Chase Freedom Flex℠ review

Chase Freedom Flex℠ review

Published: October 15, 2020

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Published: October 15, 2020

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Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Rewards Value:4.1
Annual Percentage Rate:2.0
Rewards Flexibility:3.5
Features:3.0
Issuer Customer Experience3.6

In a Nutshell:

The Chase Freedom Flex card’s unique blend of year-round and quarterly-rotating rewards categories should offer great variety. It may be especially appealing to frequent travelers who want to avoid an annual fee or pair with a premium Chase travel card.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (on up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Average

Sign-up Bonus

  • $200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Walmart or Target purchases, on up to $12,000 in spending in your first year)
Average

Annual Bonus
None

Poor

Annual Fee
$0

Excellent

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$532

Excellent

APR
14.99%-23.74% (variable)

Average

Pros

  • Both year-round bonus cash back and 5% rotating cash back categories
  • Redeem points for cash, travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Better travel options in conjunction with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Rewards don’t expire as long as you keep the card
  • Cell phone protection included when you pay your monthly bill with the card

Cons

  • $1,500 limit on 5% cash back
  • Must activate categories by deadline in order to use them
Excellent

Chase Customer Service Ratings

  • J. D. Power 2020 customer satisfaction rating: 809 (30% of issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: No
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.4/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.8/5
Very Good

Other Notable Features: Cell phone protection, purchase protection, extended warranty, auto rental insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, bonus cash back on Boxed purchases, Lyft credits, travel accident insurance, free credit score updated weekly, free DashPass membership for 3 months, followed by 50% off next nine months of membership

Chase has retired the popular Chase Freedom® card and replaced it with a new cash back offering that should excite foodies, frequent travelers and fans of cash back variety alike.

Like its predecessor, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ charges no annual fee and offers cash back in a variety of rotating categories. But unlike the Freedom card, the Freedom Flex also carries bonus cash back in some categories year-round, allowing cardholders to enjoy consistency in a few key spending categories and variety in others throughout the year.

Thanks to its generous rewards rate, the Freedom Flex could be an especially good fit if you want to earn travel rewards without shelling out an annual fee, or if you have or would consider adding a premium Chase travel card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve to your wallet. That said, the card’s rotating categories may not always line up with your spending habits.

See related: Should you switch from the Chase Freedom to the Freedom Flex?

Earning cash back

As its name implies, the Freedom Flex comes with a very flexible cash back rewards program that offers a combination of year-round and quarterly-rotating bonus categories.

To start, you can enroll in a different bonus category each quarter and earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending in that category. After you meet the $1,500 quarterly cap, your rewards rate drops to 1% back on purchases in that category.

Unlike Discover, which lists its 5% cash back categories for the entire year, Chase announces its bonus categories on a quarter-by-quarter basis. The Chase cash back calendar typically offers a good amount of variety, and the 2020 calendar has so far included a mix of practical categories like grocery stores and Amazon.com, as well as a few more niche options, like select streaming services.

Chase 5% cash back calendar 2020

For Q4 2020, Freedom Flex cardholders can earn bonus cash back on PayPal and Walmart purchases (runs Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020). Given the variety of items you can buy at Walmart or at online stores that take PayPal, this category could be quite valuable, especially heading into the holiday shopping season. Plus, if you’re eligible for a PayPal Key virtual card, you can add your Freedom Flex card to PayPal and earn cash back at any online store that accepts Mastercard credit cards.

WinterSpringSummerHoliday
January – March 

(Activation closed)

April – June
(Activation closed)
July – September
(Activation closed)
October – December
(Activate by Dec. 14, 2020)
  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services
  • Phone, cable and internet services
  • Gym memberships
  • Fitness clubs
  • Grocery stores
  • Select streaming services
  • Amazon.com
  • Whole Foods
  • PayPal
  • Walmart

In addition to the cash back you earn in these quarterly bonus categories, you’ll earn cash back in a few other categories throughout the year: 5% back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, 3% back on dining purchases (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and 3% back on drugstore purchases.

These are solid ongoing rewards rates for a card that charges no annual fee. Indeed, the 5% cash back rate on travel beats the rate offered on both of Chase’s premier travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2 points per dollar on travel) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3 points per dollar on travel).

If you were to maximize your cash back earnings in every quarterly bonus category by spending $1,500 on eligible purchases, you’d earn a total of $300 cash back in a year. Assuming your spending matches that of the average consumer, you stand to earn an additional $167 per year when you factor in the Freedom Flex card’s year-round bonus categories of travel, dining and drugstore purchases, as well as the 1% cash back you’d earn on general purchases. That’s close to $500 per year in cash back via card spend.

Keep in mind, however, that depending on what’s included in a quarterly bonus category, it may be very difficult to reach the 5% cash back spending cap of $1,500. For example, most cardholders would struggle to spend $1,500 in three months on select streaming services or gas station purchases. On the flip side, the $1,500 cap may hold you back in other categories, such as grocery store purchases, where you have a better chance of exceeding the limit.

Through March 2022, you’ll also earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides with the Freedom Flex.

Terrific sign-up bonuses

Along with the rewards you can earn in its bonus spending categories, the Freedom Flex gives you a chance to score a large sign-up bonus in your first year. The card is currently offering two major promotions – a flat cash back bonus and a first-year bonus cash back rate.

You can get $200 cash back if you spend $500 with the card in your first three months. Not only is this a great sign-up bonus for a no annual fee card, but $500 is also a very low spending requirement. With this card’s rotating and year-round cash back categories as an incentive, you shouldn’t have too much trouble reaching that threshold and securing the bonus.

On top of that, the card is also offering a limited-time bonus cash back rate on grocery store purchases: In your first year, you’ll earn 5% back on up to $12,000 in spending on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart purchases). While many issuers have added limited-time bonus offers on groceries and other practical spending in the wake of COVID-19, this is one of the more generous time frames out there.

Flexible cash back redemption

The Freedom Flex also offers a number of different ways you can redeem your rewards. Though marketed as a cash back card, the Freedom Flex actually earns flexible Ultimate Rewards points.

You can redeem points for cash back in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit, travel, gift cards, Amazon.com purchases and more. Plus, there’s no limit to how many points you can earn, and your points never expire.

That said, the value of your points varies based on how you redeem them. Here’s a look at the Freedom Flex card’s rewards redemption options and the point value you’ll get with each:

Chase Freedom Flex redemption options

Redemption optionPoint value (cents)
Statement credit1
Direct deposit1
Travel1
Gift cards1
Apple purchases1
Amazon.com purchases0.8

You can also use the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature to redeem points to pay for some or all of your purchases in select categories and get paid back with a statement credit. You’ll still earn points on these purchases and your points may be worth more when your redeem in certain categories. For a limited time, Freedom Flex cardholders, for example, can redeem at a value of 1.25 cents per point when they opt to donate to eligible charitable organizations.

See related: Chase Pay Yourself Back expands to Freedom cards

Pairing with another Ultimate Rewards card

Things get especially interesting when you pair the Freedom Flex card with another card that earns Ultimate Rewards. You can transfer Chase points into a common pool from multiple cards that earn rewards in different categories, giving you a chance to maximize earning by using the card that earns the most on a given purchase.

If you also have a premium Chase card like the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can get extra value out of the points you earn with the Freedom Flex by redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. The Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred both offer a value of 1.25 cents per point when you redeem for travel this way, and the Sapphire Reserve gets you 1.5 cents per point in value.

Pairing the Freedom Flex with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card would also allow you to transfer points to one of Chase’s airline and hotel transfer partners and possibly enjoy even greater point value.

Finance larger purchases with an intro APR

The Freedom Flex also features an introductory APR on new purchases, which could be a big help if you have a large expense like a home repair looming. Not only can you pay off your balance slowly without racking up interest charges, but you’ll also earn at least 1% back on your purchases – even more if they line up with one of the card’s rotating 5% cash back categories.

The terms are pretty straightforward: You get a 0% intro APR on purchases for your first 15 billing cycles as a card member, after which you’ll be subject to the card’s standard variable APR of between 14.99% and 23.74%, based on your credit score.

This is a pretty wide range of potential APRs. While the low-end is slightly lower than the average credit card APR, the high end rivals the rate you’ll find on many cards designed for people with bad credit. Whichever APR you’re assigned, be sure to pay off your purchases in full before the end of the introductory APR period, or you’ll face hefty interest charges on any remaining balance.

Unfortunately, the card does not offer an introductory APR on balance transfers. If you’re looking for a way to hit pause on interest charges and tackle existing debt, you’re best off searching for card that comes with a 0% intro APR on balance transfers.

See related: Best credit cards for large purchases

Upgraded cardholder perks

Unlike the retired Freedom card, which ran on the Visa card network, the Freedom Flex is a Mastercard credit card. This shift to a Mastercard World Elite product brings a host of new benefits to the Freedom Flex. The card also features some familiar Chase perks. Highlights include:

  • Cell phone protection: Pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card and any phones listed in your bill are covered up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year against theft or damage. A $50 deductible per claim applies.
  • Complimentary DashPass subscription:DashPass gives you unlimited free deliveries on DoorDash orders over $12. The Freedom Flex offers a free DashPass membership for three months. After that, you’re automatically enrolled at a 50% discount for the next nine months (subscriptions typically $9.99 per month), though you can cancel before that if you like.
  • Lyft credits: You’ll get a $10 credit for every five rides you take in a calendar month. This credit is automatically applied to your next ride (limit one per month).
  • Bonus cash back on Boxed purchases: Boxed is a membership-free wholesale retailer that sells groceries, household goods, personal care items and more. The Freedom Flex gets you 5% cash back on all Boxed purchases, which can be used for future Boxed purchases.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: ShopRunner gets you two-day shipping and free returns at more than 100 online retailers.
  • Purchase protection: For eligible purchases made on your Chase Freedom card, you can be covered against theft or damage for the first 120 days ($500 max per claim, $50,000 max per account).
  • Extended warranty: Extend eligible manufacturers warranties of three years or less by an additional year.
  • Car rental insurance: If you charge your rental car to your card, you can receive secondary coverage in the case of damage or theft up to the cash value of the car.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: In case you have to cancel or cut a trip short due to severe weather, illness or another covered situation, you can be reimbursed for non-refundable purchases made with your Chase Freedom.

See related: Visa vs. Mastercard

Approval odds

You’ll need good to excellent credit (above 670) to qualify for the Freedom Flex. If you want a better sense of your odds of approval before you apply, you can take advantage of Chase prequalification tools on the Chase website with no impact to your credit score.

Customer service

Among major issuers, Chase has a pretty good customer service reputation. In J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey, Chase scored 809 – fourth out of 11 major banks. Chase’s app also rates well among users, rating 4.4 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store. 

How does the Chase Freedom Flex compare to other cash back cards?

The Freedom Flex offers a ton of variety in how you earn cash back, but the card’s 5% cash back categories may not always line up with your spending habits. Here are a few alternatives worth considering:

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Discover it® Cash Back

Citi® Double Cash Card 
Rewards rate

  • 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on general purchases
Rewards rate

  • Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in various categories throughout the year
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Rewards rate

  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • 1% additional cash back as you pay for those purchases
Welcome bonus

  • $200 cash back after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Walmart or Target purchases, on up to $12,000 in spending in your first year)
Welcome bonus

Matches cash back at end of first year of card membership

Welcome bonus

None

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Other things to know

  • Easily transfer rewards to other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards
  • Redeem for travel, cash back, merchandise, gift cards and more
  • Rewards don’t expire
Other things to know

  • Redeem rewards for gift cards, donations, credit to your account, direct deposit and more
Other things to know

  • Redeem rewards for check, statement credit, gift card or direct deposit
  • $25 minimum cash back redemption

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

If you’d rather earn a higher cash back rate on general purchases than track and enroll in rotating bonus categories, the Freedom Unlimited is a great option. It offers the same year-round bonus cash back categories (5% back on travel, 3% back on dining and 3% back on drugstore purchases) as the Freedom Flex, as well as 1.5% cash back on general purchases. The card also pairs with premium Ultimate Rewards cards in the same way as the Freedom Flex, so it makes sense for fans of travel rewards.

Discover it® Cash Back

Like the Chase Freedom Flex, the Discover it Cash Back offers 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories that you must enroll in each quarter (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1% cash back). It also offers 1% cash back on general purchases. While the card lacks the year-round bonus categories available on the Freedom Flex, it comes with a unique introductory bonus: Discover will match all the cash back you earn in your first cardmember year.

Citi® Double Cash Card

If you want to keep things ultra-simple and earn cash back at the same rate on every purchase, no matter where, when or what you buy, the Citi Double Cash Card is one of the best flat-rate cash back cards on the market. You’ll earn up to 2% cash back on everything you buy (1% back when you make a purchase and an additional 1% back as you pay for those purchases). You can also redeem your rewards as ThankYou points in the Citi ThankYou Travel Center for airfare.

Why get the Chase Freedom Flex?

  • You spend heavily on travel, dining and drugstore purchases.
  • You want to earn travel rewards without paying an annual fee.
  • You enjoy the variety of rotating bonus categories and don’t mind keeping track of them and enrolling each quarter.
  • You have or would consider getting a premium Ultimate Rewards card, especially the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
  • You want to finance a large purchase while avoiding interest charges for 15 months.
  • You’re looking for a credit card that offers cell phone protection. 

How to use the Chase Freedom Flex:

  • If you want to get the most value out of your rewards, consider pairing the Freedom Flex with another Ultimate Rewards card and redeeming for travel.
  • Take advantage of the card introductory APR on purchases to pay off large expenses over time while avoiding interest charges.
  • Be sure to enroll in a bonus category each quarter to earn the full 5% cash back on your first $1,500 in spending.
  • Time your purchases strategically to max out the spend cap in bonus cash back categories each quarter.
  • Check out other ways to earn Ultimate Rewards points – like referring a friend to the card or shopping through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.

Is the Chase Freedom Flex worth it?

The Chase Freedom Flex charges no annual fee and offers a ton of variety in how you can earn and redeem rewards, making it a great all-purpose rewards card that will hold extra value for budding travelers.

*Information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

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