Getting a credit card while in school is an important step. For many young Canadians, this is their first experience with financing, thus helping to build their credit score. But how do you choose the right one? Hardbacon provides a credit card comparison tool to help you choose from hundreds of options. We’ve also compiled this list of the best credit cards for Canadian students.

Best Student Cash Back and Rewards Cards

BMO Cash Back Mastercard

Fees: None
Welcome offer: Up to 5% off for three months and 1.99% rate on balance transfers for nine months
Discount rate: Up to 3%

The BMO CashBack Mastercard turns your purchases into cash. The discount rate is 3% for grocery store purchases, 1% on monthly bills such as streaming services or phone payments, and 0.5% on all other purchases. Thanks to the welcome offer, the discount rate can be up to 5% during the first 3 months after joining, up to a maximum of $2,500. You could receive up to $125 in discounts.

These discounts do not expire and can be redeemed as soon as you accumulate $1. They can be redeemed for a deposit in your BMO checking or savings account, a deposit to your InvestorLine Self-Directed account or a credit on your monthly statement. You can even set up an automatic deposit once a certain amount is reached, with a minimum of $25.

As a welcome offer, you also benefit from an interest rate of 1.99% on balance transfers. The transfer fee is 1%. The BMO Cash Back Mastercard interest rate is 19.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances for Quebec residents (22.99% for the rest of Canada). Other benefits of this credit card includes an extended warranty and up to 25% off a car rental at National Car Rentals and Alamo Rent A Car.

Scotiabank L’earn Visa Card

Fees: None
Discount rate: Up to 1%

The Scotia L’earn Visa Card provides up to 1% cash back on purchases made with your card. Over the course of a year, the first $500 spent earns 0.25% back, the second $500 is 0.5% and then 1% after $1,000 of purchases spent. Scotiabank says that by spending about $200 a week for a year, you’ll get a cash back of more than $100 to your account.

This card has no fees and comes with an interest rate of 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances. The minimum credit limit is $500. Each additional card costs $50. This card also gives up to 20% off at AVIS car rental locations around the world.

By opening an account by January 31, 2022, the Scotia L’earn Visa Card gives new cardholders a chance to win a $30,000 scholarship. To enter the contest, you must be at least 17 years old, a Canadian resident and be registered in a post-secondary institution by March 1, 2022.

Desjardins Student Cash Back Visa and Mastercard

Fees: None
Discount rate: Up to 2%

Desjardins Visa Cash Back  and Mastercard Cash Back credit cards provide up to 2% cash back at participating businesses in the following categories:

  • Restaurants
  • Entertainment
  • Public transportation
  • Pre-authorized debit

For all other spending categories, the discount is 0.5%. Desjardins offers an online calculator to estimate the amount of cash back and a list of participating retailers. These cards have no annual fee and additional cards are also free. They come with an interest rate of 19.9% on purchases and cash advances.

Visa and Mastercard Cash Back credit cards come with mobile devices protection including theft, loss and damage up to $1,000. They also offer insurance for trips of 3 days or less and you can get discounts on car rentals of up to 15% at Hertz and up to 10% at Thrifty and Dollar.

CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students

Fees: None
Welcome Offer: $30 Cash Back
Discount rate: Up to 2%

The CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students offers 2% cash back on grocery purchases and 1% on transportation, gas, restaurant and recurring payments. You get a 0.5% discount on all other purchases. Discounts can be credited to your account as soon as you have $25 accumulated. As a welcome offer, you will receive $30 back if you make a purchase within the first four months of opening your account. 

This card has no fees, and you can also get up to 3 additional cards at no cost. It has a minimum limit of $1,000. Its interest rate is 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances if you reside in Quebec, 22.99% for the rest of Canada. It also includes free enrollment in the SPC program, which offers hundreds of exclusive online and in-store offers, as well as $100,000 in accident insurance on public transit, and purchase insurance and extended warranties.

RBC Cash Back Mastercard

Fees: None
Discount rate: Up to 2%

The RBC Cash Back Mastercard provides 2% cash back on grocery purchases, up to a maximum of $6,000 per year and up to 1% on eligible purchases and pre-authorized payments. There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back is credited annually as long as it is at least $25. You can also save on major brands with personalized offers.

This card also saves you $0.03 per liter of fuel at Petro-Canada and earn 20% more Petro-Points. It also gives you access to a free three-month subscription to the DoorDash DashPass, valued at $30 that allows you to avoid delivery costs on orders of $12 or more, with no transaction limits.

This card has no fees and additional cards are also free. Its interest rate is 19.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances for Quebec residents. This rate is 22.99% for the rest of Canada.

Laurentian Bank Visa Black Reward Me

Fees: $3.50 per month, free if $350 purchases per month
Reward Rate: Up to 1 point per dollar purchased

The Visa Black Reward Me credit card allows you to accumulate points that can be redeemed for gift cards at more than 80 merchants including gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies. You can also redeem them for Laurentian Bank gift cards applicable on investment products, or items available in the bank’s Rewards zone. For every dollar spent on gas, groceries, and pre-authorized payments, you’ll get one point. All other eligible purchases earn you 0.5 points per dollar.

