Full Review of Chase Freedom Student Credit Card
Good Standing rewards
Automatic credit limit increase available
Simple rewards program
Must apply in person
No introductory APR
3% foreign transaction fee
- 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.
- 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
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Currently enrolled in an accredited four year college or university
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.