Chase Freedom Flex℠ review
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Overview
On top of the 5 percent rotating bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in spending per activated quarter, then 1 percent), additional, year-round categories including 5 percent cash back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel bookings and 3 percent on restaurant and drugstore purchases add consistency for cardholders considering rotating cash back and travel rewards.
Adding its extra features and intro purchase APR completes the Freedom Flex as an excellent all-around rewards credit card if you’re looking for versatile cash back earning and redemption options.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages?
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. 5 percent cash back on activated bonus category purchases each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1 percent) and on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases; 5 percent cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022); 3 percent cash back on dining (including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services) and drugstore purchases and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: $200 cash bonus after spending $500 within your first three months
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: 0 percent for 15 months
- Balance transfer intro APR: None
- Regular APR: 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable
Current sign-up bonus
The Chase Freedom Flex’s current welcome bonus clocks in at $200, which is a solid offer considering you only have to spend $500 in your first three months of card ownership. The spending requirement is pretty par for the course, based on similar cash back cards’ sign-up bonuses. Still, it’s a healthy payday and one of the most accessible offers you’ll find among cards of this caliber.
Even cardholders who prefer flat-rate cash back will find that the Freedom Flex’s rewards structure delivers enough reliability to explore a rotating category card. If you prefer a dash of consistency in your credit card rewards, these flat-rate cash back categories could make Freedom Flex a far greater value than other rotating bonus category cards. Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
How to earn cash back
The Freedom Flex card’s backbone is the rotating 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in each quarter’s activated bonus category spending (then 1 percent back). Chase’s bonus categories are announced quarterly and usually feature essential expenses. Through the end of June 2021, you can still earn heightened cash back at the pump and on your stash of road trip snacks with your gas station and home improvement store categories. Plus, taking advantage of your 5 percent back on $1,500 worth of summer home improvement projects is an easy way to reach your quarterly $75 in rewards (activation required, then 1 percent). But once you activate your new July through September categories as of June 15, 2021, you can gear up for 5 percent back at grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Target) and on the following select streaming services:
- Fubo TV
- YouTube TV
- Apple Music
Better still, you’ll always have the opportunity to rake in unlimited 5 percent cash back on Chase Ultimate rewards travel purchases and 3 percent back on drugstore and restaurant purchases, including takeout and eligible delivery services. These are even bigger reward opportunities when you pair them with your 5 percent cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022), complimentary three-month DoorDash DashPass subscription and the nine-month 50 percent DashPass discount afterward (subscriptions typically $9.99 per month).
Other rotating category cards, like the Discover it® Cash Back, offer similar bonus categories, but the Freedom Flex sets itself apart with the additional rewards categories it shares with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
How to redeem cash back
The interesting part about Chase’s cash back cards is that you’re not earning cash back directly—you’re earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can redeem them for cash back in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit, or you can use your points for any of the following redemption options:
- Travel and event bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Pay with points at Amazon.com and PayPal
- Gift cards for 150+ brands
- Merchandise using Shop through Chase
- Apple Ultimate Rewards Store purchases
How much are the rewards worth?
Value-wise, your points are all worth 1 cent per piece when you redeem for cash back, travel, gift cards and merchandise through the Ultimate Rewards store. Paying with rewards on Amazon.com slightly devalues your rewards to 0.8 cents per point, however.
On the other hand, you can squeeze even more value from your Chase points by pooling them with a premier Chase travel card.
Your points gain far more value if you redeem them for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal using either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card at a boosted 1.25 cents per point or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® at 1.5 cents per point. If you’re feeling generous, your Freedom Flex rewards can also bump up to 1.25 cents per point when you contribute them to participating charities using Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature. But if you’ve been eagerly waiting to dine in at your favorite restaurant again, starting July 2, you’ll also be able to use your points through Pay Yourself Back at a boosted 1.1 cent rate toward up to $250 of dining purchases until September 30, 2021.
Other cardholder perks
Compared to other no-annual-fee cards, the Freedom Flex offers an impressive variety of benefits that carry everyday value. A few standout features include its light travel perks, shopping protections and World Elite Mastercard benefits.
Although many of the most eye-catching benefits are temporary — like the sign-up bonus, Lyft categories and the complimentary three-month DashPass subscription — the Freedom Flex’s ongoing advantages may be more than enough to compete with other rotating category cards.
Travel insurance benefits
The Freedom Flex’s trip cancellation and interruption insurance is a valuable perk that you rarely see on cards with no annual fee. The protection is downgraded a bit from its premium Sapphire sibling cards, but a $1,500 per person/$6,000 per trip reimbursement for nonrefundable passenger fares is enough coverage to earn some peace of mind.
