Why I love the Chase Freedom Flex

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Every three months, I eagerly anticipate the unveiling of the next 5 percent cash back promotion from my Chase Freedom Flex℠ card.

This quarter, I’m earning that lofty payout on internet, cable and phone services, select streaming services and at warehouse clubs. It applies on up to $1,500 in quarterly spending, and cardholders earn 1 percent cash back after that. Activation is required.

Last year, I maxed out two of the four quarters (one was headlined by groceries and the other by PayPal). I came close in the other two (mostly thanks to Amazon.com and internet, cable and phone services).

The Freedom Flex also gives 5 percent cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and 3 percent cash back on drugstore and restaurant purchases (including takeout and eligible delivery services). Elsewhere, the return is 1 percent.

The travel, dining and drugstore categories were added in September 2020 when the original Freedom card closed to new applicants and was essentially replaced by the Freedom Flex. Existing cardholders could elect to keep the discontinued Freedom card, but I found it worthwhile to upgrade mine to the Freedom Flex.

Besides cash back, I love the Freedom Flex’s purchase protection benefit. It saved me $299 last year when my wife broke her Apple Watch soon after buying it. The free coverage is good for 120 days after you buy something. It pays for theft and eligible damages, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Other buyer protections offered by the Freedom Flex include:

  • Extended warranty coverage (which tacks an additional year onto manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less).
  • Cell phone insurance (worth up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your Freedom Flex card, capped at two claims per 12 months with a $50 deductible per claim).
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance (which offers reimbursement up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable passenger fares if your trip is canceled or cut short by illness, severe weather or other eligible reasons).

These are all really valuable perks, especially considering the Freedom Flex does not charge an annual fee.

Other ways to save

Every time I buy something online, I try to remember to click through the Shop Through Chase shopping portal. Basically, if you log into your Chase Ultimate Rewards account and use their link to an eligible retailer, you’ll be rewarded with additional cash back. It’s an affiliate marketing play. Examples include 25 bonus points per dollar (basically an extra 25 percent cash back) at Restaurant.com, 20 bonus points per dollar at SendFlowers.com, 10 at Grubhub, 8 at UnderArmour.com, 5 at Macys.com and many, many more.

Freedom Flex cardholders are also eligible for digital coupons known as Chase Offers. I currently have deals for 10 percent off that include Starbucks, DoorDash and 1-800-Flowers.com.

And Chase recently notified me about a special gas promotion on my Freedom Flex card. They’re giving me 5 percent cash back on up to $150 in gas station purchases this month.

Finally, new cardholders earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 within three months of account opening.

Cash back or transferable travel points?

If you choose, you can pair the Freedom Flex with one of the three Chase cards that allow points transfers to airlines and hotels (the Chase Sapphire Reserve®Chase Sapphire Preferred® card and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card). Chase, arguably more than any other card issuer, tries to foster loyalty through an ecosystem effect.

That is, many cardholders find it valuable to hold multiple Chase cards that maximize various spending categories, which can then be combined and redeemed for free flights and hotel stays. That could involve transferring to airline and hotel partners (which is more complicated but often the most rewarding) or booking travel through Chase. The Sapphire Reserve further incentivizes travelers with airport lounge access, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee waiver, primary rental car insurance, a $300 annual travel credit and more.

Personally, I prefer cash back, so I use the Freedom Flex as a standalone cash back card, but if you have the Freedom Flex and love to travel, you should strongly consider pairing it with another Chase card that stretches your points even further.

Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at ted.rossman@bankrate.com and I’d be happy to help.