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2020 Review: Deserve Edu Mastercard® – Helping Students Build Credit

Updated Sep 24, 2020 | Published May 14, 20209 min read

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Deserve Edu Mastercard

Min Credit Level Limited Credit History
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 18.74% Variable
At a glance

The Deserve Edu Mastercard provides an excellent opportunity for college students, either domestic or international. With valuable benefits and expanded application criteria like no Social Security number required, it’s both useful and easy to obtain.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Discover it® Student Cash Back, Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, and Discover it® Secured have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

We give the Deserve Edu Mastercard four out of five Stars. It provides a good opportunity for college students, international or otherwise, with useful benefits and expanded criteria for approval making it easier to obtain.

Why We Like It

  • Uncomplicated
  • Good for college students, including international students
  • No Social Security number needed
  • Expanded approval criteria, counting factors like education and potential earning prospects
  • One year of Amazon Prime Student for spending $500 in the first 3 billing cycles

Why It Could Be Better

  • Low rewards
  • Must connect to bank account
  • Currently only reports card activity to two of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion and Experian, but not Equifax

Deserve Edu Mastercard

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR18.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you’ll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you’ll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention(TM) and Master Rental(R).

The Deserve Edu 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 Deserve, the card issuer, will consider more of your personal information than the typical credit card company 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 an intro bonus: One year of Amazon Prime Student for spending $500 in the first 3 billing cycles.

Keep reading to learn all about this card, and see how it can help you establish a strong credit history.

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • You’ll be weighed by more than your finances and credit history: 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.
  • No Social Security number necessary: The Deserve Edu is a good option for international students visiting the U.S. It doesn’t require an SSN or a cosigner.
  • Don’t worry about redemption: You don’t need to worry about cashing in your rewards because they’ll be automatically redeemed whenever they reach a value of $25.
  • Take advantage of Amazon Prime Student: One year of Amazon Prime Student for spending $500 in the first 3 billing cycles.
  • Refer your friends: 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.
  • Keep it after graduation: 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.

Rewards

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 1% cash back for all purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • One year of Amazon Prime Student for spending $500 in the first 3 billing cycles

Redeeming

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.

The Benefits

This card comes with some basic shopping and travel protections, along with some handy perks for students. One common feature that it doesn’t include is the ability to add authorized users.

  • Limited Priority Pass Select membership: Some current cardholders may be offered a one-year membership to Priority Pass Select for spending $1,000 within 120 days. This provides airport lounge access at hundreds of lounges around the world, although you’ll need to pay a $27 fee per visit. Some new applicants may also be given this offer as an introductory bonus while applying: You’d 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’ll 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”.
  • Extended Warranty: Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for eligible purchases, up to a maximum of 12 additional months
  • Price Protection: 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 documents and immunizations you might need.
  • Roadside Assistance: 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
  • ID Theft Protection: Provides access to identity theft resolution services if your identity is compromised

The Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
18.74% Variable None None
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$0 None
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
None None
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None Up to $25; first fee waived Up to $37

There’s no annual fee to use this card. There is no 0% intro APR offer, but you can avoid interest by paying your balance off in full each billing period.

This card does not allow balance transfers or cash advances.

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, or see other cards for students traveling abroad.

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 spend at least $500 in the first three billing cycles 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 — check out some alternatives below.

How Do I Apply for the Deserve Edu Mastercard?

Deserve is an issuer with the goal of helping people with limited or no credit. When you apply for the card they’ll factor in more than just your credit history and financial situation when making their decision.

This is a step that most credit card issuers won’t take, making this a good option for people just getting into the world of credit.

Take note that Deserve will need to connect to your bank account to verify your balance. If you have privacy or security concerns this might worry you, but it seems logical because Deserve bases its decision on more than just an applicant’s credit history.

What Credit Scores Do I Need for the Deserve Edu Mastercard?

The Deserve Edu is designed for college students with limited or no credit history, giving you a relatively easy entry into the world of credit and credit cards.

So, you don’t need any particular credit scores to be approved (although higher is always better).

Deserve will also check more than the usual factors involved in credit approval when considering applicants. Beyond just your credit history and current finances, Deserve considers your education, employment, and future earnings potential, giving you a better shot at qualifying.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 to apply
  • Personal information: Name, date of birth, U.S. citizenship status, Social Security number (if you have one), education
  • International students: Student visa, passport ID, school document (e.g I-20 or DS 2019), proof of a U.S. bank account
  • Address and contact information: Home address, phone number, email address
  • Financial information: Total annual income, monthly mortgage or rent payment, future employability, earnings potential

Deserve Edu Mastercard

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR18.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you’ll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you’ll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention(TM) and Master Rental(R).
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Alternatives to the Deserve Edu Mastercard

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Our rating
Min. credit level Limited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR See Terms

The Discover it® Student Cash Back (Review) is one of the best cards available to students.

You’ll be able to earn a plenty of cash back, and as a nice bonus Discover will double the rewards you earn during your first year.

But the extra benefits are not so great. You won’t get any of the shopping or travel protections that come with the Deserve Edu. The Discover card will provide access to your FICO Score 8, based on your TransUnion credit report. However, anyone is able to access Discover’s credit monitoring tool, cardholder or not.

