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The Deserve Edu Mastercard was made for students without a credit history. If you’ve never had a credit account of any kind, this card offers a way into the world of credit.
That’s because this card issuer will consider more of your personal information when you apply. Rather than just looking at your credit and financial situation, they’ll also consider your education and future earnings potential. You won’t need an SSN to apply either, making it a great pick for international students.
You’ll be able to earn a bit of cash back on your purchases — 1% cash back for everything you buy. And there’s a free year of Amazon Prime Student available too.
Keep reading to learn all about this card, and see how it can help you establish a strong credit history.
Our Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
We give the Deserve Edu card 4 out of 5 Stars because it’s a good choice for students who are just beginning to use credit and credit cards. It has features that make it easy to get, and set it apart from most cards.
This card is made for both native students and international students. It’s one of the few U.S. cards that are marketed to non-U.S. citizens. You won’t need an SSN to apply, which makes it a great way for international students to start building credit in the U.S. And Deserve will check more than the typical factors when you apply, giving you a better chance of being approved.
In addition to a basic set of travel and shopping protections, this card provides 1% cash back for every purchase you make. Cardholders can get 1 free year of Amazon Prime Student, as long as the membership is purchased with the Deserve card.
There is one key limitation to this card — you can’t add any authorized users to your account. But this features isn’t valuable to everyone, and it doesn’t take much away from this card’s ability to help you build credit.
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- Try the Deserve Edu if you’ve had trouble getting other credit cards. Deserve will consider more than just your credit history and current financial status when you apply.
- The Deserve Edu is a good option for international students visiting the U.S. It doesn’t require an SSN or a cosigner.
- You don’t need to worry about cashing in your rewards because they’ll be automatically redeemed whenever they reach a value of $25.
- Be sure to sign up for Amazon Prime Student, and pay for it with the card. You’ll receive up to $59 in statement credits to pay for the membership fee.
- Tell your friends about the Deserve credit cards. You’ll earn a $30 statement credit for every friend you refer who successfully applies for one. Plus a bonus $200 if you refer 10 friends in total.
- After graduating you can continue using this card, you don’t need to close it. We typically recommend not closing your credit cards, actually. If you move out of the country, call customer support and let them know.
- There are two other Deserve credit cards, and one of them may suit your needs better. The Deserve Classic Mastercard (Review) is meant for anyone with limited or poor credit, not just students. And the Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review) is meant for people with some established credit history, offering more cash back than the Edu.
- 1% cash back for all purchases
The rewards are about as simple as they come. But in addition to that 1% cash back, Deserve may occasionally offer additional, limited-time bonus categories. So keep an eye out for opportunities to earn more.
Your cash back will be automatically redeemed every billing period, as statement credits in increments of $25.
Redemptions are not available if your account is delinquent, over the credit limit, or closed. If you have cash back but your account is ineligible to redeem, the cash back will be reconsidered the next billing period.
Cash back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
This card comes with some basic shopping and travel protections, along with a handy perk for students. One common feature that it doesn’t include is the ability to add authorized users.
1 Free Year of Amazon Prime Student
When you pay for Amazon Prime Student with your Deserve card, you’ll get a statement credit of up to $59 to pay for the membership cost. This will cover one year of membership. If your account is delinquent or over the credit limit, you will not receive this credit.
Limited Priority Pass Select Membership
Some current cardholders may be given an offer of a one-year membership to Priority Pass Select for spending $1,000 within 120 days of receiving the offer.
This provides airport lounge access at hundreds of lounges around the world, although you’ll need to pay a $27 fee per visit for you and each guest. You must use your Deserve card as the primary payment method for Priority Pass charges, and your card must be on file with Priority Pass and in good standing at the time of lounge visit.
Some new applicants may also be given this offer as an introductory bonus while applying. If this is the case, to get the offer you’ll need to spend $1,000 in the first 155 days after account opening.
Refer Friends for Statement Credits
Refer a friend to get a Deserve credit card and you will receive a $30 statement credit for every approval. If you refer 10 friends you’ll get a $200 bonus, for a total of $500 in statement credits.
Lemonade Insurance Rebate
Get a $10 statement credit after making three consecutive payments for Lemonade Renters and Home Insurance. This credit is only available once.
Feather Furniture Rental Rebate
Get a $100 discount on your first month’s rental from Feather. To get the credit, pay with your Deserve card and use promo code “DESERVE100”.
Mint Mobile Rebate
Use your card to sign up and pay for any Mint Mobile wireless plan by November 28, 2019, and you’ll get a $45 statement credit.
Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for eligible purchases, up to a maximum of 12 additional months.
If you find an item you bought with the card being advertised for a lesser price within 60 days of the purchase, you can be reimbursed for the price difference.
Cell Phone Insurance
Charge your monthly cell phone bill to your Deserve card to get up to $600 in coverage against damage and theft.
Travel Assistance Services
Provides emergency and non-emergency assistance when you’re traveling more than 50 miles from home. Cardholder is responsible for any third-party costs. Call 1-800-Mastercard for help, including pre-trip information like what documents and immunizations you might need.
