Since Canada is a top destination for students around the world, all major Canadian banks offer credit card options for international students.
For anyone travelling or living overseas, having access to a credit card is essential for emergencies and everyday life. You can get by without a credit card, but why wait to build your credit rating if you plan to settle in Canada after graduation.
Why you should get a Canadian credit card
To put it simply, having a credit card allows you to improve your credit rating. Your credit rating allows financial institutions to evaluate the likelihood that you will be able to pay back the money they lend you.
Typically, someone coming to Canada has very little, or no information on their credit report.
The more documented history of you timely paying your monthly bills, including your credit cards, the lower the interest rates will be on any loans you take out in the future, like a mortgage.
Lower interest rates for future loans is important because there are many federal and provincial immigration programs designed with international students in mind.
So if you intend on staying in Canada after graduation, improving your credit rating during your studies can help you get a headstart on building your new life in Canada.
Types of credit cards for international students
All of the top banks in Canada have some kind of credit card offering for international students. Some have benefits like cashback incentives while others offer points for travel or other perks.
Other types of credit cards are ‘secured credit cards’ which require you to put money on the card upfront. This means that you will not have interest rates because the bank is not actually lending you money. These types of credit cards allow the holder to use their credit card for regular purchases like a normal card but without ever having a balance to pay.
There are a range of options but the most important detail to consider, if you intend to hold a balance on your card, is the interest rate. Another factor to consider is if there is an annual fee the bank charges to have the credit card.
How do I get a credit card as an international student?
The best way to secure a credit card as an international student is to make an appointment to speak to someone at one of Canada’s top five financial institutions (listed below). Try to speak to at least two or three banks to find the right option for you.
Remember, newcomers to Canada are big business for Canadian banks. You may have some leverage to negotiate a higher credit limit, lower fees or better perks than they are offering online.