Best 7 international student credit cards in Canada (2023)

With numerous top universities and a large and diverse student population, Canada is a great place to study. But if you’re an international student, credit cards in Canada might be a mystery to you at first.

In this article you’ll find out some of the best options you can use to spend during your time in Canada, through a selection of the top international student credit cards. You’ll also learn about the Wise card - a low-cost convenient option, especially if you’re moving abroad and need to deal with more than one currency.

Get the Wise Card online and start saving

1. CIBC Dividend

Students, including international students, can get a special version of the CIBC Dividend Visa card just for them, with no annual fee and no requirement of an annual income. You get 2% cash back on groceries, 1% on various expenses including recurring bills, dining, gas, and transport, and everything else gets you 0.5%.

You also get free SPC membership – that’s the Student Price Card, which can get you a bunch more discounts with a range of brands¹.

(Video) Best STUDENT Credit Cards in CANADA 2022 // Beginner Cash Back Cards // Canadian Credit Card Guide

2. BMO CashBack and Air Miles student credit cards

BMO offers a special version of its CashBack Mastercard for students with various enticing features. There’s no annual fee, and you get cash back on all purchases – 0.5% on everything, rising to 1% on recurring bill payments and 3% on groceries.

25% off car rentals with several companies is another perk, and you can also get a 15% discount at Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada.

This card isn’t exclusively for international students, but they can apply for one by visiting a BMO branch once you’re in Canada. You will need to have some annual income, although this doesn’t have to be employment².

If you’ll often be heading back home – or traveling elsewhere around the world – you can also check out BMO’s Air Miles Mastercard for students, which will earn you points for traveling and still doesn’t charge a yearly fee³.

3. Scotiabank Scene and L’earn Visa student credit cards

Scotiabank’s Scene student card has no annual fee, and offers you 1 point per dollar on everyday purchases. And cinephiles can rejoice in 5x points at Cineplex.

Like the BMO CashBack card, it also offers 25% off on some car rental. You can also opt to get credit card protection as well, for instance in the event of hospitalization or death⁴.

Scotiabank also have the wittily named L’earn Visa card for students, which comes with a slightly different set of benefits. It also has no annual fee, and the primary reward here is up to 1% money back on most everyday purchases⁵.

(Video) Top 6 BEST Credit Cards In Canada (2023)

4. PC Financial

The PC (President’s Choice) Financial Mastercard isn’t a specific student card, but it’s well worth considering all the same, as the points total can add up usefully.

You get 10 of their PC Optimum points per dollar everywhere you use your card, rising to 25 per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart and 30 points per liter at Esso Mobil. 10,000 points mean $10, which you can redeem for various products including groceries⁶.

5. Signature RBC Rewards Visa, Rewards+ Visa, or Cash Back Mastercard

Several RBC Royal Bank credit cards are open to students, including the Signature RBC Rewards, RBC Rewards+ Visa, and RBC Cash Back Mastercard⁷.

The Signature card usually costs $39 annually, but students can get it for free. You can claim 1 point per dollar on some purchases and bonus points from a few retailers too, and optional extras include travel insurance⁸. The RBC Rewards+ Visa has no annual fee for anyone, and its points system is different: you get 1 per dollar on gas and groceries and at drug stores, and 1 per 2 dollars everywhere else. Additional features are similar⁹.

Other options include the RBC Cash Back Mastercard, as an alternative to collecting points. This card, again with no annual fee, gets you up to 2% cash back on groceries and 1% on some other purchases, and there are extra features on offer here too¹⁰.

6. Koho Prepaid card

OK, so this isn’t actually a credit card at all, but it’s worth mentioning as an example of a different but no less valid way to manage your spending.

Koho’s card is prepaid, so it’s more like a debit card: you can only spend money you’ve already loaded onto the card. Unlike with a credit card, you don’t borrow any money from a bank, so there’s no risk of getting into debt. While this isn’t so helpful for building up a credit history, it’s nonetheless a useful way for students to make sure they’re spending within their means.

(Video) BEST STUDENT CREDIT CARD CANADA 2023 | Best International Student Credit Card Canada

There are perks, too, just like with a credit card. Koho offers 0.5% cash back on all purchases and 10% with its brand partners. And for a fee there is a way you can use Koho to build your credit score too¹¹.

