Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students Review: A Great First Card with Low Fees

Deserve EDU Reviews
The Deserve EDU is an excellent card for students who want to earn 1.0% unlimited cash back, build credit, travel, and enjoy the taste of owning a credit card.
  • Annual Fee:
  • Regular APR:
  • Recommended Credit Score:
    No/Limited Credit History, Fair and Good Credit

Disclaimer: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation (at no cost to you) when you click on links to those products. Read our Disclaimer Policy for more information.

If you’re coming to the U.S. to study, it can be tough to gain access to the U.S. credit market. Most companies require you to have a Social Security number for identification and tax purposes.

But with a little flexibility, international students can use other forms of I.D. Another obstacle is that you probably don’t have any U.S. credit rating. Most banks require this, but again, it’s not universal.

The Deserve® EDU doesn’t require a Social Security number for non-US citizens. It also doesn’t require anyone to have an existing credit rating.

This second benefit is also important for U.S. citizens who have yet to establish a credit rating. Here’s everything you need to know about this card.

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students Pros and Cons


  • No annual fee
  • Cell phone protection
  • Includes one free year of Amazon Prime Student
  • No foreign transaction fees, no Social Security number required


  • Relatively low rewards rate
  • High APR

What Is the Deserve® EDU Mastercard?

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is a simple, entry-level card designed primarily for students.

It’s particularly well-positioned for international students since you don’t need a Social Security number or a credit rating to qualify. There are also no foreign transaction fees, so overseas spending is easy.

Along with being easy to qualify for, this card comes with reasonably good perks. You can earn a small amount of cash back, which is uncommon for student credit cards.

For all of that, you don’t have to spend out of pocket as you do with a lot of cards.

There’s no deposit required, and there’s no annual fee. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll appreciate not having to pay extra for your credit card.

How Does the Deserve® EDU Mastercard Work?

To sign up for a Deserve® EDU Mastercard, you have to be a college student. This means you’ll need to provide proof that you’re attending university.

You’ll also have to answer the same questions as other credit card applications. You’ll need to provide information on your income, savings, and other sources of money.

In addition, you’ll need to state whether you’re a U.S. student or an international student. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number at this point.

If you’re an international student, you’ll be asked for alternative documentation. You don’t need to have a credit score.

However, the bank will run a credit report, and the results will factor into whether you’re approved.

Deserve® EDU Mastercard Review

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Annual APR: Variable – 18.74% and up
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: N/A
  • Rewards: 1% on all purchases

Deserve® EDU Mastercard Rewards

Perhaps the coolest feature about the Deserve® EDU Mastercard is that it pays cash back for your purchases.

This is common with higher-end cards, but it’s less common with student cards. Let’s take a look at how this program works.

Earning Rewards

The reward system is about as simple as it gets. You earn 1% cash back on all purchases, regardless of category.

You don’t have to spend money on any particular thing just to earn your rewards. Just paying for your ordinary expenses will earn you the same consistent 1% rate.

Keep in mind that this applies to purchases only. It doesn’t apply to cash advances or balance transfers.

As an added perk, new cardholders can get a free year of Amazon Prime Student. As long as you spend at least $500 in your first three billing cycles, you’ll receive your free subscription.

Redeeming Rewards

Cash back rewards are redeemed automatically. Once you’ve earned $25 or more, the money is applied to your next monthly statement as a credit.

So, you’re not getting an actual check, but you’re getting a discount on your bill. Not bad!

Cash back rewards will never expire unless you close your account. That said, they cannot be redeemed if you’re over your credit limit or if you’re delinquent on your bills.

Deserve® EDU Mastercard Features and Benefits

1% Cash Back on All Purchases

A lot of other cards offer rewards on select categories of purchases. For example, you might get 2% cash back on groceries or 3% on gas.

These rewards can get fairly generous, particularly with some of the higher-end credit cards. Depending on how you spend your money, they can provide a fantastic value.

That said, a category-based rewards system can be confusing. It can be tough to know from month to month how much you’re going to earn.

With the Deserve® EDU Mastercard, you earn 1% automatically on all purchases. This is easy to understand, and you earn rewards no matter what you’re buying.

No Annual Fee

Many credit cards charge an annual fee, which can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars. For someone on a student’s budget, that can easily wipe out any cash back you’ve earned. The Deserve® EDU Mastercard has no fee.

No Foreign Transaction Fee

A lot of cards charge a fee for foreign transactions. These are sometimes as high as 3%, which is a significant part of your budget.

That’s especially true if you live overseas and use your card at home over the summer. There’s no foreign transaction fee on the Deserve® EDU card.

Cell Phone Protection

If you use the Deserve® EDU Mastercard to pay your phone bill, you’ll be covered for damage or theft. The bank will credit you up to $600, depending on your phone.

