Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students Review [2024]: Is It a Good Option for Students?

CREDIT CARDS - STUDENT CREDIT CARDS
The Deserve EDU Mastercard is a credit card option for students, including international students who don’t have a Social Security number. See how it works.
Updated April 17, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Editor's note:
This card is not currently accepting new applications. For college students looking to build credit and earn rewards, check our recommendations for the best credit cards for students.

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is worth a look for students who want a simple cashback card with a few helpful benefits. It could be especially useful for international students since there’s no Social Security number requirement.

This Deserve EDU Mastercard review will help you understand more about the card’s benefits and any potential drawbacks. See if the Deserve EDU could be the right choice for you.

Build Credit as a Student

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
5.0

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Current Offer

Earn a free year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1% cash back on all purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

In this Deserve EDU Mastercard review

Who should get the Deserve EDU Mastercard?

The Deserve EDU Mastercard is only available for students currently enrolled in a U.S. college. If you’re not a current college student, you won’t be able to apply for this card.

However, applications are open to all current students of U.S. colleges and universities, including both U.S. citizens and international students. You typically need a Social Security number (SSN) to apply for U.S. credit cards, but the Deserve EDU doesn’t have this requirement if you’re an international student.

If you’re a current college student who wants a cashback credit card and helpful benefits, such as cell phone protection and no foreign transaction fees, consider this card. In addition, take a look at this card if you have little or no credit history since the qualification requirements aren’t typically as strict as other credit cards. It could be useful for building credit.

Card basics

Card type Cash back
Credit card issuer Celtic Bank
Credit card network Mastercard
Annual fee $0
Intro bonus Earn a free year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first 3 months
Reward rate 1% cash back on all purchases
Foreign transaction fee None

Deserve EDU Mastercard benefits and perks

  • Generous sign-up bonus: Earn a free year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn cash back: This card offers 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • Statement credits: The cash back you earn is automatically redeemed as a statement credit. This happens in increments of $25.
  • Low annual cost: The $0 annual fee makes it easy to find value from this card since there’s no annual cost to offset each year.
  • No SSN requirement: You don’t need a Social Security number to apply for this card if you’re an international student.
  • Limited credit history: You could still be approved for this card even if you have limited or no credit history. The lender may consider other factors, such as your student visa or your U.S. bank account balance, when determining your creditworthiness. 
  • Cell phone protection: If you pay your cell phone bill with your card, you could receive up to $600 per claim in cell phone insurance against damage or theft of an eligible cell phone.
  • Collision damage waiver: Receive car rental coverage against damage and theft on eligible vehicles when you use your card to pay for the entire rental and you decline the collision or loss damage waiver from the rental company.
  • Mastercard Platinum benefits: Receive benefits such as Mastercard ID Theft Protection, Mastercard Airport Concierge, and Mastercard Global Service with your Mastercard Platinum credit card.
  • No foreign transaction fee: If you travel or plan on studying abroad as part of your school curriculum, a credit card with no foreign transaction fees could be useful. This could help you avoid racking up fees on all your foreign purchases, which can add up quickly if you use your card for everything.

Drawbacks to the Deserve EDU Mastercard

  • Low earning potential: Getting 1% cash back on all purchases isn’t great, especially when you compare credit cards and see what other cards have to offer. But for a student credit card without many requirements, it’s not terrible.
  • High variable APR: Cardholders probably shouldn’t carry a balance on this card since its high regular APR could hit you with large interest charges. It does not offer an intro APR.
  • Limited redemption options: The only redemption option available for this card is receiving statement credits in $25 increments. This could be limiting if you want more options. You also don’t get to choose when to apply those statement credits, as they’re automatically applied once you earn enough cash back.
  • No cash advances or balance transfers: This card doesn't allow you to take cash advances or do balance transfers. While cash advances come with fees and are generally not the best option, balance transfers can be useful for paying down high interest rate credit card debt. 

Earning & redeeming cash back with the Deserve EDU Mastercard

Best ways to earn

The Deserve EDU Mastercard only offers one way to earn cash back, and that’s by using the card to make purchases. You also have no options to earn bonus cash back as this card only has one earning rate, which is 1% cash back on all purchases.

If you want to earn the most cash back possible with this card, it’s best to use it for the bulk of your purchases. This could include everyday expenses, such as gas and groceries, as well as books, eating out, and entertainment. You typically won’t have the option to pay tuition with a credit card, but if you do, and you don’t have to pay big transaction fees, this could be another way to earn more cash back.

Categories Rewards rate
All purchases 1%

Maximizing your redemptions

The rewards you earn with the Deserve EDU Mastercard have one redemption option: statement credits toward further purchases on your card. These statement credits are automatically applied in $25 increments, so you’ll need to earn at least $25 in cash back before the redemption happens.

Since an automatic statement credit is your only redemption option, you’re more limited on this card compared to some of the best rewards credit cards, which might offer redemption options for travel, gift cards, or cash deposits into a bank account.

If you want more frequent statement credit redemptions on this card, you have to spend a decent amount of money. For example, spending $10,000 in a year, which may or may not be feasible for the average college student, would net you $100 in cash back. This would be split into four separate $25 statement credits.

Deserve EDU Mastercard FAQs

Is the Deserve EDU Mastercard a good card?

The Deserve EDU Mastercard could be an excellent beginner credit card for students who want a rewards card but don’t have sufficient credit history to qualify for better options. It doesn’t have the best rewards rate, but it’s better than most secured credit cards that don’t offer any rewards. In addition, you could earn a free Amazon Prime Student membership with this card, and it may be one of a few options available for international students who don’t have a Social Security number.

What credit score do you need for the Deserve EDU Mastercard?

The Deserve EDU Mastercard doesn’t typically require an extensive credit history, and you might be approved if you have no credit history at all. If you have some credit history, most people with a fair, good, or excellent FICO credit score could potentially qualify for this card.

What's the credit limit on a Deserve EDU Mastercard?

The Deserve EDU Mastercard doesn’t advertise a maximum credit limit, but you might not see a limit over $5,000. Your credit limit is determined on a case-by-case basis and is often influenced by your creditworthiness.

Does the Deserve EDU Mastercard report to the three credit bureaus?

Like any typical credit card, the Deserve EDU card reports your credit activity to the credit bureaus. This could be helpful if you’re a student with little or no credit history who’s trying to build credit. For other options, check out our list of the best credit cards for students.

What's the best credit card for a student with no credit?

The best credit card for a college student with no credit is likely a credit card that doesn’t require an extensive credit history or any credit history, such as the Deserve EDU Mastercard or Journey Student Rewards from Capital One.

In addition, secured credit cards are typically easier to qualify for since you often have to put down a security deposit instead of passing a credit check.

Other cards to consider

The Deserve EDU Mastercard could be a good option if you’re a student, especially if you’re an international student without an SSN. But it might not be the best fit for everyone. For other options, consider the Chase Freedom Rise℠ and Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

The Chase Freedom Rise offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has a $0 annual fee. However, your cashback rewards can be redeemed for more than just statement credits. Redemption options include statement credits, direct deposits, gift cards, booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, shopping with select merchants, and more. If you want more flexibility with your cashback rewards, this card could make sense for you.

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards has a $0 annual fee and offers 3% cash back on dining and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), popular streaming services, and entertainment; 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); and 1% cash back on all other purchases. This card provides higher earning potential than the Deserve EDU, though you likely need good credit to be approved.

To learn more about this card, read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards review.

Build Credit as a Student

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
5.0

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Why We Like It

Earn a free year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first 3 months

See how these cards compare:

Chase Freedom Rise℠
Chase Freedom Rise℠
  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Earn $25 statement credit for enrolling in automatic payments within the first three months of account opening
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then 19.99% - 29.99% (variable) APR; Balance transfer fee applies
  • 3% cash back on dining and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), popular streaming services, and entertainment
  • Rates and fees

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt