Chase Freedom Flex Review: Multiple Bonus Rewards Wrapped in One Card

It's the best of two worlds: 5% rotating categories, plus fixed bonus categories like dining and some travel.
Erin HurdSep 21, 2021

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: This card is lucrative and ideal for optimizers who don't mind putting in some work to keep track of its rewards structure. If you want a no-fuss cash-back card that requires no maintenance, look elsewhere.

Best Bonus Rewards Cash-Back Credit Card

Chase Freedom Flex

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • New cardholder bonus offer
  • Bonus categories
  • Cash rewards
  • Intro APR period

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit
  • Complicated rewards

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

Among rewards credit cards, the  strikes a powerful and unique pose. That's because this -annual-fee card — which replaced the decommissioned  — features the best of both worlds: fixed bonus categories that range as high as 5% back, on top of 5% bonus categories that change each quarter.

Of course, all of those bonus categories mean , so if you're seeking simpler, more straightforward rewards with less maintenance, other cash-back cards will likely suit you better. But if you're an optimizer willing to follow and activate quarterly bonus categories while also paying attention to ongoing bonus tiers, the packs plenty of muscle.

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Card type: .

Annual fee: .

Sign-up bonus: 

Rewards:

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Interest rate: .

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Other benefits: The Chase Freedom Flex is a , meaning you'll get perks like:

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While the is considered a cash-back card, rewards actually come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. If you choose to redeem points for cash back, you'll get 1 cent apiece. You can get the cash direct-deposited into your U.S. checking or saving account, or you can opt for a statement credit.

You can also redeem points for:

If you want to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for travel, you can unlock greater value by  with another Chase card that offers higher-value redemption options. (More details below.)

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The and the  have similar names and some shared benefits. But there's a key difference.

The  has fixed bonus categories that don't change, plus an on "everything else." So if you like to keep things simple, it could be the better choice.

The earns just 1% back on non-bonus-category purchases. But unlike the , it also comes with 5% quarterly rotating bonus categories. This seriously boosts its earnings power but also means there's more to keep track of.

The table below highlights the differences between these two cards and the older , which is no longer accepting applications and has been effectively replaced by the Chase Freedom Flex. (If you have an original card, you can it to a by calling Chase.)

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The current bonus: That's close to as good as it gets for a no-annual-fee credit card.

The 5% bonus cash back is available on broad categories that many people spend on every day. Categories could include gas stations, grocery stores, department stores, wholesale clubs and Amazon.com. Many cardholders will be able to rack up big bonus rewards without changing their spending habits much. (Just remember to activate bonus categories every quarter.)

But on top of the rotating 5% categories, the offers impressive rewards year-round in popular categories. Spend a good chunk of your monthly budget on dining out and delivery? Use your card and you'll earn 3% cash back each time, plus 3% at the drugstore. Unlike the 5% bonus categories, which are capped at $1,500 in spending per quarter, the 3% earnings on dining and drugstores are unlimited.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are typically worth 1 cent apiece, but several Chase cards give you a way to redeem them for 25% to 50% more value. By transferring your 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, Southwest, JetBlue, British Airways, Marriott and Hyatt. Depending on how you use transferred points, that could get you even higher value.

Keep in mind that unlike the , these other Chase cards have annual fees.

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In order to make the most of the , you'll have to pay attention to bonus categories — in particular the 5% categories, which change each quarter. You'll need to make sure you activate the bonus categories every three months or you'll miss out and earn only 1% back on that spending.

If that sounds like a lot of work, a simpler card that requires minimal effort may make more sense:

If you're traveling internationally, you can do better with a different card. The charges a 3% foreign transaction fee that will eat into your rewards. The  is one of the few cash-back cards that don't charge these fees, plus it has a simpler rewards structure: You earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

It's not always easy to optimize a card like the . Your spending patterns may not fit neatly into rotating categories on a quarterly basis. If your refrigerator breaks, you need a new one now, even if this quarter's bonus categories are groceries and streaming services.

If you're looking for more customizable rewards, try the . It offers 5% cash back on two bonus categories you choose from a list of several options, on up to $2,000 in combined spending each quarter. It also earns an unlimited 2% on an everyday category you choose (such as gas or groceries) and 1% elsewhere.

For more information on choosing a cash-back credit card, browse our list of the .

The is a perfect fit for optimizers looking to squeeze the most out of their spending. It offers a massive bonus, and the card's rotating 5% bonus categories can yield an extra $300 per year if you max them out. Combine that with 5% back on travel booked via Chase, 3% on dining and at drugstores, and 1% on everything else, and it's one of the most lucrative cash-back cards on the market.

But that's a lot to keep track of, so if you're looking for a no-fuss, flat-rate cash-back card, other may suit you better.

Frequently asked questions