For products in its class, the Chase Freedom® Student credit card gets good marks, thanks in part to its credit-building features and solid incentives.
The card's underwriting is friendly to those with thin or nonexistent credit files, and it can be an ideal and rewarding tool for students looking to build their credit scores.
Here are five things to know about the $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom® Student credit card:
1. Incentives are abundant
Every bit of value helps when you’re juggling the cost of books, tuition, rent and everyday expenses. Rewards earned with the Chase Freedom® Student credit card can potentially cover groceries for a week, or that pizza delivery as you study for finals:
The card earns 1% cash back on all purchases. But beyond that ongoing rewards rate, it also features:
An easy-to-snag sign-up bonus: New cardholders earn $50 after their first purchase made within the first three months of opening an account.
"Good Standing" rewards: Accounts in good standing receive $20 after each account anniversary year for the first five years. (Your account must be open and not in default.)
Limited-time perks: Through March 31, 2022, the card earns 5% back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app. Plus, cardholders get a complimentary three-month subscription to DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service that provides unlimited deliveries for a $0 delivery fee on orders over $12.
Nerd tip: Even though the Chase Freedom® Student credit card is marketed as a cash-back product, technically what you're earning are Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash back. (For example, 2,000 points equals $20.)
You can redeem your rewards for statement credit, a direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts, Amazon purchases, travel or gift cards. Redemption values may vary depending on which option you choose.
The Chase Freedom® Student credit card's flat 1%-back rate is in line with what some other student cards offer, but it's possible to find higher rates. For instance, you could also consider the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Student Cash Back, which offers 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter (1% back on all other purchases). Previous categories have included restaurants, grocery stores, Lyft, Uber and Amazon.com, to name a few.
2. You don't need a credit history to qualify
According to Chase, a credit history isn't an eligibility requirement for the Chase Freedom® Student credit card. However, you do need to be a student, and Chase may verify your enrollment status.
Also, it's important to keep in mind that simply being a student doesn't guarantee that you'll be approved — and that goes for all student credit cards. And if you're younger than 21, you'll still need to show proof of independent income when applying.
Nerd tip: The Chase Freedom® Student credit card requires a Social Security number or an ITIN to apply. This requirement may present an obstacle for some international students. In that case, consider an option like the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students, which doesn't require a Social Security number.
3. It offers key credit-building features
The Chase Freedom® Student credit card reports to all three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. This is a must-have benefit for a starter card, since these companies record the information used to calculate your credit scores.
Lenders look at those scores when weighing creditworthiness, to determine whether you're likely to pay them back. A credit score of 690 or higher can open doors to lower interest rates on auto or home loans, for example. It can also help you qualify when applying for your first apartment.
The Chase Freedom® Student credit card also offers qualifying cardholders an automatic credit limit increase after you make five monthly payments on time within 10 months of opening the account. Terms apply.
A credit limit increase can have a positive impact on your credit score because it can reduce the percentage of available credit you’re using. This is known as your credit utilization ratio, and it factors into your scores.
4. A product change may be possible after graduation
Another feature ideal for a student credit card is a path to upgrade to a nonstudent credit card with the same issuer — ideally a card with better benefits and incentives.
While Chase doesn’t offer an automatic path to upgrade, it does offer a possible route. After graduation, you can potentially switch (or product-change) your Chase Freedom® Student credit card to a different Chase card, depending on your eligibility, a Chase spokesperson confirmed.
5. It’s not ideal for studying abroad
If you're studying abroad, the Chase Freedom® Student credit card won't be the best fit. While it's widely accepted internationally by merchants as part of the Visa payment network, it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. This fee is charged as a percentage of every international transaction, and it can add up.
Other student credit cards skip this fee. The $0-annual-fee Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is a good example. It earns 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 0.25% bonus every month you pay on time. That can bring the effective rewards rate to 1.25% in cash back. It also offers a potential credit limit increase with eligibility. Terms apply.
Information related to the Chase Freedom® Student credit card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.