Review of the Deserve Edu Mastercard

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Jan 19, 2018 | Updated Apr 03, 2018

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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 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. 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.

Deserve Edu Mastercard
Apply Now

Deserve Edu Mastercard

For People with
No Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 20.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases
  • Deserve will pay for Amazon Prime Student, get free Video, Music, and Reading (Up to a life-time total of $49)
  • Up to a $5,000 credit line
  • $0 annual fee
  • No security deposit or co-signer required (No SSN required for international students)
  • Builds credit history
  • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted with no foreign transaction fees
  • Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel Assistance, ID Theft Protection, Extended Warranty and Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

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 are some limitations with this card, however. A major one is that it doesn’t currently come with an EMV chip. That means it can only be used in magnetic stripe terminals, which restricts where you can use it. Even though there’s no foreign transaction fee with this card, many merchants outside the U.S. only accept chip cards. So you would have to look to other cards like the Capital One Journey Student if you want a spending solution for use outside the country. Deserve eventually plans to include this feature, but it’s not available yet.

You also won’t be able to load this card into a mobile wallet, like Apple Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay. And you can’t add any authorized users to your account, either.

So this card lacks a few features that most cards have. They aren’t the most valuable features but they could be important to you. In particular, the lack of a chip could cause issues for some people. But overall, they don’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. They 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 $49 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.
  • There is no foreign transaction fee with this card. However, it doesn’t currently come with an EMV chip either. This means it won’t be very useful outside the U.S., where EMV is the standard. If you need a card for studying or traveling, see our picks for the best study abroad credit cards or the best travel credit cards.
  • 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.

The Rewards

Earning

  • 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.

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 a handy perk for students. It’s important to note a few things it does not come with, however:

  • It does not have EMV chip technology, so it won’t be accepted at many merchants outside the U.S.
  • You can’t load this card into mobile wallets
  • You can’t add authorized users to your account

We were informed by Deserve that they eventually plan to roll out cards with EMV technology.

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 $49 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.

Late Payment Waiver

Your first late payment will be waived as a courtesy.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fraud Protection

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
20.24% Variable N/A N/A $5,000
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
$0  0% N/A N/A
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
See Terms Up to $25 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.

Most cards charge an extra fee for foreign transactions, though this card does not. But, this card isn’t that good for use outside the country because it doesn’t have an EMV chip. Many merchants outside the U.S. require an EMV-capable card, so you won’t be able to use the Deserve card with them. Check out some travel credit cards for better options for traveling abroad.

Customer Support

Phone Support

Customer Support 1-800-316-7258

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.

Web Support

The Deserve website is pretty simple to navigate. They only offer 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 card 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:

  • education
  • 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
Deserve Edu Mastercard
Apply Now

Deserve Edu Mastercard

For People with
No Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 20.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases
  • Deserve will pay for Amazon Prime Student, get free Video, Music, and Reading (Up to a life-time total of $49)
  • Up to a $5,000 credit line
  • $0 annual fee
  • No security deposit or co-signer required (No SSN required for international students)
  • Builds credit history
  • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted with no foreign transaction fees
  • Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel Assistance, ID Theft Protection, Extended Warranty and Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Alternatives to the Deserve Edu Mastercard

Deserve Pro Mastercard

The Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review) is similar to the Deserve Edu, but it’s not made specifically for students. Students can still apply for it though, of course.

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.

You’ll get:

  • 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 $49 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 an annual fee of $39 and no rewards. If you have the Deserve Edu or Deserve Classic, you may eventually be able to upgrade to the Deserve Pro.

Discover it for Students

There are quite a few student credit cards on the market, and the Discover it for Students (Review) is one of the best. There’s no annual fee.

It offers:

  • 5% cash back on bonus categories that rotate throughout the year (see calendar below)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 5–50% cash back at select retailers in the Discover Deals marketplace
  • $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 2018 is:

Time Period Rewards Category
January – March Gas Stations and Wholesale Clubs
April – June Grocery Stores
July – September Restaurants
October – December Amazon.com and Wholesale Clubs

If you tend to make a lot of purchases in those categories, this card could be a nice addition to your wallet. You’ll also have access to the Discover Deals marketplace, where you can find some great deals at participating merchants. That lets you earn rewards on a wider variety of purchases.

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 decent. They mostly consist of shopping and travel protections, like the Deserve Edu. So these cards are pretty comparable there. But the Discover card will also provide access to your FICO 8 Credit Score, based on your TransUnion credit report.

The Deserve card doesn’t provide a service like that. However, anyone can use Discover’s FICO 8 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.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students (Review) has no annual fee. It’s more rewarding than the Deserve Edu, providing:

  • 3% cash back on gas
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: $150 cash rewards bonus for spending $500 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. 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 BankAmericard 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.

Capital One Journey Student Card

The Capital One Journey Student Card (Review) has no annual fee. It’s just a bit more rewarding than the Deserve Edu, providing:

  • 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. It also has Chip-and-Signature EMV technology, so it can be used at more merchants in other countries. The Deserve Edu does not currently have a chip, making it less useful outside the U.S.

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.

Discover it Secured

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
  • 5–50% cash back at select retailers in the Discover Deals marketplace
  • 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 8 Credit Score 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.

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? 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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