Chase Freedom Student Card Review

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The Chase Freedom Student card doesn’t offer the most exciting rewards program, but for students (and parents) who are looking for a reliable low-cost card for building credit and funding campus purchases, it’s arguably the best choice on the market.

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

overall rating
4.6
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 (%) 14.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
2.4
for Fees
3.2
for Rewards
4.2
for Credit
2.2
Current Offer

$50 Bonus earned after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening.

The Chase Freedom Student card is a good first credit card. No, it doesn’t offer the kind of perks that somewhat more experienced student borrowers might appreciate, such as an introductory 0% interest rate offer on balance transfers or extra rewards on specific types of purchases.

But, this card has its priorities straight. Thanks to its relatively low interest rate, it’s a safer choice than the average student card. If a newbie borrower accidentally runs up more debt than they can afford to repay quickly, the consequences won’t be nearly as expensive. Plus, it helps instill the right habits right away, offering a rewards bonus and a higher credit limit to those who pay responsibly.

One caveat: Students under the age of 21 may have a hard time qualifying for this card, since Chase doesn’t allow anyone to co-sign, including parents. Underage students will need to prove that they have enough income—from a campus job or other source—to afford the card.

Pros
  • Relatively low interest rate

  • Features that encourage good credit habits

  • Easy rewards for modest spenders

Cons
  • No co-signers allowed

  • Foreign transaction fee

Pros Explained

  • Relatively low interest rate: This card’s variable APR is lower than what you’ll find on most student cards, and there’s no guesswork about what you’ll be offered, since everyone gets the same rate. Some competitors advertise a range with a slightly lower minimum offer, but that can be misleading, since students with limited credit histories are unlikely to qualify for the best rate. The high end of the range on most student cards is well over 20%. 
  • Features that encourage good credit habits: Two different perks reward students for handling their cards responsibly. New cardholders who pay on time at least five times in their first 10 months will get an automatic credit limit increase. In addition, students whose accounts are in good standing will get an extra 2,000 points (worth $20) every year on their account anniversary, for the first five years.
  • Easy rewards for modest spenders: Getting 1% cash back on every purchase is pretty bare-bones, and less than what many competitors offer. But for students with limited budgets, the lower rewards rate may not matter much, and categories and caps can become a distraction for those who need to be focused on establishing a good track record of payments. What’s more, the new cardholder bonus is super easy to earn, even for the most modest spenders. Just one purchase qualifies you for 5,000 points, worth $50 in cash back. 

Celebrate a credit limit increase, even if you don’t plan to ever charge that much. A higher credit limit can help lift your credit score by improving your credit utilization ratio, a measure of how much available credit you are using. The lower your utilization ratio, the better.

Cons Explained

  • No co-signers allowed: Many college freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and even seniors won’t qualify for the card. By law, credit card issuers are only allowed to approve applicants under 21 if they can prove they have an independent source of income or if they can get a qualified adult to co-sign. But many lenders, including Chase, don’t allow co-signers. So students without a campus job or other source of income, such as a qualifying scholarship, may be out of luck. 
  • Foreign transaction fee: Unlike many student cards, the Chase Freedom Student card charges a small fee each time you use your card outside of the U.S. or when you make an online purchase in a foreign currency. 

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 included a number of provisions designed to protect students from opening cards they can’t afford, including stricter requirements for young adults' ability to repay. Still, the criteria that banks use to determine the independent income of those under 21 can vary, so it’s worth asking what sources of income qualify. 

Bonus for New Cardholders

The 5,000-point bonus (worth $50 in cash back) offered when you first sign up for the Chase Freedom Student card is modest, compared to what some student cards offer. Some lenders, for example, offer students four to five times that amount. But they typically require you to quickly spend up to $1,000 or more, which isn’t realistic for a college student. With this card, students just need to make one purchase within three months of opening their account. They could charge a $2 pack of gum and still get $50 in return. 

