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.
No credit score or SSN needed
Amazon Prime student membership for a year
No cash advances or balance transfers
Only one redemption option
- 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 for a year: 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 if you make $500 in purchases during your first three months, a $59 value.
- 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.
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
- 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.
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.