Credit Cards

📘 Best Student Credit Cards In Canada for 2022

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Last updated on January 10, 2022
student credit cards canada

When it comes to finances, building a strong credit history early can set the trajectory for a successful life. Students are at a pivotal point in their lives and getting a credit card at this stage can provide them with a head-start to a healthy credit score – a fundamental prerequisite for financing bigger purchases like a car or a house. From paying for textbooks, food, and a myriad of other bills and day-to-day expenses, credit cards for students is a fantastic tool to learn about budgeting, and to form healthy financial habits.

If you are a student in the market for a new credit card, know that it’s important that you choose carefully. The credit building process shouldn’t be a nightmare, but a wrong card can make it so. It doesn’t end there, you might also end up having to pay insane fees to keep your card, while missing out on good rewards and perks that other credit cards offer – the ones that are designed for students and first time credit-card holders.

In this article, we present you with the round-up of 7 best credit cards for students in Canada. Each of these cards has its own winning qualities, but they all offer students the best chance to earn the most perks, cash backs and bonuses on either everyday purchases, or purchases under a specific category or two. All of these cards have low-to-no annual fees, low eligibility requirements and are perfect for students with no prior credit history.

Best for cashback + biggest welcome bonus: BMO Cashback Mastercard
Best for travel rewards: BMO Air Miles Mastercard
Best for rotating rewards: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Best rewards for movies: Scotiabank Scene Visa Card
Best rewards for groceries: PC Financial Mastercard
Best for low interest rate: American Express Essential Credit Card
Best for rebuilding credit history: Home Trust Secured Visa Card

Best for cashback + biggest welcome bonus

BMO CashBack® MasterCard®*(Student)

bmo cashback mastercard

Apply Now

on BMO's website

Welcome Offer: Get 5% cash back in your first 3 months*

Earn Rate: Then get 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments and 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases!*

Annual Fee: $0

For students, sometimes, the best reward is money because it gives you the flexibility to save or spend on the things you need/want. The BMO CashBack® MasterCard®*(Student) gives students 5% cash back for every dollar spent in the first 3 months. This is the largest welcome offer for a no-fee card on the market.

Once the promotional period is over, you’ll earn 3% cash back on all grocery purchases and 1% back on recurring bill payments. For all other purchases, you’ll get 0.5% cash back. The 3% back on groceries is one of the best non-promotional rates for a no-fee card.

Redeem your earnings once you hit $50, and use it to pay your monthly credit balance, or cash it into your savings account. One of the strengths of this card is you don’t have to wait once a year to withdraw your earnings. You have access to it whenever you want. There are no tiers or categories limiting your rewards to only a few items

Another thing: The BMO CashBack® MasterCard®*(Student) gives discounts for those renting a vehicle at National Car Rental or Alamo Rent A Car locations. This is a solid way to save some money when on school/road trips, attending conferences or if on vacation.

Click here for more details about the BMO CashBack® MasterCard®*(Student)

Best student card for travel

BMO AIR MILES®† MasterCard®* (Student)

bmo air miles mastercard

Apply Now

on BMO's website

Welcome Offer: Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles!* That’s enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash.*

Earn Rate: Get 3x the Miles for every $25 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners*. Get 1 Mile for every $25 spent everywhere else*

Annual Fee: $0

The BMO AIR MILES®† MasterCard®* (Student) helps make a lot of travel dreams come true for students by offering a high Air Miles earn rate while having no annual fee. It also comes with discounts on car rentals, purchase protection, and extended warranty on purchases. Also an additional perk: 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada, and 20% off when viewing in Las Vegas.

Click here for more details about the BMO AIR MILES®† MasterCard®* (Student)

Best for rotating rewards

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

tangerine credit card

Apply Now

on Tangerine's website

Welcome Offer: choose up to 3 categories and receive a 4% cash back on those for the first 3 months.

Earn Rate: 2% cash back on your selected categories, and 0.5% on everything else.