No Credit History Required

There is no credit history required to sign up for the Deserve® EDU Mastercard. If you don’t have one, Deserve will determine your eligibility using their own set of criteria.

As part of this process, you’ll need to provide them with access to your bank account to verify your assets. Keep in mind that if you do have a credit score, Deserve will take it into consideration.

This isn’t a card for people with bad credit. It’s a card for people with no or limited credit.

At the same time, the Deserve® EDU card is ideal for building a credit score from scratch. That’s because Deserve reports to all three major credit bureaus.

These companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) are the ones who determine your credit score. If you’re making your credit card payments on time and keeping your balance to a minimum, this will reflect well on you, and your score will go up.

Be careful not to fall into delinquency, though – late payments will actually hurt your credit score.

Great for International Students

International Students can apply for a Deserve® EDU Mastercard without a Social Security number.

However, you’ll still need to provide some documentation, including your passport and student visa. Depending on your school arrangements, you’ll also need to show your I-20 or D.S. 2019. U.S. citizens and permanent residents will simply provide their Social Security number.

Keep in mind that if you obtain permanent residency, you’ll need to provide a Social Security number at that time.

Another benefit for international students is that you can use this card to build credit without the need for a Social Security number.

However, you’ll have a harder time obtaining your own credit rating. You’ll usually have to submit a request to the credit bureaus in writing, which takes extra time and is a bit of a pain.

If you end up obtaining a Social Security number, you’ll be able to skip this part.

How Does the Deserve® EDU Mastercard Compare to Other Student Credit Cards?

#1. Discover it® Student Chrome vs. Deserve® EDU Mastercard

The Discover it® Student Chrome card is similar in many ways to the Deserve® EDU Mastercard.

It has a simple, 1% cash back rate, no foreign transaction fees, and a $20 annual bonus for students with a 3.0 GPA or better.

Unfortunately, you only get cash back on the first $1,000 you spend in each quarter. If you want to charge more than that, you won’t get any added bonus.

#2. Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Deserve® EDU Mastercard

Where the Deserve® EDU Mastercard is simple, the Discover it® Student Cash Back card is more complex.

You earn an impressive 5% cash back on select categories, up to $1,500 in spending per quarter.

Whether this works out to your benefit or not depends on whether the rotating categories match your spending patterns.

#3. Deserve® EDU Mastercard vs. Petal® 2 Credit Card

The Petal® 2 Credit Card is another no-fees card for people with zero credit. As such, it’s a solid choice for anyone getting their first card.

It also provides a modest 1% cash back, much like the Deserve® EDU. It’s a bit easier to use, mostly because of the Petal® 2 Credit Card’s acclaimed customer service.

That said, if you’re an international student, you’ll want to stick with the Deserve® EDU.

#4. Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students vs. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

The Journey Student Rewards card from Capital One is another card that’s geared towards students. There’s no annual fee, and you earn the same 1% cash back on all purchases.

However, there are a few added perks you won’t get with the Deserve® EDU. For one thing, your cash back rate goes up to 1.25% as long as you pay your bill on time. For another thing, you’ll be eligible for a credit limit increase after only six months.

On the downside, you need a Social Security number to apply, so it’s not as well-positioned for international students.

Not only that, but the APR is an excruciating 26.99%. As a result, it’s a terrible card for carrying a balance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Deserve Credit Card Good?

The Deserve Credit Card is one of the better starter cards on the market. It’s easy to obtain, even if you’re not a U.S. citizen. Not only that, but it pays cash back rewards, which most entry-level cards don’t.

What Bank is Deserve Credit Card?

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard and other Deserve cards are issued by Celtic Bank, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Is Deserve® EDU Only for Students?

Yes. To qualify for a Deserve® EDU card, you must be enrolled in a U.S. college or university.

Is Deserve® EDU Mastercard a Secured Credit Card?

No. A secured credit card requires you to put down a deposit. The Deserve® EDU Mastercard does not require any kind of deposit.

Who Should Get the Deserve® EDU Mastercard?

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard is a good choice for any college student. However, it’s particularly good for international students, who have a smaller set of options.

Bottom Line: Deserve® EDU Mastercard Review

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard is a solid starter card for any student who needs to build credit. It pays a consistent 1% cash back on all purchases, and there’s no annual fee.

And for international students, you won’t have to supply a Social Security number. Along with perks like cell phone protection, you’re getting a lot of value.

Jordan Blansit
Jordan Blansit

Jordan Blansit is a Senior Writer, Researcher, & Product Analyst for SimpleMoneyLyfe with an inexplicable predilection for mortgages, investing, and personal finance. When she’s not click-clacketing from the comfort of her living room, you can find her in the California Redwoods or Oregon Siskiyous. Jordan’s areas of expertise are mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and investing.