Rewards points on almost anything, including movie tickets, retail, statement credits, and more. 

American Express Cobalt Card

Rewards: Earn 5x pts per $1 spent on food & drinks; 3x pts on streaming subscriptions; 2x pts on travel; 1x pts everywhere else.

Welcome offer: Get up to 30,000 bonus points in the first year.

Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances.

Annual fee: $155.88

8. Scotiabank American Express Card

The Scotiabank American Express Card has no annual fee and allows you to earn double the Scene+ points on a bunch of different categories. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • $1,000 minimum credit limit 
  • Earn 2x the Scene+ points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, food & drink, entertainment, transit, gas, and streaming services 
  • Earn 1 Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other purchases 
  • Mobile device insurance 
  • Save up to 25% at participating AVIS and Budget car rental locations

You can redeem Scene+ points on travel, entertainment, dining, and other purchases, as well as a statement credit. 

Scotiabank American Express Card
Apply Now

9. PC Financial Mastercard

The PC Financial Mastercard is a great store credit card for students to earn points and claim free grocery rewards, especially if you regularly shop at the Real Canadian Superstore and Shoppers Drug Mart. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn 25 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent at Superstore and 20 points per $1 spent on PC Travel
  • Earn 30 points per litre when you buy gas at Esso or Mobil stations
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent elsewhere
  • Free extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Balance transfer at a low rate

You can redeem 10,000 PC Optimum points for $10 worth of rewards in-store.

PC Financial Mastercard
Apply Now

10. CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students

The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students is a great first credit card, as it has no minimum income requirement and a $1,000 minimum credit limit. You can also get up to $200 in value in your first year. This card offers:

  • No annual fee
  • No minimum income requirement 
  • $1,000 minimum credit limit
  • Earn 1 Aeroplan point for every $1 spent on groceries, gas, and Air Canada purchases
  • Earn 2x the Aeroplan points on the Aeroplan eStore
  • Earn 1 point for every $1.50 spent on everything else 
  • Common carrier accident insurance
  • Auto rental collision and loss damage insurance 

Your Aeroplan points will never expire. You can redeem them on Air Canada purchases.

cibc aeroplan visa for students-bscc-img
Apply Now

11. Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card

The Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card is one of the best cash back credit cards for students with no annual fee, earning you 0.5% to 4% cash back on all purchases. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • $15,000 minimum annual household income 
  • 9.99% introductory interest rate for 6 months
  • 4% cash back on restaurant, bar, and coffee purchases (max. $5,000 annual spend)
  • 1.5% cash back on groceries, gas, and drugstore purchases (max. $15,000 annual spend)
  • 0.5% cash back on everything else with no limit 
  • $50 referral bonus for you and friends who sign up 

Cash back is calculated monthly and paid out yearly.  

Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Credit Card
Apply Now

12. American Express Green Card 

The American Express Green Card is a top flat-rate credit card where you can earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every dollar spent. On top of that, you can earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months. This card offers:

  • $0 annual fee 
  • 1x the points on everyday purchases
  • 1 additional point on Amex Travel Online 
  • Made with 99% recycled plastic 
  • American Express installment payment program 

You can redeem Membership Rewards Points for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more. 1,000 points = $10 for any eligible purchase.  

AMEX green card
Apply Now

13. Scene+ Visa Card for Students

The Scene+ Visa Card for students is a nice starter card and great for getting free movies. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • $12,000 minimum income requirement
  • Earn 1 Scene+ point on every $1 spent on everyday purchases
  • Earn 5 Scene+ points for every $1 spent at Cineplex theatres or cineplex.com
  • Earn 5,000 bonus Scene+ points after spending $750 in the first 3 months (worth 4 free general Admission or 3D movie ticket)
  • Save up to 25% when you rent a car at participating AVIS and Budget locations

You can redeem your Scene+ points for free movies or at participating restaurants, including Swiss Chalet and East Side Mario’s, at a rate of 1,000 points for $10 off your food/drink purchase.

See how the Scene+ point system works at redemption, or read our Scotiabank Scene+ Visa Card review.

SCENE Visa Card
Apply Now

14. RBC ION Visa Card

This $0 annual fee travel credit card earns you Avion points on all purchases, which can be redeemed for many things. Benefits include:

  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn 1.5x Avion points for every $1 spent on groceries, rideshare, gas, EV charging, and streaming or gaming subscriptions 
  • Earn 1 Avion point for every $1 spent on everything else 
  • ​​Purchase Security and Extended Warranty Insurance
  • 3-month complimentary DashPass subscription 
  • Earn 50 Be Well points for every $1 spent at Rexall 

You can also add optional insurance to protect yourself and your credit card balance. 

rbc ion visacard-img
Apply Now

15. CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students

The CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students gives you cash back when you spend money on transportation, groceries, and other essentials. There is no minimum income requirement to apply. Benefits include:

  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn 2% cash back on groceries
  • Earn 1% cash back on gas, transit, dining, and recurring payments
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn 
  • Redeem cash back anytime 
  • Purchase Security & Extended Warranty Insurance 
  • $100,000 Common Carrier Accident Insurance 
CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students
Apply Now