Annual Fee: $0

Min. Income Required: Personal $12,000

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is one of those rare cards that encourages saving, which is a fantastic habit to develop when young. This card gives you 2% Money-back rewards on any two of the 10 available money-back categories of your choice. Your options include grocery, furniture, restaurants, hotel, gas, drug store, home improvement, entertainment, and public transportation and parking. You will earn a 0.50% cash back on all purchases made outside those 2-categories.

Here is the cool part, though. You can unlock a 3rd money-back category if instead of withdrawing your earnings and spending it all, you deposit it into a Tangerine Savings Account.

The rewards are credited to your account automatically and are ready for withdrawal every month. You can redeem the earning to your savings account or use it to pay off your credit balance. The card also has a tracking feature and observes and analyzes your transactions and gives you practical information on how to shop smartly.

And, for a new card with no annual fee, it comes with Purchase Insurance and Extended Warranty that are there to protect new purchases made using your Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card against loss, theft, and damage for 90 days from the date of purchase. The extended warranty feature doubles the repair time up to 1 year.

Click here for more details about the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Best for movies

Scotiabank Scene Visa Card

scotia scene visa

Apply Now

on Scotiabank’s website

Welcome Offer: 2,500 bonus SCENE points with your first $500 in everyday purchases in first 3 months.

Earn Rate: Earn 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on everyday purchases. 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex theatres or at Redeem for a FREE movie with just 1,250 points.

Annual Fee: $0

Min. Income Required: $0

Are you a movie lover? Is watching the latest flick with friends your favorite way to de-stress or socialize? Or maybe you are a film student. If so, then Scotiabank’s Scene Card might be for you. Sometimes Netflix doesn’t give you the same experience as watching a movie on the big screen, with popcorn, cocooned within an amazing ambience and great friends. But it can be hard to go to the movies frequently as a student because, let’s be honest, ticket prices are soaring.

To start you off, the Scene visa card gives you 2,500 bonus SCENE points once you make $500 worth of every day purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.

With the Scene Visa Card, rewards earned can be redeemed on two things- Free movies, and getting $10 off for 1000 points at any of their restaurant partners.

You can earn 1 SCENE point for every dollar on everyday purchases made through the credit card. To earn 5 SCENE points per dollar, use your Scene Visa Card at Cineplex theatres or at

For every 1,250 points, you can watch 1 movie for free. There another perk that comes with this card. Scotiabank Scene Visa cardholders can get up to 25% off base rates when renting a vehicle at AVIS, or Budget locations in Canada, and the United States when putting the full rental purchase on your Scene Visa Card.

Click here for more details about the Scotiabank Scene Visa Card

Best for groceries

PC Financial Mastercard

Presidents Choice Financial Mastercard

Apply Now

on PC Financial’s website

Welcome Offer: No welcome offer on this card.

Earn Rate: 25 points at Shoppers Drug Mart. 30 points per litre at Esso. 20 points for PC Travel. All other stores 10 points.

Annual Fee: $0

Min. Income Required: $0

Whether you plan to live on your own, at home or dorm, you will more than likely be spending money on groceries. When it comes to everyday purchases, there’s PC Financial Mastercard is an amazing no-fee credit card that offers fantastic rewards, especially if you frequently shops at Shoppers Drug Mart and other stores that carry President’s Choice products.

This card rewards your purchases with PC optimum points. The amount of points you earn depends on where you shop. 

Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart- 25 points per $1
  • Esso Mobil- at least 30 points per Litre
  • PC Travel- 20 points per $1
  • All other stores- 10 points per $1

This card is their basic credit card offering, but it’s well-suited for students who don’t have a credit history or any income to meet the personal income requirement. There is also no annual fee that you would have to pay every year.

If you are already a member of PC optimum, which is a loyalty program offered at Shoppers Drug Mart, and stores owned by Loblaw’s which includes the Real Canadian Superstore, Zehr, Valu-Mart, Joe Fresh, Beauty Boutique, by applying for a PC optimum financial card you will be able to earn multiple the amount of points you receive quickly. Because along with receiving rewards for being a PC optimum loyalty program member, you will also get points on your purchase for being a PC financial Mastercard holder.

