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The Chase Freedom® Student credit card is no longer accepting new applications, though existing cardholders can continue to take advantage of its benefits. If you’re looking for a Chase card that’s geared toward students, consider the Chase Freedom Rise℠, which earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- The Chase Freedom® Student credit card and the Discover it® Student Chrome are both no-annual-fee cards that offer a baseline of 1 percent cash back on general purchases, but the Student Chrome also offers boosted rewards in dining and gas purchases (up to a cap).
- The Freedom Student's cash back rewards actually come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which give you more redemption options than with the Student Chrome.
- Ultimately, you'd likely earn more cash back with the Student Chrome, but if you're already a Chase customer, you might find additional value with getting the Freedom Student.
Student credit cards can be a great first step into the world of credit. These relatively low-risk starter credit cards can help students build their credit for the next stage of their lives. Plus, some student cards offer cash back, so you can earn rewards on your spending. You just have to decide what kind of rewards card you want based on your spending habits.
We’re going to take a look at how a flat-rate rewards card like the Chase Freedom® Student credit card compares to the Discover it® Student Chrome — two no-annual-fee options that can earn you cash back on your purchases.
|Chase Freedom Student
|Discover it Student Chrome
|$50 cash bonus after your first purchase within three months of account opening (in the form of 5,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points)
|Automatic Cashback Match after the first year. Discover will match all the cash back new cardholders earn at the end of the first year
|Intro APR offer
|N/A (19.74% variable APR)
Chase Freedom Student vs. Discover it Student Chrome
Discover it Student Chrome
Discover it Student Chrome
Which card earns the most?
Because both cards earn 1 percent cash back as a baseline rate for general purchases, you’d almost certainly earn more with the Discover it Student Chrome. The Student Chrome offers 2 percent cash back in dining and gas purchases each quarter on up to $1,000 spent (then 1 percent), while the Freedom Student offers no boosted categories. But if you simply prefer a flat-rate cash back card and already have an account with Chase, the Freedom Student card could be your card of choice. If you spend more on dining and gas, however, the Discover it Student Chrome should be your pick.
Here’s a spending example to show how much you’d earn with each card:
|Chase Freedom Student cash back
|Discover it Student Chrome
In this spending example, you’d earn $36 more each year with the Student Chrome card. If you also factor in each card’s welcome bonus, these figures jump to $152 for the Chase Freedom Student and $276 for the Discover it Student Chrome.
Why should you get the Chase Freedom Student?
Even with a lower rate of cash back, there are still some benefits to owning a card in the Chase family. For one, you’ll have access to a standard slate of card benefits. But more importantly, the Chase Freedom Student — while marketed as a cash back card — technically earns highly lucrative Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Plus, you may have the option (though not guaranteed) to upgrade your Chase credit card to a more premium option as you build a history of responsible usage with your student account.
There are some additional perks of the Chase Freedom Student that are worth noting. Cardholders can get:
- A $20 Good Standing bonus ($20 credit each year, up to five years, for keeping your account in good standing)
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty coverage
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Varied redemption options
Here are some ways you can redeem your cash back:
- Statement credits
- Checks in the mail
- Gift cards
- Travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Amazon.com purchases
However, not all redemption options will get you 1 cent per point in value. In some cases, you might earn less. This can happen frequently when it comes to merchandise, gift cards and Amazon.com purchases. Make sure you understand the value you are getting for your rewards when it comes time to redeem them.
You should have good to excellent credit (or a score between 670 and 850) for the best approval odds with this card. However, because it’s a student credit card, Chase also considers those with little to no credit history.
Why should you get the Discover it Student Chrome?
In our opinion, this card provides much more potential for rewards, both your first year and beyond. Further, this card is very light on fees — your first late fee is waived (after that, up to $41) and there are no foreign transaction fees. Like the Freedom Student card, you may also be eligible for a higher credit line or be able to upgrade to a more premium Discover product post-grad with responsible usage.
- 0 percent intro APR on purchases for six months, followed by a variable APR between 18.24 percent to 27.24 percent
- 10.99 percent intro APR on balance transfers for six months, followed by the same variable APR between 18.24 percent to 27.24 percent
- Account protection (the ability to “freeze” your account from Discover’s mobile app)
- Free credit score access and protection
Here’s how you can redeem your cash back:
- Electronic deposit into any eligible account you designate
- Statement credit to your account
- Physical or digital gift cards to partner merchants
- Pay with cash back at select merchants
- Charitable donations to select charities
The Discover it Student Chrome card is designed for students with no credit or limited credit history. So, you can be approved without a credit score.
The bottom line
Although the Chase Freedom Student and Discover it Student Chrome seems like a reasonable matchup, the truth is that most students will get more value from the Student Chrome card — and by a substantial amount.
But either way, you probably won’t earn loads of cash back with either card as a student because, odds are, you won’t be a big spender at this time in your life anyway. The real value of these cards is that they help you build credit, get a foot in the door with top credit card issuers like Chase and Discover and eventually “graduate” to better credit card offerings.
Our advice is to simply choose the best student credit card for your spending habits. Then, use it responsibly to lay a financial foundation that will serve you well down the road.
Issuer-required disclosure statement
The information about the Chase Freedom® Student credit card and the Chase Freedom Rise℠ was collected independently by Bankrate. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.