7. American Express SimplyCash card

A final option here to remind you that Visa and Mastercard aren’t the only shows in town. American Express may be a bigger deal south of the border, but it offers credit cards in Canada as well, and the SimplyCash card could be worth considering as an international student.

There’s no annual fee, once again, and cash back can be as high as 4% for 6 months under a welcome offer, and 1.25% after that. Among the other perks are travel coverage, so frequent travelers might be interested in particular¹².

Wise card: save your money when you spend in different currencies

If you’re planning to move to Canada and you need an international card, meet Wise. The Wise card is not a credit card - but you can set up your account and order it in just a few minutes. And you might also want to know that using Wise is 4x cheaper than banks for spending abroad.

Get local account details

The Wise card is part of the Wise account, which means that you can add, hold, and convert over 50 currencies instantly. You can also get your own bank details for 10 different currencies (including CAD, USD, GBP, EUR, and more) to receive money from those places.

Get the mid-market rate and avoid high conversion fees

You won’t have high or hidden foreign transaction fees - your money gets converted with the real mid-market rate, no matter if you spend in-person or online in over 200 countries.

The only cost you’ll have is a very low and transparent conversion fee, in case you need to convert your Canadian dollars. Unlike other accounts, there are no monthly or annual charges, nor any minimum balance requirements.

(Video) The 6 BEST Credit Cards for Beginners in 2023

Which international student credit card should I choose?

You have plenty of choice when it comes to credit cards as an international student in Canada, and the best one for you will depend on what you want to use it for and what your finances are like. If you don’t have a lot of savings and don’t want to build up a lot of debt, you might even want to consider a prepaid card instead.

One thing that you should know in advance is that with bank you might get credit options, cash back points, or other offers - however, if you want to use different currencies, you'll likely end up being charged foreign transaction fees for converting your money.

If you get the Wise card , you'll have zero maintenance costs, no foreign hidden transaction fees, and you even get the local account details in Canadian dollars. And much more.

Get the Wise Card and start saving


  1. CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students
  2. BMO Student – BMO CashBack Mastercard
  3. BMO Student – BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
  4. Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card-Student
  5. Scotiabank L’earn Visa Card
  6. President's Choice Financial Mastercard
  7. RBC Royal Bank Student credit cards
  8. Signature RBC Rewards Visa
  9. RBC Rewards+ Visa
  10. RBC Cash Back Mastercard
  11. Koho, Koho – Can students have credit cards?
  12. SimplyCash Card from American Express

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

(Video) Best credit cards | credit cards for international students in Canada series


Best 7 international student credit cards in Canada? ›

It is possible to obtain a credit card in Canada as an international student. Many big banks and Fintech companies (such as KOHO) offer credit cards either specifically or beneficial for students who have little credit history and income.

Which card is best for international students in Canada? ›

Best Student Credit Cards In Canada For June 2023
  • Featured Partner Offer.
  • Best Student Credit Cards in Canada for June 2023.
  • BMO Cash Back Mastercard for Students.
  • RBC Cash Back Mastercard.
  • CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students.
  • CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students.
  • TD Cash Back Visa.
  • Scene+ Visa Card for Students.

Can I get a credit card in Canada as an international student? ›

It is possible to obtain a credit card in Canada as an international student. Many big banks and Fintech companies (such as KOHO) offer credit cards either specifically or beneficial for students who have little credit history and income.

Which card is best for international student? ›

Forbes Advisor Ratings
CompanyForbes Advisor India RatingKey Features
ICICI Student Forex Prepaid Card3.5International Student Identity Card (ISIC) membership.
HDFC ISIC Student Forex Plus Card3.5Membership of the International Student Identity Card.
Axis Bank Insta Easy Credit Card3.0Reward Points
2 more rows
May 10, 2023

Can international students get Amex credit card in Canada? ›

American Express may be a bigger deal south of the border, but it offers credit cards in Canada as well, and the SimplyCash card could be worth considering as an international student. There's no annual fee, once again, and cash back can be as high as 4% for 6 months under a welcome offer, and 1.25% after that.

Is Canada cheaper than USA for international students? ›

In general, tuition fees in the United States tend to be higher than in Canada, with private universities and out-of-state public universities being the most expensive. Looking at an average cost of a student studying in the US would be approximately $70,000; but the cost for students studying would be CAD 60,000.