If you have a problem on the road, call 1-800-Mastercard to get help like towing and fuel delivery. Cardholder is responsible for any third-party costs, but you may save money with pre-negotiated fees.
Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver
Provides coverage against theft and collision, as long as the car rental company’s own insurance is declined.
You are not held responsible for unauthorized transactions on your card.
ID Theft Protection
Provides access to identity theft resolution services if your identity is compromised.
The Costs & Fees
|Regular Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR||Maximum Credit Limit|
|20.99% Variable||Not Applicable||Not Applicable||$5,000|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$0||None||Not Applicable||Not Applicable|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|None||Up to $25; first fee waived||Up to $37|
Your credit limit will depend on your creditworthiness, with a maximum of $5,000.
The Deserve Edu isn’t too bad for spending outside the country, because there are no foreign transaction fees. But a different card might be better for you. Check out some travel credit cards for other options for traveling abroad.
Deserve recently rebranded from SelfScore, and there isn’t much information out there about them yet. So we called to find out ourselves.
Their phone menu is pretty simple, designed for people who already have a card or have applied for one. We spoke with a customer service representative who was friendly, helpful, and very knowledgable about the card product.
We were told that Deserve Edu cardholders may eventually be able to upgrade to the Deserve Pro (Review), which has better rewards. And our other questions were answered quickly, without a lot of pushy sales talk. We didn’t have to explain things twice or call back again to talk with someone else, like with some issuers.
If you call Deserve it seems likely that you’ll get some help from a patient and intelligent representative. And that’s just what you want if you’re a student who’s new to credit cards and wondering how they work.
The Deserve website is pretty simple to navigate. This issuer only offers three different cards, so it’s pretty easy to quickly get an overview of them.
Deserve also provides some credit education resources to help you learn about credit. They have lessons on credit scores and credit reports, how to use credit cards, and how to work and budget while in school.
The Bottom Line
The Deserve Edu Mastercard is one of the more accessible options for students. Unlike most other cards it checks a variety of factors when you apply, including your education and future prospects.
And this will be one of the only options available to international students who don’t have an SSN. You will need a U.S. bank account, however.
This card is pretty simple, with 1% cash back everywhere you shop. Be sure to take advantage of the Amazon Prime Student membership credit. That will provide member-only prices and free two-day shipping on many products.
There are many other options for students with limited credit, including two more Deserve credit cards. Check out some alternatives below.
How to Apply for the Deserve Edu Mastercard
All of the Deserve credit cards are designed to help people with limited or no credit, and when you apply they will take more than just your credit history and financial situation into account. They will also consider your:
- future employability
- earnings potential
This is a step that most credit card issuers will not take, making these cards good options for people just getting into the world of credit.
Apply for the Deserve Edu if you’re a student with limited or no credit, native or international. This card provides a great way for international students to establish a credit file in the U.S. You do not need an SSN to apply. International students will need:
- Student visa
- Passport ID
- School document (e.g. I-20 or DS 2019)
- Proof of a U.S. bank account balance
Alternatives to the Deserve Edu Mastercard
- Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review): No annual fee, 3% cash back on travel and entertainment, 2% cash back at restaurants
- Discover it® for Students (Review): No annual fee, up to 5% cash back on some purchases, rewards for good grades
- Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Card for Students (Review): No annual fee, 12-month 0% intro APR, then 16.24%–26.24%Variable, up to 3% cash back
- Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® (Review): No annual fee, access a higher credit line with on-time payments, up to 1.25% cash back
- Discover it® Secured Credit Card (Review): No annual fee, requires security deposit, 2% cash back on gas and at restaurants
If you’ve already established some credit history you might qualify for this card, which offers better rewards. It will also check an expanded set of factors when you apply, like the Deserve Edu. So most people will generally have a decent chance of being approved for this card.
- 3% cash back on travel and entertainment
- 2% cash back at restaurants
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
You’ll have the opportunity to earn quite a bit more cash back with this card. If you have limited credit this could be one of the more rewarding offers available to you.
There are a few other important differences between the Deserve Pro and the Deserve Edu:
- The Deserve Pro has a higher maximum possible credit limit, at $10,000
- The Deserve Pro does not offer the $59 credit for Amazon Prime Student
- The Deserve Pro requires an SSN to apply
This card isn’t designed for students, but it may suit your needs. If you don’t have an SSN, the Deserve Edu will probably be one of your few options.
Most of the other card features are the same. You’ll get the same set of shopping and travel protections with each card. And there are no fees for foreign transactions.
There’s one other Deserve card, designed for people with poor credit: the Deserve Classic Mastercard (Review). It’s only meant to help improve your credit, with no annual fee and no rewards. If you have the Deserve Edu or Deserve Classic, you may eventually be able to upgrade to the Deserve Pro.