In case you’re dealing with a rental company during your travels, Freedom Flex also provides an auto rental collision damage waiver, which will save you money on insurance in the event of theft as well. If you’re in a pinch, you also receive travel and emergency assistance.
World Elite Mastercard benefits
Unlike its predecessor, the Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard, meaning it comes with a few extra benefits you might not know about. For instance, cardholders who take three Lyft rides in one month can earn a $5 credit toward their next ride.
Flex cardholders also earn 5 percent cash back on purchases with HelloFresh to use toward their next delivery — a particularly valuable benefit if you’re not ready to explore the restaurant scene just yet. For another at-home perk, Mastercard Elite cards also offer users a free membership to ShopRunner, which provides complimentary, two-day shipping from dozens of major retailers.
The cellphone protection benefit is one of the most valuable on the Freedom Flex since it saves you money on the road and at home. Your phone is covered for up to $800 per claim ($1,000 yearly coverage, up to two claims per year) in the event it’s stolen or needs repairs, and you qualify simply by paying your cellphone bill with your credit card (a $50 deductible per claim applies).
Free/discounted DashPass membership
Fans of food delivery service DoorDash will also enjoy a special perk with the Freedom Flex. Cardholders are eligible to sign up for a free DashPass membership, which covers three months of membership fees. After the first three months, you’re automatically enrolled at a 50 percent discount for nine more months.
With DashPass, cardholders get $0 delivery fees and reduced service fees on qualifying orders. DoorDash estimates this can save users an average of $4 to $5 per order—which can add up significantly for takeout enthusiasts. Even after the initial three months of free membership, the reduced membership cost is around $5 a month for the remainder of the year, meaning you only have to order delivery twice a month to cover the cost.
Rates and Fees
Although the no annual fee Freedom Flex card does not come with an introductory APR for balance transfers, it does offer a pretty generous zero-interest intro APR on new purchases. Cardholders can save on interest for 15 months with a 0 percent intro APR before the normal 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR kicks in—which is a bit below the current average interest rate.
This is particularly valuable for cardholders who need to pay off a large purchase over time and don’t want to rack up interest. Not only will you save on fees, but you can also earn rewards along the way. Just make sure to pay off your balance before the intro period ends, or interest can add up fast.
Since there are a good number of travel benefits to support your 5 percent cash back on Chase travel, it’s also worth being aware of the 3 percent foreign transaction fee when you use your card abroad.
How the Chase Freedom Flex compares to other cash back cards
With an eye-catching combination of year-round and rotating bonus categories, the Freedom Flex remains a leader at the top of the no-annual-fee cash back card pack. Nevertheless, it might not be the best card for every spender. Depending on where you spend most of your money—and if you prefer reliable, flat-rate cash back on all purchases—the following alternatives might make more sense for you.
|Card||Rewards rate||Annual fee||Intro APR||Ongoing APR|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||
||$0||0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases, then the regular variable APR applies||14.99% to 23.74% variable APR|
|Discover it® Cash Back||
||$0||0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, then the regular variable APR applies||11.99% to 22.99% variable APR|
|Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card||
||$0||0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. (A 3% fee with a minimum $10 applies; transfers must be made within the first 60 days), then the variable APR applies||13.99% to 23.99% variable APR|
Best cards to pair with Chase Freedom Flex
Thanks to its diverse earning categories, the Freedom Flex also makes for a great card to stack with other products. By pairing the card with another that earns a better flat rate on general purchases or offers more diverse redemption options, you can ensure your rewards are maximized.
For example, you could pair the Freedom Flex with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, in order to take advantage of the Reserve card’s 50 percent bonus on Ultimate Rewards when redeemed for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal. Alternatively, the Reserve lets you transfer to one of Chase’s many travel partners—another way to potentially boost point value. By pooling all your Chase points onto the Reserve, you reap the benefits of more earning categories and a competitive redemption value.
Another great option is to pair the Freedom Flex with a flat-rate cash back card that offers a higher rewards rate on general purchases. If you want to stay within the Chase ecosystem, the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be a good option here. Although the Freedom Unlimited’s bonus earning categories are almost identical to the Freedom Flex, it offers a flat 1.5 percent on non-bonus category purchases in lieu of a rotating category.
Or if you don’t mind venturing out to another card issuer, the Citi® Double Cash Card is one of the most valuable flat-rate cards on the market. It offers an unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases, plus another 1 percent cash back as you pay off those purchases, for up to 2 percent back.
Bankrate’s Take—Is Chase Freedom Flex worth it?
The Chase Freedom Flex card is at the top of the cash back game. Its familiar rotating categories appeal to rewards junkies who don’t mind shopping around to get the most value, while year-round earning categories ensure you can always find ways to earn significant cash back.
Plus, the card is a World Elite Mastercard packed with hidden benefits that make it easy to find extra value—all for no annual fee.