Once you hit 10,000 points, you can redeem your rewards and use it to pay future grocery bills. Every 10,000 points is worth $10.

Like most other cards on this list, PC Financial Mastercard comes with free Purchase Assurance, Extended Warranty. You can also add 4-free additional cards on your account for family members. This will help you earn points faster.

Click here for more details about the PC Financial Mastercard

Best for low interest rates

American Express Essential Credit Card

American Express Essential

Apply Now

on American Express’ website

Welcome Offer: 1.99% interest in first 6 months if you transfer your other credit card balances to this card.

Interest Rate: 12.99% on purchases and cash advances.

Annual Fee: $0

Min. Income Required: $0

It happens to the best of us – We want to pay the minimum amount due on our credit card every month, but sometimes dire circumstances make it impossible to do so. Students who are just entering the real world and learning to climb the financial ropes would do great using a card that has low interest rate. This way, even if you are unable to pay the full balance on your credit card for a month or two, you won’t be charged an arm and a leg in interest. This is where the American Express Essential Credit Card comes in. It only charges a purchase interest-rate of 8.99%. The balance transfer rate for the first six months is also low at 1.99%.

Also, items bought using your card, such as an iPhone or a laptop, will be covered for damage, loss or theft. You also will get priority access to getting your hands on Front of the Line Tickets from a block of amazing seats reserved for American Express members for any major events. You will also get an emergency card replacement for free if your card were to get lost or stolen.

Click here for more details about the American Express Essential Credit Card

Best for students with bad credit history

HomeTrust Secured Visa Card (no annual fee version)

Apply Now

on Home Trust’s website

Welcome Offer: No welcome offer on this card. This is a secured credit card.

Annual Fee: $0

Min. Income Required: $0

There are many students who, due to poor financial decisions, had their credit history suffer greatly. The Home Trust Secured Visa card helps such students build or rebuild their credit scores because, sometimes, a healthy credit score is a much better reward points or cashback.

This card is a type of secured credit card, which means that you will have to place a security deposit of at least $500 which will then act as your card’s credit limit. Purchases made will be using your deposit, and you’ll pay back the amount you used every month on time. Overtime, this will rebuild your credit score and bring it up. The Home Trust Secured Visa card has no annual fee or income requirement and is very easy to get approved for.

If you are someone who spends excessively, this card can help you rectify that behavior, since you will be using your own money as the credit limit. Also, if you choose to cancel your card at any time, just pay the balance in your account, and you’ll get the security deposit back.

Click here for more details about the Home Trust Secured Visa

What students should know when applying for a credit card

Student credit cards are slightly different than regular credit cards. The main objective of a student credit card is to help build credit so that they could apply for more premium rewards cards in the future. They also usually have lower approval requirements, most of them have no yearly fees, and they all report to the major credit bureaus in Canada.

While the objective of a student credit card is to build credit, many of them still come with decent welcome bonuses and rewards earn rates.

Why is building credit so important for students?

A strong credit score, and a positive credit history, is important for getting approved for several important situations such as renting an apartment, leasing a car, borrowing money, and in some cases, getting hired by a company.

If I’m a student, am I only able to sign up for student credit cards?

No, not necessarily. You can still apply for other credit cards. However, to apply for a premium rewards, cash back, or travel credit card, you’ll usually need at least $60,000 in personal yearly income, and a high credit score with a solid credit history.

Also, most students don’t spend a lot with their credit cards. So you’ll also need to calculate whether you’ll be able to take advantage of the higher rewards earn rates.

What if I’m declined from getting a student credit card?

Being a student doesn’t automatically qualify you to be approved for a student credit card. If you don’t have any credit history built up, your next option is to apply for a secured credit card. Click here to view the best secured credit cards in Canada.

Methodology: How We Choose The Cards In This List

Simple Rate takes into account several factors such as welcome bonuses, points-reward structure, redemption options, and other benefits and perks to make its decision on which credit-cards make the cut for any specific group.

View the best overall credit cards in Canada.

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