Credit Cards for Students in Canada

Getting a first credit card can be difficult while a student, or otherwise young person, due to the lack of credit history, job history and plain and simply, age.

In Canada, the minimum age to have your own credit card (ie: one that is not co-signed by a parent or other credit-worthy person) is your province's Age of Majority, which is either 18 or 19 and the chart is here, so this guide is mainly for college and university students.

Often, credit card issuers do understand that students won't have a very high income or lengthy job/credit history. Sometimes a minimum annual income retirement is waived for students.

If you're part of a professional program or faculty that has an affiliation with a bank (The University of Toronto's Pharmacy Faculty did with Scotiabank), they'll often give you a good deal.

Where to get one?

The best bet for a student is to apply for a credit card from the bank that they regularly use, whether it be TD, RBC, CIBC, etc. This should minimize the chances of rejection. They may very well have an online application, but often will want you to go to the branch to show your student ID. Also, if you do get rejected after filling out the online/mailed-in application, call your bank branch and see if they can do anything. They might see that you're a worthy candidate after all. Having said that, a friend of mine did get declined for a PC Financial Mastercard while a student, even though he had an income, he didn't have any credit rating. Instant rejection. The non-banks can be a good option too, like the mbna rewards Studentawards Credit Card that you can apply online for here. As of 2012, I'd go for one of the MBNA cards first, and then try another bank if they reject you. As of 2012, the mbna rewards Studentawards Credit Card rewards program works out to a return of just under 1% on all purchases (eg: $100 in a Home Depot gift card for $11500 in total spending (0.87% return on spending), or $50 at Starbucks for $5940 in spending (0.84% return on spending).

MBNA is usually pretty "giving" with credit cards for students, but usually the bank where you have your chequing and savings accounts is a good choice too.I've found applying for CitiMastercard's 1% Cash Back Mastercard to be one of the hardest, with lots of extra information required, and a low credit limit even when I did get approved.

Premium Credit Cards

Chances are, you won't be eligible for "premium" credit cards, like the kinds that have annual fees or decent cash back. But over time, they will become available.

Watch out for the cards that offer "Up To 1% Cashback" or the like. Sometimes, you have to spend thousands (earning less than 1%) to get to the 1% tier, but that isn't true with the mbna rewards Studentawards Credit Card, although you are at risk of the points that you earn getting devalued. It's still worth the risk in my opinion.

Credit Limits for Students

Starting credit limits are usually low, between $500 and $1000, and often, they won't increase it until you've had at least a couple months of steady bill payments. Sometimes they will automatically increase it, but you may very well have to call in to get it. So, you may have to make payments before the card is due if you wish to spend more than the limit. Some people have had to get 2 cards from different issuers just to get around this.

Visa vs Mastercard

It honestly doesn't matter which you get, virtually every retailer in Canada accepts both. The only exception I can think of is that Tim Hortons only accepts Mastercard.

Credit Cards for Students in Canada | Better Faster Cheaper

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Credit Cards for Students in Canada | Better Faster Cheaper

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If I am 18 and I apply and get a Mastercard and happen to lose my job or something weird like that happens... if I dont use the card at all that month I will not have to pay a bill or anything for that month for the mastercard right? also is it easy to cancel incase all else fails...?

student credit cards

acquiring a student credit card is a good start in building your credit. But you should learn first how to manage your finances wisely so you can pay off your bills regularly on time. You have to be responsible in your spending habit to avoid debt problem and pay high interest rate.

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