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Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students review: An easy starter card for students from the U.S. and abroad

This starter credit card with easy, no-fuss application requirements is a solid way for students to start building credit.

 /  14 min
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Snapshot

2.5

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Bottom line

This accessible, flat-rate student card is one of the best starter cards for international students studying in the U.S. and other students that want a streamlined first credit card — but more rewarding student cards are available.

Image of Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

*
No Credit History
Info
Recommended Credit

N/A

Intro offer

Info

1%

Rewards Rate

Info

$0

Annual fee

22.99% Variable

Regular APR

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students Overview

The information about the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC

The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students is currently not accepting applications at this time. Please take a look at our best credit cards for students for similar options and check back later for updates on when applications will be open again.

The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students makes it easy for students to start building credit. Applicants don’t need a credit history and international students don’t need a Social Security number, both of which can be serious barriers for people seeking their first credit card. However, applicants are required to at least have a checking account to apply for the card.

This easy-access approach for a starter credit card is valuable in its own right, and the Deserve EDU card sweetens the deal with its quality roster of additional features — including 1 percent cash back on all purchases, cellphone protection, a student-oriented welcome offer and Mastercard Platinum benefits.

Granted, it isn’t a top contender in the student card race, but it can be a solid option that equips students to build their credit while learning the ropes of responsible credit use and enjoying student-centric perks.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 1 percent cash back on all purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • No intro APR offer for purchases or balance transfers
    • 22.99 percent variable ongoing APR

    Expert Appraisal: Typical 
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Cellphone protection
    • Mastercard Platinum benefits
    • Reports to all three credit bureaus
    • Auto rental damage and collision damage waiver

    Expert Appraisal: Typical 
    See our expert analysis

Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    You can earn 1 percent cash back on all purchases, plus annual and foreign transaction fees won't eat into your rewards.

  • Checkmark

    No credit score or Social Security number is required, making it a great choice for international students.

  • Checkmark

    This card features a terrific welcome offer as well as Mastercard Platinum benefits, including cellphone protection up to $600 per claim (up to $1,000 across two claims per year).

Cons

  • You won’t be able to make balance transfers or withdraw cash advances on this card.

  • The APR is relatively high compared to some student cards.

  • If you can't make your payments on time, you'll face a late payment fee.

Why you might want the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students is an excellent choice for students seeking their first credit card to help them get their education off to a good start. The card provides decent perks and a welcome bonus that would be particularly useful if you're a fan of Amazon Prime Student.

Welcome bonus: Offers Amazon Prime Student reimbursement

Students who make purchases totaling $500 within the first three statement cycles of card membership were able to qualify to have their Amazon Prime Student subscription reimbursed for up to $59 in statement credits (note: this is not a current offer, as the card is currently not accepting new applications).

Depending on how you choose to pay for your Amazon Prime Student membership, you’d receive your statement credit(s) differently. Your reimbursement begins after your six-month Amazon Prime Student free trial ends, but you can either receive the one-time maximum statement credit if you pay for a whole yearly membership or in monthly credits if you pay by the month. We recommend paying the yearly membership cost upfront since membership costs more if you pay monthly.

Many student credit cards don’t provide welcome offers, but the Deserve EDU card’s intro value was previously on par with the few bonuses you’ll get among other student cards. But the one of the best student card sign-up bonuses you can earn in your first few months is the $200 cash bonus from the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days. You’ll need good to excellent credit (a 670+ FICO score) to qualify for that card, so if you have a limited credit history, the Deserve EDU card’s intro offer might be more accessible.

Cardholder perks: Enjoy basic protection benefits and open to international students 

By providing cash back to students, the Deserve EDU card is already miles ahead of other credit cards designed for applicants with no credit history. But the card also brings a few other benefits to the table that can reward cardholders.

Why you might want a different student card

Even though the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students is a great pick for its welcome bonus and cardholder perks, there are a few downsides to consider, such as its lackluster rewards rate and high APR.

