Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Juan Ruiz
Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.
We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.
Starting on your own usually means you’ll be responsible for most, if not all, of your finances. Managing your finances can include applying for a credit card — hopefully, one that earns rewards.
The Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are 2 cards that provide an opportunity to manage your credit, build a relationship with a valued financial institution, and earn rewards.
While the Freedom Student card is designed for those just starting, the card has a surprising number of valuable features and benefits.
For this reason, we chose to compare the card to the popular Freedom Unlimited card, another starter card that can be a step up from the Freedom Student card.
Here’s how the cards compare.
We will cover all the key features and benefits of the Freedom Student card and Freedom Unlimited card coming up next.
Before we do, here’s a quick summary of how the cards stack up side-by-side.
|Feature or Benefit||Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card||Chase Freedom Unlimited®|
|Welcome Offer||Varies, but normally a modest cash-back bonus after the first purchase||INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!|
|Travel Protections and Benefits||
|Shopping Protections and Benefits||
|Annual Fees and Authorized Users||
|Credit Building and Management Tools||
A credit card welcome offer on cash-back cards can come in the form of a cash-back bonus for meeting specific spending thresholds after card approval.
The Freedom Student card does not always have a welcome offer, but when it does, it is quite modest. However, if there is a current offer, you can usually earn it after your first purchase, which is a positive.
The Freedom Unlimited card comes with a welcome offer currently worth hundreds of dollars, but once again, offers can vary so you’ll want to check for the most recent offer before applying.
Here’s a snapshot of the Freedom Unlimited card, including the most recent welcome offer:
This all-purpose cash-back card offers great bonus categories, including bonus points for every purchase you make!
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is easily one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. There aren’t many no-annual-fee credit cards that offer multiple great bonus categories like 5% back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases.
When paired with other Chase cards in the Ultimate Rewards family, you can transfer that cash back into points if you wish – making it one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet.
Don’t forget too, there’s 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
With either the Freedom Student card or Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll earn rewards on every purchase you make. Rewards are earned as points that can be redeemed for cash-back or other options.
We’ll review your options for redeeming those points, but first, let’s look at all the ways you can earn rewards on each of our featured cards.
|Earning Category||Freedom Student Card||Freedom Unlimited Card|
|Dining and Drugstores||1% cash-back||3% cash-back|
|All Other Purchases||1% cash-back||1.5% cash-back|
You’ll notice that the Freedom Unlimited card is the better card when it comes to earning. With 1.5% cash-back on non-bonus category earnings versus 1% cash-back on the Freedom Student card, the card is the better choice. Travel purchased on the Chase travel portal, dining, and drugstore purchases also offer elevated earnings not found on the Freedom Student card.
The Freedom Student card does earn an additional 2,000 points ($20) at each card anniversary when your card is renewed, your account is open, and it is not in default.
Although the Freedom Student card and Freedom Unlimited card are cash-back-earning cards, you will have additional options at redemption time.
Having options creates greater potential value for your points. Here are your choices when it’s time to redeem the points earned on either card:
|Redemption Option||Freedom Student Card||Freedom Unlimited Card|
|Additional Redemption Options||
If you’re just starting your credit card journey with Chase, chances are you won’t hold any premium Ultimate Rewards-earning Chase cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Securing one of these premium cards in the future allows you to receive much greater value for your rewards. Transferring points earned on the Freedom Student card or Freedom Unlimited card to premium cards allows you to redeem for travel via the Chase travel portal for up to 1.5 cents each.
Additionally, once points are transferred, the option to then transfer points to Chase airline and hotel partners unlocks the potential for even greater value when redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for award flights and free hotel nights.
The Freedom Student card and Freedom Unlimited card can be issued as Visa Signature cards and therefore have parallel travel protections and benefits.
Here are the protections and benefits you’ll find on both cards:
Shopping protections with the Freedom Student card and Freedom Unlimited card provide additional protection for eligible items purchased with either card. Shopping benefits can provide free trial memberships and savings on specific purchases.
Here are the shopping protections and benefits you’ll find on both cards:
The Freedom Student card and Freedom Unlimited card come with several features that help you manage your card account and build a strong credit history.
Here are some of the credit management tools you’ll find on both cards:
In addition, each of our featured cards has its own unique credit management benefits.
The Freedom Student card and Freedom Unlimited card do not charge annual fees.
There is also no fee to add authorized users to either card.
Before applying for any Chase credit card, you’ll want to review Chase’s 5/24 rule. The rule includes cards issued by other financial institutions in addition to Chase cards and affects whether Chase will approve you.
You must be a student to be eligible for the Freedom Student card. The card also requires a Social Security number or ITIN number, which may present a challenge for some international students. Also, both the Freedom Student card and Freedom Unlimited card charge foreign transaction fees of 3% of the total transaction.
Points do not expire with either card as long as your card account is open and in good standing.
We recommend at least a fair credit score of 640 or better to qualify for the Freedom Student card. For the Freedom Unlimited card, we recommend a good to excellent score of 670 or greater.
Either the Freedom Student card or Freedom Unlimited card could be a great starter card, but the best card will be the one for which you would qualify.
And, while there are additional credit card choices for students, building a positive relationship with Chase can open doors to upgrading to or qualifying for some of the best travel rewards credit cards available.
This alone is a reason to consider either of these featured cards.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The Freedom Unlimited card is the better card due to its elevated earning potential. However, the Freedom Student card is a good card for students as it provides an entry-level path to qualify for a Chase credit card, establish a credit history, and gain access to better rewards-earning cards and financial products.
Either card can be a good choice for the long term as neither card charges an annual fee.
Yes. One of the qualifications for the Freedom Student card is that you must be a student.
Yes, you can transfer points earned on the Freedom Student card to other select Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
Was this page helpful?
Travel is changing fast... Stay on top of all the points strategies, exclusive offers & pivotal news - and lock in huge savings along the way.
Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.