The best student credit cards in Canada for 2024

As a student, using a credit card responsibly is one of the most efficient ways to establish your credit history and build your credit score.

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MoneySense is an award-winning magazine, helping Canadians navigate money matters since 1999. Our editorial team of trained journalists works closely with leading personal finance experts in Canada. To help you find the best financial products, we compare the offerings from over 12 major institutions, including banks, credit unions and card issuers. Learn more about our advertising and trusted partners.

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The best student credit cards by category

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The right student credit card can get you great perks—like a free tank of gas or dinner out at the end of the semester—all while you’re building a credit history. By the time you graduate and get your first big gig, paying off your student credit card every month could help you eventually buy a home or car more easily. That’s what having a history with a credit card and a good credit score can do. Now, let’s look at your options. 

Best credit card by categoryWhy we love it
Best cash back credit card for students
BMO CashBack Mastercard
Annual fee: $0
3% back on groceries and the ability to redeem rewards at any time
Best travel credit card for students
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students
Annual fee: $0
Good return on spending, plus a few travel benefits and student-friendly perks
Best no-fee low-interest credit card
Flexi Visa
Annual fee: $0
10.90% purchase interest rate and no annual fee
Best secured credit card
Home Trust Secured Visa
Annual fee: $0
Guaranteed approval regardless of your credit score, with the option to pay no annual fee or receive a low APR of 14.90% if you opt to pay an annual fee
Best store credit card for students
PC Financial Mastercard
Annual fee: $0
Highest return on spending at the largest grocery and drug store network in Canada, with low eligibility requirements
Best student credit card for entertainment
Scotiabank Scene+ Visa Card for students
Annual fee: $0
Tailored to movie-going students, with good earn rates in multiple categories and flexible redemptions

Best cash back credit card for students

At a glance: The BMO CashBack Mastercard is a top choice for students looking for easy cash back earnings. Combining no annual fee with an impressive 3% cash back rate on grocery purchases, this card offers students a chance to earn cash rewards in a high-spend category. With versatile redemptions, you can redeem your rewards at your convenience, making this card a strong pick for students and individuals with variable incomes.

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BMO CashBack Mastercard for Students

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rates: 3% cash back on groceries (on the first $500 per month), 1% on recurring bills and 0.5% on everything else
  • Welcome offer: You can earn 5% cash back in your first 3 months. Conditions apply.
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Recommended credit score: 660 or higher
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% in Quebec) and 22.99% on balance transfers

Pros

  • You’ll receive the highest cash back rate for groceries among no-fee credit cards in Canada, earning 3% cash back.
  • You can redeem your cash (starting with as little as $1) when you wish, and have it applied as a statement credit, added to your BMO InvestorLine account or deposited into your BMO chequing or savings account.
  • Enjoy discounts on select rental cars and Cirque du Soleil shows.

Cons

  • Groceries and recurring bills are boosted spending categories, but they each have a low monthly cap of $500 (though that cap may be sufficiently high for a student).
  • Once you reach the monthly max in a category, you’ll only earn the 0.5% base rate. Some no-fee cash back cards accessible to students offer a base earn rate higher than 0.5% for purchases in non-boosted categories.
  • You’ll be charged a 2% fee if you take advantage of the balance transfer bonus.
  • Convenience stores, bakeries and other specialty food shops are excluded from the grocery category.

Honourable mention

At a glance: The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card stands out as a rewarding option for students looking to stretch their budget. With no annual fee, cardholders can enjoy up to 2% cash back in up to three personalized categories (if you have a Tangerine savings account). There’s also an attractive balance transfer offer for students looking to get debt under control.

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Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Get a $100 Cash Bonus upon approval on ratehub.ca
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rates: 2% in up to 3 categories of your choice (including groceries, gas and dining) and 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: You can earn an extra 10% back on up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within the first 2 months. Must apply by October 31, 2024.
  • Annual income requirement: Personal or household income of $12,000
Get a $100 Cash Bonus upon approval on ratehub.ca
  • Recommended credit score: 660 or higher
  • Interest rates: 19.95% on purchases, 19.95% on cash advances and 19.95% on balance transfers

