Credit Card Credit Card Reviews

Chase Freedom Student Credit Card Review

overall rating
3.5

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The Chase Freedom Student card offers a flat 1% cash back rate on every purchase you make. A Visa card, it has no annual fee, and has an easily-achievable one-time offer. And, if you keep your account in good standing, you can qualify for a $20 reward for up to five years.

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

overall rating
4.4
Chase Freedom® Student credit card

Current Offer:

Special $50 Bonus Offer, visit a local branch to apply. $50 Bonus earned after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% variable - Rate as of 3/3/2020. See branch for current rates.
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
how this card stacks up
When compared among all student cards in our database:
Low Interest
Security/Customer Experience
Low Fees
Rewards
Benefits
worst best

Full Review of Chase Freedom Student Credit Card

Pros
  • Good Standing rewards

  • Automatic credit limit increase available

  • Simple rewards program

Cons
  • Must apply in person

  • No introductory APR

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Pros Explained

  • Good Standing Rewards: For every year that your account is in good standing, meaning it is not delinquent or in default, you’ll receive 2,000 points, which can be redeemed for $20 or in rewards. You can receive this benefit for up to five years, so you can potentially earn $100 just for making your payments on time. 
  • Automatic Credit Line Increase: If you make five monthly payments on time within 10 months after opening an account, Chase will automatically consider you for a credit increase. If you qualify for a credit increase, you’ll not only get more spending power, but you could see a boost in your credit score since you’ll have more available credit overall. However, any late payments within the first 10 months will disqualify you from getting approved for a credit limit increase. 
  • Simple Rewards Program: With the Chase Freedom Student card, you'll earn 1% cash back on every purchase you make. There's no need to remember spending categories or to activate bonus categories; you just use your card and automatically earn cash back rewards. 

Cons Explained

  • Must Apply in Person: Chase requires applicants to sign up for the card by visiting a Chase bank. As a college student, you have a busy schedule. You may have limited transportation options. And suppose there’s no Chase branch nearby? If any of the above apply, you may be better off with another card issuer that allows you to apply online. For example, you can apply for the Discover it Student Cash Back card online and get a decision right away. 
  • No Introductory APR: While it offers a $50 bonus for your first purchase, the Chase Freedom Student card doesn’t have an introductory 0% APR offer for purchases or balance transfers. If you have a big-ticket item to buy, such as a couch or a laptop, that’s a significant drawback. 
  • 3% Foreign Transaction Fee: If you travel outside of the United States, pay attention to foreign transaction fees. The Chase Freedom Student card charges 3% on every purchase you make outside of the country. Over time, those fees can add up, potentially costing you hundreds of dollars—especially if you’re doing a summer internship or a study-abroad program. If you plan on traveling outside the country, consider applying for a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. For example, the Journey Student credit card from Capital One has no annual fee and doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Cash Back Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
    Cash Back Strategist
  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for College Student Persona
    Currently enrolled in an accredited four year college or university
    College Student

The Chase Freedom Student card is best for college students who want a simple card to earn rewards, without having to worry about activating or keeping track of spending categories. You’ll earn 1% cash back on every purchase you make, period. Your rewards never expire, and there is no minimum amount you have to redeem to get the cash back.

Chase Freedom Student Card Bonus

While most credit cards require you to spend a certain amount to qualify for a bonus, the Chase Freedom Student card is different. You’ll get a $50 bonus when you make your first purchase if you do it within three months of opening your account.  

You can earn the reward for making any purchase, no matter how small. So something as modest as groceries or sheets can earn you an extra $50. 

Rewards Earning Details

The Chase Freedom Student card has a flat rewards structure: You'll earn 1% cash back on every purchase. If you spent $1,000 on purchases, that means you’d get $10 in cash back rewards. 

However, you should know that not all transactions qualify for 1% cash back. The exceptions are balance transfers, cash advances and other cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind. 

Rewards Redemption Details

You can redeem your rewards for cash, gift cards, travel, and even pay for transactions with your balance at select retailers. 

How much your rewards are worth is dependent on your redemption method. With some methods, your rewards will be displayed as points rather than dollars: 

  • Cash, gift cards, and travel: Each point is worth $0.01 cent, so 100 points is equal to $1. 
  • Purchases through ChasePay: Each point is worth $0.008, so 100 points is equal to $0.80. 