Rewards rate: Unimpressive compared to other student cards

Students spend a significant amount on school supplies, textbooks and gear each year — costly categories that typically don’t earn rewards — and the Deserve EDU Mastercard earns a modest flat-rate cash back of unlimited 1 percent on all purchases. 

However, this flat rate is considered quite low and unimpressive for a student cash back card. Given the spending habits of students and the desire to maximize savings, a higher rewards rate could provide more substantial benefits.

In contrast, similar student cash back cards offer more attractive rewards rates that can significantly increase savings potential. The Discover it® Student Cash Back card provides up to 5 percent cash back on rotating categories, so students can earn more on everyday purchases like groceries, dining and transportation. Additionally, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card offers tiered cash back rewards on entertainment, dining, popular streaming services and more — providing flexibility and higher rewards potential based on individual spending habits. Overall, these alternative options are more compelling for students looking to maximize their cash back rewards.

Redemption: Limited options

Like other cash back programs, your Deserve EDU cash back is calculated based on a percentage of dollars back on your total purchase. This card’s flat 1 percent cash back rate means you’ll get 1 cent back for every dollar you spend. 

At the end of the billing cycle, your cash back is calculated and automatically credited back to your statement in increments of $25, meaning it might take a few months to see a return if your everyday spending is low.

Although automatic statement credits are an easy redemption method for credit newcomers, some student cards do offer more cash back redemption choices, such as direct bank account deposits, gift cards and more.

Rates and fees: High APR 

Like many entry-level unsecured credit cards, the APR is a bit high at 22.99 percent variable, so try to avoid carrying a balance. It’s not a bad ongoing rate since that’s only slightly above the current average credit card interest rate, and several student cards have variable APRs upwards of 26 percent, but you can still fall into credit card debt with interest you accrue on your balance.

Fortunately, there are no annual fees, over-the-credit limit fees or foreign transaction fees on this card, but there are a number of other fees to keep track of.

The late payment is up to $25, while the returned payment is up to $37. Balance transfers and cash advances are not available.

How the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students compares to other student cards

The Deserve EDU Mastercard is a decent option for students, but other student cards may offer more lucrative rewards and student-centric card perks. Keep in mind, however, that these cards come with their own drawbacks.

Image of Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info
Image of Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$50
Info

Rewards rate

1.5% - 10%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Image of Discover it® Student Cash Back
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info

Best cards to pair with the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

Building credit should be your primary focus when using your credit card rather than applying to multiple credit cards for maximum rewards spending. However, a student credit card with bonus categories can earn boosted rewards on some of your biggest expenses.

Who is the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students right for?

The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students could be a great pick for many, but students and Amazon Prime users might find it the most worthwhile.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students worth it?

The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students provides an easy way for students to start building credit while taking advantage of a few student-friendly perks — all with no annual fee or foreign transaction fees to worry about. Not all student credit cards are available with no credit history or no Social Security number, so its unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases, Amazon Prime Student reimbursement intro offer and other benefits round out a solid overall package designed around student needs.

However, several other student credit cards offer higher rewards rates and beefier benefits, so the Deserve EDU Mastercard is probably best served as a starter card for international students studying abroad in the U.S. or students who just want a simple first card.

*All information about the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

How we rated this card

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Our proprietary card rating system takes into account a mix of factors when scoring credit cards for students and people building credit, including each card’s cost, APR, credit-building tools and more.

We analyzed over 50 of the most popular cards designed for students and people with no credit history, bad credit or a fair credit score and scored each based on where its key features stood in relation to others in its category. 

Here are some of the key factors that gave this card its score: 

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Re'Dreyona Walker
Associate Editor, Credit Cards

Re’Dreyona Walker is an editor for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, focusing on product guides and reviews. As a personal finance expert, she is dedicated to providing honest product reviews as well as in-depth, comprehensive guides to assist readers in building credit and finding the best credit cards for their needs.

Edited by Editor II, Credit Cards

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.