About Deserve Edu Mastercard

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Published on: Sep 5, 2018

The Deserve Edu Mastercard is a rewards credit card targeted at college students that provides 1% cash back on purchases and free Amazon Prime Student membership.

The card is one of three credit cards that Deserve offers, this one being relatively unique within the Deserve family and in the overall cash-back realm because it offers rewards for students, who typically have credit scores that are too low to get a rewards credit card.

When you’re considering a cash-back card, it’s important that you understand how you earn money with the card as well as the rates and fees you’ll pay. Based on our research, the interest rates and fees on a card are just as influential to your financial life as cash rewards.

So, over the course of this review, you’ll learn about what the Deserve Edu offers in the way of rewards and benefits, what it provides in the way of benefits, how it compares to the Discover Chrome for Students.

At the end of the review, we’re going to give you our thoughts on the card’s general pros and cons.

The Deserve Edu Mastercard’s Rewards

Cash-back rewards credit cards operate on a system of percentages. They assign a percentage to all or certain types of purchases and then calculate the rewards you get on each person, add it to a balance and then allow you to apply that rewards balance to your credit card statement or, in some cases, to purchase travel or gift cards.

The Deserve Edu provides 1% cash back on all purchases. So, if you spend $50 on dinner and drinks, you’ll earn $0.50 in cash back. The credit card company calculates those rewards for you and automatically adds them to your rewards balance.

According to the card’s fine print, Deserve will calculate your rewards at the end of the month and add them to your balance. Once your rewards balance hits $25, it will automatically be added as a credit to your statement. You don’t have to do anything to redeem the cash back.

Also, when we read through the fine print we discovered that, from time to time, Deserve will send you special offers for additional bonuses on your purchases. What this means is that, at some point, you’ll get a notification that purchases in a certain category (groceries, gas, etc.) or purchases at a certain store will get more than 1% cash back.

Keep in mind that you won’t lose any cash rewards you have unless you close your account.

Pro tip: The Deserve Edu does not offer any sign-up bonuses.

The Deserve Edu’s Benefits

One of the perks that you get with your Edu card is a $59 credit for a student subscription to Amazon Prime. Normally, students can get a free six-month trial of Amazon Prime and then pay $6.49 a month or $59 for a year.

You have to use your card to pay for the subscription. If you choose the monthly price over the yearly price, then Deserve will reimburse you $6.49 each time the monthly charge shows up, up to $59. At that point, they won’t reimburse you anymore.

Another major benefit of this card is that, if you’re an international student, you don’t need to have a social security number to apply for a card.

This is what makes this particular card so different from other cards marketed toward students. Those other cards focus their features on things like rewards and, in the case of the Discover Chrome for Students, a bonus if you can get a 3.0 GPA.

However, the Discover card and none of the other student cards we’ve reviewed make their products available to international students.

The CreditStacks Mastercard is the closest match, but it’s a card that’s designed for professionals who are coming to the United States on a work visa.

The Deserve Edu Mastercard’s Rates, Fees, and Credit Limit

To understand a student credit card’s rates and fees, you have to understand how credit scores affect the way lenders view you.

For example, this card has one APR: 20.49%. Most credit cards have multiple APR’s they offer, the lowest of which is often around 17% or lower.

Because students tend to have short credit histories and have yet to prove they’re responsible borrowers, lenders see them as risky customers. So, they charge a higher interest rate.

If you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, the APR applies to the part you didn’t pay off. A company charging a higher APR will make more money in these instances, presumably, so they can cover themselves if you don't’ pay off your balance and they have to sell your debt to a collections agency.

For example, if you have an average balance of $1,000 every day for a year, you’ll pay $204.90 in interest.

The card has no foreign transaction fees, which is a nice perk if you’re going to study abroad. Many cards have a 3% foreign transaction fee.

The card’s late fees are put to $25 for a late payment and up to $37 for a returned payment.

