Chase Freedom Flex: Is it worth it?
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a unique take on cash back rewards. This card combines tiered rewards with a quarterly rewards bonus to help cardmembers maximize cash back earnings.
Specifically, this card earns 5 percent back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in bonus categories you activate. You also earn 5 percent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 percent on dining, 3 percent on drugstore purchases and 1 percent on all other purchases.
With so many ways to earn cash back, applying may seem like a no-brainer. But is it worth it? Our Chase Freedom Flex review offers a closer look at how this card works, who it may be right for and how it compares to other cash back options.
What does the Chase Freedom Flex offer?
The Chase Freedom Flex is a cash back rewards card that’s designed to fit the everyday spender, as well as those who like to splurge on travel. The main highlight of this card is its rewards program, which allows you to earn cash back on virtually every purchase.
First, you can earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months from account opening, a nice incentive with a low spending requirement. In addition to the introductory welcome bonus, cardmembers also earn:
- 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in activated bonus categories each quarter
- 5 percent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 5 percent on all Lyft rides (through March 31, 2022)
- 3 percent on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3 percent on drugstore purchases
- 1 percent on all other purchases
For the first year, you can also earn 5 percent cash back on grocery store purchases. This special cash back offer applies to the first $12,000 in eligible grocery purchases. It doesn’t apply to purchases at Target or Walmart, unfortunately.
The cash back rewards never expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing. There’s no minimum required to redeem them, either. When you’re ready to use your rewards, you can redeem them for:
- A statement credit
- A direct deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account
- Shop with Points at Amazon
- Gift cards
- Travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
The Chase Freedom Flex has no annual fee. You can also take advantage of a 0 percent introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on both purchases and balance transfers. Once the introductory APR ends, the variable rate of 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent applies.
Is the Chase Freedom Flex card worth it?
Whether the Chase Freedom Flex is worth having for you personally depends on your spending habits and the features and benefits you’re looking for in a cash back card. With that in mind, it helps to consider these details when weighing card options.
A simple way to test the Chase Freedom Flex’s value is to estimate how much you could earn back when you use it to spend. That includes what you could earn in quarterly bonus categories as well as other rewards.
So first, let’s assume that you max out the 5 percent cash back bonus each quarter, spending $1,500 within each quarter’s bonus categories. You charge $2,375 per year on food away from home, the average reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You also charge $5,000 per year in travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, $2,000 at drugstores and $5,000 in miscellaneous purchases
Based on those numbers, you’d earn:
- $300 in rewards on $6,000 in total quarterly bonus category spending
- $250 in rewards on $5,000 in travel purchases
- $71.25 in rewards on $2,375 in dining purchases
- $60 in rewards on $2,000 in drugstore purchases
- $50 in rewards on $5,000 in miscellaneous spending
Altogether, that adds up to $731.25. If you qualify for the sign-up bonus you can add $200 to your first-year haul, totaling a whopping $931.25. Remember that your second-year rewards earnings will likely be less since you won’t have the introductory bonus and the 5 percent cash back offer on groceries.
For example, assume that you charge $1,134.80 per month for groceries, which reflects the average moderate spend for a family of four that includes two adults and two children, according to the USDA. That adds up to $13,617.60 annually.
If you were to earn 5 percent back on the first $12,000 in purchases, that would increase your cash back earnings by $600. You’d earn another $16.17 on the $1,617.60 in purchases over the $12,000 limit. So now your cash back total would stand at $1,347.42. Assuming you qualified for the $200 introductory bonus, your total cash back earnings for the first year of membership would be $1,547.42.
That’s quite a lot of cash back for a rewards card that charges no annual fee.
The Chase Freedom Flex offers a variety of redemption options, starting with cash back. There’s no minimum required to redeem for cash back and you can choose from a statement credit, direct deposit or check.
If you’d rather use your rewards for something other than cash, you can redeem them for shopping at Amazon.com or gift cards. You also have the option to book travel at Chase Ultimate Rewards using your points. That’s a plus if you’re looking for a cash back card that’s rewarding when it comes to travel.
This card has no annual fee, which is surprising given how generous the rewards program is. But no annual fee is a plus for cardmembers as it means you don’t have to worry about fees nibbling away at the value of the rewards you’re earning.
There is a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, however. So that’s something to keep in mind if you’re considering using the card for international purchases.
Aside from the rewards program, the Chase Freedom Flex comes with some other enticing benefits for cardholders. For example, you can enjoy zero liability fraud protection, 24/7 fraud monitoring, purchase protection and extended warranty protection. In terms of travel benefits, you get trip cancellation and interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver coverage and travel and emergency assistance services.
You also get a complimentary ShopRunner membership for one year. This benefit offers free two-day shipping and free returns at dozens of major retailers. For a limited time, new cardmembers can also enjoy a free three-month subscription to DashPass, DoorDash’s membership service that waives delivery fees.
There’s one more valuable benefit to know about: Cell phone protection. You can get up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year (with a limit of two claims per year) in cell phone protection for theft or damage. You’ll just need to use your Chase Freedom Flex to pay your monthly cell phone bill.
How to maximize rewards with the Chase Freedom Flex
If you’re considering the Chase Freedom Flex, it helps to know how to get the most from it. These tips can help you maximize rewards as you earn and redeem them.
Activate bonus categories (and max them out)
Getting 5 percent cash back on quarterly categories is great, but only if you remember to activate the bonus category. Fortunately, Chase will send you reminders to activate your bonus each quarter so you don’t miss out.
You also have plenty of time to activate your bonus categories. For instance, the deadline to activate Q4’s bonus categories is Dec. 14, 2021. Even if you wait to activate until that date, qualifying purchases made earlier in the quarter will retroactively earn 5 percent cash back.
Once you’ve activated the bonus categories, aim to max out those rewards if possible. Again, you can earn 5 percent back on up to $1,500 in purchases in the bonus categories each quarter, worth $75.
Book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you need to book flights, hotels or other travel purchases, doing so through Chase Ultimate Rewards is an easy way to maximize the rewards you earn. You can get 5 percent back on travel bookings through the Ultimate Rewards portal, versus the 1 percent back you’d earn from booking directly with the airline, hotel or third-party travel site.
Make use of the first-year grocery rewards
The first-year 5 percent back offer for grocery spending is too good to pass up. If you manage to max out the bonus’s limit, you’ll earn $600 in cash back. So unless you have a card that rewards groceries at a higher rate, like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, it makes sense to use the Chase Freedom Flex to pay for them during the first year.
Should I get the Chase Freedom Flex?
The Chase Freedom Flex could appeal to anyone who wants multiple opportunities to earn cash back on purchases at competitive rates. That said, it may be better suited to some spenders than others.
Who should get the Chase Freedom Flex:
- People who don’t mind booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Those who spend regularly on dining out at restaurants or at drugstores
- People who don’t mind having to activate a quarterly bonus to earn 5 percent back
- Anyone who wants to earn cash back without paying an annual fee
- People who are looking for a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
Who should think twice about the Chase Freedom Flex:
- People who want to earn a higher cash back rewards rate on groceries consistently, not just the first year
- People who don’t spend enough to earn the introductory cash bonus
- Someone who’s looking for a card with premium travel benefits, such as lounge access or free checked bags
The bottom line
The Chase Freedom Flex is a relatively new addition to the Chase Freedom family. But it’s worth a look if you’re interested in finding a card that rewards travel and everyday spending with cash back.
However, it isn’t your only option for earning cash back. Taking time to compare it to other Chase rewards cards as well as cards from other issuers, such as the Discover it Card or the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card, can help you find the best fit for your spending habits.