Chase Freedom Flex℠ review

Chase Freedom Flex℠ review

Updated: November 25, 2021

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Updated: November 25, 2021

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Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
4.2 rating
4.2 rating
4.2 / 5
Rewards Value:4.1
Annual Percentage Rate:2.0
Rewards Flexibility:3.5
Features:3.0
Issuer Customer Experience4.0

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 grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 spent in first year
  • 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

Average

Annual Bonus
None

Poor

Annual Fee
$0

Excellent

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

Excellent

APR
14.99%-24.74% (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 2021 customer satisfaction rating: 807 (30% of issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: Yes
  • 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 Freedom Flex overview

Offering a unique cash back program that should excite foodies, frequent travelers and fans of cash back variety alike, the Chase Freedom Flex charges no annual fee and offers cash back in an array of rotating categories.

But unlike its predecessor, the popular (and now-retired) Chase 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 card to your wallet.

That said, the card’s rotating categories may not always line up with your spending habits, and some larger spending categories like groceries and gas may only pop up for a single quarter each year (if at all), limiting the card’s rewards potential as a standalone option.

Why you might want the Chase Freedom Flex

If you get a kick out of strategizing about how to maximize your rewards, you’ll love the Freedom Flex. The card offers terrific variety with its rotating bonus categories, encouraging you to plan out purchases and adjust your spending habits to reap big rewards.

Your cash back redemption options are flexible, too, and you can even redeem your earnings for travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel portal without sacrificing rewards value.

If you plan on making any big purchase with your Freedom Flex card, you’ll also appreciate the card’s intro APR offer, which gives you a chance not only to chip away at the cost of large expenses over time while minimizing interest, but also earn big rewards on those purchases.

Meanwhile, the card’s sign-up bonus should be easy to reach and its Mastercard benefits include some nice travel and purchase protection perks, as well as credits for select food delivery and online shopping services.

Great cash back rates and variety

As its name implies, the Freedom Flex comes with a 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 2021 calendar included a mix of practical categories like grocery stores and gas stations, as well as a few more niche options, like select streaming services.

Chase 5% cash back calendar 2021

For Q4 2021, Freedom Flex cardholders can earn bonus cash back at Walmart® and purchases made using PayPal.

WinterSpringSummerHoliday
January – March 

(Activation closed)

April – June
(Activation closed)
July – September
(Activation closed)
October – December
(Activate by October 14 )
  • Wholesale clubs*, cable, internet, and phone services
  • Select streaming services
  • Gas stations
  • Home improvement stores
  • Grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart)
  • Select streaming services
  • Walmart
  • Purchases made using PayPal

In addition to what you earn in these quarterly bonus categories, you’ll earn cash back in a few other categories throughout the year: 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 in the first year (excluding Target and Walmart purchases), 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.

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.

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

Valuable, easy-to-earn sign-up bonus

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: $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. To meet the spending requirement in the first three months, you would need to spend only $167 per month, which should easily be doable given the variety of bonus categories offered.

On top of that, the card is currently offering a terrific first-year bonus rewards rate at supermarkets. You’ll earn 5% back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on the first $12,000 you spend in your first year.

This is a top-notch grocery rewards rate, and while it only lasts for your first year, it could prove even more valuable than the typical no annual card’s sign-up bonus. If you maximize this offer, you could earn up to $600 in cash back via grocery store purchases in your first year. Even a more modest $400-per-month grocery bill would earn you $240 back in your first year with this offer, beating out the card’s flat cash bonus.

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.

Pair your Freedom Flex with another Ultimate Rewards card to maximize rewards

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 Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, 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 gives 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 24.74%, based on your credit score.

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 cost $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.

 

Why you might want a different card

The Freedom Flex card’s cash back variety and flexible rewards redemption options are great, but if adjusting your spending habits to maximize rewards sounds like more of a headache than it’s worth, the Freedom Flex may not be right card for you. And since you won’t have any choice in Chase’s quarterly categories and won’t know them too far in advance, you may struggle to plan out your spending to maximize rewards.

Quarterly categories can be hard to maximize

Depending on what’s included in a quarterly bonus category, it may be very difficult to reach the Freedom Flex card’s 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. If that winds up being the case,  you’ll be stuck with a great rewards rate on purchases you don’t make frequently for three months, severely limiting the card’s cash back potential and overall appeal.

The card’s $1,500 quarterly spending cap may also hold you back in other categories, such as grocery store purchases (after the first-year bonus rate wears off). This is an example of a category in which you may exceed the $1,500 quarterly spending limit, at which point you’ll be limited to earning just 1% back on those purchases. If you were to opt instead for a card that offers slightly a slightly lower – but consistent – cash back rate, you may find that you’d earn more over the course of a year than you would with the Freedom Flex.

For cardholders who would rather earn simple, consistent rewards, having to plan out spending ahead of time based on an ever-changing cash back calendar may be a deal-breaker. In that case, a card that sticks to bonus cash back in specific spending categories relevant to you or a flat-rate cash back card may be a better fit.

Strict approval odds

If you apply for the Freedom Flex, you’ll need good to excellent credit (above 670) to qualify. That could put a damper on your plan if you have fair or average credit and are looking for a card that earns rewards in a variety of popular categories.

You’ll also have to keep in mind the Chase 5/24 rule: If you’ve opened five or more credit card accounts with any issuer within the last 24 months, you most likely won’t be approved for a card with Chase.

Tip: 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.

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 grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in first year (excluding Target and Walmart)
  • 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
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 (ranging from $5-$200 in $5 increments), 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 Flex vs. 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.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. 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.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. 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.

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 right for you?

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.

Earning rewards does require some strategizing on your part, though, so if that sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, you may be happier sacrificing some rewards potential in favor of consistent, predictable returns.

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