Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students Review

Disclosure: We are committed to recommending the best products for our readers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products, but this never affects our reviews or recommendations.

The Deserve Edu Mastercard, issued by Celtic Bank, may not offer some of the flashier perks that its competitors do, but it makes up for it with a suite of student-friendly features, especially for 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
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 (%) 20.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
for Fees
for Rewards
for Credit

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

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

Pros Explained

  • 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. 

Cons Explained

  • 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. 

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.

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)

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.

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.

For Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students
Compare This Card
See how this card stacks up to the competition
Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students
overall rating
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 (%) 20.24% 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.