The Chase Freedom Flex credit card offers great earning potential for everyday spending and plenty of redemption options, including cash back, gift cards, and travel. The card has no annual fee and gives holders up to 5% cash back on select purchases. If you are considering getting the Chase Freedom Flex, we will go over more details below to help you understand if getting the card is the right move for you.
Chase Freedom Flex Review Summary
The Chase Freedom Flex is a powerful and unique credit card with a winning combination of rewards and benefits. It rewards you for your everyday spending and offers plenty of value. New cardholders can earn a modest sign-up bonus for meeting a $500 spending minimum requirement within the first three months and are eligible for a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.
Still, the Chase Freedom Flex is not for everyone. The rewards program is relatively complicated compared to other cards because you need to activate the rotating bonus categories each quarter. Additionally, if you do not spend much in the card’s bonus categories, you could end up earning just 1% on the bulk of your purchases. Keep in mind that while the card has no annual fee, it does have a high APR, which gets determined by your creditworthiness. So, if you regularly carry a balance on your credit cards or do not want to do extra legwork to get the rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex may not be the right card for you.
Chase Freedom Flex Review Highlights
One of the biggest draws of the Freedom Flex card is the absence of an annual fee. That makes it cheaper than the average credit card offer and enables it to serve as an affordable alternative to other high-yielding offers that charge annual fees.
With the Chase Freedom Flex, you have several earning opportunities ranging from 1% to 5% depending on the spending categories. This rewards structure can be appealing if you have a wide variety of expenses and know how to maximize your rewards. There is also no minimum to redeem for cashback, and the rewards do not expire as long as your account stays open.
$200 Initial Bonus
New cardholders can earn a $200 initial bonus after spending $500 within the first 3 months of opening an account. That’s a 40% cashback bonus making it one of the best initial bonuses available today. At $500 over the first 3 months, this amount also makes it much more accessible than most other credit card deals available on the market. If you are a light spender, the spending requirement is quite reasonable.
Once you meet the spending minimum, the one-time bonus should get deposited into your rewards account as 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points within 6-8 weeks after qualifying. During this time, your account must be open and cannot be in default for you to qualify for the reward. Note that existing cardholders are not eligible for this bonus.
5% Cash Back Categories
You will earn 5% cashback on up to $1,500 each quarter in rotating bonus categories, such as gas, home improvement, streaming services, and wholesale clubs. You need to manually activate the bonus categories on your account in order to earn the rewards. If you have an email on file with Chase, they will send you email notifications each quarter to remind you to activate the bonuses. You will also earn 5% cashback on any travel you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, with no spending limits.
3% Cash Back on Dining and Drugstore Purchases
With the Chase Freedom Flex card, you can earn 3% rewards on all dining and drugstore purchases, including restaurants, takeout, and eligible delivery services. However, the merchants you purchase from must get categorized as a restaurant, eligible delivery service, or drugstore for you to earn this reward.
Base Rewards Rate of 1% Cash Back
For all other purchases, you get a 1% reward as a base earning rate. This rate is on par with most cash back credit cards.
Various Secondary Benefits
Aside from its rewards for spending, Chase Freedom Flex’s secondary benefits include rental car insurance, extended warranty protection, trip cancellation insurance, cell phone protection, and more.
Travel Insurance Benefits
Compared to other cards with no annual fee, the Freedom Flex card’s trip cancellation and interruption insurance are valuable benefits. While the protection is slightly downgraded from its premium Sapphire sister cards, cardholders can get up to $1,500 per person/$6,000 per trip reimbursement coverage for prepaid, non-refundable passenger fares.
To qualify, you need to have paid for the trip using this card, and your trip must have been canceled or cut short for a covered reason, such as illness or severe weather. You are also eligible for an auto rental collision damage waiver if you rent a car during your travels, which can save you money on insurance.
World Elite Mastercard Benefits
Because the Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard, it comes with a couple of additional perks. For example, you can earn a $5 credit towards your next ride if you take three Lyft rides in one month. You can also earn 5% cashback on HelloFresh purchases to use toward your next delivery and get a free membership to ShopRunner to get free shipping and returns with select retailers.
As part of the Mastercard network, you also have access to a solid cell phone protection plan. If you pay for your monthly cell phone bill using the Freedom Flex card, you are covered for up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year if your phone is stolen or needs repairs. Note that there is a $50 deductible and a 2-claim limit per year though.
Free/discounted DashPass Membership
If you are a fan of DoorDash, the Freedom Flex comes with a special perk. You can sign up for a free DoorPass membership, which covers 3 months of membership fees. After the first 3 months, you will get automatically enrolled at a 50% discount for 9 more months.
With DashPass, you get $0 delivery fees and reduced service fees on qualifying orders, saving you an average of $4-5 per order. If you use this food delivery service at least twice a month, that will cover the costs of the reduced membership price.