Is Canada or USA better for international students? ›

The USA comes in first place if you look at university rankings. 25% of the top 100 universities in the world are America, far ahead of Canada which only has 8 in the top 200. Harvard, MIT, University of Chicago, and UC Berkeley are just a few of the top schools open to international students in the US.

Can I get a credit card in Canada if I live in US? ›

Canadian credit cards are available to non-residents and newcomers alike. Even without a credit history in the country, you can sign up for a variety of different cards, including store cards, prepaid cards, and secured credit cards.

Can I open a bank account as an international student in Canada? ›

What do I need to open a bank account as an international student in Canada? Once you arrive in Canada, these are the documents you'll need to open a new chequing account: Your Canadian visa or study permit. One piece of government photo ID – such as your passport or a Canadian driver's license.

Is it hard to get a credit card in Canada? ›

In order to get approval for any credit card in Canada, you need a score of 650 on average. However, some credit card companies may approve a lower score or require a higher score. Read: How Does Your Credit Score Compare to the Average Canadian's?

What are the top 5 cards offered for students? ›

  • Discover it® Student Cash Back. Best Overall. ...
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students. ...
  • Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students. ...
  • Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card. ...
  • Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card. ...
  • Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students.
Jun 1, 2023

Which Visa type is best for international students in USA? ›

The "F" visa is for academic studies. An F1 visa is issued to students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program. F1 visas are by far the most common form of international student visa in the U.S. F1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status.

Should international students get a credit card in the USA? ›

While studying outside your home country having a credit card can be helpful. They allow you to start building credit and are great to have in an emergency. Here we'll tell you how you can benefit from having a credit card and provide you with some information about what to do, and not do with one.

How much income do you need for Amex Canada? ›

American Express Canada Credit Cards

At Scotiabank, a $12,000 minimum income is required to apply for American Express cards, including the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card.

Can a international student in Canada get job in USA? ›

Employment authorization is not required but international students are not eligible for work study positions that are federally funded by the U.S. government. Students must have a social security number (SSN) to work on-campus and may apply for an SSN, once an on-campus job is offered.

Why Amex is not accepted everywhere Canada? ›

Many retailers don't accept American Express because they have their own branded credit cards they'd prefer you to use. In addition, due to a higher fee AMEX charges its retail partners (than Visa or Mastercard), many opt out of accepting an American Express credit card.

Is it worth going to Canada as an international student? ›

Living in Canada is an absolutely worth it experience for any international student. The country is globally known for its advanced education system, work opportunities, health facilities, safety and multicultural environment. Can I study in Canada if I'm poor?

Why do students prefer Canada over USA? ›

A few of the major contributing factors for which students prefer Canada over US are speedy processing times for study permits, easy immigration, and lower costs.

Is Canada worth it for international students? ›

Find an affordable option

Most international students are eligible to work during their studies and can get a Post-Graduation Work Permit after their studies. Our tuition fees are generally lower than colleges and universities in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. (QS Top Universities, 2022).

Is it easier to immigrate to USA or Canada? ›

While both countries require visas for certain types of immigration, the process and requirements are different. In the United States, the immigration system is notoriously complex and can be difficult to navigate. Canada, on the other hand, has a more streamlined system that is generally considered more accessible.

Can I live in Canada and study in USA? ›

Visa. Canadian students do not need a visa to study in the U.S., but they do need an I-20 certificate from their university. Students will then be entered into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, better known as SEVIS.

Is it easier to study in Canada or USA? ›

Education in USA universities requires the submission of scores of entrance exams such as GRE/GMAT, TOEFL/IELTS along with your GPA. While the Canadian universities put more stock into your GPA and IELTS/TOEFL scores than your GRE/GMAT scores. As a result, getting admitted to Canadian universities is relatively easier.

What is the 5 24 rule in Canada? ›

In short, it means that if you have opened five or more credit card accounts (from any bank) in the past 24 months, then you will not be approved for certain Chase credit cards. Nearly all of Chase's top rewards credit cards are subject to the 5/24 rule.

Which U.S. credit card works in Canada? ›

Canadian merchants accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards. Canada uses Interac Direct Payment (IDP) and you can use this system to get cash out over-the-counter if you're paying with your debit or travel card.

Are Chase credit cards available in Canada? ›

You can apply for these Chase credit cards online by following the Apply Now link. All of these cards are available in Canada.

