Best 7 international student credit cards in Canada

Fernando Figueiredo

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.

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.

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.

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 40 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.

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

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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