This credit card also includes a 90-day purchase protection insurance against theft and accidental damage to items purchased with your card as well as an extended manufacturer’s warranty insurance for up to one year.

The interest rate for purchases is 19.99% and 21.99% for cash advances. The card is available for $3.50 per month. Fees are waived if you spend more than $350 in a month.

Best student cards for in-store discounts

Scotiabank Scene Visa Card-Student

Fees: None
Welcome offer: 1,250 SCENE points by November 21, 2021
Reward Rate: Up to 1 SCENE points per dollar purchased

The SCENE Visa credit card is for movie buffs. By accumulating 1,250 SCENE points, you can go see a movie for free. It allows you to earn one SCENE point for every dollar on all purchases, and five points for every dollar spent in CINEPLEX rooms or on cineplex.com. With 1,000 points, you can also get $10 off at many participating restaurants.

By November 21, 2021, new cardholders can receive 1,250 bonus SCENE points as a welcome offer. Simply make a purchases within the first three months of joining. This bonus entitles you to two free movies!

This card does not have an annual fee. It comes with an interest rate of 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances. The minimum credit limit is $500. Other benefits with this credit card include discounts of up to 25% for car rentals at AVIS and Budget.

Want to level up your movie night? If you get the regular Scotiabank Scene Visa Card, the big brother to the student Scene Visa, you’ll earn even more Scene points. Sign up now to get 2,500 bonus Scene points on your first $500 of purchases made in the first 3 months.

RBC Rewards+ Visa

Fees: None
Welcome Offer: Up to 3,500 RBC Digital Rewards Points
Reward Rate: Up to one RBC Rewards point per dollar purchased

The RBC Rewards + Visa Credit Card earns one RBC Rewards point for every dollar purchased at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies. You earn one point for every two dollars on all other purchases. These points can be redeemed for items, travel, credit card balance credits or bills.

A reward of up to 3,500 points is offered if you go digital within 60 days of joining. This shift is divided into seven steps, including signing up for e-statements and an Interact e-Transfer via the RBC mobile app, of which you earn 500 points each. This card also offers gift cards worth $25 for 2,500 points, a savings of 1,000 points compared to other RBC cards.

This card has no fees, and its interest rate is 19.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances if you live in Quebec, or 22.99% if you live elsewhere in Canada. Other benefits of this credit card include a $0.03 discount per liter of fuel at Petro-Canada, as well as 20% more Petro-Points and RBC Rewards points. You are also entitled to a free three-month subscription to the DoorDash DashPass.

Signature RBC Rewards Visa

Fee: $39 per year, possibility of cancellation for students
Welcome Offer: One-year fee cancellation and 3,500 RBC Rewards points by November 1, 2021
Reward Rate: One RBC Rewards Point per dollar purchased

The Signature RBC Rewards Visa allows you to earn one RBC Rewards point for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. You also earn bonus points when you make purchases at select retailers. It gives you the option to convert your points for a wide range of options, such as gifts or travel.

This card has an annual fee of $39, but it may be waived for students who have an eligible RBC bank account. By November 1, 2021, new cardholders can also benefit from a first-year fee cancellation and 3,500 bonus RBC Rewards points. Its interest rate is 19.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances for Quebec residents, 22.99% for the rest of Canada.

This credit card also offers a $0.03 discount on every liter of fuel at Petro-Canada and 20% off RBC Rewards points in-store. You are also entitled to accident insurance for travel, insurance for rental cars and insurance for eligible purchases.

Best student travel cards

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard for students

Fees: None
Welcome offer: 800 miles AIR MILES
Reward Rate: One Mile per $25 of Purchases

If you’re looking to earn miles to travel, the BMO AIR MILES Student Mastercard is for you. It earns 1 mile for every $25 of purchases, and miles are tripled at some participating stores, such as IGA, Shell, Jean-Coutu and Staples. Finally, you also double your AIR MILES rewards by presenting your credit card with your membership card.

As a welcome offer, you receive 800 bonus AIR MILES. Air MILES can be redeemed for travel, hotel stays, items or cash back on your purchases. A miles calculator is available on the BMO website.

This card is available with no fees and has an interest rate on purchases of 19.99%. Cash advances are at a rate of 21.99% for residents of Quebec and 22.99% for the rest of Canadians. To qualify, you must be a Canadian citizen or resident between the ages of 18 and 24 and be enrolled in a post-secondary institution. You must also have an annual income from employment, loan, grant, scholarship or family allowance.

With the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard for Students, you are entitled to extended warranty insurance and purchase insurance. You are also entitled to discounts of up to 25% at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car rental locations.

CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students

Fees: None
Welcome offer: Up to 2,500 Aventura bonus points
Reward Rate: Up to one Aventura bonus point per dollar purchase

The CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students allows you to earn points on all your purchases. You receive an Aventura Bonus Point for every dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as for any travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre. On all other purchases, every $2 earns you a point.

The current welcome offer gives you the chance to accumulate up to 2,500 points. Simply complete the following five activities, for 500 points each, within 60 days of signing up:

  • Provide your email address to CIBC
  • Opt in for electronic statements
  • Add an authorized user to your Aventura Visa card
  • Be an eligible CIBC checking account holder
  • Add your Aventura Visa card to Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay

You can redeem these points for airfare, hotel stays or vacation packages, as well as items, gift cards and activities. You can also pay off your credit card balance with your points, or contribute to a CIBC financial product. This credit card also includes free enrollment in the SPC program, which allows you to save at more than 450 in-store and online offers.

This card has no fees. It comes with an interest rate 20.99% on purchase, and cash advances are 21.99% for Quebec residents and 22.99% for the rest of the country. The minimum credit limit is $1,000. It also offers collision/damage insurance for rental vehicles, $100,000 accident insurance on public transit, as well as purchase insurance and extended warranties.

CIBC Aero Platinum™ Visa Card for Students

Fees: None
Welcome offer: 10,000 Aeroplan points
Reward Rate: Up to 1 Aeroplan point per dollar purchased

The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students allows you to earn Aeroplan points while shopping. For every dollar you spend on gas, groceries or Air Canada, you get one point. All your other purchases earn one point for every $1.50 spent. In addition, you can earn twice the points at 150 Aeroplan partner brands and 170 retailers in the Aeroplan online retailers.

As a welcome offer, you will receive 10,000 Aeroplan bonus points on your first purchase with your card. You can redeem these points for flights with Air Canada and its partner carriers. You can also exchange them for items and gift cards.

This card has no fees and does not require a minimum income. It comes with an interest rate on purchases of 20.99% and cash advances are at 21.99% in Quebec, and 22.99% for the rest of Canada. The minimum credit limit is $1,000.

This credit card also offers a six-month subscription to UberPass. This includes free delivery on Uber Eats orders and 5% discounts on purchases over $15. CIBC Visa Aeroplan for Students also offers collision/property and casualty insurance for rental vehicles, $100,000 accident insurance for public transit, and purchase insurance and extended warranties.

WestJet RBC Mastercard

Fee: $39 per year
Welcome Offer: Up to $100 WestJet by January 5, 2022
Reward Rate: Up to 1.5% discount in WestJet dollars

At $39 per year, the WestJet RBC Mastercard is the most expensive on our list, but it gives access to travel points quickly. You get 1.5% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet travel, and 1% on all other current purchases. As a welcome offer, you also get $50 WestJet dollars, plus an additional $50 WestJet dollars if, by January 5, 2022, you make more than $1,000 in purchases within three months of joining.

Each WestJet dollar is equivalent to one Canadian dollar, and can be used to pay for WestJet flights, starting at $15 WestJet. You can also use them to pay for vacation packages, starting at $50 WestJet. With this card, you also get an annual companion voucher worth $199 for a round-trip flight to Canada and the continental United States.

This card also entitles you to a $0.03 discount on a liter of gas at Petro-Canada and a free three-month subscription to DoorPass. Other benefits include travel accident insurance coverage, protection for your hotel stays, rental cars insurance, and insurance for eligible purchases. The WestJet RBC Mastercard comes with an interest rate on purchases of 19.99% and cash advances are at 22.99%.

The Plastk secured credit card

Fee: $120 per year
Welcome Offer: Fees waived in the first year for students
Reward rate: 1 point per dollar purchased

The Plastk secured credit card is different from the others on this list since it requires a security deposit. It is aimed at those looking to build their credit or improve a bad credit score. The required deposit ranges from $300 to $10,000, and the card has an annual fee of $48 as well as a maintenance fee of $6 per month, for a total of $120 per year. However, eligible students benefit from a waiver of these fees by joining by December 31, 2021.

This card has a 17.99% interest rate on purchases and a generous 25-day interest-free grace period to pay balances. The rate on cash advances is 21.99%. Plastk also takes care of reporting your credit score to the credit bureaus, and you are able to view your score monthly on the mobile app.

With Plastk, you also have access to a rewards program. You earn one point per dollar spent, and then each 250 points has a value of $1. These points can be used to pay your balance or to purchase products and services. You can also earn points by referring friends, each referral earns you 1,250 points.

This top 15 of the best student credit cards in Canada was compiled by Hardbacon, which has designed a credit card comparator listing hundreds of Canadian credit cards. Hardbacon also helps you save on savings accounts, chequing accounts, online brokers, robo-advisors, life insurance, mortgages and personal loans. If you want to go one step further and take control of your finances, you should download Hardbacon’s mobile app, which links to your bank and investing accounts, helps you plan for your financial goals, create a budget and invest better.

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