Pros 

  • Pick two 2% bonus categories from a selection of 10 categories. Get a third 2% bonus category by depositing your earnings in a Tangerine savings account.
  • Unlike a lot of no-fee cards, Tangerine’s card offers unlimited cash back earnings.
  • Sign up for free cards for additional users.
  • Switch your bonus categories within an eligible time span so you can earn more during trips or when doing a reno, if you plan ahead.
  • Cardholders can take advantage of a low interest rate of 1.95% on balance transfers for the first six months, as long as you do the transfer within the first 30 days of having the card.
  • The card is mobile wallet compatible, so you can conveniently use Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Cons

  • While it’s great that your money back earnings are paid monthly, instead of annually, some cards offer greater flexibility by letting you redeem your rewards whenever you want.
  • The annual income requirement of $12,000 per year makes this card accessible, but many student cards have no income requirement.

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Best travel credit card for students

At a glance: The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card is tailored to the needs of students, especially those who can take advantage of travel rewards. This student-friendly card has no annual fee, and it provides a free SPC+ membership that lets you enjoy savings of up to 30% across 450-plus brands.

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students

Visit CIBC.com for more details
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rates: 1 point per $1 spent on gas and EV charging, groceries and Air Canada purchases, and 1 point per $1.50 on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase ($200 value).
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% in Quebec)
  • Annual income requirement: None
Visit CIBC.com for more details
  • Point value: Aeroplan points are worth $0.02 on average
  • Recommended credit score: None specified

Pros

  • Earn Aeroplan points on your everyday purchases and enjoy flexible redemption options, including flights and merchandise.
  • The earn rate may seem low compared to other cards, but Aeroplan points are often worth more as long as you redeem them for travel.
  • Redeem your points for any Air Canada seat without worrying about blackout dates. Plus, you can pay for flights with a mix of points and cash.
  • The card comes with some travel insurance, like collision and loss damage insurance for car rentals and common carrier insurance. You also get purchase security and extended protection insurance.
  • Enjoy a free SPC+ membership that could save you money at select merchants.

Cons

  • Unlike with other Aeroplan cards, you won’t earn Status Qualifying Miles on your everyday purchases.
  • If you don’t travel frequently via Air Canada or one of its partner airlines, this card would have limited value.

Honourable mention

At a glance: The TD Rewards Visa is worth considering as a general travel rewards card, if you’re a student who likes to travel but doesn’t want to be limited to Air Canada and Aeroplan partners for flights. This no-fee card has a solid earn rate of 4 TD Reward points per $1 spent on travel when booked through Expedia for TD.

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TD Rewards Visa Card

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rates: 4 TD Rewards points per $1 spent on travel purchases made through Expedia for TD, 3 points per $1 on groceries and at restaurants, 2 points per $1 on recurring bill payments, and 1 point on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: You can earn a value of $50 in TD Rewards Points to use on eligible Amazon.ca purchases, plus no annual fee. Conditions apply. Account must be approved by June 3, 2024.
  • Point value: 1 TD Rewards point = $0.005 when redeemed for travel via Expedia For TD or $0.004 when redeemed through other providers and websites
  • Recommended credit score: 660 or higher
  • Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances and 22.99% on balance transfers

Pros

  • Earn 4 TD Rewards points per $1 spent on travel when you book through Expedia for TD, and there’s no annual limit to the amount of points you can earn on travel.
  • You’ll also earn 3 TD Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries and at restaurants, 2 points per $1 on recurring bill payments, and 1 point per $1 on other purchases
  • Redemptions are flexible, allowing you to spend your points on everything from flights and hotels to Amazon purchases, or you can choose gift cards, merchandise or statement credits. 
  • This card comes with student-friendly perks at partners including Starbucks, Amazon and Uber.
  • The TD Rewards Visa is one of the few no-fee cards that offers up to $1,000 insurance for mobile devices.
  • Purchase security and extended warranty protection come with the card. 

Cons 

  • Although users benefit from the flexibility of TD Rewards, points are worth less compared to other loyalty programs. One point is valued at $0.05.
  • While the earn rate is high for bookings on Expedia for TD, those made on other sites only earn you the base rate of 1 point per $1. 
  • There are caps on how many points you can earn in the grocery, restaurants and recurring bill payments categories. Once you spend $5,000 in a year in any of the categories, you’ll earn only 1 point per $1 in every category.
  • This card doesn’t come with travel insurance, so you’ll have to pay extra for coverage when you travel.

Best no-fee low-interest credit card

At a glance: While you won’t earn rewards with this card, the Flexi Visa from Desjardins credit union stands out as a low-interest, no-fee credit card for students looking to minimize credit card debt. It also features benefits like limited travel insurance, rental car discounts, a monthly installment payment plan and mobile device insurance.

Flexi Visa

Visit desjardins.com for more details
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rates: None
  • Interest rates: 10.90% on purchases and cash advances
  • Welcome offer: None
  • Annual income requirement: None
Visit desjardins.com for more details
  • Recommended credit score: Not specified
  • Interest rates: 10.90% on purchases and 10.90% on cash advances

Pros

  • This card has the lowest regular purchase interest rate in Canada for a no-fee card (the exception may be cards with a variable interest rate that fluctuates with changes in the prime rate). 
  • Comes with $5 million in emergency medical coverage for trips up to three days, plus trip cancellation and baggage coverage—more than suitable for a weekend getaway with your pals.
  • You can pay for purchases of $200 or more in installments with participating merchants. 

Cons

  • The interest rates are low, but you can get a card with lower rates (such as the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard) if you’re willing to pay an annual fee. 
  • If you prefer in-person support, note that Desjardins only has physical branches in Ontario and Quebec.
  • Unlike many other student Visas, the Flexi Visa does not offer a rewards program.

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Best secured credit card

At a glance: The Home Trust Secured Visa is an effective tool for Canadians aiming to establish or rebuild their credit history. You set your own spending limit, which can range from $500 to $10,000. If you do occasionally have trouble paying off your balance, you can take advantage of selecting between two interest rates: 19.99% with no annual fee or 14.90% with a $59 annual fee. We like that this card lets you choose, but we recommend the low-rate option.

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Home Trust Secured Visa

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rates: None
  • Welcome offer: This card does not have a welcome bonus at this time.
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Recommended credit score: 300 or higher
  • Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases and 19.99% on cash advances

Pros

  • This card gives you the option to choose a higher or lower interest rate. With no annual fee, the purchase APR is 19.99%. With a $59 annual fee, you’ll get a lower purchase APR of 14.90%. 
  • When you use your card, Home Trust will report payments to both of Canada’s credit bureaus, TransUnion and Equifax, which helps you build your credit rating. In contrast, the Neo Secured Card, for example, only reports to TransUnion, which means that your credit history might not show up properly for lenders that only rely on Equifax scores.
  • Compatible with digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Cons

  • Unlike with the Neo Secured Card, you won’t earn rewards on your spending. However, this is typical for secured cards, which prioritize low interest.
  • The minimum deposit for the Home Trust is $500, whereas some cards require only $50. However, this is a negligible drawback, as most cardholders will likely need access to at least a few hundred dollars on their card. 
  • This card is not available to residents of Quebec.

Honourable mention

At a glance: The Neo Secured Credit gives access to benefits like unlimited cash back and boosted rewards. Plus, with opt-in perks and bundles, you can tailor the card to your needs. 

Pros

  • You can use a Neo card even if you have no credit history, with just a $50 minimum deposit—which is great for students who are just starting out.
  • You’ll get a physical card in the mail, but you can also use the Neo app to make purchases using your phone.
  • You can buy optional perks and bundles on a subscription basis to accelerate your earn rates and access benefits as needed. For example, if you’re heading home for the holidays, you can spring for the “travel bundle” and earn boosted cash back on your travel spends, and—this is good—you can chill out in the airport lounge. 
  • The Neo app has loads of tools to help you budget, track your spending and keep tabs on your cash back.

Cons

  • If you don’t shop at Neo partners, you’ll earn a non-competitive base rate of just 0.5%.
  • The Neo card doesn’t come with insurance.
  • As with other secured cards, you can only use the Neo Secured Credit for the amount of money that you put on it. Secured cards aren’t for those needing extra credit (with money, not the academic kind).

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Best store credit card for students

At a glance: Drugstores and grocery stores are where many students tend to spend the most. That makes the PC Financial Mastercard a strong pick for those who shop frequently at participating stores. With earn rates ranging from 10 to 30 points per $1, depending on the store, you can accumulate rewards quickly.

