Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students Review

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The Deserve Edu Mastercard, issued by Celtic Bank, may not offer some of the flashier rewards or perks that other student cards do, but it makes up for it by making the application process a little simpler, especially for new borrowers and international students. In fact, if you don’t have a Social Security number, you can still apply using other documents such as a student visa and a passport.

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

overall rating
4
Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 18.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
2.2
for Fees
3.4
for Rewards
3.9
for Credit
3.0

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Credit Builder Persona
    Takes improving their finances seriously and wants recognition for using credit responsibly See more cards
    Credit Builder
  • Avatar for Student Persona
    Looks for deals that make a limited budget go further See more cards
    Student

Although any college student or soon-to-be student is welcome to apply, the Deserve Edu Mastercard really shines when it comes to credit newcomers and international students. It can be tricky to get approved for a credit card if you don’t yet have a credit history or if you’re an international student without a Social Security number, but the Deserve Edu Mastercard skips past those requirements. Students from abroad can substitute their passport ID, student visa, and Form I-20 instead, as long as they have a U.S. bank account balance.

This card also is ideal for students who want access to cash back but don’t want to micromanage a confusing rewards program in between late-night study sessions. The rewards program runs entirely on auto-pilot; you’ll automatically get a statement credit applied to your account whenever your cash-back balance reaches $25.

Pros
  • No credit score or SSN needed

  • Low-maintenance rewards

  • Amazon Prime student membership

Cons
  • No cash advances or balance transfers

  • Only one redemption option

Pros Explained

  • No credit score or SSN needed: Getting a credit card is often a catch-22: You need credit in order to get credit. This card breaks that cycle and helps you start establishing yourself even if you have no credit history at all. It also smooths the process for any students coming from abroad.
  • Low-maintenance rewards: While 1% cash back is a pretty bare-bones rate, you don’t have to lift a finger to redeem. Every time your cash-back balance reaches $25, it’ll automatically be applied as a statement credit to your account—and that’s it.
  • Amazon Prime Student membership: While some student cards offer new cardholders a bonus worth hundreds of dollars, it’s not unusual to be offered nothing. This card, at least, comes with a free year of Amazon Prime Student, a $59 value.

Cons Explained

  • No cash advances or balance transfers: You can only use this card for purchases. If you want to pay down high-interest debt or get cash from your card in a pinch, you’ll need to look elsewhere. 
  • Only one rewards redemption option: While fewer choices means less work, you won’t have the same flexibility you would with some student cards. Many offer a check or bank deposit, or let you use your cash or points at the Amazon checkout, to buy gift cards, or even to book travel.

Earning Points & Rewards

All purchases you make with this card will earn unlimited 1% cash back. That’s in line with other student credit cards, although it’s fairly easy to find even higher cash-back rates. Your cash-back balance will never expire as long as the card remains open. 

Redeeming Rewards

It’s also blessedly simple to redeem your rewards with this credit card. In fact, you don’t have to do anything at all: Each time your cash-back balance reaches $25, it’ll automatically be applied to your account as a statement credit. There are no points to track, redemption options to weigh, or transfer partners to assess. 

The only tricky thing here is if you close your account with an unredeemed balance. It’s best to wait until you’ve just had a $25 statement credit applied to your account to close your card, if you want to do so. If you have even $24.99 remaining in your cash-back balance, you’ll forfeit it as soon as you close the card. 

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

You can earn the most rewards by using this card for all of your everyday spending, as long as you make sure to pay off the full balance each month in order to avoid racking up a balance and paying interest.

Use the chance to build up your credit history to establish a good track record of on-time payments. And make sure to pay off your full balance each month in order to avoid racking up debt and paying interest.

Also aim to keep your card balance low throughout the billing cycle—even if you intend to pay your bill in full when it’s due—to keep your credit utilization ratio low. This ratio is the amount of your total available credit you have used and it is a key part of your overall credit score. Managing this ratio and paying your bill on time together will provide the biggest boost to your credit score over time. 

Deserve Edu Mastercard's Excellent Perks

This card has one feature the editors of The Balance consider “excellent”:

  • Cellphone coverage: If you pay your cellphone bill with this card, you’ll automatically get up to $600 worth of coverage per claim (up to $1,000 in a 12-month period) if your phone is stolen or damaged. A $50 deductible applies.

Deserve Edu Mastercard's Other Features

  • Reimbursement for a one subscription to Amazon Prime Student (paid monthly or annually; up to $59 lifetime value)
  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)

Customer Experience

Deserve offers a mobile app that you can use to manage your card, including helpful things like setting spending limits on your cards, locking the card for all purchases or international-only purchases, and more. You can also see your credit score in the app, as well as what factors are affecting it and what could be improved on.

Deserve and its issuer Celtic Bank are smaller operations than mega credit-card issuers like Chase, Discover, and Capital One. As such, expect fewer customer service options than those big brands. You won’t get live chat support or a 24/7 phone support line, for example. Instead, if you need to get in touch with a real live person, you’ll need to call daytime during business hours.  

Security Features

You can expect pretty standard security features with the Deserve Edu Mastercard. Deserve’s app also helps with security by providing credit updates and allowing you to lock the card against any purchases made. You can also use the app to notify Deserve if you’ll be travelling and plan to use the card abroad. 

You’re also eligible for ID theft protection services through Mastercard. This provides you with a dashboard where you can see if your identity has been compromised and your details placed for sale on the dark web. If your identity is ever stolen, you can also get access to ID theft resolution experts to help you fix things.

Deserve Edu Mastercard’s Fees 

Unlike many student cards, the Deserve Edu Mastercard card doesn’t come with any foreign transaction fees. That makes sense, after all, given that this card is especially geared toward international students.

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CURRENT CARD
Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students
overall rating
4
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 18.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Deserve. "Who Is Eligible for the Deserve Edu Mastercard?" Accessed May 13, 2020.

  2. Deserve. "Deserve Edu Terms and Conditions," Page 29. Accessed May 13, 2020.

  3. myFICO. "What's in My FICO Scores?" Accessed May 13, 2020.

  4. Mastercard. "Mastercard Cardholder Core Credit Benefits." Accessed May 13, 2020.