16. American Express Essential Credit Card

The American Express Essential Credit Card is perfect for students or those getting their first credit card. It has a low-interest rate and no annual fee. You don’t earn any cash back, points, or travel rewards, but that’s the tradeoff for such a low-interest rate. It offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • Low 12.99% interest rate 
  • American Express Experience benefits 
  • $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance 
  • American Express Installment Program
American Express Essential Credit Card
Apply Now

17. TD Rewards Visa Card

The TD Rewards Visa card is a no-annual-fee credit card that earns you TD Rewards Points on every purchase. This is a great card for students who spend a lot on groceries, restaurants, and fast food purchases. Perks include:

  • $0 annual fee 
  • Earn 2 TD Rewards Points on every $1 spent on groceries, restaurant, and fast food purchases (up to $5,000 spend)
  • Earn 3 TD Rewards Points for every $1 spent on travel through Expedia
  • Earn 1 TD Rewards Point for every $1 spent on everything else 
  • Earn 50% more Stars at participating Starbucks locations 

TD Rewards Points never expire. You can redeem them on cash back, gift cards, travel, and more. 

td rewardsvisa card-img
Apply Now

18. Brim Mastercard

The Brim Mastercard is a no-annual-fee credit card where you earn 1% in points that you can redeem for anything. It offers 0% foreign transaction fees and a host of other benefits, including:

  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% foreign transaction fees 
  • Free global wi-fi with Boingo 
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent 
  • Access the Brim budgeting app 
  • Mobile device insurance 
  • Common carrier accident insurance 
  • Event ticket reimbursement 
  • Installment Pay flexible payments for purchases over $500

This entry-level credit card is great for students who plan to travel.  

Brim Mastercard
Apply Now

19. TD Platinum Travel Visa Card

The TD Platinum Travel Visa Card is a premium credit card that earns you TD Rewards Points on all purchases. It offers:

  • $89 annual fee
  • $1,000 minimum credit limit 
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent on travel purchases with Expedia
  • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on groceries and recurring bill payments
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases 
  • Earn 50% more Stars at Starbucks 
  • A suite of travel insurance and benefits 
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions on flights 

Your TD Rewards points never expire and can be redeemed on cash back, travel, gift cards, and more. 

td platinum travel visa
Apply Now

20. BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

The BMO Air Miles Mastercard for students is a great student travel care and offers:

  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 income requirement
  • Get 1 reward mile per $20 spent
  • Earn double the miles at participating retailers
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • 1.99% balance transfer rate for 9 months
  • $15,000 minimum annual personal income required

You can redeem your Miles for travel or merchandise. Learn more about the card in this review.

BMO Air Miles Mastercard
Apply Now

Methodology:

Savvy New Canadians ranks the best student credit cards based on the ease of applying for them if you have limited income and/or limited credit history. The card’s features, including annual fees, interest rates, rewards, welcome bonuses, insurance coverage, top features, categories, and other perks, were also considered. We carefully evaluate each credit card and place more weight on each card’s long-term rewards value. Only credit cards we would personally use are recommended. Visit the bank’s website using the links to view updated offers and review their terms and conditions.

What is a Student Credit Card?

Student credit cards may be specifically designed for those pursuing post-secondary education and who are at least 18 years of age or the age of the majority in their province of residence.

While you may not be earning a significant income as a college student, a credit card is handy for building your credit history, so it is easier to access credit facilities when you want to buy your first car or home.

Student credit cards are easier to qualify for; however, the funds they make available to you should not be considered ‘free’ money. You need to be responsible with your use of credit and pay off your entire balance every month if you want to enjoy the benefits of an excellent credit profile.

In addition to building your credit history, the best credit cards offer you rewards, such as cash back and travel benefits. Student credit cards can also be starter credit cards for first-time credit card users or newcomers to Canada.

Types of Student Credit Cards

Cash back student credit card: Looking to earn cash back rewards when you make purchases? These credit cards return a small percentage of your spending to your wallet. You can redeem earnings to pay for purchases (statement credit), buy merchandise, or transfer them to your savings or investment account.

Travel rewards student cards: These credit cards offer travel rewards, usually in the form of points, such as Aeroplan or Air Miles. You can redeem earnings for flights, vacation packages, hotels, gift cards, a statement credit, and more.

Low interest student credit cards: While a regular credit card will charge you a 19.99% interest rate or higher when you carry a balance, low-interest student cards have lower interest rates. This low rate may also extend to balance transfers and cash advances.

Prepaid cards for students: A prepaid card offers the convenience of a credit card, but you can only spend money pre-loaded on it. They may be issued under license by Visa or Mastercard. If you are trying to ease into managing credit, a prepaid card can be useful, and it does not put you at risk of damaging your credit rating.

Premium credit cards for students: Students can apply for a premium credit card if they have a good to excellent credit score and meet other requirements, such as minimum income thresholds. Premium credit cards have annual fees and offer more rewards and perks in return.

