Chase Freedom Flex℠ review

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Garrett Yarbrough  in  Cash Back How we rate our cards  | 

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Best for rotating cash back categories

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Regular APR:
14.99 - 23.74% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Bankrate Rating

 

Best for rotating category cash back

  • Rewards rate: 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% for 15 months
  • Balance transfer intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable

The newly launched Chase Freedom Flex℠ proves to be a worthy successor to the now-retired Chase Freedom® and pushes ahead of other competing cash back credit cards.

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.

The intro purchase APR make this an excellent all-around rewards credit card if you’re looking for versatile cash back earning and redemption options.

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, similar to what you’ll find on similar sign-up bonuses. Still, it’s a healthy payday and one of the most accessible offers you’ll find among cards of this caliber.

Cash back

Even cardholders who prefer flat-rate rewards will find 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.

Earning 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. From April through June 2021, you can gear up for rewards on gas station and home improvement store purchases. This means you and your family can earn heightened cash back at the pump and on your stash road trip snacks. Plus, 5 percent back on $1,500 worth of spring and summer home improvement projects is an easy way to make recoup $75 in rewards (activation required, then 1 percent).

Better still, you’ll also rake in unlimited 5 percent cash back on Chase Ultimate rewards travel purchases and 3 percent back on drugstore and restaurant purchases, which include 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®.

Redeeming 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 points 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. Using pay with points 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.

Benefits

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 3-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 no annual fee cards. 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 five Lyft rides in one month can earn a $10 credit toward their next ride.

Flex cardholders also earn 5 percent cash back on purchases with Boxed to use toward their next order—a particularly valuable benefit during the pandemic. Yet 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.

Cellphone protection

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 only around $5 a month for the remainder of the year, meaning you only have to order in twice a month to cover the cost.

Rates and fees

Though the Freedom Flex card does not come with an introductory APR for balance transfers, it does offer a pretty generous intro APR on new purchases. Cardholders can save on interest for 15 months with a 0 percent intro APR before the normal APR of 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable 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.

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®
  • 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
  • 1.5% cashback on all other purchases
$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
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in rotating categories each quarter, after activation, then 1%
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
$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® Cash Rewards credit card
  • 3% cash back on one of 6 categories (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores, home improvement/ furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases (3% and 2% categories have a combined $2,500 spending limit per quarter, then 1%)
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
$0 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. (A 3% fee min. $10 applies, transfers must be made within first 60 days), then the variable APR applies 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR

Best cards to pair Chase Freedom Flex with

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 high earning on general purchases. If you want to stay within the Chase ecosystem, the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be a good option here. Though 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 purchase 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 just launched, but it is already 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.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Lengthy introductory APR for new purchases
  • Generous welcome offer
  • Hybrid rewards-earning structure for all kinds of cardholders

Cons

  • No introductory APR on balance transfers
  • Must own a premium Chase card to take advantage of travel partners
  • Must remember to enroll in rotating categories each quarter

Emily Sherman contributed additional content to this review.