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Updated on Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Want to build your credit while you’re a student in college? It’s smart to start building your credit history early, and the Chase Freedom® Student credit card can give you the opportunity to do that while also letting you earn a flat rewards rate on most purchases.
The card’s annual fee is $0, and at an APR of 16.99% variable, the APR is lower than some competing student credit cards. On top of that, you get a chance to earn $20 each year for five years for keeping your account in good standing.
Take a look at our review below to see if this card might be the right one to help you start your credit journey.
What we like about the Chase Freedom® Student credit card
Straightforward rewards. If you’re not interested in a complicated card rewards program, you’ll like the Chase Freedom® Student credit card’s rewards structure, which offers 1% cash back on purchases (with a few exceptions, like money orders and lottery tickets). It should be noted that cash back is tracked as cash back rewards points, with $1 being worth 100 points. Points can go toward statement credits, direct deposits, Amazon.com shopping, gift cards and certificates, and booking travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Good Standing Rewards. For the first five years of your account, if your account remains open and not in default, you can earn 2,000 points after your account anniversary as a good standing reward. This comes out to a $20 value.
Signup bonus. The Chase Freedom® Student credit card offers the chance to earn a $50 sign-up bonus after making their first purchase on the card within the first three months
No annual fee. We always like when you can earn rewards on a card with a $0 annual fee. This is especially true for credit cards aimed at college students, who are often on a tight budget.
Credit limit increase. After making five monthly payments on time within 10 months of opening your account, you may be eligible to be approved for a higher credit limit.
Free credit score. This card comes with access to Chase Credit Journey, which lets you check your credit score at no cost.
Competitive APR. At a APR of 16.99% variable, this isn’t the lowest APR you’ll find on a credit card — but it’s lower than some competing credit cards aimed at students. For instance, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® comes with an APR of 26.99% (Variable). Still, you shouldn’t carry a balance. Interest charges can quickly increase your credit card debt. It’s better to build a habit of paying off your card in full each month.
What we don’t like about the Chase Freedom® Student credit card
There’s no 0% APR introductory period. This card starts you right at the regular APR 16.99% variable. There’s no intro period for purchases or balance transfers.
Foreign transaction fee. If you’re planning to study abroad, this might be a credit card you leave at home. If you use it outside the United States, you’ll pay a foreign transaction fee of 3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
No online application. Chase rolled this card out in June 2019. As of mid-July 2019, there was no option available to apply for the card online — that means having to take time to visit a physical Chase branch if you want to apply for the Chase Freedom® Student credit card.
Who the card is best for
The Chase Freedom® Student credit card is best for college students looking to build credit and earn a flat cashback rewards rate, and who don’t need a card to use outside the United States, since it does charge a foreign transaction fee for purchases made abroad.
Alternatives to the Chase Freedom® Student credit card
If you want a higher cashback rate
The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers an excellent cashback rate — 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. On top of that, you can get a $20 statement credit each school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years after opening your account.
Discover also offers free access to your FICO® score, which is a nice benefit as you’ll be able to monitor your progress over time as you use the card responsibly.
If you want to travel abroad
The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® offers 1% Cash Back on all purchases; 0.25% Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time — that comes out to a higher flat rate than the Chase Freedom® Student credit card. As far as a foreign transaction fee, there is None. The annual fee is $0 and the balance transfer fee is $0.
You can also monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit score with CreditWise from Capital One, and you have the opportunity to get access to a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.
However, it also an APR of 26.99% (Variable), so you definitely want to avoid carrying a balance.