Deserve® Edu Mastercard: An A+ credit card for students lacking credit

3 college students read the deserve edu mastercard review while credit card shopping online 3 college students read the deserve edu mastercard review while credit card shopping online Image:

In a Nutshell

The Deserve® Edu Mastercard is a solid student credit card for college students who don’t have a credit history — it offers rewards, no annual fee and other student-friendly perks.

Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors' opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when it’s posted.
Advertiser Disclosure

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

This offer is no longer available on our site: Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard is a good option for students looking to build credit.

Since a Social Security number isn’t needed to apply if you’re an international student, it may also be an option for international students struggling to qualify for other credit cards.

To really understand this student credit card and its target audience, it helps to know that applying for a credit card without a credit history typically isn’t easy.

If you lack a credit profile, your credit card options are limited. You could get a secured card, but that would require you to fork over a cash deposit.

You could ask a friend or family member to add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards, but that conversation can be tricky and maybe even awkward. (Plus it only makes sense if your friend or family member has good credit.)

The idea behind Deserve® Edu Mastercard is simple but powerful: Students deserve the chance to build credit with a credit card, and they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops just to get approved.

From our partner

Deserve® Edu Mastercard

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Deserve serves the underserved

Deserve’s mission, in the company’s own words, is to provide “deserving but underserved people access to fair credit,” so it makes sense that Deserve® Edu Mastercard is tailored to people without a credit history.

The application process is pretty straightforward, and you won’t be required to provide a cosigner or a cash deposit.

For many, the opportunity to build credit from scratch is the most attractive aspect about Deserve® Edu Mastercard.

But this card also has some other features worth calling out, such as 1 percent cash back on purchases (as statement credits in $25 increments), $0 annual fee, and reimbursement of Amazon Prime Student subscription fees up to a lifetime total of $59 when you assign Deserve® Edu Mastercard as your payment method.


Is there a hard inquiry on my credit if I apply for Deserve Edu Mastercard?

Yes, but only if you have a credit history. Hard inquiries (also known as “hard pulls”) generally occur when a financial institution, such as a lender or credit card issuer, checks your credit when making a lending decision. It’s worth noting that Deserve does not use your credit scores to make a lending decision, and an inquiry is used for the purpose of identification and to review existing credit you may already have.

What we like Heads up


●      Helps build credit with responsible use

●      No annual fee

●      No deposit or cosigner needed

●      1 percent cash back, as statement credits in $25 increments, on all purchases


●      20.74% variable APR for purchases

●      Balance transfers and cash advances aren’t available

●      As a cardholder, you may not add another authorized user to your account


  1. The rundown: Everything we like about Deserve® Edu Mastercard
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying for Deserve® Edu Mastercard
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of Deserve® Edu Mastercard
  4. The competition: How Deserve® Edu Mastercard stacks up against similar cards
  5. Bottom line: Is Deserve® Edu Mastercard right for you?

The rundown: Everything we like about Deserve® Edu Mastercard

Deserve is stepping into rare territory for a credit card company, because it doesn’t require all applicants to have credit or a Social Security number.

International students, for example, won’t need to supply an SSN. Instead, Deserve asks for a copy of a student visa, passport ID, school document (e.g. I-20 or DS 2019) and proof of a U.S. bank account balance. For international students struggling to build credit in America, this can be a huge leg up.


Deserve® Edu Mastercard is not to be confused with a credit card for people with poor credit, according to a Deserve customer service representative.

If you’re in this category, your best option is most likely a secured credit card, which requires you to put down a cash deposit.

Compare secured credit cards

Deserve® Edu Mastercard features some useful benefits typically found in the more “premium” class of rewards credit cards.

It charges no foreign transaction fees and comes with Mastercard Platinum benefits such as roadside assistance, price protection and ID theft protection.

Additionally, Deserve will waive the first late payment fee, in case you make the mistake of forgetting to pay your bill.

Just remember that missing a credit card payment may come with other penalties and repercussions, so don’t take this benefit as carte blanche to pay your bill late.

How Deserve checks for creditworthiness

If you apply for Deserve® Edu Mastercard and don’t have any credit history, Deserve uses a special process that determines your credit potential and ability to pay.

The company may look at factors such as your school major, student visa, U.S. bank account balance and likelihood of graduating and finding a secure job.

A Deserve customer service rep says that, if your application is denied, the company will let you know why.

Heads up: What you should consider before applying for Deserve® Edu Mastercard

Before taking the plunge and applying for Deserve® Edu Mastercard, remember that the best path to establishing a good credit history is to be responsible and pay your bills on time.

Here are some important questions to ask yourself at the beginning of your credit journey.

  • Can you pay your bills on time? A late or missed payment can significantly damage your credit scores — and then there’s the interest you’ll have to pay if you carry a balance from month to month. This card charges a 20.74% variable APR for purchases, which is considerably higher than the average APR on a credit card.
  • Are you a student? Deserve requires you to be a college student and provide proof of enrollment. Other student credit cards don’t necessarily require proof.
  • Do you have a regular stream of income, or a job? If not, using a credit card and making on-time monthly payments could end up being a struggle.

If you’re an international student and don’t have a Social Security number, Deserve may be your best option to help establish and build your credit while you also enjoy some perks, like 1 percent cash back on all purchases.

But if you’re planning on using your credit card for a balance transfer or cash advance, you’ll have to look elsewhere, as Deserve® Edu Mastercard offers neither.


Do the math: How to get the most out of Deserve® Edu Mastercard

Maximizing your benefits with Deserve® Edu Mastercard means understanding what the card offers.

Since the card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, you can take it with you on your next overseas trip.

Using Deserve® Edu Mastercard also means you can take advantage of certain travel assistance and ID theft protection services.

Another great way to maximize this card’s value is to sign up for the Amazon Prime Student membership, since the card offers reimbursement of subscription fees up to a lifetime total of $59.

After enrolling, you must choose Deserve® Edu Mastercard as your primary method of payment in order to be eligible for the reimbursement.

Your spending habits may be an indication to look elsewhere

Look at your spending habits — where do you spend the most? Break down your spending over the past three months and see where your money is going.

Do you notice you’ve been going out to eat more than a few times a week and spending regularly on entertainment? If so, you might want to apply for Deserve Pro Mastercard to earn cash back, as statement credit, in those categories.

Deserve Pro Mastercard offers 3 percent cash back on eligible travel and entertainment purchases and 2 percent cash back on eligible restaurant purchases on up to $500 in combined purchases per billing cycle, then 1 percent thereafter.

You’d also earn 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.

Keep in mind that you need to have established credit and a Social Security number in order to apply for Deserve Pro Mastercard.

The competition: How Deserve® Edu Mastercard stacks up against similar cards

Discover it® Card for Students Outstanding card if you’re looking for a robust rewards program, as it offers 5 percent cash back on eligible purchases when you activate, up to a quarterly cap, and then 1 percent after.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students Great option if you frequently dine out and spend regularly on entertainment.
Deserve Classic Mastercard The most basic credit card from Deserve. Similar to Deserve® Edu Mastercard, but has a $39 annual fee.

Discover it® Card for Students

Discover it® Card for Students has a more robust rewards program for cash back and other perks. It’s also flexible, as the cash back never expires and you can redeem your rewards for cash in any amount.

Discover it® Card for Students is a competitive option for student credit cards, because it offers 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate.

You’ll earn unlimited 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.

The cash back bonus categories make sense with the student lifestyle. Some examples of categories include gas stations, wholesale clubs, grocery stores, restaurants and purchases.

You’ll also earn 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. You may even earn an extra $20 for each school year your GPA is a 3.0 or higher, for up to five consecutive years for an open account in good standing.

Discover it® Card for Students doubles all the cash back you’ve earned after the first 12 billing periods your account is open and reports to the major credit bureaus. There’s also no annual fee.

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

From our partner

If you regularly go out to eat and have a healthy habit of spending on entertainment and retail items, the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students  may be a stronger choice for you.

The rewards focus on restaurants and entertainment, such as going to the movies.

The card also offers 2,500 bonus ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $25 in gift cards and electronics through, after you spend $500 in qualifying purchases within the first three months of opening the account.

The card also has a $0 annual fee and 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 7 months from the date of account opening, which can save you on interest if you can’t pay off your balance right away.

After that, the APR will be a variable rate of 16.49% - 26.49%, depending on your creditworthiness.

Deserve Classic Mastercard

From the trio of credit cards that Deserve offers, Deserve Classic Mastercard is the most basic. Similar to Deserve® Edu Mastercard , Deserve Classic Mastercard aims to help cardholders build credit.

Made for people who are new to credit, Deserve Classic Mastercard offers a credit limit of up to $1,500, which is lower than Deserve® Edu Mastercard , which offers a limit of up to $5,000.

It’s important to note that Deserve ultimately decides your limit — you don’t get to choose.

Just like Deserve® Edu Mastercard, Deserve Classic Mastercard comes with the first-late-payment-fee waiver and no foreign transaction fees, and you don’t need a cosigner.

You can also enjoy the same Mastercard Platinum benefits, which include car rental collision damage waiver, roadside assistance, travel assistance services, price protection, extended warranty and ID theft protection.

The downside to this card is that it doesn’t come with the 1 percent cash back rewards program that Deserve® Edu Mastercard does. Deserve Classic Mastercard also comes with a $39 annual fee.

With responsible use, cardholders may be eligible to upgrade to Deserve® Edu Mastercard or Deserve Pro Mastercard.

Bottom line: Is Deserve® Edu Mastercard right for you?

If you’re interested in building your credit history, Deserve® Edu Mastercard is a very good bet.

Opening a credit card can help build your credit, as long as you use it responsibly and make on-time payments.

Know what fees are involved and understand what you may be charged in interest if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month. That way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises and make the most of what the card has to offer.