Chase Freedom® Student credit card Review
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Get to know the Chase Ultimate Rewards® points universe with an easy-to-understand card.
- Earn a $50 bonus after making your first purchase within the first three months.
- Enjoy a $20 rewards bonus (2,000 points) each account anniversary year your account remains in good standing (for up to five years).
- Many students like to travel or study abroad and this card charges foreign transaction fees. This isn't the card for taking on a trip overseas.
The Chase Freedom® Student credit card is a great way for students to save money thanks to its 1% cash back on all purchases – which could add up quickly when it's time to buy textbooks every semester – and $50 bonus if you make your first purchase within the first three months of having the card. In addition, this card encourages students to learn how to use a credit card responsibly since it provides bonus rewards for being in good standing, as well as an opportunity for an automatic increase in your credit line after meeting certain criteria.
Although students don't need to have an established credit history in order to be approved for this card, you do need to provide proof that you're currently a student and must be at least 18 years old to qualify (some states/territories have higher age requirements).
Chase Freedom® Student credit card cardholders get the following benefits:
- 1% cash back on all purchases
- 14.99% Variable APR. While this isn't low, per se, it's on the lower end for a card available to students, so we consider this a benefit.
- No annual fee
- A $20 Good Standing reward each account anniversary. "Good standing" means that your account is open and not in default. This perk is available for the first five years after opening the account.
- Earn a $50 bonus after making your first purchase within the first three months of opening the account
- Earn a credit increase after making five on-time payments within the first 10 months of opening the account and meeting credit criteria
- Access your credit score for free at any time
- Fraud protection that includes real-time fraud monitoring
- Ability to instantly lock account to prevent new purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances easily using the Chase Mobile app
- Zero liability protection to prevent cardholders from being held responsible for unauthorized charges made on the account
- Purchases protected for 120 days against theft or damage up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder
- Extended warranty protection for an additional year
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance for up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip
- Tap to Pay Contactless purchase ability
- Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back.
- Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
- 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
- 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%
- Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
- Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- Terms Apply.
With the Chase Freedom® Student credit card, you get 1% cash back on all of your purchases. There is no minimum amount needed in order to redeem rewards and points do not expire. You can also choose the way you receive your rewards, which can be applied to your account balance or deposited into your checking or savings account. Also, you can use your rewards for purchases on Amazon.com, travel, or gift cards for dining, entertainment, or shopping.
Officially, your cash back accumulates as Chsae Ultimate Rewards® points, a valuable and popular travel rewards currency. For reference, each point each one cent; therefore, the $50 bonus will hit your rewards account as 5,000 bonus points, which can be redeemed for $50 cash back (or any number of other ways).
Ideally, if you're opening a credit card, you need to have a plan in mind to pay off your balance each billing cycle so that the APR doesn't ever affect you. If the APR does affect you, it means you're carrying a balance and racking up interest charges, and that is no way to start your credit card journey. If you're using the card, stick to a budget and pay it off every month.
That said, things happen and should you need to carry a balance, it's good to know that the Chase Freedom® Student credit card offers a relatively low APR for a student credit card – 14.99% Variable. There is also a 14.99% Variable APR for balance transfers and a 24.99% Variable APR for cash advances.
Notice that cash advance APR is higher. That's important to keep in mind and to understand what a cash advance is. A cash advance is when you use your credit card to take money out of an ATM or otherwise make a withdrawl in cash. It's almost never a smart idea. That's because, as you can see, the APR on cash advances is higher for this card and basically any other credit card out there; additionally, interest on cash advances begins accuring immediately rather than ofter a grace period as is typical for interest on purchases. That means that you'll start paying interest on that cash advance right away and there's essientially no way to avoid it.
We've said it before, but it's worth repeating: Do everything you can to avoid owing interest charges on your credit cards. In this case, that means stay away from cash advances.
Unfortunately, this isn't the card to take along for your semester abroad, nor is it the one you want to use if you're buying something online in a foreign currency. That's because Chase Freedom ® Student charges foreign transaction fees – specificaly, 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. There are student card options that don't change this fee, so if you're headed abroad or even shopping abroad from the comfort of your own sofa, you may want to consider a different card (we give a few options below.
This card also charges a late payment fee that is, of course, entirely avoidable if you stay on top of your due dates, but, again, things happen and missing a due date in this case could set you back up to $39.
Lastly, and this isn't a huge deal, but if you're already thinking about travel rewards cards and rewards, be aware that the Chase Ultimate Rewards® points earned with this card aren't transferrable to travel partners. You can redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards® portal for travel, but the best value for Ultiate Rewards® points often comes by transferring the rewards to a travel partner and that's not an option here. That said, use this card responsibly during your student years, build a solid credit score and relationship with Chase and you could very well qualify for one of those premium cards, such as Chase Freedom® Student credit card, down the road. At that point, any Ultimate Rewards® points you earned with your student card could then be rolled under the Sapphire Preferred® card.
Chase Freedom Student vs. Discover it® Student Cash Back
While both Chase Freedom® Student and Discover it® Student Cash Back provide cash back rewards, the Discover it® Student Cash Back card has higher potential cash back, offering 5% cash back when you activate on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate quarterly, as well as 1% on all other purchases. Also, the Discover card matches all cash back rewards earned, dollar-for-dollar, during the first year of having the card, making the potential for high rewards even more attractive.
Students can earn $20 annual rewards with both cards, but for different reasons and in different forms: With the Discover it® Student Cash Back, instead of earning rewards each anniversary year the card is in good standing, you earn $20 in statement credit each year you have at least a 3.0 grade point average (for up to five years).
If you travel a lot, you can benefit from the fact that theDiscover it® Student Cash Back card does not have charges for foreign transactions; however, the places that accept Discover internationally may be limited compared to those that accept a Visa or Mastercard.
Chase Freedom® Student vs. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
Like the Chase Freedom® Student, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One incentivizes users to handle their card responsibly. In the case of the Capital One card, cardholders earn a higher percentage of cash back on their purchases – 1.25% on every purchase – in months in which you pay your bill on time (vs. the regular 1% you earn if you don't). Also, both cards give you the opportunity to have your credit limit increased for keeping the card in good standing (differing terms apply).
Although neither card charges an annual fee, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card provides further savings because there are no fees for foreign transactions. On the downside, the Capital One card doesn't offer an entrance into the world of travel rewards like the Freedom® Student card does with its Ultimate Rewards® points.
Chase Freedom® Student vs. Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
Neither of these cards charges an annual fee, and both offer rewards, but Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is available to international students or those without a social security number, so it could be a good option for those students in particular. It certainly, however, offers something for any student.
As with the Freedom® Student card, with Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students, you can earn 1% cash back on every purchase. The welcome offers are different, however, in that the Deserve® EDU card offers you one year of an Amazon Prime Student membership (worth $59) when you spend $500 in the first three billing cycles. Of course, the value of that welcome offer will ultimately come down to whether you utilize Amazon Prime Student.
Once again, this card edges the Freedom® Student card in the area of foreign transaction fees. You won't pay them with Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students.
Chase Freedom® Student credit card is a good starter card for students who are beginning to establish their credit history, particluarly if they have an interest in developing a relationship with Chase and a starter bank of Ultimate Rewards® points. Though some of the rewards are not as high are other cards, the rewards offered can still lead to significant savings and, more importnatly, help students develop good habits when it comes to your credit card use.