While using your points to pay for purchases with ChasePay may be convenient, you’ll get less value for your rewards. Instead, redeem your cash back for cash, gift cards, or travel to get the maximum value. 

Transferring Points

The Chase Freedom Student card allows you to transfer your points to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards, as long as that account belongs to you or a member of your household.

This can be a valuable benefit. For example, if your parents have a qualifying Ultimate Rewards card, you can transfer your points to theirs and pool your points together. You can then redeem the combined points for travel arrangements or cash. 

How to Maximize Your Rewards

To get the most value from your card, make sure you use your Chase Freedom Student card to make a purchase within the first three months of opening an account to qualify for the $50 bonus. After that, use it to pay for all of your routine expenses, such as gas, groceries, utility bills, and textbooks, to earn 1% cash back. 

To put those numbers in perspective, consider that The College Board reported that a student at a public four-year university spends $4,520 per year on books, supplies, transportation, and other expenses, on average. 

If you used your Chase Freedom Student card to pay for those $4,520 worth of transactions, you'd earn $45.20 in rewards at the 1% cash back rate. Plus, you’d earn another $50 as a bonus after your first purchase, giving you a total of $95.20. If you kept your account in good standing and made all of your payments on time, you'd also qualify for the $20 Good Standing Reward, giving you a total of $115.20 in rewards.

To ensure that the rewards you earn goes directly in your wallet, make sure you pay off your statement balance in full each month. Otherwise, you’ll be subject to costly interest fees, which can offset your rewards and cause you to owe more than you originally charged.

Also, as noted above—your points are worth less when used to buy something through Chase Pay.

Standard Benefits

The Chase Freedom Student card offers the following perks, which are fairly standard for a student credit card: 

  • Purchase protection: Your new purchases are covered for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account. 
  • Extended warranty protection: The warranty on eligible purchases will be extended by an additional year. 
  • Free credit score: You get unlimited access to check it, via Chase's Credit Journey

Cardholder Experience

When it comes to customer satisfaction, Chase is well-ranked. According to the J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study, Chase was ranked fourth out of 11 card issuers, behind Discover, American Express, and Capital One. 

You can contact customer service through the mobile app, through a secure messaging center when you log into your account, or by calling 1-800-432-3117. 

Security Features

The Chase Freedom Student card has some basic security features that are standard for most card issuers:

  • Zero liability protection: You aren't responsible for unauthorized charges made to your account. 
  • Fraud protection: Chase monitors your account for suspicious activity and alerts you if there are unusual transactions. 
  • Lock/Unlock: You can lock or unlock your credit card account from Chase.com or the Chase mobile app to prevent unauthorized transactions. 

Our Verdict

As a college student, you likely want a simple, inexpensive card that offers an easy-to-understand rewards system. With its flat cash back rate, the Chase Freedom Student card is a solid choice. It has no annual fee, and you'll earn 1% cash back on every purchase you make, with no limit on how much you can earn, and no points expiration date to keep track of. Also, it offers incentives for keeping your account in good standing—those annual $20 rewards and automatic review of your credit limit. The quoted 16.49% APR isn’t bad either—lower than the average 19.80% APR for student cards; some go as high as 26.99%.

That in-person application could be a little onerous, however. True, Chase has over 5,000 branches among 23 states—but that’s not much help if none of them are near you. Other card issuers, like Discover and Capital One, let students apply online.

Also, the Chase Freedom Student card doesn't have an introductory 0% APR offer—which can save you more money than its one-time $50 bonus—and it charges foreign transaction fees. If you're looking to finance a big purchase or plan on traveling abroad, there are other student cards, such as the Discover it Chrome for Students card, that offer 0% APR for up to six months on purchases. That benefit gives you half a year to pay for big purchases without paying interest fees.

And the 1% back is pretty much the minimum nowadays; plenty of cards offer more, even student cards. The aforementioned Discover it Chrome for Students card earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, on up to $1,000 spent in combined purchases each quarter. Another Discover card, the Discover it Student Cash Back card, allows you to earn 5% cash back in rotating spending categories, up to a quarterly maximum. You do have to manually activate each category each category to earn that rate, however; otherwise, you’ll only earn the card's standard 1% cash back.

Compare This Card
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CURRENT CARD
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
overall rating
3.5
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% variable - Rate as of 3/3/2020. See branch for current rates.
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.