5 Best Student Credit Cards in Canada for 2021

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by Enoch Omololu


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After you graduate from high school at age 18, you are now considered an adult in many of the provinces and you should start taking your finances seriously if you are not already doing so. Now is the time to start building an excellent credit profile, avoiding debt, saving money, and planning 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.

  • Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card: best for flexible cash back 
  • BMO Cash Back Mastercard: best for flat-rate cash back rewards
  • Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card: best for free movies
  • PC Financial Mastercard: best for grocery cash back
  • BMO Air Miles Mastercard: best for student travel rewards
The best student credit cards in Canada

What Are Student Credit Cards?

Student credit cards are 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 for you to access credit facilities when you want to buy your first car or home in the future.

Student credit cards are easier to qualify for, however, the funds they make available to you should not be considered as ‘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 that come with 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 serve as a starter credit card for first-time credit card users or newcomers to Canada.

The Best Student Credit Cards for 2021

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 requirements.

1. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The Tangerine 2% Money-Back Card is a great student card and also 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 get to 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. 

For a limited time, new cardholders earn an extra 10% cash back on up to $1,000 spent in the first 2 months ($100 value).

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

tangerine money-back card

2. BMO Cash Back Mastercard

The BMO Cash Back Mastercard is a no-annual-fee credit card that fits in 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 a maximum spending of $500 per month
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases after the bonus period
  • 1.99% balance transfer rate for 9 months
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Up to 25% discount on car rentals
BMO Cashback Mastercard

3. Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

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 1,250 bonus SCENE points after your first purchase (worth 1 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.

SCENE Visa Card

4. 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 3 cents 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

5. 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
  • Up to 25% discount on car rentals

You can redeem your Miles for travel or merchandise.

BMO Air Miles Mastercard

Student Credit Cards – Conclusion

The bottom line with these student credit cards is that they are easy to qualify for, charge no annual fees, and offer some level of 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 full balance 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 are able to qualify for the best rates possible and save on fees!

If you are only looking for a card to make easy payments online/in-store and to earn cash back when you spend, the free KOHO Prepaid Visa earns cash back at a 0.50% rate. You also earn a 1.20% interest on your balance if you set up a direct deposit.


Best Student Credit Cards FAQ

What is the best student credit card in Canada?

If you earn up to $12,000 in personal income per year, the Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard is our number one choice for a student credit card. Following that, we recommend the BMO CashBack Mastercard.

What is the easiest student credit card to get?

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card, and BMO CashBack Mastercard all have bare minimum eligibility requirements. All three cards also do not have an annual fee.

Can I build credit with a student credit card?

Yes, 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.

5 Best Student Credit Cards in Canada for 2021

Best Credit Offers this month

One of the best no-fee credit cards in Canada.

Get 2% unlimited cash back on up to 3 purchase categories.

Get 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

1.95% balance transfer offer for 6 months.

Free prepaid reloadable Visa card.

Access to a portion of your paycheque 3 days early.

Free budgeting app with automatic savings features.

Credit building available with a subscription.

1.20% savings interest on every dollar balance.*

Get the best rates from multiple lenders.

Borrow up to $50,000 regardless of your credit score.

Pre-approvals offered in as fast as 5 minutes.

Low interest rates starting at 9.9% (or 1.90% for auto loans).

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Enoch Omololu

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 has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, MSN Money, Financial Post, Winnipeg Free Press, CPA Canada, Credit Canada, Wealthsimple, and many other personal finance publications.

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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