Overall, the Discover it Cash Back for Students is quite a bit more rewarding than the Deserve Edu. If you’re an international student without an SSN, though, you may not be approved.

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months (see calendar below), on the first $1,500 spent per quarter (activation required)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: Double all cash back rewards earned in the first year

The 5% cash back calendar for 2020 is:

Quarter 5% Cash Back Categories
January – March Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
April – June Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft, Wholesale Clubs
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com
  • Good Grades statement credit: Discover will give you a $20 statement credit for every year that you get a 3.0 GPA or higher, for up to five years.
  • FICO Credit Scorecard: Access your FICO Score 8 whenever you’d like for free, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Cash at Checkout: At eligible retailers you can get cash at checkout, a handy way to get some money without going to an ATM. The extra cash will be counted as part of your purchase.
  • Refer a Friend bonus: Earn a $50 statement credit bonus for every friend you refer who’s approved, up to 10 friends per year. If your friend makes a purchase within three months of opening the account, he or she will earn a $50 bonus too.
  • Free Social Security number alerts: Discover searches for your Social Security number on thousands of risky dark web sites and will alert you if your information was compromised.
  • New account alerts: Get notified of credit inquiries and new accounts on your Experian credit report.
  • Purchase APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0

The information related to Discover it® Student Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students

Our rating
Min. credit level Limited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 16.24%–26.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students (Review) also carries no annual fee and is more rewarding than the Deserve Edu.

In addition, the signup bonus is a great find, especially for a student card.

If you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member you can get a minimum 25% bonus added to your cash back. 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.

The BofA Cash Rewards is a very rewarding choice for a student, if you can qualify for it. But keep in mind you will need an SSN.

Spending Rewards
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drugstores
    • Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Spending limit: 3% and 2% rewards only up to $2,500 per quarter, then 1%
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Free FICO credit score: Access your FICO Score 8 whenever you’d like for free, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • SafePass: A one-time six-digit code to be used when banking online
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 months, then 16.24%–26.24% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0
  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • New Offer: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
  • Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile banking app or Online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 16.24%–26.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%. Click “Apply Now” to learn more about Preferred Rewards.
  • Now with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • No annual fee

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Our rating
Min. credit level Limited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 26.99% (Variable)

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® (Review) is another no annual fee card that might appeal to students. It’ll prove slightly more rewarding than the Deserve Edu.

As long as you pay your bill on time, you’ll get 1.25% cash back, which is a little more than what you’d get with the Deserve Edu.

Capital One will automatically consider you for a credit limit increase after your first six months. This is a nice feature for a student card, because they typically come with pretty small credit limits.

There are no foreign transaction fees, like the Deserve Edu. 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 Platinum Mastercard benefits. These are mostly shopping and travel protections, which can help out if you have an issue with an item you buy or while traveling. These benefits are similar to what you’ll get with the Deserve card, which is also a Platinum Mastercard.

Spending Rewards
  • 1% cash back for every purchase
    • 1.25% cash back if you pay on time
  • Access a higher credit line: You may be automatically considered for a higher credit line after six months.
  • Capital One CreditWise: The CreditWise service provides free access to your VantageScore 3.0 credit score, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Shopping protections: Get access to extended warranties for eligible purchases, and potentially more.
  • Travel protections: Including rental car insurance, roadside assistance, and travel accident insurance
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 26.99% (Variable)
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual Fee: $0

The information related to Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Discover it® Secured

Our rating
Min. credit level Bad
Details
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR See Terms

The Discover it® Secured (Review) is not a student card like the others listed here. It’s a secured credit card, which means you’ll have to make an initial security deposit before you can get it.

The amount you deposit will determine your credit limit, with a minimum of $200. The maximum deposit is determined by your creditworthiness, up to $2,500. You’ll get your deposit back after you close the card, or if Discover reviews your credit and decides to return it, while allowing you to continue using the card.

Secured cards are designed to help establish positive credit, making them a viable option for students. This one is also pretty rewarding, even compared to some unsecured cards.

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 less in rewards. 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.

Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent per quarter (then 1%) at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: Double all cash back earned in the first year; awarded at the end of the first year
  • FICO Credit Scorecard: Access your FICO Score 8 whenever you’d like for free, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Cash at Checkout: At eligible retailers you can get cash at checkout, a handy way to get some money without going to an ATM. The extra cash will be counted as part of your purchase.
  • Refer a Friend bonus: Earn a $50 statement credit bonus for every friend you refer who’s approved, up to 10 friends per year. If your friend makes a purchase within three months of opening the account, he or she will earn a $50 bonus too.
  • Free Social Security number alerts: Discover searches for your Social Security number on thousands of risky dark web sites and will alert you if your information was compromised.
  • New account alerts: Get notified of credit inquiries and new accounts on your Experian credit report.
  • Purchase APR: See Terms
  • Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0

The information related to Discover it® Secured has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Deserve Edu Mastercard

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR18.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you’ll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you’ll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention(TM) and Master Rental(R).

Looking for other student credit cards to earn rewards and build your credit? Read about Student Credit Cards and see our picks for the best ones.

How do you like your Deserve Edu credit card? Has it been good to you? Leave a comment for other visitors, we’d love to hear from you!

Brendan Harkness
Written by

Brendan Harkness

Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.

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