Credit cards, when handled responsibly, are an important part of managing your finances. The Chase Freedom® Student credit card is a great starting credit card for college students who want to earn cash back rewards with no annual fee.
Major highlights include a $50 cash bonus after making your first purchase within the first three months of account opening and a $20 annual bonus for keeping your account in good standing for up to five years. In addition to bonuses worth $150, you will earn 1% back on all other purchases with the card. It also comes with valuable benefits at DoorDash and Lyft.
Keep reading to learn more about the Chase Freedom Student credit card, how it works and if it’s a good deal for you.
Chase Freedom Student Credit Card Review
Overall, the Chase Freedom Student credit card is a good choice for those who are newer to credit. Chase is a top brand for anyone into cash back or travel rewards credit cards and this card is a good way to get your foot in the door with valuable bonuses, useful features and no annual fee.
Unlike Chase’s top cards that require excellent credit, you may be able to qualify for this card with no credit history or a thin credit file. That means most applicants without any negative history will have a good shot at being approved.
If you pay on time for five months within the first 10 months, your credit limit will automatically increase. Because you always plan to pay on time, that will happen within five months… right?
The Chase student credit card bonus, benefits and low costs should put the card on any student’s radar. Here are the details everyone should know about the Chase Freedom Student card before applying.
Chase Freedom Student Card Sign-Up Bonus: $50
This student credit card comes with one of the easiest-to-earn sign-up bonuses around. You can earn a $50 Chase student credit card bonus after a single purchase made within three months of opening the card. As with any other credit card, as long as you pay off the entire balance by the due date every month, you won’t have to pay any interest on your first or any future purchase.
If you keep the card in good standing, you will earn an additional $20 every year for five years. Assuming you always make at least the minimum payment by the due date, you should be on Easy Street to earn a full $100 in “good standing rewards.” It’s like a student cash bonus just for using your card the way you should anyway.
Between the new cardmember offer worth $50 and the $100 in good standing rewards, you can earn $150 in bonuses from this student credit card after signing up. However, it does take five years to earn the entire value.
Cash Back Rewards
The student cash you earn from this card doesn’t stop with the signup bonus. That’s just where it gets started. You earn 1% cash back on all other purchases as long as you have the card. That doesn’t include cash advances or balance transfers.
If you just use the card for things like groceries, gas and pizza, you should slowly see those rewards add up. Spending an average of $400 per month on the card would yield $4 per month in rewards. At the end of the year, you would have $48. That’s more than enough for a nice dinner to celebrate finishing finals. You can redeem and use your cash back any way you choose.
There are additional redemption options through Chase Ultimate Rewards. We will go over those below.
Points vs. Cash Back Rewards
When you earn cash back, Chase gives it to you in the form of rewards points. Each point is worth one cent. When you earn the $20 annual bonus, you will actually get 2,000 points worth $20 in cash back or other rewards.
If you or a household member hold additional Chase rewards cards, you may be able to pool your points or transfer to a higher-tier card for even more value. For example, transferring points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card makes them worth 1.25 cents each toward travel and gives you many more redemption options.
College students are often on a tight budget, which gives you little wiggle room for annual fees. Lucky for you, Chase Freedom Student has no annual fee. As long as you avoid certain fee-bearing activities and pay off the card in full every month, you could use the card for free while enjoying a “profit” from your cash back rewards.
Credit Score Required
This student credit card does not have any specific FICO credit score requirement to get approved. For account opening, you may have to prove that you’re a student and offer additional identity verifications, but you don’t need a great credit history to be approved.
Those who are brand new to credit may find this to be the perfect starting point. Many student credit cards are only available to those with good to excellent credit scores. If you don’t have a credit history, your options may be limited.
Some student cards for those with no credit or bad credit require an annual fee or a cash deposit. A credit card that require a deposit are known as secured credit cards. You don’t need to deal with annual fees or deposits when you go with the Chase Freedom Student credit card.
If you have a bad credit history with late or missed payments on other debts, you may be turned down during the account opening process. Also, note that you may have to show proof of income if you are under 21 years old.
When you make on-time payments and keep your balance low, the card will help you build good credit to qualify for even better rewards in the future.
Chase Freedom Student Benefits
Chase Freedom Student is a Visa credit card that includes some benefits from Chase, Visa and other partners. You’ll want to dig into how these benefits work to make sure you get the maximum value.
This card includes several useful benefits from Visa and Chase that protect you from fraud and unexpected costs:
Automatic Credit Limit Increase
After five on-time payments within ten months, you will automatically qualify for an increased credit limit. This should help your FICO credit score as long as you keep your balance low.
Zero Fraud Liability
Virtually all major credit cards in the U.S. come with zero fraud liability. That’s a big step up from what you get with cash or a debit card. If you spot a transaction on your statement that wasn’t you, just call the number on the back of your card and let Chase know. They will take the fraudulent charge off of your account and give you a new account number.
New purchases are covered for damage or theft. You can get up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account lifetime. If you drop your brand new cell phone or have something go wrong with any other new purchase within the covered period, you’ll be happy to have this useful and valuable benefit.
Extended Warranty Protection
Get an additional year on eligible manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less. If an item breaks one week after the warranty expires, this student card will have your back with a repair, replacement or reimbursement.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
If your trip is cut short for a covered reason, you can get back up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip. Covered reasons include sickness and severe weather.
The Freedom Student also offers delivery and rideshare benefits through DoorDash and Lyft.
Get a three-month complimentary membership to DashPass, which includes $0 delivery fees on eligible orders of $12 or more. You get DashPass at 50% off for the next nine months. Taxes and other fees may apply, so the delivery isn’t completely free. But it’s a much better deal than paying full price! If you’re into restaurant delivery, this could be a very valuable perk.
When you use this card to pay for Lyft rides, you get 5% total cash back. That’s made up of your regular 1% back on all other purchases plus a 4% bonus. Regular riders could see some big rewards. This benefit lasts through March 2022.
Other Point Redemption Options
You will likely see the best value when redeeming your cash back rewards for cash in a linked checking or savings account or using the cash back as a statement credit to lower your balance. You do have some additional options through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, the main rewards program website for Chase. Here’s a glance at other rewards redemptions:
- Shop with Points at Amazon: Link your Chase student credit card to your Amazon account and you can shop and pay using your cash back rewards.
- Gift Cards: Sort through a long list of gift card options for shopping, dining, entertainment, travel and more. You can redeem cash back for gift cards to any listed business, similar to what you would see when shopping for gift cards at the grocery store.
- Travel: Cash back can be redeemed for travel through the rewards program website. Chase uses Expedia behind the scenes, so you will see similar deals to what you would see there.
Chase Freedom Student Drawbacks
I rarely say this, but Chase Freedom Student has very few drawbacks. Just be aware of some additional fees for less common activity and you should be in good shape using this student credit card for your regular spending needs. Fees to know about:
- Balance Transfers: 5% ($5 minimum)
- Cash Advances: 5% ($10 minimum)
- Foreign Transaction: 3%
- Late or returned payments: Up to $39 depending on your state laws
The interest rate is competitive to other student credit cards. The regular APR interest is a variable APR, which means it can change at any time. As pointed out above, you never have to pay interest as long as you pay the entire balance in full by the due date. There’s a higher interest rate for cash advance transactions. Check the apply now link below for the latest rates.
If you are new to credit, “balance transfers” is a term for moving a balance from another credit card to this one. Balance transfers are not free with this student card. However, if you are moving the balance from one or more cards with higher interest rates, balance transfers can make sense. Balances transfers charge the regular APR. Cash advances, with a higher initial fee, also charge a higher interest rate.
If you are going for a semester abroad, the foreign transaction fees could be an issue. While the 3% fee isn’t huge for a short trip across the border, it can be a major expense. If you plan on studying abroad, you may want to add another student credit card with no foreign transaction fees.Unlike student loans, you can’t get a credit card with a co-signer. You have to open the account on your own. If you want additional cards for anyone else, you can go to the issuer website to add an authorized user.
Chase Freedom Student Alternatives
If this card doesn’t quite do it for you, there are other good student cards worth checking out as well.
This card features 1% back on all purchases with a pay-on-time boost that increases your rate to 1.25%. It includes additional bonuses on streaming services. There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.
If you have a good credit history, you may qualify for the upgraded Chase Freedom Unlimited card. This card includes a $200 bonus and unlimited 1.5% rewards plus enhanced rates on travel purchased through Chase, restaurants and drugstores. It has no annual fee.
If you have at least good credit, you may qualify for the Citi Double Cash credit card. Double Cash gives you 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% when you pay. That’s effectively 2% cash back on all purchases. It has no annual fee.
The Bottom Line
Chase Freedom Student stands out among student credit cards as a low-fee choice with decent rewards and great benefits. When you add in the bonuses for new accounts and keeping your account in good standing, it becomes a shining star of the category. The Chase student credit card bonus alone, worth up to $150, could be enough reason to sign up.
If you are looking for your very first student credit card, this could be a good choice. Just take heed to avoid fees, always pay on time and keep your balance low. If you can, it’s best always to pay your balance in full every month to avoid interest charges and build an excellent FICO credit score at Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Chase is a leader in travel and cash back credit cards and this one is the perfect gateway drug to more rewards in the future. Get more details and apply with the link below.