Making the Most of the Chase Freedom Flex
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The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is truly built for rewards optimizers. On the surface, it’s a $0-annual-fee cash back card with stellar earnings: 5% back in bonus categories that rotate quarterly, 3% back everyday on dining and drugstore purchases and 1% back on everything else.
But if the card is paired with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, those cash back rewards can become travel rewards and offer substantially more value.
While the Chase Freedom Flex℠ requires active management, the benefits can be well worth the bandwidth required to activate and track quarterly bonus categories.
Here are a few ways to make the most out of your card.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ was voted by the Nerds as the best credit card for bonus cash back in 2023 for the third consecutive year.
Take advantage of the bonus and 0% APR offer
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ comes with a rich sign-up bonus for a $0-annual-fee card: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. (Note: this offer is available when you apply through NerdWallet. If you apply directly with Chase or through a different website, you may not be eligible for this offer).
That’s a substantial amount of cash back on a relatively low minimum spending requirement that's attainable for most. Make sure you're tracking the amount you've spent on the card in order to earn the bonus. If you mistakenly fall even a few dollars short, or you return a purchase that was included in that spending, you'll probably be out of luck.
In addition, new cardholders will receive the following introductory interest rate: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 19.49%-28.24% Variable APR. This can ease the strain on your wallet from a large purchase or help you pay down debt by transferring a balance from a card with a higher interest rate.
Maximize your quarterly 5% categories
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in rotating categories each quarter. That’s a cool $300 back in your pocket each year if you can maximize the bonus categories.
But the first step in being able to maximize your earnings is to activate them. Bonus categories require activation in your Chase account every quarter, but the good news is that you generally have until the 14th of the month in the last month of the quarter to remember to activate.
For 2023, the bonus categories include:
Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ bonus rewards categories for 2023
Q1 (Jan. 1-March 31)
• Target. • Grocery stores. • Fitness clubs and gym memberships.
Q2 (April 1-June 30)
TBD (In 2022: Amazon.com; select streaming services).
Q3 (July 1-Sept. 30)
TBD (In 2022: Gas stations; car rentals; movie theaters; select live entertainment).
Q4 (Oct. 1-Dec. 31)
TBD (In 2022: PayPal; Walmart).
Maximizing this benefit each quarter make take some creativity. For example, if the quarterly category is drugstores, you might head to the gift card rack at your local CVS or Walgreens and buy a gift card to another retailer where you plan to shop later to lock in that 5% back.
Or maybe the quarterly category is fitness clubs. Even the swankiest of gyms probably won't set you back $500 per month. But if your budget allows, you could see if prepaying your membership for the next several months is an option.
Pair it with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® for more value
While the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is billed as a cash back card, it actually earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® that can be redeemed for 1 cent a piece. Chase lets you transfer points between Ultimate Rewards®-earning accounts that offer more lucrative benefits.
If you pair the Chase Freedom Flex℠ with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can transfer your points to one of those cards, which can unlock more value when redeemed for travel.
Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 1.25 cents each with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and 1.5 cents each with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® when you book travel through the Chase travel portal. So while 20,000 points are worth $200 in cash back with the Chase Freedom Flex℠, the value increases to $250 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and $300 with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® when redeemed for travel. (Note that each point is still worth 1 cent a piece when redeemed for cash back on the Sapphire cards).
The Sapphire cards also come with the ability to transfer your points to around 14 travel loyalty programs, including Hyatt, United and Southwest. Transferring to partners can create significant extra value for travelers willing to do a little extra work.
Chase allows you to combine Ultimate Rewards® points with one member of your household. You could, for example, transfer points earned from your Chase Freedom Flex℠ to your spouse's Chase Sapphire Reserve® for more travel value.
Make online purchases through the Chase shopping portal
Chase offers an online bonus mall to all cardholders, aptly called Shop Through Chase. Before you make an online purchase, head to the “mall” to see if the retailer where you want to shop is included. If they are, click through the link on Chase’s website and make your purchase as usual.
You'll earn points from shopping through the portal on top of the points you'd regularly earn from charging on your card. Just this one step can easily double or triple (or more!) the standard cash back rate of 1% you’ll earn for everyday purchases with the Chase Freedom Flex℠.
Be sure to read the fine print. The extra rewards earned through a bonus mall often have exclusions or apply only to select products. Generally, you can’t combine bonus mall rewards with other discounts and you won't earn bonus points for purchasing gift cards.
Use the card to pay your monthly cell phone
It's not uncommon these days to find a credit card that offers insurance on your cell phone when you pay the bill with your card. What's more rare, though, is to find a card with a $0-annual fee that provides this coverage.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ gives up to $800 per claim, and a max of $1,000 per year, if your phone is lost, damaged or stolen. You'll pay a $50 deductible per claim, and you must pay your cell phone bill with your card in the month the claim is submitted to qualify.
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