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.
Pros & Cons
- No annual fee
- New cardholder bonus offer
- Bonus categories
- Cash rewards
- Intro APR period
- Requires good/excellent credit
- Complicated rewards
Compare to Other Cards
14.99%-24.74% Variable APR
13.99%-23.99% Variable APR
11.99%-22.99% Variable APR
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months
0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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Among rewards credit cards, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ strikes a powerful and unique pose. That's because this $0-annual-fee card — which replaced the decommissioned Chase Freedom® — 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 there's a lot of tracking involved, 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 Chase Freedom Flex℠ packs plenty of muscle.
Chase Freedom Flex℠: Basics
Card type: Cash back.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
5% cash back in quarterly bonus categories on up to $1,500 in combined spending each quarter. Activation of bonus categories is required. (See the quarterly 5% bonus calendar below.)
5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3% back on dining, including takeout and delivery services.
3% back on drugstore purchases.
For all cardholders, through March 31, 2022, 5% back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app.
1% on all other purchases.
Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ bonus rewards categories for 2021
Q1 (Jan. 1-March 31)
• Wholesale clubs. • Select streaming services. • Internet, cable and phone services.
Q2 (April 1-June 30)
• Gas stations. • Home improvement stores.
Q3 (July 1–Sept. 30)
• Grocery stores. • Select streaming services.
Q4 (Oct. 1–Dec. 31)
• Walmart. • PayPal.
Interest rate: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99%-24.74% Variable APR.
Foreign transaction fee: 3%.
Other benefits: The Chase Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard, meaning you'll get perks like:
Discounts and incentives via services like Lyft, Fandango, Shoprunner, Boxed and more.
Hotel perks via the Mastercard Luxury Hotel and Resorts program.
Ways you can redeem your rewards
While the Chase Freedom Flex℠ 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:
Gift cards (1 cent per point).
Travel booked through Chase (1 cent per point).
Amazon purchases (0.8 cent per point).
If you want to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for travel, you can unlock greater value by pairing your Chase Freedom Flex℠ with another Chase card that offers higher-value redemption options. (More details below.)
Chase Freedom Flex℠ vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® have similar names and some shared benefits. But there's a key difference.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has fixed bonus categories that don't change, plus a flat 1.5% back on "everything else." So if you like to keep things simple, it could be the better choice.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns just 1% back on non-bonus-category purchases. But unlike the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, 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 Chase Freedom®, which is no longer accepting applications and has been effectively replaced by the Chase Freedom Flex. (If you have an original Chase Freedom® card, you can product-change it to a Chase Freedom Flex℠ by calling Chase.)
Why you might want the Chase Freedom Flex℠
Stellar sign-up bonus
The current bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. That's close to as good as it gets for a no-annual-fee credit card.
Rotating bonus categories + fixed bonus categories
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 Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers impressive rewards year-round in popular categories. Spend a good chunk of your monthly budget on dining out and delivery? Use your Chase Freedom Flex℠ 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.
Point transfers to maximize value
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 Chase Freedom Flex℠ to one of these other cards, you can supercharge your rewards:
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, each point is worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel booked through Chase.
Points on these cards can also be transferred at a 1:1 ratio 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 Chase Freedom Flex℠, these other Chase cards have annual fees.
» MORE: What is the 'Chase trifecta'?
Chase Freedom Flex℠: Drawbacks and alternatives
It's not a 'set and forget' card
In order to make the most of the Chase Freedom Flex℠, 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:
The aforementioned Chase Freedom Unlimited® has set bonus categories that don't change, while everything else earns 1.5% back. That's still some work to remember, but not as much.
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is even more straightforward. It earns 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you buy something, plus 1% when you pay it off. The annual fee is $0.
It's not ideal for international travel
If you're traveling internationally, you can do better with a different card. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ charges a 3% foreign transaction fee that will eat into your rewards. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card 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.
Bonus categories may not match your spending
It's not always easy to optimize a card like the Chase Freedom Flex℠. 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 U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card – NerdWallet Exclusive Offer. 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 best credit card deals.
Should you get the Chase Freedom Flex℠?
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ 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 cash-back credit cards may suit you better.
on Chase's website
Frequently asked questions
If you don’t mind keeping track of rotating categories to maximize your rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a good choice. If you prefer rewards without maintenance, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® might work better for you.
You’ll earn 5% on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter in bonus categories that you activate, plus 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ has rotating 5% bonus categories like the original Chase Freedom®, but it also offers permanent bonus rewards on travel booked through Chase, dining and drugstores. The Chase Freedom® is no longer taking applications, but existing cardholders can continue to use it.
One other difference: The original Chase Freedom® is a Visa, while the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a Mastercard.
The annual fee on the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is $0.
Yes. You can combine your points from this and other Chase cards, plus you can transfer them to one other member of your household. If you hold a premium Chase card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can transfer your points to a variety of travel partners.
You’ll need good to excellent credit to get approved for the Chase Freedom Flex℠. Generally speaking, that translates to a credit score of 690 or better, though credit scores alone don't guarantee approval.