- 5% cash back on bonus categories that rotate throughout the year (see calendar below)
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- $20 good grades reward every year that you get a GPA of 3.0 or above, up to 5 years
- Cashback Match: get your total cash back doubled in your first year of use
So you’ll be able to earn rewards at a pretty nice 5% cash back rate. And Discover will double everything you earn in the first year, making this a very rewarding card during that time.
The 5% cash back calendar for 2019 is:
|Quarter||5% Cash Back Category|
|January – March||Grocery Stores|
|April – June||Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft|
|July – September||Restaurants, PayPal|
|October – December||Amazon.com, Target, Walmart.com|
If you tend to make a lot of purchases in those categories, this card could be a nice addition to your wallet.
Discover will also provide a little incentive to do well in school: a $20 reward if you get a GPA of 3.0 or above, for up to 5 years.
The extra benefits are not so great. You won’t get any of the shopping or travel protections that come with the Deserve Edu. But the Discover card will provide access to your FICO Score 8, based on your TransUnion credit report.
The Deserve card doesn’t provide a service like that. However, anyone can use Discover’s FICO Credit Scorecard, so even if you have the Deserve you can still check your credit.
Overall the Discover it for Students is more rewarding than the Deserve Edu. But that’s because it’s meant for students with an established credit history. If that sounds like you, consider this card along with the Discover it® Chrome for Students (Review) and other student credit cards.
- 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
- Online shopping
- Home improvement/furnishings stores
- 2% cash back at:
- Grocery stores
- Wholesale clubs
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
The 3% and 2% bonus categories are limited to the first $2,500 you spend in combined purchases each quarter. Even with that limit, this card is quite rewarding. And the signup bonus is a great find for a student card.
If you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account you’ll get a 10% bonus added to it. With larger bank accounts you can get an even bigger bonus. So BofA bank account holders have an extra incentive to apply for this card.
You’ll also get a 12-month 0% introductory APR for both purchases and balance transfers, and after that you’ll have a regular rate of 16.24%–26.24%Variable. That’s another rare feature to see on a student card.
This card has some basic shopping and traveling benefits. And you can check your FICO 8 Credit Score for free whenever you’d like, based on your TransUnion credit report.
The Cash Rewards is a very rewarding choice for a student, if you can qualify for it. It won’t be as easy to get as the Deserve Edu, and you will need an SSN.
- 1% cash back on all purchases made
- an increase to 1.25% cash back when you pay your bill on time
So it’s not the most rewarding card, but you can get more than you would with the Deserve. Since you should always be paying on time anyway, you should always expect to get that much back. More than that, we recommend you always pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest and help your credit. This strategy will also ensure that you always get 1.25% back.
Capital One will increase your credit limit after 5 monthly on-time payments. This is a nice feature for a student card, because they typically come with pretty small credit limits.
You can also use Capital One’s CreditWise® service to track your credit over time. It will monitor your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report. And you can even check your actual TransUnion credit report, a service that most card issuers don’t offer. Anyone can use the CreditWise tool, not just cardholders. So if you have the Deserve Edu you can use it to keep tabs on your score.
There are no foreign transaction fees with this card. That can make it a good choice for anyone studying or traveling abroad, because you won’t be charged extra to use it.
The Journey Student card comes with Visa Platinum benefits. These are mostly shopping and travel protections, which can potentially help out if you have an issue with an item you buy or while traveling. These benefits are pretty much equal to what you’ll get with the Deserve card, which is a Platinum Mastercard.
The Discover it Secured (Review) is not a student card, but it is designed for people with limited or no credit. So if you’re having a hard time being approved for a student card this one could be a good option instead. You can use it to improve your credit and eventually qualify for a better card.
This is a secured credit card, which means it will require a security deposit when you’re approved. The amount you deposit will determine your credit limit, with a minimum of $200. The maximum credit limit is determined by your creditworthiness, up to $2,500. You’ll get your deposit back after you close the card.
There is no annual fee for this card, you’ll just need to pay the deposit.
Most secured cards don’t offer cash back, but this one in fact does. You’ll get:
- 2% cash back on gas and at restaurants
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Cashback Match: get your total cash back doubled in your first year of use
Those terms are pretty good even when it comes to reward credit cards. And they’re quite a bit better than the 1% back you’ll get with the Deserve Edu.
You’ll also get access to Discover’s FICO Credit Scorecard, a tool to help you monitor and build your credit. It lets you see your FICO Score 8 based on your TransUnion credit report, along with credit tips.
You won’t be able to check your credit with the Deserve Edu. But anyone can use Discover’s credit monitoring tool, cardholder or not. So if you have the Deserve card you can still check your credit through Discover.
The Deserve Edu and the Discover card are both good options for people with limited or no credit. The Edu card doesn’t require a deposit, but offers fewer rewards and benefits. The Discover it Secured is one of the best secured cards available, so it’s a good pick if you can’t be approved for a student card or reward card.
How do you like your Deserve Edu credit card? Is it a good card option for you? Leave your own review of the Deserve Edu for other visitors, we’d love to hear from you!
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