How much bank balance is required for Canada student visa? ›

In Quebec
People coming to CanadaAmount of funds required per year (not including tuition)
1 person aged 18 or overCAN$13,134
2 people aged 18 or overCAN$19,264
2 people aged 18 or over and 1 person under the age of 18CAN$21,579
2 people aged 18 or over and 2 people under the age of 18CAN$23,290
1 more row

Which bank in Canada is best for students? ›

Best picks for student banking plans
  • Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan.
  • RBC Advantage Banking for Students.
  • CIBC Smart for Students.
  • National Bank Chequing Account Offer for Students.
  • Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account with Student Banking Offer.

How much money can I bring to Canada as a student? ›

Any time you enter or leave Canada, you must declare any money or monetary instruments, such as stocks, bond or cheques, you are carrying valued at $10,000 or more.

Which card is easiest to get approved for? ›

  • OpenSky® Plus Secured Visa® Credit Card.
  • Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card.
  • Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card.
  • Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card.
  • Discover it® Student chrome.
  • Self Visa® Secured Card.
  • Grow Credit Mastercard.
  • Secured credit cards.
May 31, 2023

What is the minimum credit score in Canada? ›

Lenders generally see those with credit scores 660 and up as acceptable or lower-risk borrowers. Those with credit scores below 660 may be less likely to qualify for better loan terms.

Which bank will give credit card easily? ›

1. HDFC Bank instant approval credit card. HDFC Bank credit cards are not only 100% secure, but they also provide instant activation and ownership.

What is a good credit line for students? ›

According to Experian, good credit scores for college students stand at 700 and over. You'll earn a good credit score by making payments on time, keeping your credit card balances low, and limiting your applications for new credit.

What are the 4 major card types? ›

The four major credit card networks are Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover.

How many cards should a student have? ›

However, while multiple cards can help keep credit utilization low, students are better off using just one credit card in most cases. One card can help a student improve their credit while avoiding excessive fees or carried balances.

Which US visa is most powerful? ›

O-1 Visa: Individuals of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement.

What type of visa is a student visa in Canada? ›

If your time in Canada will be less than 6 months, you'll need one of the following visas as an international student: A travel visa in your passport if you expect to study in Canada for less than 6 months. An ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) if your passport is from a designated country.

Is USA best for international students? ›

American universities do their best to support students coming from other countries. Students get to work on and off-campus. They get offers of internships, research, fellowship, and other such opportunities. Apart from universities, the professors also support their students by connecting them to their connections.

Does Capital One hire international students? ›

Capital One

Currently, the brand employs approximately 51,000 workers globally. For international students looking for opportunities in the financial sector, Capital One offers several internship options to choose from, including: Analytics.

How much money do you need as an international student in USA? ›

Along with so many plus points, studying in the US for international students is expensive and so are the living costs. The estimated cost of living in USA for international students is around $10,000 to $18,000 per year, which averages around $1,000 to $1,500 per month.

How can international students get a credit score? ›

If you are an international student attending college in the United States, earning approval for a credit card can help you establish a US credit score. This may allow you to apply for loans and financing and improve your qualifications for renting a home and applying for a job.

Will Amex verify my income? ›

What you should know about the American Express income verification process: If Amex does request proof of income, you'll receive a reference number either by mail or email. This number will give you access to the American Express income verification portal.

Is Amex hard to use in Canada? ›

American Express cards are widely accepted in Canada, so you should have no trouble using them for most of your purchases while travelling there. Remember to always check the terms and conditions of a vendor before making any purchases, just to make sure that they accept American Express cards.

What is the easiest Amex card to get? ›

Which Amex card is the easiest to get? The easiest Amex cards to get are ones with a lower minimum spending requirement for rewards, as well as a low annual fee or no annual fee. Examples include the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express and the American Express Cash Magnet Card.

What is the best way for an international students to get a permanent residence? ›

The five most common ways to turn an F-1 visa into lawful permanent residency are:
  1. Self-petitioning as a person of extraordinary ability.
  2. Receiving employer sponsorship.
  3. Adjusting status to a dual-intent visa.
  4. Becoming an investor.
  5. Marrying a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Why do people choose Canada over US? ›

While the USA offers better salary packages, Canada has better healthcare, more maternity leaves and other social benefits. Average work hours for Canada is slightly higher than that of the US. The annual leave structure of both countries is similar.

