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Reviews

Build credit as a college student and get a free year of Amazon Prime with this card

CNBC Select reviews the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students, which will help prepare them for life after college by building credit history.

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Delmaine Donson | E+ | Getty Images

College comes with many firsts, and it's often a natural time to sign up for your first credit card.

Similarly important to earning good grades, building a good credit history before you graduate comes in handy when it's time to rent an apartment or buy a car upon getting your first job. A good starter card, such as a student credit card, is often the first step.

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students does not require a cosigner or a security deposit to sign up and can be a reasonable option for credit building, plus it has a few perks like a complimentary year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first three months of opening the card.

CNBC Select ranked this card as the best student Mastercard and the best card for international students and students with no credit history because you do not need to have a social security number or a credit history to qualify. You do, however, need to be over age 18, enrolled in college and have a U.S. bank account.

Ahead, CNBC Select reviewed the Deserve EDU Mastercard, looking at rewards, perks and fees, so you can decide if it's the right student card for you.

Deserve Card Review

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

On Deserve's secure site
  • Rewards

    1% cash back on all purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    18.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A, balance transfers are not available

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    N/A

Terms apply.

Rewards

The Deserve EDU card offers 1% cash back on all eligible purchases, making it a straightforward cash-back card for college students.

Additional benefits

The Deserve EDU card offers a host of helpful perks for the busy student.

Users can receive up to one year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first three months of opening the card (a value of $59). The membership comes with select discounts at Whole Foods Market and free two-day and one-day shipping.

There's also cell phone coverage included when cardholders pay for an eligible phone bill with their Deserve EDU card. Coverage starts the first day of the calendar month following your payment of the bill and includes reimbursement for damage or theft of the phone (up to $600 per claim). There is maximum coverage of up to $1,000 per twelve-month period (see all terms and exclusions).

Fees

The Discover EDU has a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

This variable APR for this card is currently 18.74%, and there is not a promotional 0% APR period for special financing.

Bottom line

You don't need a credit history to apply for the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students, so it works well for college students who have not yet gotten a chance to build one.

If you are looking to improve damaged credit, however, the Capital One Secured Mastercard could be a more suitable option for you. By paying a deposit as low as $49, users start off with an initial credit limit of $200 and might gain access to a higher credit line by making the first five consecutive monthly payments on time.

Our methodology

To determine which cards offer the best value for students, CNBC Select analyzed 13 of the most popular credit cards available for college students looking to build credit.

We compared each card on a range of features, including: credit limit, rewards program, introductory and standard APR, welcome bonuses and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit score and customer reviews when available. We also considered any special student-centric programs that offer incentives or extra rewards.

Because it's unusual for college student cards to have robust rewards programs, we did not analyze how many rewards points you can earn in the first year. For students who are looking to build their credit history and develop strong financial skills, it's more important to practice good credit card habits — spending within your means, paying your balance on time and in full — than try to optimize your points balance.

Information about the Capital One Secured Mastercard has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.