Although any student is welcome to apply for this card as long as they’re at least 18 years old and have a U.S. bank account balance, it really shines for international students. It can be tricky to get approved for a credit card if you don’t have a Social Security number or a credit history, but the Deserve Edu Mastercard skips past that requirement and allows you to substitute your passport ID, student visa, and Form I-20 instead.
This card also is ideal for students who want access to cash-back rewards but don’t want to micromanage a confusing rewards program in between late-night study sessions. This card’s 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.
No annual fee
Unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases
No credit score needed
No sign-up bonus
No cash advances or balance transfers
Only one rewards redemption option
- No annual fee: You won’t have to pay anything to keep this card open. This is ideal for your first credit card, because keeping it open indefinitely establishes a long credit history as you grow older. This helps to boost your credit score over time.
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases: Sure, lots of rewards credit cards offer cash back, but it’s a rare perk for cards marketed to people with little or no credit history.
- No credit score 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 your credit even if you have no credit history at all.
- No sign-up bonus: This card does come with a free year of Amazon Prime Student, but it’s not exactly what we’d call a sign-up bonus.
- 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: Many cash-back credit cards allow you to choose from multiple redemption options, such as a check, gift card, or using your rewards for Amazon purchases. Not so with this card. Every time your cash-back balance reaches $25, it’ll automatically be applied as a statement credit to your account—and that’s it.
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 still fairly easy to find similar cards that offer even higher cash-back rates. Your cash-back balance will never expire as long as the card remains open.
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.
When you graduate, make sure to speak with the company so that you can be transferred to the Deserve Pro credit card. There’s no annual fee and you’ll get to keep the credit history you’ve worked hard to establish, which will help to build your credit as you move on to your post-college life.
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 to protect your cell phone against theft or damage.
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)
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.
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.
Finally, if you lose your card and need a replacement, you can get one in as little as the next business day through the Mastercard Global Services program.
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. However, the interest rate offered on this card may be somewhat higher than with other comparable cards.