Best Student-Friendly Credit Cards 2021

Best Student-Friendly Credit Cards 2021

Written by Priyanka Correia
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated September 15, 2021

If you are a student over eighteen, you may have heard of the word “adulting”; an informal term that is used to describe individuals doing adult-like tasks like paying bills and running errands. Some people succeed at this while others seem to struggle with it. One way you can triumph over this is by managing your finances. A great way to start is by building your credit. As you grow older, you’ll need good credit to achieve certain goals like buying a house or a car. So, here are five of the best student-friendly credit cards you can find on the market right now that will help you build credit and be rewarded:

The Best Credit Cards For Students

  • Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card – For the independent student
  • Scotiabank Scene Visa Card  – For the movie enthusiast
  • BMO CashBack Mastercard – For the student looking to make some extra cash
  • CIBC Aventura Visa for Students – For the student with wanderlust
  • CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students – For the student who cooks
  • PC Financial Mastercard – For the student who’s a foodie
Annual FeePurchase RateRewardsBonusIncome
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card$019.95%– 2% cashback in any 2 categories
– 0.5% on other purchases
Apply by August 16, 2021, and earn 10% back (up to $100) when you spend up to $1,000 in your first 2 months.>12,000 annually
Scotiabank Scene Visa Card$019.99%
– Earn 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex
– Earn 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on everyday purchases
Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points with your first $500 in everyday purchases in first 3 months>12,000 annually
BMO CashBack Mastercard$019.99%– 3% cash back on groceries
– 1% cash back on recurring bills
– 0.5% cash back on other purchases
– Up to 5% cash back in your first 3 months
– A 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee
N/A
CIBC Aventura Visa for Students$019.99%– 1 point for every $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores
– 1 point for every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
– Free SPC membership
Earn up to 2,500 bonus Aventura PointsN/A
CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students$019.99%– 2% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 per year
– Up to 1% cash back on everything else
– Free SPC membership
Get $25 cash back after making your first purchase

N/A
PC Financial Mastercard$020.97%

– Earn 25 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
– Earn 10 points per $1 spent at participating grocery stores
– Earn 20 points per $1 spent on PC Travel
– Earn 3 cents per litre when you buy gas at Esso or Mobil stations
20,000 PC Optimum points, after a first purchase

N/A

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card – For The Independent Student

Tangerine mastercard
Annual Fee$0
Interest Rate19.95%
Rewards– Get 2% cashback in any 2 categories
– 0.5% on all other everyday purchases
Sign-Up BonusApply by August 16, 2021, and earn 10% back (up to $100) when you spend up to $1,000 in your first 2 months.
Income Requirements>12,000 annually

If you’re a student who has an income and does most of their own shopping, this is a great card for you. You’ll have a 2% cash-back on purchases among two categories of your choice with the ability to unlock a third category if you open a Tangerine’s savings account.  Moreover, with the .05% cashback on all other everyday purchases, you’ll be raking in points like crazy. With Christmas and the new year closing in, take advantage of the sign-up bonus which rewards you double the points for three whole months. There’s also no limit on the amount of Money-Back Rewards you can earn on your everyday purchases, so feel free to go nuts. 

Scotiabank Scene Visa Card  – For The Movie Enthusiast

Scotiabank Scene Visa Card
Annual Fee$0
Interest Rate19.99%
Rewards– 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 everyday purchases
Sign-Up BonusEarn 2,500 bonus SCENE points with your first $500 in everyday purchases in first 3 months
Income Requirements>12,000 annually

Dinner and a movie is one of the most classic and ideal ways to spend a Friday night with friends or a date. If this sounds good, then this is the card for you. Besides earning one SCENE point for every dollar spent on everyday purchases, you can also earn five SCENE points per dollar spent on watching movies at the Cineplex. These points can later be redeemed to buy movie tickets and snacks at any Cineplex. If you’re feeling hungry after that, you can hit up any participating restaurants like Swiss Chalet and East Side Mario’s for dinner. 

This card also has a sign-up bonus; spend $500 within the first three months and get 2500 SCENE points. That’s equivalent to redeeming two free movie tickets or one ticket and 10$ off Swiss Chalet. One free movie ticket is worth 1250 points and with 1000 points you can redeem $10 off at participating restaurants.

BMO CashBack Mastercard – For The Student Looking To Make Some Extra Cash

BMO CashBack Mastercard
Annual Fee$0
Interest Rate19.99%
Rewards– 3% cash back on groceries
– 1% cash back on recurring bills
– 0.5% cash back on other purchases
Sign-Up Bonus– Up to 5% cash back in your first 3 months
– A 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee
Income RequirementsN/A

If you want something simple and straightforward, the BMO CashBack Mastercard may be the best offer for you. With no annual fee and no income requirements, it’s easy to get and easy to understand. You will earn a 1% cashback on all purchases you make on your card which is great since you don’t have to figure which purchases give you cashback. You can then redeem your cashback directly into your chequing or savings account, or use it to pay off your BMO credit card. If you join before March 31, 2020, you can take advantage of the 5% cashback sign-up bonus as well. 

Additional Benefits: Get purchase protection and an extended warranty on most items bought with your card. 

CIBC Aventura Visa for Students – For The Student With Wanderlust

CIBC Aventura Visa for Students
Annual Fee$0
Interest Rate19.99%
Rewards– 1 point for every $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores
– 1 point for every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
– Free SPC membership
Sign-Up BonusEarn up to 2,500 bonus Aventura Points
Income RequirementsN/A

If you have a thirst for adventure and travel, this card may be your best offer. Earn points that will never expire on your everyday purchases. Earn one point for every dollar spent on gas, groceries, and the drugstore and one point for every $2 spent elsewhere. Plus, there’s nothing better than earning points by doing the things you love: travelling, which is achieved by purchasing through the CIBC rewards centre. Save money on your trips and at home when you shop with the free SPC membership card. Lastly, it has what every student looks for in a credit card: no annual fee and no requirements, which makes it easy in securing this card to your wallet.

CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students – For The Student Who Shops

CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students
Annual Fee$0
Interest Rate19.99%
Rewards– 2% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 per year
– Up to 1% cash back on everything else
– Free SPC membership
Sign-Up BonusGet $25 cash back after making your first purchase
Income Requirements N/A

A great points card that’s designed with students in mind is the CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students. Upon making your very first purchase with this card, you’ll receive $25 cash back. 

Following that, you can earn 2% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 per year, 1% cash back after the $6,000 mark has been reached, and 0.5% cash back on all other purchases. There’s no limit on your total cash back earning potential, and you can double the manufacturer’s warranty up to one year on many purchases. 

As a CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students cardholder, you’ll receive a free SPC membership, which provides exclusive access discounts and experiences. Shop deals at over 450 partner retailers with your SPC membership.

There’s no minimum annual income requirement or annual fee, making this card easy to get approved for and affordable to maintain.

PC Financial Mastercard- For The Student Who’s A Foodie 

PC Financial Mastercard
Annual Fee$0
Interest Rate20.97%
Rewards– Earn 25 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
– Earn 10 points per $1 spent at participating grocery stores
– Earn 20 points per $1 spent on PC Travel
– Earn 3 cents per litre when you buy gas at Esso or Mobil stations
Sign-Up Bonus20,000 PC Optimum points, after a first purchase
Income RequirementsN/A

If you love to cook or do a lot of grocery shopping, you’ll love this card. With 25 points earned per dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart and 10 points per dollar spent at the Real Canadian Superstore, you’re sure to earn loads of points while shopping for your meals. This card is beneficial to people who shop for food more than anything. Why go for a 1% flat cashback rate if you can earn more on the things you buy. You’re able to redeem your points starting at the value of 10,000 points = $10 dollars.

Why Apply For A Student Credit Card?

A student credit card can be an excellent way to start building healthy credit. After all, the only way to establish credit is to prove to the credit bureaus that you are responsible with your money and are able to make your bill payments on time every month. By the time you finish school, you should be able to have established some level of credit just by using a credit card for your purchases and paying them off every billing period. 

Plus, credit cards are often the only way to make certain purchases, such as online purchases and travel reservations. Without a credit card, you might be limited to what you can and can’t buy. 

Credit cards can be difficult to get approved for, as they often have a minimum income requirement that is way out of reach for most students. Thankfully, student credit cards are much easier to qualify for, and some don’t have any minimum income requirement at all. 

What To Look For In A Student Credit Card?

There are plenty of great choices out there when it comes to credit cards geared toward students. Here are some important factors to consider before settling on one for you:

Annual Fee

Obviously, the lower the fee you need to pay every year, the better.

Minimum Income

Students typically earn a very modest income, if any at all. As such, look for a card that you can qualify for without requiring a sizable income. 

Rewards

Why not make your money work for you? Many student-based credit cards offer the opportunity to collect and redeem points. If you’re interested in a card like this, look for one that is geared towards your particular lifestyle. For instance, if you’re a cinema fanatic, then collecting points that can be redeemed for free movies make sense; likewise for cards that offer points to be redeemed for travel if you love vacationing. 

Extra Perks

There may be other perks that you might find attractive or even necessary. For instance, if you travel a lot, you may want to look for a card that also comes with some type of travel insurance so you don’t have to purchase a separate policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I get a credit card as a student?

There’s no real right or wrong answer to getting a credit card while you’re a student. It truly depends on your ability to responsibly use it. If used responsibly, a credit card can teach you about the importance of tracking your spending, making on-time payments and budgeting. Owning a credit card is also a gateway to building your credit and being able to access other credit products like mortgages and car loans. Lastly, you’ll be able to enjoy the perks of credit cards like earning points and accessing nifty discounts. On the other hand, if you are not careful, credit cards can lead to a lot of debt, which in turn will negatively impact your credit score.

How do I get the best student credit card?

With all the student credit cards available, finding one that best meets your needs can be difficult. However, when choosing you should typically look for no annual fee, low minimum requirements, sign-up bonuses and a points system that works with your lifestyle or purchasing habits.

Will I be charged interest if I only pay the minimum payment on my credit card?

Yes, if you only pay the minimum amount, you will be charged interest. If you continue to only pay the minimum amount, the interest will compound, making it even harder to pay off your balance.

Bottom Line

All these cards offer no annual fee, have little to no eligibility requirements and have reward benefits. Always do your research and choose a credit card based on your needs and not a freebie. Once you have a credit card that matches your lifestyle, keep track of your spending and pay off your balance in full. If you do that, you’ll build the credit you need and be that much closer to being a successful adult.  


Rating of 4/5 based on 10 votes.

Priyanka is a personal finance expert at Loans Canada. She is passionate about money management and educating Canadian consumers about how to take control of their financial lives. She has taken financial control of her life by using Mint to budget and track her expenses while growing her wealth by investing through Wealthsimple. She also believes in having an emergency fund, so she keeps a good sum of money in an easily accessible high-interest savings account. She also uses the American Express Cobalt Card to earn points on all her purchases, further fueling her savings goal. She also uses Loans Canada’s lender directory whenever she wants to compare rates from different lenders.

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