No-fee student credit card: Many student credit cards fall into this category. You don’t pay an annual fee to keep your credit card account and can also avoid interest fees by paying your balance in full during the grace period (usually 21 days).

Benefits of Student Credit Cards

There are many benefits to using a credit card as a student. 

Build credit history: When you need to apply for a personal loan, line of credit, or even a mortgage in the future, the lender will check your credit history to determine your creditworthiness. Having a student credit card is a great way to start building credit history while in school and learning how to use debt responsibly. With a good credit score, you can qualify for competitive (lower) interest rates and save money on fees.

Earn rewards: Earning cash back and travel rewards or points when you spend using your card is like getting free money. Just make sure you don’t accumulate credit card debt, as this could reverse any gains you might have enjoyed. 

Insurance benefits: Many credit cards include basic purchase protection and extended warranty insurance coverages which are useful for protecting against damage, loss, theft, or malfunction.

Downsides of Student Credit Cards

The disadvantages of credit cards are generally related to debt and fees.

Accumulate debt: if you are not disciplined with using a credit card, you could accumulate significant debt and end up in a worse financial situation with a bad credit rating. Missing payments, opening too many credit card accounts within a short time, maintaining a large balance (35% or more), etc. can damage your credit score over time.

Fees: Some cards charge annual fees, and you could be on the hook for interest fees if you are not paying off your balance regularly.

Credit limit: The default credit limits on student cards are lower compared to regular credit cards.

How To Apply for a Student Credit Card in Canada

You can easily apply for any of the credit cards on this list by clicking the “Apply Now” link and visiting the issuing bank’s website.

You will need to provide a government-issued ID to confirm your identity and acceptable proof of address document, such as a driver’s license. Some credit card providers may also require you to provide proof of enrollment at a post-secondary institution.

Canadian credit card companies generally require you to be at least the age of the majority in your province (18 or 19 years old). Some also have minimum income thresholds ($12,000 to $15,000 annually) you must meet.

If you are an international student, you should be ready to provide a copy of your study permit and enrollment letter.

What are the Alternatives to a Student Credit Card?

You can also apply for a personal loan or line of credit to gain access to credit.

If you do not qualify for a regular student credit card due to poor credit, you could consider a secured credit card like the Neo Financial Secured Mastercard.

A secured credit card requires the cardholder to provide a security deposit (collateral). Other than that, it functions the same way as a traditional credit card and can help you increase your credit score. Here are some other secured credit card options.

Lastly, you can get a prepaid card with credit-building features like the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard.

Conclusion: Top Student Credit Cards

The bottom line with these student credit cards is that they are easy to qualify for, charge no annual fees, and many offer free rewards.

To qualify, you must be the age of the majority in your province, which is 18 years in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and PEI; and 19 years in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon.

Use your credit wisely by paying off your credit card bill within the 21-day grace period, and avoid using your credit card for cash advances like the plague. An excellent credit score comes in handy later in the future when you need financing for significant monetary undertakings, such as when you decide to buy a home in Canada.

If you are responsible with credit now, your future self will thank you when you can qualify for the best rates possible and save on fees!

Do I have to be a student to apply for a student credit card? No, you can generally apply for a student credit card if you meet the income and credit requirements. 

Best Student Credit Cards FAQ

What is the best student credit card in Canada?

The Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard is the best student credit card in Canada if you earn up to $12,000 in personal income per year.

What is the easiest student credit card to get?

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card, Neo Mastercard, SimplyCash Card from Amex, and BMO CashBack Mastercard have easy-to-attain minimum eligibility requirements. All five cards also do not have an annual fee.

Can I build credit with a student credit card?

A student credit card works like a regular credit card, and your transactions are reported to the credit bureaus. If you pay your balances on time, it helps to raise your credit score over time.

What is the best student credit card for poor credit?

The Neo Secured Mastercard is the best student credit card if you have poor credit. It offers guaranteed approval and has no annual fees.

Do I have to be a student to apply for a student credit card?

No, you can generally apply for a student credit card if you meet the income and credit requirements. 

Related:

Best Credit Offers in January 2023

Earn up to 5% cash back at over 10,000 retail locations ($25 Bonus)

Get a $25 bonus when you are approved for the Card.

No annual account fees.

Earn up to 5% unlimited cash back at 10,000+ participating stores.

Guaranteed instant approval credit card.

Get up to 5% cashback and grow your savings ($20 bonus)

Best free prepaid reloadable Mastercard plus a $20 welcome bonus.

Free budgeting app with automatic savings features.

Increase your credit score with optional credit building add-on.

Earn up to 2.00% interest on your entire balance.*

Get one of the no-fee cash back credit cards in Canada ($150 bonus)

Earn 2% unlimited cash back in up to 3 spending categories.

Get a $150 welcome bonus after spending $1,000 in the first two months.

1.95% low-rate balance transfer, airport lounge access, and insurance benefits.

No annual fees to use the card and cashback is paid out monthly.

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Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. 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. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, CBC News, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, National Post, and many other personal finance publications. You can learn more about him on the About Page.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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