PC Financial Mastercard

Visit pcfinancial.com for more details
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rates: 25 points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart; at least 30 points per $1 at Esso and Mobil gas stations; 20 points per $1 at PC Travel; and 10 points per $1 on everything else
  • Welcome offer: earn 100,000 PC Optimum points. Offer ends July 2, 2024.
  • Annual income requirement: None
Visit pcfinancial.com for more details
  • Point value: 1 PC Optimum point is worth $0.001 (redeem 10,000 points for $10)
  • Recommended credit score: 560 or higher
  • Interest rates: 21.99% on purchases, 22.97% on cash advances and 22.97% on balance transfers

Pros

  • Earn 25 points for every $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart and 30 points per litre of gas at Esso and Mobil, translating to a return of 2.5% and 3%, respectively. These returns are generous for a student card. 
  • Redemption is easy. You have the flexibility to use your PC Optimum points at various Loblaw-affiliated stores, which could significantly reducing your day-to-day expenses. The extensive redemption network covers Canada’s largest pharmacy and grocery chain, along with Joe Fresh, spanning over 4,500 locations nationwide. 
  • There’s no cap on how many PC Optimum points you can earn.

Cons

  • Not as versatile as cash back rewards, as redemptions are restricted to specific retailers. 
  • You must redeem a minimum of $10 at a time.
  • A relatively high standard purchase interest rate of 21.99%.

Best student credit card for entertainment

At a glance: If you go to movie theatres to get away from dorm drama or to take a break from studying, consider this card. What you spend at the cinema can turn into some nice perks. 

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Scotiabank Scene+ Visa for students

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rates: 2 Scene+ Points per $1 spent on groceries at Sobeys-affiliated stores, 2 points per $1 at Cineplex theatres or cineplex.com, and 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Welcome offer: You can earn up to 7500 bonus Scene+ points within your first 3 months. Must apply by July 1, 2024.
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $12,000

Point value: 1 Scene+ point = $0.01 when redeemed for travel, store purchases and food and drink at Cineplex and Scene partners
Recommended credit score: 650 or higher
Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances and 22.99% on balance transfers


Pros

  • Scene+ is a pretty versatile points program. For example, you can book flights with any airline without having to rely on a specific travel agency or portal. Plus, you can redeem for other travel items, such as Airbnbs. It’s one of the best points programs available to Canadians.
  • The rewards are great for things outside of a typical student budget. Treat yourself for managing the stresses of school by using the rewards on things like movies, takeout, retailer gift cards, flights, hotels and more.
  • You can save 25% off base rates for car rentals at participating Avis and Budget rental locations in Canada and the U.S.

Cons

  • There are no bonus points for other common spending categories, like gas or dining, meaning fewer ways to maximize your returns. So, you would have to go to the movies regularly to really take advantage of the bonus earn rate.
  • Not as flexible as a cash back program, but redeeming is straightforward for travel items.

How we determine the best student credit cards

Our editors apply their credit card expertise and knowledge of Canadians’ financial goals to come up with selection criteria that matches the needs of the intended cardholder. For students, the best cards should generally have no annual fee, and low income and credit score requirements—because building a credit history is a common goal for people who use these cards. Beyond that, we consider the return on spending (for rewards cards), the purchase APR (for low-interest cards) and other factors, based on the category. The addition of links from affiliate partners has no bearing on the results. Read more about our selection process and how MoneySense makes money.

Frequently asked questions

Unlike applying for a summer job, applying for a student credit card is pretty straightforward, although there are a few eligibility requirements to keep in mind.

  • You’ll need to be the age of majority in your province. That’s either 18 (in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan) or 19 (in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut and Yukon).
  • If you don’t earn an income, you may need to provide proof that you receive some form of financial support, such as allowances from your family or a scholarship.

As a new credit card holder, it’s a smart idea to review your options before you apply. Check out what different banks are offering and choose a card that best matches your lifestyle and spending habits. Each application does affect your credit score, so you’ll want to avoid applying for multiple credit cards needlessly. Stick with one card as you learn the ropes and start building your credit history. 


The short answer is yes, provided you use your credit card responsibly. Your credit card use is one of the things that determines your credit score. Your credit score is like a report card for your finances—the higher your score, the better—and it can affect your ability to get a loan or a mortgage, or even to rent an apartment. You’ll want to start building your credit rating as early as possible. Being a secondary cardholder on your parents’ card doesn’t count toward it, which is one reason you might want to get your own student credit card. Responsible credit card use is one of the most efficient ways to establish your credit history, build your credit score and prove you can be trusted to manage borrowed money. Beware of overspending, though. Late or unpaid bills can devastate your rating. 


Yes, they can. Banks, credit card companies and financial institutions recognize the power of your business, so they’ve created “beginner” credit cards for young adults and students in Canada. These tend to be stripped-down versions of credit cards loaded with perks. But, as you can see above, there are still rewards to be had with secured and unsecured credit cards for students. Actually, having a credit card is how you build a credit history, which is part of how a credit score is calculated. Here’s how:

  • Credit history: A longer history shows lenders you are able to repay debt, and finance experts recommend to apply for a card as a young adult, and use it responsibly.
  • Debt load: This is the total amount of money you owe creditors—including credit cards, loans and mortgages. But mortgages are not often an issue for students, so your low debt load can work in your favour.
  • Payment history: This is about how you well you pay your bills, meaning in full and on time, as well as if you’ve missed any payments and for how long you’ve carried any debt. At this point in your life, keep your bills low and pay them off on time.
  • Types of credit you carry: The more creditors you owe money to, the higher risk you could pose to lenders. Stick with one credit card to avoid looking risky to lenders.

Can a high school student apply for a credit card?

Credit cards have an age restriction and, often, income requirements that high school students may not be able to meet. However, that doesn’t put all credit cards entirely out of reach. If a high school student is the age of majority (18 or 19 years old, depending on their province or territory), there are some options. 

Credit card applicants in high school should look for cards that don’t require a credit history and have a low or no income requirement. They can consider starting with a secured card, where they apply a deposit that they can spend, as these help build a credit history. A solid option is a secured credit card.

What does a high school student need to apply for a credit card?

In general, applicants will need a piece of government ID, a social insurance number, a mailing address, an employment status, and income information to apply for a credit card. 

I was declined for a student credit card—what can I do?

If you were declined for a card, it may have to do with your credit history or your income. Consider a secured card or a credit card that’s aimed at people with bad credit, as their requirements will be more modest. While you won’t get the perks and benefits attached to other cards, responsible use can help you build up your credit score so you can access better products in the future.

Credit card tips for students

You know you need to be responsible in how you use your credit card—but what, exactly, does that mean? Read on for tips on using your credit card to improve your credit score and avoid any problems. 

  1. Check your payment due dates
    You probably know that credit card bills arrive every month, but that doesn’t mean the due date for your payment is on the first day. The date that begins your billing cycle depends on when you are approved for the account, and it could be any day of the month. Make note of the due date and make sure you pay on time. Consider adding these dates to your school calendar, too.
  2. Pay off your balance in full
    If you’re going to be responsible with your credit card, you won’t use it to spend money you don’t have. Do not go into debt. It’s best practice to pay off your bill in full, on time, every month. Not only will this boost your credit score, but it will also help you avoid costly interest charges.
  3. Heed the minimum balance
    If you do overspend, you will still need to pay off some of your balance. Your bill will show a total balance and a minimum payment. You must pay at least the minimum payment, on time and every month, no matter what. Missing payments is one of the worst things you can do for your credit score. Paying only the minimum means that you’re accumulating interest on the unpaid balance. At an average of around 20%, this can add up quickly. 
  4. Don’t overspend
    In case it’s not clear: Don’t overspend! Credit is borrowed money, and a credit card isn’t a debit card. All the money you charge to your card must be paid back. If you don’t or can’t, you’ll find yourself racking up interest charges in addition to wrecking your credit rating. 
  5. Don’t max out your credit card
    Your credit card will have a credit limit; that’s the amount of money you can technically borrow on it. But spending all the way up to your limit—that is, maxing out your card—is reckless. It will be harder to pay off your balance. Use your card selectively for smaller purchases, at least initially, and consider using debit for almost everything else.

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About Sandra MacGregor

About Sandra MacGregor

Sandra MacGregor has been writing about personal finance, mortgages, investing and credit cards for over a decade.