This credit card doesn’t require a Social Security number to apply, comes with no annual or foreign transaction fees, and offers 1% cashback rewards on everyday purchases.
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If you’re a student looking to start your credit-building journey, the Deserve® EDU credit card has a lot to offer. It’s one of two Deserve® credit cards that boasts no annual fee or foreign transaction fees, and allows you to qualify without a credit score.
The Deserve® EDU Mastercard® also offers unique perks, including free Amazon Prime Student memberships and mobile phone insurance, along with rotating discounts and promotions.
However, the card has limitations in terms of credit building (as it reports to only two of the three major credit bureaus) and only offers 1% in cashback rewards. If you’re able to qualify for other student credit cards, many offer more enticing rewards rates. However, if you have a limited borrowing history, no Social Security number, or are without a regular income, the Deserve® EDU Mastercard® is a good credit card option.
Deserve® EDU Mastercard® Important Details
Basic card details
- Credit card issuer: Celtic Bank
- Card type: Mastercard
- Annual fee: $0
- Regular APR: 22.49% (variable)
- Rewards rate: 1%
- Grace period: 23 days
- Free Amazon Prime Student membership for a year
- Cell phone protection for up to $600
- Credit reporting to TransUnion and Experian
- Cash advances and balance transfers are unavailable
- Various Mastercard Platinum Benefits (e.g., fraud protection, purchase insurance, roadside dispatch, auto rental collision insurance)
- Account-freezing facility to block new purchases made online or in person if you lose your card or if it’s stolen
- iPhone app for account management
Deserve® EDU Credit Card Feature Breakdown
In this section, we’ll look at some of the most notable features of the Deserve® EDU Mastercard® credit card.
The Deserve® EDU credit card charges reasonable fees:
- Annual fee: $0
- Late fees: Up to $40
- Returned payment fee: Up to $40
- Foreign transaction fee: $0
The lack of foreign transaction fees makes this card particularly appealing to students who study abroad or make frequent visits to countries outside of the US. As Mastercard is widely accepted internationally, this card could be a good resource for the globe-trotting student.
If you don’t pay off the balance on your Deserve® EDU credit card in full each month, you’ll pay interest on the following rate:
- Regular APR: 22.49% (variable)
- Minimum interest charge: $1
This is a decent interest rate, but could still add significant charges to your bill if you frequently leave balances on your credit card. To avoid paying interest altogether, try to only use your card for purchases you can pay off by the end of the billing cycle.
The Deserve® EDU Mastercard® gives you a 23-day grace period (beginning on the first day of the new billing cycle). The grace period gives you time to pay your bill in full without racking up any interest charges.
If you pay your bill in full by the due date, your purchases during the grace period won’t accumulate interest. However, if you carry a balance from the previous billing cycle, charges in the grace period will accumulate interest at the regular rate.
Your Deserve® EDU credit card will earn a base rate of 1% cash back on most everyday purchases. Exceptions include:
- Foreign currency or travelers’ check purchases
- Wire transfers (or similar cash-like transactions)
- Lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, or similar betting transactions
- Interest and fee payments
Once you’ve accumulated cashback rewards from your Deserve® EDU Mastercard®, you can redeem them as a statement credit (i.e., a credit to your account that gets deducted from your card balance). You have to redeem rewards in increments of $25.
If you open a Deserve® EDU credit card account, you’ll get:
- Amazon Prime Student membership: One year’s free membership when you spend $500 on your credit card within the first three months of opening the account.
- Cellphone insurance: Up to $600 of coverage for your cell phone.
- Platinum Mastercard benefits: Benefits include fraud and ID theft protection, purchase insurance (against theft or loss), roadside dispatch, car rental insurance, and other special offers.
Deserve doesn’t give any specific information about its credit limits. However, you probably won’t get a very large credit limit with the Deserve® EDU, as it’s a student credit card. Student credit cards usually have smaller credit limits than you get with regular credit cards.
Furthermore, your initial credit limit will likely be determined by your creditworthiness. If you qualify for a Deserve® EDU Mastercard®, your credit limit should be included in your card offer.
Credit limit increases
The Deserve® EDU issuer automatically considers cardholders for credit limit increases from time to time. This means you don’t have to actively ask for more credit. Instead, check your account periodically to see whether you’ve qualified for a larger amount.
Credit Reporting and Credit Building
The Deserve® EDU credit card reports to two of the three major credit bureaus—TransUnion and Experian—but does not report to Equifax. Although it will help you to build credit, the ideal credit card reports to all three major bureaus, as regular and widespread reporting helps build your credit score quickly.
If you have a Deserve® EDU credit card, it’s still important to keep up with your monthly payments so that your Experian and TransUnion credit scores can keep improving. Good credit scores open doors for even better credit cards and loans in the future.
Credit Score Requirements
You don’t need a credit score to get approved for the Deserve® EDU credit card.
You can apply on the website to see if you prequalify without hurting your credit. This will help you to decide whether it’s worth getting a hard inquiry on your credit report when Deserve processes your application, or whether you’re likely to get rejected.
Hard inquiries knock points off your credit score, so if rejection seems likely, consider applying for a different card instead.
Application and Approval
You can apply for the Deserve® EDU card online. When you do, you’ll first go through the preapproval process and then (if you want to proceed) through the formal application. Note that this second application stage will involve a hard inquiry on your credit report.
If you’re an international student, you’ll need to provide:
- A copy of your student visa
- Passport ID
- A school document (e.g., I-20 or DS 2019)
- Proof of a US bank account with a balance
If you’re a US citizen or permanent resident with a Green Card, you may also have to provide your Social Security number and link up a US bank account with your credit card account.
If you’re approved, you’ll receive your card within a couple of weeks. If you’re denied, you’ll receive an email providing you with the reason for denial.
Managing Your Account
You can manage your Deserve® EDU Credit Card account online (e.g., making monthly payments) by going to their website and logging into your account. The Deserve® EDU Mastercard® comes with an iPhone app, but unfortunately no Android version.
You can also mail your payments to the address on your account statement or call customer service.
If you need help with your Deserve® EDU credit card—including with a lost or stolen card or with finding out the status of your application—the phone number for customer service is (800) 418-2362.
You can also email customer service at [email protected] or send mail correspondence to:
PO Box 57780
Murray, UT 84157
Should You Get the Deserve® EDU Mastercard®?
The Deserve® EDU Mastercard® is a decent credit card choice for students who want to build credit while earning rewards, but US students who don’t have major black marks on their credit reports should shop around to look for better deals.
That said, the Deserve® EDU credit card is a simple and straightforward option; you don’t need to provide much information to apply, and the rewards system is uncomplicated. It’s also not bad for traveling, as there are no foreign transaction fees and Mastercard is widely accepted.
Who is this card for?
- International students: Because you don’t need a Social Security number to get a Deserve® EDU Mastercard®, it’s one of few options open to international students. With reporting to two of the three bureaus, this card will help you establish credit in the US and reap rewards at the same time.
- College students with no credit history: In the same vein, the Deserve® EDU credit card is good for students with no credit score, which you also don’t need to apply for the Deserve® EDU Mastercard®.
- Students with no Mastercard® in their wallets: Having both Visa and Mastercard credit cards in your wallet can come in handy—particularly if you’re likely to go abroad during your studies. The two networks offer various travel and everyday benefits to cardholders, so having access to both can score you serious perks and protections. Also, if you have both Mastercard and Visa cards on hand, you’re very unlikely to run into ATMs and establishments abroad that won’t accept one of your cards.
To determine whether the Deserve® EDU Mastercard® is right for you, take a look at how it measures up against other similar credit cards on the market.
Deserve® EDU Mastercard® vs. Capital One Journey Student Credit Card
The Deserve® EDU credit card and the Capital One Journey Student credit card share the following features:
- A standard rate of 1% cash back on most purchases (although Capital One will boost this to 1.25% for every month you pay your bills on time).
- No annual fees.
- No foreign transaction fees and good coverage abroad.
Both credit cards offer similarly appealing welcome bonuses. Whereas Deserve gives you a free Amazon Prime Student membership worth $69, Capital One gives you up to $60 in credit toward streaming service subscriptions when you pay your bills on time.
The major downsides of the Capital One Journey Student Credit Card are its high APR of 28.49% (variable) and that you need a credit score to apply. The Capital One website says that applicants with a “fair” credit score are eligible for the student credit card, so a credit score under 580 may disqualify you.
Because of this requirement and the potential cost of carrying a balance, you’ll likely be better off applying for the Deserve® EDU credit card.
Deserve® EDU Mastercard® vs. Petal® 1 Visa® Credit Card
The Deserve® EDU credit card and the Petal® 1 Visa® credit card are both potential options for students new to borrowing. However, the Petal® 1 Visa® credit card isn’t suitable for all students, because:
- If you don’t have a credit score, Petal uses information about your income and bills to decide whether you qualify. You’re likely to get rejected if you can’t prove you have a regular income. Also, Petal might not accept information from non-US bank accounts (ruling out international students).
- If you don’t have a Social Security number, you’ll need an ITIN (an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is a number that the tax authorities issue to non-residents of the US for tax purposes) to apply for the Petal® 1 Visa® credit card. You don’t need an ITIN for the Deserve® EDU card, which makes it more convenient for many international students.
However, if you’re eligible for both credit cards (e.g., if you’re a US student with a part-time job or another source of regular income), the Deserve® EDU credit card and the Petal® 1 Visa® credit card are similarly good options with many of the same features:
- They’re available to people with no credit score.
- They don’t charge annual fees or foreign transaction fees.
- They don’t increase your APR if you miss a payment.
- They don’t ask for a security deposit.
- They don’t offer balance transfers or cash advances.
The major differences are that the Petal® 1 Visa® has a higher APR and a more complicated cashback rewards system. However, it will likely offer a higher credit limit (as regular credit cards tend to have higher limits than student credit cards do), reports to all three bureaus, and isn’t limited to your time as a student.
Deserve® EDU Mastercard® vs. Discover It® Student Cash Back Card
Unlike the Deserve® EDU credit card, the Discover It® Student Cash Back card is suitable only for students from the US studying in the US, as you’re eligible only if you have a Social Security number. Also, if you’re going abroad, you’ll be better off with a Mastercard, as Discover cards aren’t as widely accepted internationally.
If you’re not worried about these considerations, and you’re eligible for both cards, you’ll have to weigh the other major differences between the two to decide which will suit you better:
- Cash advances and balance transfers: You can perform these with the Discover It® Student Cash Back card but not with the Deserve® EDU Mastercard®.
- Cashback bonuses vs perks: Whereas the Deserve® EDU Mastercard® gives you perks like Amazon Prime Student and cell phone protection, the Discover It® Student Cash Back card gives you bonus cashback rewards. However, you’ll have to be organized to make the most of Discover’s cashback rewards, because you have to sign up for special categories each quarter.
Otherwise, the Deserve® EDU Mastercard® and the Discover It® Student Cash Back card have similar benefits, including a standard rate of 1% cash back on purchases and no annual fees or foreign transaction fees.