Being a student in Sweden seems impossible. I get it, I spent 10 years at University and during that time I had to pay rent, my bills, food, clothing, dining, and travel back home! (from Sweden to Argentina).
Especially if you are a student from other EU countries traveling to a Swedish program (e.g. Erasmus student), it can be daunting! A baguette in Spain costs 0.40€ (YES, 40 CENTS = 4 SEK). In Sweden, a fresh baguette at ICA or Hemköp costs 20 SEK. WTF! It’s really painful.
It gets worse when you start considering things beyond food such as transportation, clothing, rent, and even insurance.
You can read my post on Tips to Save Money as a Student in Sweden 2022 here, where I describe some of the tricks I used to cut every single corner I could and save every penny.
What Is The Best Student Credit Card in Sweden?
In this post, I want to focus on payment cards (credit and also debit). Yes, you could use your home country payment card directly, but that’s not ideal unless you have a good reward program. After trying many many alternatives over the years, I wanted to boil it down to the best 4 alternatives.
As a student you should care about 2 things:
Even better if you get both combined! Zero-fees AND money back on every purchase. Here are the three options I recommend for newcomers to Sweden: Revolut, ICA Student Package (ICA Student), the Norwegian Visa Credit Card, and Komplett Bank Mastercard. Plus, I also share my cash back experience with my Crypto.com Visa card (bonus).
Revolut is a new kid on the block. They were a fintech and digital bank, and a couple of months ago they obtained an official banking license in Sweden and many other EU countries. Yes! Revolut is a bank now, which means your deposit is insured up to 1 Million kronor (€100.000).
Revolut is adding more and more features every month, and they have big plans for the Nordics where they have more than half a million customers. As a student, this card can be very valuable for money transfer and free exchange rates, even the free version. It is also cool to refer friends and family members to get 600kr for each referral.
- Get 600kr FOR EACH friend you refer after they use their card 3 times.
- Super easy to set up, all digital
- Manage Crypto assets
- Instant money transfers
- Best currency exchange rates
- Online discounts
- Saving vaults
- Freelancer features for free, 1% cashback (Revolut Pro)
- Possibility to upgrade and get better features like insurance and lounge access.
- No BankID
- No Swish
- Not possible to pay faktura via OCR
- No credit line (it is a premium debit card)
2. ICABanken Mastercard (ICA Student)
- Free debit card as long as you are a student.
- 1.6% cash back at ICA and Pharmacy (only!).
- Welcome basket/gift with food, cheaper home insurance, and 100 SEK if you have CSN and you move it to their account.
- You don’t get money back in other stores.
- It’s a bit of a hassle to sign all the paperwork, since you need to be registered in Sweden and that takes time. They will send paper to your home and takes a bit to set up BankID.
- You will also get charged for the account after your studies are done, so remember to close down the account if you don’t want to pay a fee.
- The reward can also ONLY be used at ICA, which sucks a bit.
- ICABanken phone app sucks compared to the other banks
I discovered this card my second year in Sweden (I’ve been here for more than 8). I was already established, knew my drill, had a personnummer, and all the things required to apply for this card. I will admit, it was great. When you first sign up for it, you get a welcome basket from ICA which is worth about 500 SEK in products, plus, if you ask for a joint account (like with a partner or sambo), you get it twice!
It also allows you to get double bonus when you buy at ICA or ICA Group stores (this means you get double the money back). However, for this to work, you will need to have the money on your ICA account and pay with their debit card, so make sure you have money available.
The money back is great to have, every month you receive a “bonus check” between 25kr and 150kr depending on what you spend. You can then use this money to pay your next time at ICA.
Let’s run the quick math:
For every 3000 SEK (30€) you spend at ICA, you’ll get 50 SEK back (€5), assuming you pay with their debit card. And for every other purchase
This means that with the double bonus, this card gives you:
- 1.6% cash back at ICA and ICA Pharmacy
- 0% cash back on all other purchases at other stores
Getting 1.6% back on food is great! Don’t get me wrong. But it’s a pity that you don’t get cash back on all the other purchases. That’s why I prefer other cards rather than ICA Banken
Here’s a concrete example they have on their website
Double bonus in reality
Leila lives in a single household – In addition to her ICA Bank Card, she also has the salary in her account at ICA Banken. Through her purchases with ICA Bank Cards at ICA and Apotek Hjärtat, she has collected 3,000 regular points in one month.
Since Leila has the salary in her account with us and paid for the purchases within ICA with our card, ICA Banken doubles that bonus. This means that she receives an extra bonus of SEK 25 from ICA Banken.
In one year, it will be SEK 600 in bonus if she has the same behavior every month. Good to know – Had Leila not met the requirements for a double bonus, she would have received SEK 300 in bonus in one year.
Best benefits of being an ICA student
- Bank card free of charge (SEK 0) while you study
- Real discounts on food – see examples here
- Discount on pharmacies, books, travel and more
- Check the money via the web, the app and the store
- Opportunity for a double bonus at ICA and Apotek Hjärtat
- Student-adapted home insurance – one of our insurances
- Moving your CSN to ICA Banken: Change the payment account for CSN so that it is deposited in your account at ICA Banken. As a thank you, you get SEK 100 deposited in the account. You then also have the opportunity to get a double bonus on your purchases at ICA and Apotek Hjärtat, when paying with your ICA Bank Card.
3. Bank Norwegian Visa
I have covered this card in the blog many times. You can check out my post “5 Reasons Why You Should Get a Bank Norwegian Card”. Here’s a summary:
- It’s a visa (universally accepted)
- Rewards for everything.
- Up to 55 days interest-free credit on every purchase.
- Invite friends and get 200 SEK/NOK in free travel.
- Apple Pay.
- Dental protection (optional).
- Rewards can only be used for free flights or hotels.
- You need to be over 23 years old to apply.
If you are looking for a walkthrough, watch my video on the top 5 reasons to get this card
2. Komplett Bank Mastercard
This card is a new player in the game and Komplett Bank has been stepping up recently with cool products and offerings, particularly on the credit card front. It might not be the best option for travelling, but it is a great day-to-day card with cash back on all purchases. The bonus system is very straightforward, when you reach 500points, you can get 500 SEK off your bill.
- 100% free of charge.
- Travel insurance, purchase protection and ID protection are included.
- Rewards on all purchases and straightforward bonus system (500 points = 500 SEK)
- 4% on komplett.se
- 1% on purchases over 20,000 SEK
- 0.5% on other purchases
- Up to 50 days interest-free credit on every purchase.
- Defer payments and pay in 3, 6, or 9 months.
- Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- Compared to Bank Norwegian, you can be over 20, instead of over 23 years old.
- No referral program for friends and family
5. (BONUS) Crypto.com Visa Debit
- Free debit card, no maintenance fee.
- 1% CASH BACK on all your purchases.
- Easy transfers from your home-country to the card.
- Discounted gift cards in more than 40 merchants in Sweden.
- Also possible to get free Spotify Premium and $25 USD Bonus (about 250 SEK).
- It takes 3-4 weeks to get the card in the mail after you sign up.
- If you deposit money to get free Spotify, it can fluctuate in value. I first made a lot of money, with the current rates now I am back to what I first deposited. With the current crypto dip, it might be a good time to stake.
- Two years of free Spotify means you are saving €350 EUR or 3500 SEK.
This card is relatively recent, and the point is to be able to use your cryptocurrency to pay for things, but you can also use it as a regular debit card with benefits. This is issued by Crypto.com and Visa directly, so no bank is involved.
It works all around the world including Europe, US and many other countries, it’s easy to send money back and forth, and they have great exchange rates for EUR/SEK and vice verse.
They have a range of many cards, from what they call “Midnight Blue” (which is plastic and free), and a series of metal cards such as the Ruby Steel, Jade Indigo, etc.
HOT TIP: If you refer your friends too, you both get $25 too!
Two options, if you want free Spotify or not
How to use this card as a student?
— OPTION 1 (Cheapest): 1% money back in all your purchases
- Sign-up for the card and order the Midnight Blue card (plastic). Use my signup link in case you want to upgrade later for free Spotify.
- Once it arrives, send money from your bank account to your Crypto.com App. Read my guide here.
- Pay with your Crypto.com debit card on every store, you will immediately get 1% back on every purchase!
- You can choose to use this money on your card, save it, invest it, or send it back to your original bank if you want.
- That’s it!
— OPTION 2 (best, but requires a deposit): 2% cash back and FREE Spotify, plus $25 welcome gift.
- Sign-up for the Ruby Steel card using my sign up link to make sure you get the $25 bonus.
- Fill in your details and send the ID verification to approve your address. Don’t order the card yet on your Crypto.com app.
- Send money from your bank account to your Crypto.com App. Read my guide here.
- In the Crypto.com App, buy €350 worth of CRO coins, and select “Stake”. You can also use the “Upgrade” option in your card which will guide you through the process.
- “Staking” means that you will “deposit” or “freeze/lock” those €350 for 180 days (6 months).
- Once you have staked the €350 EUR, you will be able to order your Ruby Steel card. You’ll have to pay an extra €50 in shipping, but you’ll get a sexy metal red card 🙂
- After you’ve received your card in the mail, configure your Spotify account to be paid with this debit card every month. Make sure to have money on the card every time Spotify wants to charge. You’ll automatically get this money back on your Crypto.com App.
- Pay with your Crypto.com debit card on every store and now, since you’ve “staked” this money, you will get 2% back on every purchase
- After the 180 days you can choose to get back your initial deposit of CRO coins, or staked them again. Note that the CRO coin can go up or down in value, so maybe you will get less than €350 EUR back, but it is also possible that you get more than this too, which was my case.
The value of the CRO coin increased so much since I first purchased it, that now I have over €3500 from my initial deposit and all the money I got back from my purchases. Also, if you consider that this space will grow 10x in the next 5 years, all the predictions are saying that the CRO coin might be worth around €14 each.
Let’s run the quick math:
- With Option 1
Let’s say you spend 10.000 SEK a month, that’s 120.000 SEK a year. If you spend it with this card, you’ll get back 1200 SEK.
- With Option 2
First deposit 4000 SEK (€350 + €50 for the shipping) and stake them.
Then you spend 10.000 SEK a month (120.000 SEK / year). You’ll get back 2400 SEK from your purchases.
You will also get back 139 SEK every month, or 1668 SEK yearly.
And if you use my sign up link, you also get 250 SEK ($25 USD)
HOT TIP: If you refer your friends too, you both get $25 too!
Since these are all free cards and most of them require no maintenance while you are a student, I would go for all of them! After all, it costs you nothing, and the more options you have on your arsenal, the more you save. That’s how it works with bank cards.
You can have a go-to card (main one), but then you change depending on the promotions and discounts.
If you combine any of these 3 cards with your Mecenat discounts, you’ll be saving tons of money every year!
Hope it helps, and if there’s any questions or thing you’d like to discuss, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram.