How Does the Chase Freedom Flex Stack Up With Competitors?

With rotating and fixed bonus categories, it's a unique and valuable cash-back credit card. But simplicity isn't its strong suit.

Melissa LambarenaSeptember 24, 2020
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The $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a brawny rewards-earning card indeed — but staying on top of it requires flexing some memory muscles, too.

Chase Freedom Flex
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Unlike most cash-back cards, it features both rotating and fixed bonus categories, on top of a first-year bonus that also requires some tracking. Your earnings break down this way:

  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories that change every quarter (activation is required). See bonus categories here.

  • 5% back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 5% back on qualifying Lyft services (through March 31, 2022).

  • 3% back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

  • 3% back at drugstores.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Those rewards are rich ... but also a lot to remember. Because of that, it's worth considering how the Chase Freedom Flex℠ compares with other cards in its class.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
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Annual fee: $0.

Rewards:

  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 5% back on qualifying Lyft services (through March 31, 2022).

  • 3% back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

  • 3% back on drugstore purchases.

  • 1.5% cash back on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And for new cardholders only, earn 5% cash back at grocery stores for the first year on up to $12,000 in spending.

APR: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Chase Freedom Flex℠: It's a similarly named card and with similar features to the Chase Freedom Flex℠. But the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is (a bit) less complicated. It doesn't feature 5% rotating bonus categories, so you don’t have to activate and then track those every quarter. That can make it less lucrative, but it really depends on your spending habits. All purchases that fall outside of the Freedom Unlimited's fixed rewards categories will earn a flat rate of 1.5% back, which is better than the Flex's 1% base rate.

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back
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Annual fee: $0.

Rewards: 

  • 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 spent in purchases each quarter (requires activation). In the past, bonus categories have included things like grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. (See Discover’s rewards calendar.)

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

APR: 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Chase Freedom Flex℠: The Discover it® Cash Back earns cash back in some similar rotating bonus categories, so it does require tracking and activation. But it doesn't offer the fixed bonus categories you'll find on the Chase Freedom Flex℠. It does, however, feature a unique sign-up bonus that, depending on your spending, could be quite lucrative indeed.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee: $0.

Rewards: 

  • 5% cash back on the first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter in two categories you choose.

  • 2% back in one "everyday" category that you choose (including grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants.)

  • 1% back on all other eligible net purchases.

Sign-up bonus: $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

APR: 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Chase Freedom Flex℠: In terms of rewards structure, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card may be the Flex's closest approximation. It, too, offers 5% rotating bonus categories, as well as a second rewards tier that can earn you bonus rewards on other kinds of everyday purchases. But it gives you a higher 5% quarterly spending cap ($2,000 vs. $1,500). It also gives you more choice in the matter, allowing you to customize both your 5% tier and your 2% tier. With the Flex, the 5% and 3% bonus categories are determined by Chase, not you.

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card

ABOC Platinum Rewards
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Annual fee: $0.

Rewards:

  • 5 points per dollar spent on up to $1,500 in combined spending on categories that change each quarter.

  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening.

APR: 0% on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 12.90% - 22.90% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Chase Freedom Flex℠: The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card earns a similar rate in rotating quarterly bonus categories, but in the form of points instead of cash back. You only have to "opt in" once to earn that bonus rate. (By comparison, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ requires quarterly activation.) But the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers better introductory offers and higher value for cash redemptions.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card
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Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95

Rewards:

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).

  • 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.

  • 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).

  • 1% back on other purchases.

  • Terms apply.

Welcome offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Offer Expires 12/10/2020. Terms Apply.

APR: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Chase Freedom Flex℠: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express doesn't feature 5% rotating bonus categories; instead you get an industry-leading 6% rewards rate in some fixed categories, including some that have appeared on the Chase 5% bonus calendar in the past. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is the better choice for those who dine out frequently. But long term, for households with a big grocery budget, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express provides better value. It has a $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee, but you'll offset that cost if you spend at least $31 a week at U.S. supermarkets.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
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Annual fee: $0*.

Rewards:

  • 4 points per $1 spent on dining, including takeout and delivery.

  • 2 points per $1 at grocery stores (including grocery delivery), at gas stations, and on eligible streaming services.

  • 1 point per $1 on all other eligible purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

APR: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 12 Billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Chase Freedom Flex℠: The U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card doesn't have any 5% categories. But if you're a foodie, it offers something that no other $0*-annual-fee card can match: quadruple points back on dining. (Points are worth a penny each when redeemed for cash.) You'll also get a decent ongoing rewards rate at grocery stores and gas stations, and there are no reward caps. If you're a big diner but not such a big traveler, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card may top the Chase Freedom Flex℠. But the Flex is the more versatile (and potentially lucrative) card thanks to its broader range of bonus categories.

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