Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students review

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students review

Updated: January 9, 2023
Updated: January 9, 2023
Ratings Policy
Student Rating:
2.6 rating
2.6 rating
2.6 / 5
Introductory Offer2.4
Interest and Fees2.6
Rewards Program2.1

In a Nutshell:

Using a nontraditional approval process, the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students helps international students and those without a credit history get access to credit and start building a reliable credit score.

22.99% (variable)


Annual Fee


Penalty APR


Introductory Offer


Estimated Yearly Rewards Value ($300 monthly spend)


Rewards Program
1% cash back on every purchase



Other Notable Features: Amazon Student Prime membership (Lifetime Value worth $59), up to $5,000 credit limit, car rental insurance, roadside assistance, travel assistance, extended warranty, price protection, ID theft protection, no SSN required for international students

If you can qualify for other student cards, then the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students probably isn’t worth a second look. At 22.99% (variable), its APR is on the high side for a student card, while its rewards program is anemic.

But if you need help building a U.S. credit history and are having trouble getting approved for a more traditional student credit card, then the Deserve EDU could be just what you need to jump-start your financial life. Originally designed for international students, the Deserve EDU card caters to underserved students who have never used credit in the U.S. before (or haven’t used very much of it) and don’t have access to a co-signer with an established credit history.

For those students, the Deserve EDU Mastercard is a much better card than its ranking would suggest. Compared to traditional student credit cards, it gets low marks in our student card survey for an above average APR and modest rewards program. But it offers a financial lifeline for students who may otherwise be shut out from accessing affordable credit altogether. For some students, it may even offer better terms than what they’d be able to get through a more traditional student card.

Here’s what else you should know about the Deserve EDU Mastercard.

More flexible approval

The biggest thing that sets the Deserve EDU Mastercard apart from other student cards is its more flexible and forgiving approval process. Unlike with most credit cards, you don’t need a traditional credit history, or even a Social Security Number, to get approved. The Deserve EDU Mastercard uses nontraditional data – such as your checking account information or college major – to determine your creditworthiness.

Deserve may also look at what school you go to and how you manage your savings. To get approved without a traditional credit history, you’ll need to share access to your bank statements and provide more information about yourself than you’d typically give a credit card issuer. But in return, you could get access to a much better deal than you would otherwise be able to get.

A high minimum APR

If you do decide to get a Deserve EDU card, you’ll want to be careful with it and avoid carrying a large balance since it does charge a fairly high APR. Unlike most credit cards, the Deserve EDU card advertises just one APR for every applicant: 22.99% (variable), which is quite a bit higher than the average student card APR. That said, since most students with limited credit history won’t qualify for the minimum APR on a student credit card.

A better APR for some

For students who can’t get a traditional card’s lowest available interest rate, the Deserve EDU Mastercard may not actually be such a bad deal. The average maximum APR on a student card, for example, is currently 24.18 — well above what the Deserve EDU card charges.

So, depending on your credit history, you may actually get a better rate with the Deserve EDU card than you would with a more traditional student card. If you don’t have a credit history and don’t have anyone to help you with your application by co-signing it, then you’ll almost certainly get a better deal with the Deserve EDU Mastercard.

Safer terms for cardholders new to credit

The Deserve card is also more forgiving than the average credit card — especially if you run into trouble and have a hard time making your payments. For example, it doesn’t charge a penalty rate, so you don’t have to worry about your APR spiking to unaffordable levels if you fall behind on payments. Its $25 late fee is also lower than what you’ll find on many credit cards.

In addition, it doesn’t allow you to take out cash advances, which is probably a good thing, since cash advances tend to be extremely pricy.

A below average rewards program

The biggest drawback to the Deserve card is its underwhelming rewards program. It offers just 1% cash back and doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus. As a result, you won’t earn a ton of cash with this card, even if you use it regularly.

For example, if you charge $500 a month, you’ll earn just $60 by the end of the year. Many cards, by contrast, give students the opportunity to earn up to three figures relatively easily. The Deserve card doesn’t offer any promotional financing either, such as an introductory APR.

Some nice perks for students

The Deserve card does offer some valuable perks that can save you money throughout the year; so it could provide some solid value if you just use your card as a payment tool and a way to build credit rather than a high interest rate loan. For example, it pays for one year of Amazon Prime Student (after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles), which offers all kinds of benefits, including free shipping, excellent streaming options, free photo storage, discounts and more.

Deserve also waives the card’s foreign transaction fee, so you can use your card when you study or return home abroad or when you want to buy foreign goods online. Since the Deserve card doesn’t charge an annual fee, these are all free perks you’d get just for using the card.

Why get the Deserve EDU Mastercard?

  • You don’t have a traditional credit history or access to a co-signer.
  • You’re an international student without a Social Security number.
  • You want to build credit and earn some cash back along the way.
  • You want access to perks, such as Amazon Prime Student.

How to use the Deserve EDU Mastercard:

  • To maximize your rewards earnings, use your credit card rather than cash or a debit card, for everyday purchases.
  • Try to pay off your purchases in full each month and avoid carrying a balance since the APR is relatively high.
  • Bypass foreign transaction fees by using this card when you travel abroad or buy foreign merchandise.
  • Save money by taking full advantage of the Amazon Prime Student benefit offered by the Deserve EDU card.

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