Is it hard to find a job in Canada for international students? ›

No, in general, it's hard to find a job in Canada as an immigrant. This is because Canadians want you to have previous work experience in Canada before you are recruited for a position.

Can I use my US Amex in Canada? ›

American Express Cards are accepted around the world, so you can easily use your Card to make purchases while you are overseas. Here are some useful pre-travel tips: You don't need to call in to tell us you are traveling. Your card will work across the globe wherever American Express is accepted.

Does Costco Canada accept American Express? ›

Costco does not accept AMEX in Canada.

Is Discover accepted in Canada? ›

Accepted anywhere you see a Discover or Diners Club logo. Store Cards: Only usable at the merchant they're associated with. If that merchant has locations in Canada, you should be able to use your card there.

Which visa is best for students in Canada? ›

If your time in Canada will be less than 6 months, you'll need one of the following visas as an international student:
  • A travel visa in your passport if you expect to study in Canada for less than 6 months.
  • An ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) if your passport is from a designated country.
Mar 28, 2023

Which bank is best for Canada student visa? ›

Best Banks in Canada For International Students
  • Simplii Financial International Student Program. ...
  • HSBC Student Chequing Account. ...
  • Scotiabank International Student Account. ...
  • CIBC International Student Banking. ...
  • BMO International Student Account. ...
  • RBC International Student Bank Account. ...
  • TD Canada Trust. ...
  • ICICI Bank Canada.

Which US credit card is best for Canada? ›

The BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard is one of the most commonly used USD credit cards in Canada. For Canadians who regularly travel to and shop in the U.S., it offers exactly what you need. The annual fee is $35, but they'll waive it if you spend over $1,000 USD per year.

How do I get an international student identity card in Canada? ›

You can order your free virtual ISIC online at or by visiting your student's union office. For a full list of discounts in Canada and abroad, visit the ISIC Canada website at or download the ISIC app to your smartphone!

Is it hard to get student visa in Canada or USA? ›

When you receive a letter of acceptance from a Canadian school, it might seem like the hard part is over. However, the truth is that it can be a lot harder to get a Canadian study permit than you think. According to information from IRCC, about 30 percent of all study permit applications are refused.

Is it easy to get student visa in USA or Canada? ›

The Canadian visa process is simpler and shorter, making it easier for international students to get a study permit. A Canadian study permit can be processed in as little as 3 weeks.

Is Canada student visa worth it? ›

FAQ. Is it worth it to study in Canada? Choosing a developed country like Canada for educational purposes is a great decision for any international student. The country is known for its world-class universities, thriving job market, high standard of living, welcoming society, and more.

How much bank balance is required for US student visa in Canada? ›

The requirement of minimum bank balance for a Canada student visa is $10,000 CAD. To cover everyday costs while waiting for a decision from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), you'll need about $10,000 CAD. If you want to study in Canada, you'll need to prove that you have at least $25,000 CAD.

Does Canada accept U.S. credit cards? ›

Canadian merchants accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards. Canada uses Interac Direct Payment (IDP) and you can use this system to get cash out over-the-counter if you're paying with your debit or travel card.

Can I use Discover in Canada? ›

Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover credit cards are all accepted worldwide.

Can I use my U.S. credit in Canada? ›

Unfortunately, your U.S. credit history will not transfer to Canadian credit reporting companies when you move. Each country has its own unique credit reporting system with different laws regulating them, so the information isn't shared across borders.

Can international students get Canadian citizenship? ›

You (and some minors, if applicable) must have been physically in Canada for at least 1,095 days (3 years) during the 5 years before the date you sign your application. We encourage you to apply with more than 1,095 days of living in Canada in case there's a problem with the calculation.

Is an international student card worth it? ›

Is the ISIC Card worth it? A: Yes, and ISIC card is worth it. With over 110 million cards issued since 1968 in 130+ countries, the ISIC is a globally recognised card that allows the holder access to over 1,50,000 discounts worldwide, particularly on books, food and accommodation among others.

Can international students in Canada open a bank account? ›

If you're planning on opening up a student account, you may need to present a valid student ID. Other identification documents may be acceptable or required. Please visit a TD branch for details. You're going to want a Canadian dollar student account that doesn't have any monthly fees.


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