Best Chase credit card for students

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One of the biggest mistakes people make with credit cards is not getting one early enough. Not all credit cards come with big annual fees or require you to spend tons of money to get the bonus, so you don’t need to wait until your adult life to get your first one. The truth is, the earlier you start investing in credit cards and building your credit score, the better. If you’re a student, there’s no time like the present to invest in your very first credit card, and Chase has some great options to get you started. 

Best Chase cards for students

The best Chase student credit cards come down to three options, all with no annual fees, welcome bonuses, and some extra perks, too.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is great for students because it’s incredibly easy to manage rewards. For starters, you’ll get a $200 bonus for spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of opening your card, and you’ll never have to pay an annual fee. 

This card is also great for student life because it fits into the everyday spending habits of college students. Cardholders get 5% cash back on all grocery store purchases (excluding Walmart and Target) on up to $12,000 for the first year. That means you’re earning cash back when you stock up on ramen noodles, chicken nuggets and mac and cheese for your apartment! The card also gives 5% cashback on travel purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases. These cash back rewards never expire, and there’s no minimum amount needed to cash in! 

Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex is similar to the Freedom Unlimited in that it offers the same awesome $200 welcome bonus after spending $500 in the first three months. This card also comes with no annual fees, and the cash back rewards you’re getting here never expire. 

This card is a game-changer for students because the cash-back rewards are easy to earn and receive. Cash-back rewards are similar to the Freedom Unlimited when it comes to 5% on groceries and 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, but where the Freedom Flex really shines is their cash-back rewards on all other purchases. Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories, just by activating the feature each quarter.

You can activate the feature on the Chase website, by phone or email, and automatically earn 5% cash back on all purchases up to $1,500, and then 1% on the rest. You’ll need to do this every quarter, but activating is a quick and easy process, and well worth it when you’re earning 4% more cash back by activating than you would’ve without. For students, this offer is great because you’ll be earning 5% cash back on purchases you make on school supplies, at Target, at Walmart, or online shopping with your Freedom Flex card.  

Chase Freedom Student 

The Chase Freedom Student offers a $50 bonus just for making a purchase with the card in the first three months, which is huge. There’s also no annual fee on this card, and cardholders earn 1% cash back on all purchases (regardless of category). Those rewards never expire, and there’s no minimum to redeem. 

This card is ideal for students with limited or no credit history looking to build their credit score for the future. Chase will give students with this card a $20 “good standing” reward for every year they have the card and make payments on time. The good behavior rewards don’t just end there, as cardholders can earn a monthly credit increase after making five monthly payments on time in a 10-month period. You’ll also have access to your credit score at any time with credit journey, so you can track your progress and watch your score skyrocket. 

The information for the Chase Freedom Student card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

What to consider when choosing your first credit card

When you’re deciding on your first Chase student credit card, or just your first credit card in general, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, you need to examine your credit history and credit score carefully, to determine which cards you’ll actually be approved to own. Top travel credit cards that come with large welcome bonuses and big rewards often also come with large annual fees, and you’ll need an extensive good credit history to be approved. For your first card, if you’re focused on building your credit and eventually investing in the bigger cards, the Chase Freedom Student is designed to do just that. You can get some other cards without having any credit history, but most banks will only give first time credit card owners the beginner cards with small bonuses, and you’ll have you work your way up. 

Secondly, you need to think about your spending habits and determine how you’ll be using your credit card. Almost all credit cards offer cash back rewards in some way, but bonus categories differ greatly and percentages can be all over the place. If you currently spend most of your money on groceries or dining out at restaurants, look for a card that has high percentages of cash back bonuses in those categories. The key to your first credit card is finding one that fits into your everyday spending habits. You shouldn’t ever have to change your lifestyle to fit a credit card!

FAQ about credit cards for students

For anything else you might be wondering about the best student credit cards.

What do I need to qualify for a credit card as a student? 

The requirements for a student credit card are relatively simple. You’ll need to be over the age of 18 and be a U.S. resident or citizen with a valid social security number to begin the application process. You’ll also need to show some form of income, but this doesn’t mean you have to have a full-time job to be approved! Student credit cards can be given to those who have a part-time job at the on-campus coffee shop, babysitting on the books, and more. The amount of income doesn’t need to be high — it just needs to be enough to prove you’ll be able to make your payments. 

For a student credit card, you’ll also need to verify you’re actually a student. All banks have differing requirements for what this means, some include “postsecondary educational institutions” while some require you to be enrolled at a two- or four-year institution. You can prove your student status by showing a recent tuition payment, a valid college email, or other ways the bank specifies. If you meet all of these requirements, you should be well on your way to approval. 

Do student credit cards offer rewards? 

Yes! While the welcome bonuses aren’t huge, most student credit cards will offer you points or cash for signing up and spending a certain amount of money. Student credit cards also have rewards designed specifically for students, such as the Chase Freedom Student, which gives you $20 each year just for being in good standing.

Student credit cards also offer rewards in the form of cash back. This means that for (almost) every purchase you make with your student credit card, you’ll actually be getting some money you spent on that purchase back. The amount varies based on how much you spend, the place you spend and the card’s predetermined bonus categories, but pretty much every card will have this in some capacity. Make sure you look for the details on this before you get a card, so you can find one that fits well with your spending habits!

How do I use student credit cards to improve my credit score? 

On a very basic level, your credit score improves for using your credit card and making payments on time. The higher the amount you spend on a credit card and pay back on time, the better it is for your credit. Student credit cards are ideal for building your credit because most have a system where you start off with a relatively low monthly credit limit, around $500 for example, and as you continue to spend and pay off the card, the higher your limit becomes. You can use your student credit card to build trust with your bank, which inherently builds your credit score.

If your student credit card comes with functions to track your credit score or earn rewards based on credit, like the Chase Freedom Student, make sure you take full advantage. As you build your credit score, you can move on to top travel rewards credit cards and be approved for large bonuses and rewards!

Bottom line

When it comes to the best Chase student credit cards, your best options are the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom Flex, and Chase Freedom Student. All of these cards have no annual fees, don’t require high credit scores to be approved and still come with incredible cash-back rewards and other perks. Getting your first credit card is a big step into your adult life, but as a student is the perfect time to start investing in yourself and your future credit history!

Alexandra Maloney is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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