CREDIT CARDSCREDIT CARDSCHASE FREEDOM FLEX REVIEW: MULTIPLE BONUS REWARDS WRAPPED IN ONE CARD

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 Hurd Author Avatar
Mar 1, 2024 7:22 a.m. PST
Edited by
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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.

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • New cardholder bonus offer
  • Bonus categories
  • Cash rewards
  • Intro APR period
Cons
  • Requires good/excellent credit
  • Complicated rewards
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Image
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.49%-29.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Rec. credit score

Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.49%-29.24% Variable APR

Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website
  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Rewards rate

    1%-5%

  • Bonus offer

    Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR on purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 20.49%-29.24% Variable APR

    Cash Advance APR: 29.99%, Variable

    Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

More details from Chase
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49%-29.24%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Flex℠ card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health - Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.
  • Member FDIC

Compare to Other Cards

ANNUAL FEE
$0
REGULAR APR
20.49%-29.24% Variable APR
INTRO APR
0% intro APR on purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$0
REGULAR APR
19.24%-29.24% Variable APR
Rates & Fees
INTRO APR
0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$0
REGULAR APR
17.24%-28.24% Variable APR
Rates & Fees
INTRO APR
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
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Detailed review: Chase Freedom Flex℠

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. (NOTE: This offer is available when you apply through NerdWallet. If you apply directly with Chase or through a different website, you may not be eligible for this offer.)

Rewards:

  • 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, 2025, 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 2024

Q1 (Jan. 1-March 31)

  • Grocery stores.

  • Fitness clubs and gym memberships.

  • Self-care and spa services.

Q2 (April 1-June 30)

  • TBD (In 2023: Amazon; Lowe's).

Q3 (July 1-Sept. 30)

  • TBD (In 2023: Gas stations and electric vehicle charging; select live entertainment).

Q4 (Oct. 1-Dec. 31)

  • TBD (In 2023: PayPal; wholesale clubs; select charities).

Interest rate: 0% intro APR on purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 20.49%-29.24%, Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Options for redeeming 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 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 Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 1.5% back on purchases outside bonus categories, but it doesn't have the rotating 5% categories of the Chase Freedom Flex℠. So if you like to keep things simple, it could be the better choice.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ runs on the Mastercard payment network, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a Visa. In terms of acceptance, it doesn't matter much if you carry a Visa or a Mastercard, but those networks do provide some different side perks.

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.)

Empty Table Header

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom®

Offer for new cardholders:

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

None — card is no longer accepting applications

Rotating bonus categories:

None.

• 5% back on quarterly bonus categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending.

Ongoing bonus categories:

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

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

• 3% cash back on drugstore purchases.

None.

Rewards on other purchases:

1.5% cash back

1% cash back

1% cash back

(There is yet another rewards-earning Freedom product — the Chase Freedom Rise℠ — but unlike the cards above, it is meant for beginners to credit.)

🤓Nerdy Tip

Through March 31, 2025, both the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited will earn 5% back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app. Both cards also come with a complimentary three-month subscription to DashPass. It's DoorDash's subscription service that provides unlimited deliveries for a $0 delivery fee on orders over $12.

Benefits and perks

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. 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:

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.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The ability to transfer points among Chase credit cards to get greater value has prompted many people to carry both the Flex and a Sapphire-branded card as part of a rewards-maximizing "Chase trifecta." If that's not your thing and you're thinking about carrying one or the other, see our comparison article on Flex versus Sapphire Preferred.

Drawbacks and considerations

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 Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is even more straightforward. It earns 2% cash back on all purchases. 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, plus 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

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. It offers 5% cash back on two bonus categories you choose from a list of several options (see them below), 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.

  • Fast food.

  • Home utilities.

  • TV, internet and streaming.

  • Department stores.

  • Cell phone providers.

  • Electronics stores.

  • Sporting goods stores.

  • Movie theaters.

  • Gyms/fitness centers.

  • Furniture stores.

  • Ground transportation.

  • Select clothing stores.

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

How to decide if it's right for you

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 $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.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

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.

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