If you have poor credit or no credit at all, qualifying for a credit card can feel impossible. But if you’re a college student, you have a unique opportunity to get access to a credit line and boost your credit score: student credit cards.
The recently-launched Chase Freedom® Student credit card is the newest option on the market. With no annual fee and a basic rewards structure, you can use the card for your routine purchases and earn valuable cash back. In this Chase Freedom Student card review, find out how the card works and how you can maximize your rewards.
A+ for Students
Earn 5,000 points (worth $50 cash back) if you make at least one eligible purchase in the first 3 months after opening your account
1% cash back for each $1 spent
- $50 cash back sign-up offer
- 1% cash back on all purchases
- No annual fee
- Eligible for a credit limit increase after 5 on-time payments in first 10 months
- Receive $20 in Good Standing Rewards for up to 5 years
- 3% foreign transaction fee
- Apply in person only
- Earn 5,000 points (worth $50 cash back) if you make at least one eligible purchase in the first 3 months after opening your account
- 1% cash back for each $1 spent
Who should get this card?
The Chase Freedom Student card is perfect for college students who want a simple, easy-to-use card. It’s an excellent first credit card, helping you build good credit habits while you earn cashback rewards.
It has a lower APR than many other student credit cards, so you could save money if you generally carry a balance. And you can redeem your rewards in a variety of ways, so it’s a good option if flexibility is important to you.
However, if you spend a lot of money in certain categories — such as gas or Amazon purchases — you may be better off applying for another student credit that has rotating spending categories rather than a flat reward structure.
|Intro Bonus||Earn 5,000 points (worth $50 cash back) if you make at least one eligible purchase in the first 3 months after opening your account|
|Recommended Credit Score||Fair|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||3%|
Top card benefits
- Cashback rewards: Many student credit cards don’t offer rewards, but the Chase Freedom Student card does. You’ll earn 1% cash back for each $1 spent.
- $20 annual reward: For the first five years that your account is in good standing, meaning you’re current on your payments and not in default, Chase will give you a $20 Good Standing Reward each year after your cardmember anniversary.
- Credit-limit increase: When you’re first approved for a student credit card, your credit limit is typically low. But with the Chase Freedom Student card, you can qualify for an automatic credit-limit increase after you make five monthly payments on time within 10 months from account opening.
- Sign-up bonus: The Chase Freedom Student card has an incredibly easy-to-earn sign-up bonus. Earn 5,000 points (worth $50 cash back) if you make at least one eligible purchase in the first 3 months after opening your account.
- Free credit score: As a Chase Freedom Student cardmember, you have access to Credit Journey, a free feature that allows you to monitor your credit score.
- Discounted Lyft rides: In addition to the 1% cash back for each $1 spent, Chase Freedom Student cardholders also get 5% on Lyft rides.
- Doordash benefit: Cardholders get 3 months of free DashPass (after activation), plus zero delivery fees and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12.
- Instacart benefits: Receive three free months of Instacart+ and $10 per quarter in statement credits toward Instacart purchases. You must join Instacart+ with your eligible card to receive these benefits.
Earning & redeeming
The Chase Freedom Student card has a very simple rewards structure: You’ll earn unlimited 1% cash back for each $1 spent, with one exception — this card will net you 5% cash back on Lyft rides. As long as your account is open, your points never expire.
Best ways to earn
As a college student, you want to build your credit, but it’s important to avoid costly credit card debt. The best way to earn rewards without building up an unnecessary balance is to use your card for ordinary expenses — such as gas, groceries, ridesharing, or school supplies — and then pay off the balance in full each month.
For example, you can earn rewards just by paying for your textbooks with your credit card. According to The College Board, textbooks cost $1,240 per year, on average. If you used your card to buy them and earned 1% cash back, you’d get $12.40 in rewards just for using your credit card.
Maximizing your redemptions
You can redeem your rewards in a number of ways, including statement credits, gift cards, Amazon purchases, and travel. How much your rewards are worth can vary depending on your redemption method.
How do I apply for the Chase Freedom Student card?
As of July 2019, you cannot apply for the Chase Freedom Student card online. Instead, you have to apply in-person at a Chase branch. Use the Chase locator tool to find a branch near you.
Do I need good credit or a job to qualify for a student credit card?
When it comes to how to get a credit card as a student, options designed specifically for students, like the Chase Freedom Student card, typically have less stringent requirements for income and credit score. Even if you have poor credit or no credit at all, you may still be able to qualify.
However, you do need to be at least 18 and a current college student to be eligible for a card. And you’ll need to have some source of income, such as a part-time job or paid internship.
Do my Chase points expire?
With the Chase Freedom Student card, your rewards never expire as long as your account remains open.
Does the Chase Freedom Student card charge an annual fee?
No, the Chase Freedom Student card doesn’t have an annual fee. The card is free for you to use and earn rewards.
Other cards to consider
While the new Chase Freedom Student card has some excellent perks, it’s not for everyone. If you don’t have access to a Chase branch or if you’re looking for a higher rate of return on your purchases, consider these credit cards as alternatives.
- Discover it® Student Cash Back: Unlike the Chase Freedom Student card, which has a flat rewards structure, the Discover it Student card offers 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases, and 1% cash back on all other purchases Discover will also match the cash back you earn during your first year as a bonus. You can also apply for the card online.
- Journey Student Rewards from Capital One: Like the Chase Freedom Student card, the Journey card has a $0 annual fee. You get 1% cash back on all purchases and 1.25% cash back each month you make an on-time monthly payment; plus 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. You can apply for the card online.
A+ for Students
See how these cards compare:
Discover it® Student Cash Back
- 0% intro APR on purchases
- 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories quarterly
- Matched cash back at the end of your first year
- No annual fee
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
- Earn 1% cash back on all purchases
- Boost cash back to 1.25% with on-time payments
- No annual fee