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As of Oct. 6, 2022, new cardholders who apply for either card directly via Chase can earn 5% cash back at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 in spending in the first year. That rate is on top of an existing upfront sign-up bonus offered on both cards when you apply via Chase: $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases during the first 3 months from account opening. If you were to max out both offers, you'd snag $800 in cash back.
These offers are available only to those who apply directly through Chase. NerdWallet features a different offer on both cards.
Chase has featured this limited-time offer for grocery stores twice since 2020. There are no other changes to either card's ongoing rewards structure. Here’s how the Freedom cards compare:
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Offer for new cardholders who apply directly with Chase
Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, plus 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (up to $12,000 spent) in the first year.
Rotating bonus categories
5% back on quarterly bonus categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending.
Ongoing bonus categories
• 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
• 3% cash back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
• 3% cash back on drugstore purchases.
Rewards on other purchases
1.5% cash back.
1% cash back.
Chase Freedom Flex℠ rotating categories
In addition to earning 5% back at grocery stores, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ also earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending each quarter in a series of rotating categories. Note that you must activate those categories. (All other non-bonus-category purchases earn 1% back.)
Here’s a look at the card's 5% categories for 2022:
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).
Chase has included grocery stores as a 5% rotating bonus category for one quarter every year since 2014. In the past, this rate has been "stackable" with the limited-time 5% grocery store offer for new cardholders — meaning it's been possible to earn 9% cash back at grocery stores if the two deals coincide on the calendar. (It’s not 10% back because the quarterly bonus is calculated as 4% back on top of the card's baseline 1% back. So you'd earn 5% for the year, plus an extra 4% for the quarter.) It's unclear whether the deals will be stackable this time.
Benefits of both cards
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® both offer a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-27.99% Variable APR.
Plus, with either card you can earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025.
And as noted above, if you apply for these cards via NerdWallet, you'll be eligible for different bonus offers.