I’ve decided to make the switch from my Chase Freedom card to the new Chase Freedom Flex. Soon I’ll be earning more on the Flex card’s bonus cash back categories while still taking advantage of rotating quarterly bonuses.
This is called a product change – moving from one card to another issued by the same bank. The advantages include ease, simplicity and no impact to your credit score. The biggest con is that you’re typically ineligible for introductory bonuses.
The Freedom Flex has two good ones: A $200 bonus after spending $500 in your first three months, plus 5% cash back on groceries (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 of spending in your first year.
Why have both the Freedom and the Freedom Flex?
- You can double-dip on the 5% cash back categories. These are capped at $1,500 in spending (after activation) on each card. You’ll earn 1% cash back after that. The Q4 2020 categories will be Walmart and PayPal (on both cards – there was some initial speculation that the Freedom and Freedom Flex might have different rotating categories). If you have the Freedom and the Freedom Flex, you could score 5% cash back on up to $3,000 in combined spending.
- You can’t use Freedom Flex at Costco. If you shop at Costco and the Freedom is your only Visa card, you might want to hold onto the original Freedom. Costco only takes Visa and the Freedom Flex is a Mastercard.
In my case, I’m looking to simplify my card portfolio, and I didn’t see the need to open a new account and absorb another hard credit inquiry (I’ve already opened two other cards within the past 12 months).
Plus, I get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets via the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (on up to $6,000 in annual spending, then 1% cash back after that). And I don’t usually spend enough to max out the $1,500 quarterly limit for the Freedom and Freedom Flex 5% cash back categories, let alone the $3,000 I’d be able to access with two cards.
See related: Freedom Flex deepens Chase’s loyalty strategy
Why I’m excited about the Freedom Flex
It comes with several ongoing benefits that the original Freedom does not have. For instance:
- 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
- Cell phone insurance, a free ShopRunner membership and other World Elite Mastercard incentives
Booking travel with Freedom Flex
I usually put travel spending on either my Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card or my Citi Premier℠ Card. However, the Freedom Flex will give me a higher return. The Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal runs on Expedia’s technology, so you can book everything from flights to hotels to rental cars and even cruises and vacation home rentals.
Some people are wary of booking hotel stays, in particular, through third parties. That’s because hotel loyalty programs typically don’t count these outside reservations toward free stays and elite status. I’m not too worried about this because I’m not loyal to any hotel brands, and I don’t travel enough to qualify for these perks anyway.
There are also reports that guests who book directly with a hotel can get better room assignments and are less likely to get “walked” – as in, displaced if the hotel is over capacity and they show up late.
I’m still going to try booking future trips through Chase. The higher rewards potential is considerable, and I ran a few sample searches and found Chase sometimes advertised lower prices than airline and hotel websites.
See related: How to transfer Chase points
No need to wait?
I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Freedom Flex card (in 3-5 business days, customer service informed me). When I log into the Chase website or app, I’m already seeing the Freedom Flex listed, with the notation, “We transferred your account details to your new credit card.”
I know I will have a new card number, although right now I can only see the last four digits, and my credit limit will remain the same.
I was told that I can use my existing Freedom card for up to 60 more days, and I’ll continue to receive 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market through Sept. 30 because I previously activated that promotion. And I should be able to start receiving 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases within 1-3 business days by using my existing Freedom card before the Freedom Flex arrives in the mail.
The representative didn’t have a foolproof way to confirm when this functionality goes live other than to call back in a few days. She speculated that it’s a good sign that I’m already seeing the Freedom Flex listed when I log into my Ultimate Rewards account.
Putting two and two together, I suspect the shift may have already occurred. It’s too bad this isn’t an instant use credit card, because then I could confidently start spending with my new card number online and via Apple Pay.
See related: Guide to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay
One more thought
Revisiting the Q4 5% cash back categories for a moment: PayPal is already a good one, because it’s accepted so widely. The company’s new virtual card number generator, known as PayPal Key, extends that to any website that accepts Mastercard. This isn’t yet available to all PayPal users, but when I visited the setup page, I confirmed that I’m eligible.
This should make me a shoo-in to max out the 5% limit in Q4. Hmm, maybe I should have double-dipped after all!
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*Information about the Chase Freedom card, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card and the Citi Premier Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers.