Best student credit card for 2020 award seal

With little or no credit history, and often erratic income (to say the least), it can be difficult to get approved for a traditional credit card when you’re a student. Most banks understand this, thankfully, and have created credit cards designed specifically for students.

Our suggestion? Even if you don’t need a credit card right now, you should get one and use it responsibly. The length of your credit history is an important part of calculating your credit score, and it will show banks that you are financially responsible.

As a young adult, now is the perfect time to start building your credit and practicing responsible spending – but why just settle for just any card? With one of the top student credit cards in Canada, you’ll get more rewards, perks, and some complimentary insurance – so why not shop around?

Canada’s best student credit cards for 2020

Here are some of the best student credit cards:

Category Credit Card Current Welcome Bonus Offer
Best student credit card BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for students 5% cash back for the first 3 months (terms)
Best student credit card for AIR MILES collectors BMO AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* for students 800 AIR MILES (terms)
Best student credit card for movie lovers Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card for Students 1,250 points

Review all 10 top student credit cards here.

Overall best student credit card in Canada

Our top-rated student credit card is the .

Why? It offers great cash back rewards, no annual fee, and some purchase insurance as well.

To start, you'll earn 5% cash back for the first 3 months, on the first $2,500 you spend.

After that, you'll earn:

  • 3% cash back on groceries (up to $500 spend per month),
  • 1% cash back on recurring bill payments (up to $500 spend per month), and
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.

As for insurance coverage, you’ll get complimentary extended warranty and purchase protection with this card, giving you added peace of mind.

Plus you can choose when you want your cash back paid out, with a minimum redemption requirement of only $1.

And you get all of this (on top of the added bonus of being able to build your credit score and history) for no annual fee. What’s better than that?

Canada’s best student credit card for AIR MILES

Are you an AIR MILES collector? You can significantly boost your AIR MILES earn rate with an AIR MILES credit card.

Our favourite? The earns you AIR MILES on all of your purchases, not just at AIR MILES partners.

And you can double dip! Present your AIR MILES card where they’re accepted and make your purchase with your AIR MILES credit card, and you’re doubling your rewards.

You’ll also get a sweet welcome bonus of 800 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.

And here's what you'll earn on all your purchases:

  • 1 mile per $20 spent on all purchases, and
  • 2x the miles at select partners.

If you’re an AIR MILES collector, it's a great card for collecting AIR MILES everywhere you shop.

Canada’s best student credit card for movie lovers

If you love going to the movies, the is another great student credit card to consider.

With the price of tickets, popcorn, and drinks always on the rise, getting a credit card that can help you cut costs on your movie night is never a bad idea.

This student credit card is perfect for that, because it lets you earn Cineplex SCENE rewards, which can turn into free movie tickets, and more. With this card you’ll earn:

  • a welcome bonus of 1,250 SCENE points,
  • 1 SCENE point for every $1 you spend, as well as
  • 5 SCENE points for every $1 you spend at Cineplex theatres and cineplex.com.

With 1,250 points being worth 1 movie ticket and 1,000 points getting $10 off at participating restaurants, your next study break is sure to be a good one.

Best prepaid credit cards for students

While they won't help build your credit score, prepaid cards are a good way to learn responsible credit card use.

Since you have to load the card with your own money first, you don't have to worry about spending money you don’t have, keeping you from going down the path of credit card debt.

So if prepaid cards interest you, here are 2 great options currently available:

The is a prepaid Mastercard. It has no fees of any kind, including no foreign transaction fees, so it’s great for online shopping and for using when you’re visiting other countries.

And even though it's a prepaid card, you can still earn rewards at select partner stores.

A prepaid Visa, the offers rewards and no annual fee.

You'll earn 0.5% cash back on every purchase. And if you use our promo code CCGBONUS,you'll earn an extra 1% cash back for the first 90 days.

It also has a lower foreign transaction fee of 1.5%, which is better than the 2.5% fee that most credit cards will charge.

And to top it all off, you get a choice of 4 designs to choose from.

If you want even more rewards, you can upgrade to the .

For an annual fee of $84 (or $9 per month), you'll also get 2% back on a variety of categories, including:

  • groceries,
  • gas,
  • restaurants, and
  • transit.

Plus get 0.5% back on everything else.

KOHO Premium prepaid Visa also comes with complimentary price protection insurance. If you find a cheaper price for an item you bought in the last 30 days, KOHO will refund the difference to your account.

To top it off, it also charges no foreign exchange fees, saving money while you shop online or travel.

And if you decide it's not worth it, you can switch back to the no annual fee KOHO Visa anytime you like.

Related: Secured Credit Cards Canada: What They Are And What’s The Best Card

Compare Canada’s Best Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards 101

Getting your first credit card is a big deal. Think of it as a powerful tool that needs to be handled responsibly. Welcome to adulting.

One of the best times to get a credit card is when you’re a student. Since student credit cards are designed specifically for, well, students, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be approved for one. And using a credit card is one of the easiest ways to start building up your credit score and your credit history.

And there are some added benefits too…

  • Rewards: Earn cash back, travel, or even movie tickets
  • Discounts: Get discounts and save money. For example, Scotiabank Student cards give you discounts on rental cars, making it easier to travel on spring break.
  • Insurance: Free coverage for shopping and travel. Check out our full list of included insurance coverage on each credit card (check the Insurance Coverage tab after clicking Learn More on a card below).

Whatever your goal is, there's a student credit card out there for you.

Still have some credit card questions you'd like to have answered before "taking the plunge?" Be sure to check out our Credit Card FAQ.

How we get our rankings

How do we decide what are the best student cards? We take into account over 126 features of each credit card, broken down into 7 main categories.

Student page genius rating scoring

We then take those features and put them through our algorithm, which calculates a score out of 5. And since we're talking about credit cards for students, we give extra weight to the fees, rewards, approval, and perks categories, as they're the primary features we're after with cards on this page.

Learn more about our Genius Rating methodology.

Best student credit cards FAQ

I was always taught that credit cards should be avoided. Why should I get a student credit card?

There is no better time to start building up your credit history and credit score than when you’re a student. If you can use a credit card responsibly (use it to make purchases, but then make sure you pay it off in full every month), you can also earn some great benefits, like AIR MILES or cash back. Using a credit card responsibly is pretty much the easiest way to start improving your credit score, which is important later in life if you ever want a car loan or a mortgage.

What’s the overall best student credit card in Canada?

Our current top pick for best student credit card in Canada is the BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for students. This credit card will earn you some solid cash back on stuff like groceries and recurring bill payments, while also giving you some complimentary insurance. And you get all of this for no annual fee.

How can I figure out which credit card is best for me?

With all of the different credit cards available in Canada these days, figuring out which one is best for you can be a daunting task. We’re trying to help people find the right credit cards, however, with our creditcardGenius challenge. Just take a quick 3 minute quiz, and our unbiased math-based algorithm will sift through our database of over 175 credit cards to come up with a recommendation. And there’s possibly even $25 in it for you. Check it out.

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