One of the key benefits of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit card is a rotating 5% earning category. Every quarter, cardholders will earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in select categories. That’s up to $300 cash back each year.
The catch? Once you pass the $1,500 spending threshold, you’ll only earn 1% cash back on further purchases in these categories. So, it’s important to know how much you’ve spent toward the limit. That way you can switch to using a credit card that provides a higher return on spending once you hit the cap.
Here's how to track your spending on the Chase Freedom Flex℠.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ 5% earning categories
Between January and March 2021, Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders earn 5% on:
Wholesale club purchases.
Internet, cable and phone services.
Select streaming services.
However, the rest of the 2021 bonus categories won’t be announced until less than three weeks before the start of the quarter.
This makes it hard to plan your credit card strategy for the year. However, it allows Chase to remain flexible and offer categories that are especially relevant for the time — from department stores around the holidays to select streaming services during the pandemic.
For reference, recent bonus categories have included:
Q4 2020: Walmart and purchases through PayPal.
Q3 2020: Amazon and Whole Foods.
Q2 2020: Grocery stores, fitness club and gym memberships, and select streaming services.
Q1 2020: Gas stations; internet, cable and phone services; and select streaming services.
3 steps to monitoring your category spending
1. First, check if you’ve activated cash-back earnings for the quarter
LOG IN AND HEAD TO CHASE ULTIMATE REWARDS®
First, log in to your Chase account and navigate to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® landing page. If you have multiple Chase Ultimate Rewards®-earning Chase cards, you’ll need to select your Chase Freedom Flex℠ from the list.
NAVIGATE TO THE 5% CATEGORIES SECTION
Once logged in, click the menu button (represented by three lines) at the top left corner of the page. Then select “5% Categories” from the menu list.
On this page, Chase shows whether or not you’ve activated your 5% cash back for the quarter and the following quarter if registration is open. Do so if you haven't already. Right below the activation button for the current quarter, you’ll find that quarter's spending tracker.
This bar will give you a visual approximation of how close you are to the spending cap for the quarter. However, it doesn’t give details on your exact progress. Instead, you’ll need to check another page.
There’s only one place we’ve found that Chase provides an exact figure of how much you’ve spent toward the quarterly $1,500 spending cap.
» Learn more: How to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® between cards
2. Find the Rewards Activity page
Navigate to the Rewards Activity page. Then, click the "5% cash back" tab on the top menu to scroll down to the tracker.
Here, you'll find details on how much cash back you’ve earned toward the $75 cap. However, the figures can be a bit confusing. The values listed for each merchant represent the 4% cash-back bonus for the quarter, and the 1% base earning is listed separately.
You don’t have to add up these values to see your bonus category cash-back earnings, though. In the example above, the cardholder has earned $58.48 of their $75 maximum cash back for the quarter.
» Learn more: How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards®
3. Figure out how much you can still spend toward the cap
It takes a few calculations to determine how much you can still spend before hitting the spending cap.
Nerdy tip: Subtract the amount of cash-back earnings so far from $75; you’ll need to divide this amount by 5% (0.05) to find out how much more you can spend before hitting the cap.
In the example above, we need to subtract $58.48 from $75. Then, we divide the $16.52 result by 5%, which gets us $330.40. This is the amount the cardholder can spend in bonus categories this quarter to maximize their cash-back return.
Other bonus categories of the Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase introduced the Chase Freedom Flex℠ in September 2020. While it was a new card, it’s essentially a replacement of the Chase Freedom® card, which is no longer available to new cardholders.
While the two cards share similar names, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a substantial improvement over the Chase Freedom®.
The Chase Freedom® also earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in select categories, but only 1% cash back on all other purchases. The Chase Freedom Flex℠, however, improves on this by offering the following earning categories:
5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
3% on drugstore purchases.
Even if you opt to swap this card for one with a higher return after you reach the $1,500 spending cap in a quarter, it is wise to keep it handy for any of the above purchases.
» Learn more: The best Chase transfer partners — and ones to avoid
The bottom line
To get the most out of your Chase Freedom Flex℠, you’ll want to max out your 5% cash-back earnings each quarter. But, there are plenty of cards that earn better than 1% cash back on spending. So, you’ll want to switch to using another card once you hit the $1,500 limit.
To improve your chances of maximizing your cash-back earnings, continually monitor your progress toward hitting the spending cap each quarter from your Chase account.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card