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Chase Freedom Student credit card: Credit Building for College Students

While this card doesn't have the best rewards available for students, it does offer good credit-building tools.

Chase Freedom® Student credit card
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Chase Freedom® Student credit card
5.25/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Apply Now
On Chase’s secure website
Intro Offer
$50 $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening
Annual fee
$0
APR
19.49% Variable
Rewards rate
1% Earn 1% cash back on all purchases plus $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years
Rewards Rate
1%
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases plus $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years

Student credit cards offer scaled-down rewards in exchange for taking on the risk of cardholders with brief credit histories. The Chase Freedom® Student credit card is one of a handful of credit cards specifically designed for college students -- so you’ll need to be enrolled in a college, university, career school or trade school to qualify.

While Chase is usually one of the most competitive credit card issuers for cash-back credit cardsbusiness credit cards and travel credit cards, its student credit card option is a little more restrictive than competitors. Still, it does offer a standard set of features: A welcome bonus, a rewards program and no annual fee. While none of these features themselves particularly stand out, Chase does have some credit-building features that outrank its competitors.

Note that this is also one of the few student credit cards with foreign transaction fees, so it’s not a good option if you study abroad or want a credit card for overseas travel.

Rewards and redemption

The Chase Freedom Student’s cash back rewards are a little lackluster compared to other student credit cards. You’ll earn 1% on all of your purchases, with no additional rewards categories. Technically, cash back rewards are earned in the form of points, where 1 point equals 1 cent. You can redeem your points for cash, travel or gift cards.

Welcome bonus

While not all student credit cards offer a welcome bonus, the Chase Freedom Student credit card does. Its value -- $50 after making your first purchase within three months of opening your account -- is mediocre compared to other student credit card welcome bonuses, but the requirements to earn this bonus are much more flexible. Credit cards with higher welcome bonuses often require you to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars within a set timeframe to earn the bonus. With the Chase Freedom Student card, you just have to make any purchase – even if it’s just a pack of gum.

Building your credit with this card

The Chase Freedom Student card offers good support for credit building with its Good Standing reward. For each of the first five years, if your Chase account is in good standing -- meaning your account stays open and is not in default -- you earn a $20 reward after your card opening anniversary date. 

You’ll also have free access to your credit score through Chase’s Credit Journey program. More cards are offering this service, but not every card provider currently does.

Usually, you can request credit limit increases on a credit card every few months or so with responsible credit behavior (note: requesting a credit limit increase doesn’t hurt your credit score). The Chase Freedom Student credit card offers this path forward with even more wiggle room. You can get your credit limit increased if within the first 10 months of being a cardholder, you make at least 5 monthly payments on-time. To avoid credit card debt and help increase your credit score, we recommend you aim to make all of your monthly payments on time and in full.

Alternative cards

Discover it® Student Cash Back

The Discover it Student Cash Back* card can overall net you more rewards on your spending. The flat rate is 1% on all purchases, but it offers an additional rotating rewards category and a unique welcome bonus.

The rotating quarterly rewards category earns you 5% cash back on up to $1,500 combined spending per quarter upon activation (then 1%). For the current quarter, which lasts through March, you can earn 5% on grocery stores, drug stores and select streaming services. Then, with its Unlimited Cashback Match welcome bonus, you’ll essentially double your cash back rewards for your first year -- though you have to wait until the end of your first year to receive them.

This is also a better option for study abroad or other international travel, as Discover credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees.

For more details, see our full review of the Discover it Student Cash Back Card.

Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you like the simplicity of the Chase Freedom Student’s rewards structure -- or are intimidated by the extra legwork of the Discover it Student Cash Back -- the Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card* offers a better flat cash-back rate across all of your purchases. 

The welcome bonus nets you the same amount, but you technically have to spend more to earn it. You can earn a $50 welcome bonus if you spend $100 on the card within the first three months.

And like all Capital One credit cards, it has no foreign transaction fees, so you’ll be able to bring this card with you overseas without incurring extra costs.

How Chase Freedom® Student credit card compares to other cards

Chase Freedom® Student credit card
Apply Now
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
5.25/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
$50 $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening
Annual fee
$0
APR
19.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Rewards rate
1% Earn 1% cash back on all purchases plus $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years
Apply Now
On Chase’s secure website
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Learn More
Discover it® Student Cash Back
9.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual fee
$0
APR
17.49% – 26.49% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 6 months
Rewards rate
1% – 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. ; Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Petal® 2
Apply Now
Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card
9.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
No current offer
Annual fee
$0
APR
17.49% – 31.49% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Rewards rate
1% – 1.5% Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.; 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.
Apply Now
On Petal’s secure website

FAQs

Student credit cards typically offer those with limited or no credit a way to start building credit and create a credit history. They generally come with lower credit limits than typical credit cards and don’t charge annual fees. And they often have novice-friendly features, including late payment forgiveness, incremental credit limit increases over time and credit education resources. Reward rates may be lower than for standard cash-back and travel credit cards, however, making student credit cards a lower-risk, lower-reward financial tool.

While some people choose to build credit with a secured credit card -- that is, a card where you’ve backed your credit limit with a cash deposit -- student credit cards work a bit differently. Student credit cards don’t generally require cash upfront, but these cards typically only offer a small credit line, sometimes just a few hundred bucks. That way, the student can use the card to build credit without the risk of racking up too much credit card debt (which leads to bad credit).

A typical nonstudent credit card application requires a high credit score (at least 670 for good results) and at least a few years of credit report history. To get a student credit card, however, you often don’t necessarily need either, though some proof of financial experience and responsibility helps when it comes to securing a credit card offer. The issuer may ask you for information regarding any income you may have (even if it’s from family), and any checking account or savings account you may have. You do need to prove enrollment generally in a four-year college, community college or other higher education institution.

In addition to more relaxed eligibility requirements, the best student credit cards will offer some of the following features:

  • Special rules for credit newcomers such as minimal late fees and no-penalty APRs
  • Lower credit limits -- usually between $500 and $2,000
  • Cash-back rewards program on spending
  • A “reasonable” APR -- usually between 15% and 20%

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back credit cards, welcome bonus credit cards, travel rewards credit cards and balance transfer credit cards. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone’s financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

*All information about the Discover it Student Cash Back and the Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Jaclyn is a CNET Money editor who relishes the sweet spot between numbers and words. With responsibility for overseeing CNET's credit card coverage, she writes and edits news, reviews and advice. She has experience covering business, personal finance and economics, and previously managed contracts and investments as a real estate agent. Her tech interests include Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company and Neuralink.