You won’t have to worry about balance transfer or cash advance APR’s because the Deserve Edu card doesn’t allow either of those types of transactions.

Finally, the Deserver Edu card has up to a $5,000 credit limit. This doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get a $5,000 limit. Deserve will take several factors into account when calculating your credit limit, including your credit scores, credit history and your income.

How the Deserve Edu Mastercard Compares to Other Student Credit Cards

Knowing what a credit card offers is essential to making a good choice about which student credit card is best for you. The other essential, we believe, is know how the card in question compares to similar cards. Context is a great frame of reference for credit cards.

The following chart shows you the rewards rates, APR and of some of the leading student credit cards. For yearly rewards, we multiply the card’s rewards rate by $6,000, which is $500 of spending per month:

Deserve Edu Discover it Chrome for Students Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students Capital One Journey Student
Cash bonus None $20 for 3.0 GPA $25 for $500 spend None
Yearly Rewards $60 $72 $72 $75
APR 20.49% 14.74% - 23.74% 16.24% - 26.24% 24.98%
Intro APR offer None 0% for 6 months 0% for 7 months None
Int’l students Yes No No No

Based on our research of these four cards, we believe there are two options you have: cards that provide a full suite of credit card perks and cards that don’t.

The Discover it Chrome for Students and the Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students are cards with all the typical credit card perks, while the Deserve EDU and the Capital One Journey Student are not.

What makes the Discover and Citi card comprehensive is that they offer a cash bonus, which is common among many cash rewards credit cards. They also provide a 0% period, which is a certain amount during which you won’t pay interest on any purchase balances you’re carrying.

These cards have good low-end APR’s that reflect the industry average, too, but this advantage isn’t quite the advantage you think it is. Consider this: These student cards are tailored for college students, most of whom have average, low or no credit scores.

If that’s you, then there’s a good chance you are going to get a mid- to high-range APR from the cards listed above. If you get the worst Discover or Citi APR, then you’re going to have an interest rate of 23.74% or 26.74%, respectively.

Those rates can cost you an extra $30 to $60 in interest payments a year over the Deserve Edu on an average daily balance of $1,000.

That leads us to our next point. The Discover card provides a $20 cash bonus every year that you can prove you had a 3.0 or better over the course of the school year. The Citi card provides a $25 cash bonus if you can spend $500 in the first three months.

However, if you’re going to carry a balance on the card, then the higher interest you pay on those two cards is going to cancel out the cash rewards you get. This is something to keep in mind if you have a history of carrying a balance or plan on carrying a balance during college.

Based on these different comparison points, we think that the Discover and Citi cards are the best choices, especially if you don’t carry a balance. They provide the typical perks you’d get with a non-student card and will educate you on how rewards and interest work, preparing you for full-fledged cards available to you once you graduate.

The Final Word: Pros and Cons of the Deserve Edu Mastercard

In our opinion, the Deserve card has two distinct advantages. The 20.49% APR is a pretty good rate for students who don't’ have a credit history or who have low credit scores. Also, the fact that international students can get the card without a social security number is a perk, especially if you’re studying here via another country and need a credit card for emergencies.

The downside to the card is that it doesn’t offer nearly as many benefits as other student credit cards. The Discover Chrome has much better interest rates and provides more rewards per year. The truth is, however, this disadvantage is tempered by the fact that students don’t spend as much as the average consumer, so the impact of the lower rewards rate isn't as severe.

Also, the card doesn’t provide an introductory interest rate, which is a drawback if you get the card at the beginning of the school year and you need to make the usual purchases to get the semester started. Having a 0% APR will allow you to spread out your purchases over several months so you can pay them down without interest charges.

Overall, we think that the Deserve Edu is a good fit if you have bad credit scores and you plan on carrying a balance. The low APR benefits you because it saves you $30-$60 a year on interest payments compared to other cards.

» Related: How to Get and Keep a Good Credit Score

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