Earning Points & Rewards

This card’s rewards program is simple: Every purchase will earn 1 point per $1 spent, or the equivalent of 1% cash back. That’s the baseline for any rewards card, and comparable to some competing cards, though several on the market offer better. (You can find student cards with a flat rate of as much as 1.5% cash back or 2%-3% cash back on select types of purchases. One competing card offers 5% cash back in rotating categories.) 

Redeeming Rewards

Cardholders can redeem their rewards for cash at a 1 cent per point redemption rate. For example, a $100 purchase, which earns 100 points, earns you $1 in cash back. This cash back can be applied as a statement credit or you can get a direct deposit into a checking or savings account. One nice touch is that there is no minimum threshold to meet before you can redeem your rewards.

Cardholders can also redeem their points for other kinds of purchases, such as travel bookings, gift cards, or merchandise. But if you choose those options, you may give up some rewards value. For example, cardholders can use their rewards to buy merchandise directly from Amazon. But each point will only be worth 0.8 cents. In that scenario, $100 in spending will translate to points worth just 80 cents at the Amazon checkout. 

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Use your card regularly when you first open it, even if you just make small purchases. Otherwise you may not qualify for the credit limit increase, which requires you to pay a bill, on time, at least five months within your first 10 months with the card. (The account must also meet Chase’s credit criteria to qualify.)

Also, keep the following promotions in mind. They may be particularly interesting to students, and can bring some extra value: 

  • For three months, students can get free delivery on any DoorDash order over $12. After that, students will get a 50% discount on a DoorDash subscription for nine months.
  • Through March 2022, cardholders will get an additional 4% cash back on qualifying Lyft rides purchased via the Lyft mobile app, for a total of 5%. So if a student spends $20 a month on rides to campus, they’ll get about $24 back over the course of two years.

Don’t close this credit card, even if you qualify for a better one from a different issuer. The average length of your credit history is an important factor in your credit score and your first card is the most important one for establishing a lengthy history. Instead, ask Chase to upgrade your card to another rewards card, such as the Chase Freedom card.   

Chase Freedom Student Card’s Excellent Perks

The Freedom Student card has one perk that isn’t widely available on other student cards: 

  •  A yearly “good standing” award: Every year, for five years, that a cardholder renews their account, without overdue balances, they’ll get an extra 2,000 points in cash back (worth $20 in cash back).

Chase Freedom Student Card’s Other Benefits

  • Extended warranties
  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases

Customer Experience

Chase gets average customer satisfaction marks, according to J.D. Power. But unlike some issuers, it doesn’t offer a real-time chat feature on its website. That’s a big downside for students who may prefer messaging over talking on the phone. 

Like many lenders, Chase also offers account holders free access to their credit score, which can help new borrowers learn how scores work and get used to monitoring them.

This card also features Chase’s new “contactless” payment technology, which lets you pay by passing the card near a payment terminal rather than by swiping or inserting into a chip reader. 

Security Features

Most of the Chase Freedom Student card’s security features are pretty standard, including fraud alerts. There’s also an instant lock feature so students can temporarily pause access to their cards.

Chase Freedom Student Card’s Fees

Overall, the Chase Freedom Student card’s fees are comparable to what you’ll find on other student cards. But in addition to a foreign transaction fee for international purchases, its cash advance and balance transfer fees are on the high side for a credit card. It’s also one of the few student cards to charge a penalty APR.

Next Steps
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CURRENT CARD
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
overall rating
4.6
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 (%) 14.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Chase. "Pricing & Terms." Accessed April 4, 2020.

  2. Chase. "Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card." Accessed April 4, 2020. See 'Offer Details.'

  3. Federal Trade Commission. "Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009." Accessed April 4, 2020.

  4. Chase. "Are Co-Signers Needed for Student Credit Cards?" Accessed April 4, 2020.

  5. J.D. Power. "2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study." Accessed April 4, 2020.