Chase Freedom Flex vs. AmEx Blue Cash Cards: Flex Wins Out, Mostly

All three are quality cards that feature useful bonus spending categories. The Flex likely delivers the most value to the most people, with some exceptions.
Gregory KarpFeb 23, 2021
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If you’re looking for big cash back from a credit card, chances are you’re considering the or one of the two “Blue Cash” cards from American Express.

They’re all quality , so the question is, which to choose?

For most people, rewards for spending will be the deciding factor — although one card carries an annual fee, which is unusual for a cash-back card and will be a turnoff for some.

The short answer: The is a fine card with useful bonus categories for earning extra cash. But it just doesn’t compete with the other two heavy-hitters in this cash-back trio.

And when it comes down to the other two cards? Big grocery shoppers might do better with the over the long run — but it’s the one with the annual fee. Overall, we think the has the best chance to offer the most value for the most people.

Here's how to decide which is right for you.

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The point of a cash-back rewards card is to rack up as much cash back as you can. For most people that will be easiest with the . It offers:

That gives you plenty of opportunities to earn cash back beyond the usual 1%. See below to get an idea of what the rotating categories have been lately.

By contrast, the gives you far fewer ways to earn bonus cash back:

A supersized version of that card is the real competitor. The is fantastic for those who rack up large tallies at the supermarket, an area of large spending for many households.

While you could argue the and the have equally good bonus categories, the winner goes to the one without the annual fee. That’s the .

Why? The has an annual fee of .

You’d have to spend nearly $1,600 at supermarkets with the just to break even on the annual fee.

The and the have respectable welcome offers for new cardholders:

But the decent sign-up bonus on the requires less spending:

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Cash back is the best option for redeeming rewards with the two Blue Cash cards, and you must accumulate $25 worth before you can redeem.

But the gives you room to get creative.

Its Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 1 cent apiece as cash back, but several Chase cards give you a way to redeem them for 25% to 50% more. By transferring points from the to one of these other cards, you can supercharge your rewards:

Points on these cards can also be to about a dozen hotel and airline loyalty programs, including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, British Airways, Marriott and Hyatt. Depending on how you use transferred points, that could get you even higher value.

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None of these cards is as simple as a flat-rate cash-back card, some of which offer on every purchase. But if you’re willing to remember bonus categories, they might end up being more rewarding.

However, bonus categories add complexity. The least complicated is the , with just two bonus categories and no annual fee.

And while the has four bonus categories — including one with a spending cap — at least they don’t change every quarter.

Spending with the — which has rotating, temporary and permanent spending categories — takes more effort to optimize.

If groceries and gas are the bonus categories you’re most concerned with, the Blue Cash cards will give you more value in those areas over the long term.

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If you’re still having trouble deciding, here are a few minor points of distinction.

Introductory APR periods can change often. Here are the current ones for easy comparison:

As a, the will be accepted at more places, especially outside the U.S., than the cards by American Express.

If you want to add more cash-back cards to your research, see NerdWallet’s picks for the.

The and the are quality cash-back cards that will fit the needs of some people.

But we think the is better for most people who are considering these types of cards. That’s because of its array of bonus categories, huge sign-up bonus and flexibility for redeeming rewards.

One idea: Use the in the first year, taking advantage of its bonus rewards for grocery spending. Then, add either the or the to continue to get elevated rewards for grocery spending, as well as on gas.

To view rates and fees of the , see . To view rates and fees of the , see .

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