If you want to redeem your rewards, you have several options. You can get cash back by redeeming the rewards for a simple statement credit or check. You can also swap them for a wide range of gift cards from Target to The Cheesecake Factory to MGM Resorts. Alternatively, you can book travel, including flights, hotels, cars, activities, etc.
0% APRs for a Long Intro Period
The Freedom Flex card offers an introductory purchase APR of 0% for the first 15 months from account opening. That means, during the introductory period, you will not get charged interest for carrying a balance on the card. If you have any big-ticket items coming up, that gives you some time to pay off your expenses without risking your debt snowballing out of control. If you want to take advantage of this perk, make sure you have a plan to pay off your balance when the promotional period ends to avoid high-interest rates.
Chase Freedom Flex Drawbacks
Rotating Bonus Categories
At the beginning of each quarter, you will need to sign up for the new bonus categories to earn the 5% rewards. If you are diligent and strategic, you can make this pay off, but optimizing a card like the Chase Freedom Flex is not so simple and clear-cut. Sometimes your spending pattern will not match the rotating categories exactly. For example, this quarter’s bonus categories are Amazon.com and select streaming services (April June 2022). If you do not have Amazon Prime or subscribe to many streaming services, earning the 5% reward may be more difficult.
Rates and Fees
Balance Transfer and Cash Advance Fees
Currently, the Chase Freedom Flex comes with an introductory balance transfer fee of 3% or $5 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. Afterward, you will need to pay either $5 or 5% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater. For cash advances, you will need to pay either $10 or 5% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater.
3% Foreign Transaction Fee
The Chase Freedom Flex charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. So, when you travel abroad or make purchases from international merchants, you will get charged for each purchase you make using this card. If you regularly travel internationally or buy goods and services from international merchants, you may want to consider an alternative card for these purchases.
High Regular APR
The Chase Freedom Flex’s regular APR is 15.24% to 23.99% depending on your creditworthiness, with a penalty APR of up to 29.99% depending on the Prime Rate.
Good Credit Needed for Approval
Generally, the Chase Freedom Flex will only approve applicants with good credit. If you have a credit score of 700 or higher, you will have much higher approval odds. If you do not meet this requirement, we recommend taking steps to rebuild your credit before applying.
Other Details to Consider
Rewards Earning Details
When you earn rewards on the Chase Freedom Flex card, you will earn them in the form of Ultimate Rewards points. The percentage of your purchases gets converted at a rate of 1 Ultimate Reward point per 1% charged. As long as your account is open, any points you earn will not expire. But, if your account gets closed for misuse, fraud, bankruptcy, or other reasons, you will lose your points.
Rewards Redemption Details
You can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit, gift cards, travel, or shopping with Amazon and Apple. Points redeemed for cashback and travel are worth one cent each. For the most part, points redeemed for gift cards are worth one cent, but they can be more valuable if you take advantage of any promotions in effect. Shopping with points gives you about 0.8 cents per point.
To make your rewards more powerful, you can pair your Chase Freedom Flex with other Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve to create the Chase Trifecta. You can get more value from your points by transferring them to one of these cards and then redeeming them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
To maximize your rewards, you will need to earn as many Ultimate Rewards points as possible and redeem them for the most value. That means using your card strategically every quarter and making purchases in higher earning categories, including the rotating quarterly categories.
As we mentioned earlier, you will be better off combining the points from the Chase Freedom Flex with other Chase cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred. With multiple Chase cards, you can transfer your points to participating loyalty programs and redeem them for higher rates when booking travel.
Who This Card is For
If you are a beginner or a fan of cashback, the Chase Freedom Flex is a great all-around card. Compared to other top-tier cards from Chase and Amex, your odds of approval are slightly higher and it offers a variety of competitive benefits for a card with no annual fees. Other ancillary benefits, such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance and cell phone protection, also stand out. If you want to finance larger purchases without paying interest, the 0% intro APR period can also be a great perk to leverage.
However, if you do not want to put time and effort into maximizing the rotating bonus categories or do not spend money in any of the higher-earning categories, the Freedom Flex card may not be a good fit. Additionally, if you regularly carry a balance on your account, you may be better off finding a card that has lower interest rates.
How does the Chase Freedom Flex Compare to Other Cash Back Cards?
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you prefer to earn a higher cashback rate on general purchases instead of trying to maximize bonus rewards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is a great alternative. Similar to the Freedom Flex card, you can earn a $200 sign-up bonus after spending $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Additionally, you can earn 5% cashback on gas on up to $6,000 spent within the first year.
There is no annual fee, and it offers the same cashback categories:
- 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% on drugstore purchases
- 1.5% on all other purchases
The card can also be paired with other premium Ultimate Rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred, which is beneficial if you are a fan of travel rewards. If you want to make any large purchases, you can get a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, just like the Chase Freedom Flex.
If you are debating between these two cards, what you choose will ultimately come down to your spending habits and how much effort you want to put into earning rewards. If you are good at strategizing and maximizing your rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex will fit right into your wallet. However, if you value consistency and ease of use, the Chase Freedom Unlimited will be a better choice as you will earn more on all non-bonus categories.
Another option is to get both cards. Because you do not have control over which categories Chase offers, you may not always be able to maximize your earnings. But, when the quarterly bonus categories are in your favor and fit into your regular spending habits, you can earn more rewards. For everything else that falls outside of the rotating categories, you can use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. That way, you can optimize your everyday spending with 1.5% cashback compared to 1% for the Freedom Flex.
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is another popular credit card that people gravitate towards. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, new cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. When redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can get 25% more value as the 80,000 points are worth $1,000 instead of $800.
In terms of rewards, cardholders can earn:
- Up to $50 in statement credits every year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 5x total points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 2x on other travel purchases
- 3x on dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out), online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), and select streaming services
- 1x on all other purchases
- 10% Ultimate Rewards bonus from the previous year’s total spending
In terms of the sign-up bonus and rewards categories, you can earn much more from the Chase Sapphire Preferred. But, there is a $95 annual fee and a much higher spending requirement to get the sign-up bonus. If you make good use of the rotating categories on the Freedom Flex, you could potentially out-earn the rewards from the Sapphire Preferred and save $95 on the annual fee. Similar to Freedom Unlimited, you can choose to own both cards or choose one or the other depending on your financial situation.
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
If you typically spend more on groceries, streaming services, and transportation, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express may be a better fit for you. The card has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year and then $95 afterward. It also has a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months from account opening, followed by a variable rate of 14.74% 24.74%.
In terms of rewards, you will earn:
- 6% cashback on groceries up to $6,000 per year in purchases
- 6% on select streaming services
- 3% on transit and gas, including taxis, rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, etc.
- 1% on other purchases
Other secondary benefits include $10 in monthly statement credits if you use the card to pay for Equinox+ at equinoxplus.com (for up to $120 back annually) and cashback every time an Additional Card Member makes an eligible purchase. Similar to the Chase Freedom Flex, you can get car rental loss and damage insurance when you use the card to reserve and pay for the rental. When you travel more than 100 miles away from home, you can also access Global Assist® Hotline, which is available 24/7 for emergency assistance and coordination.
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Discover it® Cash Back
Similar to the Chase Freedom Flex, the Discover it Cash Back credit card offers 5% cash back in rotating categories that you must activate each quarter (on up to $1,500 in purchases). For everything else, the card offers 1% cashback and a 2x cashback match of all the cashback you’ve earned at the end of your first year through Cashback Match.
For 2022, the rotating categories include:
- Jan Mar: Grocery stores and fitness club and gym memberships, excluding Target and Walmart
- Apr Jun: Gas stations and Target
- Jul Sep: Restaurants and Paypal
- Oct Dec: Amazon.com and digital wallets
While the Discover it Cash Back lacks some of the year-round bonus categories that the Freedom Flex has, you can try to optimize your spending to earn the 5% cash back rewards and Discover will match all the cashback you earn in the first year. There is no annual fee and a 0% intro APR for 15 months followed by a 12.24% 23.24% variable APR.
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Citi® Double Cash Card
If you want to keep everything as simple as possible and not have to worry about optimizing your spending, the Citi Double Cash Card is one of the best cards on the market for flat-rate cash backs with no annual fees. With the Double Cash card, you will earn 2% cashback on all purchases with no caps or category restrictions. You will earn 1% on everything you buy and an additional 1% when you pay off your balance.
Your cashback is earned in the form of ThankYou Points, so each billing cycle, you will earn 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent and an additional point for every $1 you pay off. To redeem your points, you can either get a statement credit, direct deposit, check, gift cards, travel, or Shop with Points at Amazon.com. As with the other options, you can choose to have both cards to maximize your returns or choose one or the other depending on your spending habits.
For a credit card with no annual fees, the Chase Freedom Flex is a fairly competitive card in the market. It comes with several rotating categories and year-round earnings categories that can allow you to earn significant cashback. While the 1% cashback on non-bonus categories is nothing special, the card’s added benefits, such as trip cancellation and cell phone protection offer incredible value. The card is also a World Elite Mastercard, which gives it additional perks.
If you do not want to pay an annual fee, need a 0% APR intro period, want a wide range of rewards, or do not plan to use this card for international travel, the Chase Freedom Flex can be a good card to have in your back pocket.
Since getting the Chase Freedom Flex last summer, I have accumulated several hundred dollars in cashback. I redeemed most of it recently to pay for part of my hotel expenses during my trip to Seattle. Out of all the credit cards I currently own, the Freedom Flex is one of the better ones because the 3% cashback on dining matches where most of my spending goes every month.
The Bottom Line
Considering that the Chase Freedom Flex is a no-annual-fee credit card, it is a solid cash back card with impressive rewards and benefits. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you can get a lot of value from owning this card.
Before applying for the card, consider assessing your current spending and shopping around to find the best credit card for your financial situation. Everyone has different needs, and there are plenty of options in the market to find one that best fits your lifestyle.