Chase Freedom Flex Card Review
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Complexity, thy name is Freedom Flex. Keeping up with the rotating (and capped) quarterly cashback bonus categories is … a lot.
The operating instructions for the Chase Freedom Flex card are … exhausting. Seriously. You’ve got rotating rewards categories, opt-in requirements, secret handshakes and ciphers (probably), and on and on. Extras, like travel/cell phone insurance and the sign-up bonus, are cool. But the standard rewards rates are merely so-so, and the rotating 5% “bonus” category ghosts after you hit a $1,500 quarterly spending cap.
The basics: Earn 5% cash back on different categories like gas stations, grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) and select online merchants on up to $1,500 in total combined purchases each quarter you activate. Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and drugstores, earn 1% on all other purchases. New cardmembers can earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Oh, and there's a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. And, no, we don’t get paid by the word around here.
Chase Freedom Flex pros and cons
- Rotating 5% cashback category each quarter (great if your spending aligns)
- 3% cash back on dining and drugstores
- $200 signup bonus
- Unlimited 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
- No annual fee
- Travel/cell phone coverage
- You must opt in each quarter to qualify for bonus rewards rate
- Low $1,500 quarterly cap on rotating 5% bonus category
- The 1% default cashback rate — whatevs
- Rotating bonus categories = extra thinking at checkout
- Charges a 3% foreign transaction fee
Chase Freedom Flex cashback rewards spending categories
The following table shows the cashback rewards rate per $1 spent in the six most common spending categories. The “Bonus Rate” refers to the amount you can earn in excess of the card’s standard rewards rate.
Some cashback cards limit the spending amount eligible for the bonus rate (a.k.a. the “Spend Cap”). Once you hit that cap (e.g. $1,500 spending in a particular category during a defined time period), the rewards rate on future purchases in that category reverts to the lower “Default Rate.”
|Category||Default Rate||Bonus Rate||Bonus Spend Cap||Bonus Spend Period (Months)|
In addition to the cashback rates illustrated above, the Chase Freedom Flex card pays an elevated 5% back on purchases in a rotating array of bonus cashback categories on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases. The bonus category changes quarterly and isn't announced too far in advance. You'll need to check the calendar, as well as go into your account to activate the offer.
The Chase Freedom Flex Card also pays an unlimited 5% cashback on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
What we like
The $200 one-time cash bonus at sign-up (after spending $500 within the first three months) will make dealing with this card’s pain-in-the-tuchus rewards setup less irritating.
Travelers get 5% unlimited cash back on travel-related spending booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program (UltimateRewards.com), which includes airfare, hotel, car rentals, cruises and activities. Limit those purchases to the U.S., otherwise you’ll give up a good chunk of your cash back on the 3% foreign transaction fee.
A nice extra: Freedom Flex’s trip cancellation/interruption insurance up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip on covered situations.
Same deal if you’re clumsy with your phone: Pay your cell bill with the card and you’re covered on two claims a year up to $1,000 total after the $50 deductible.
Option to transfer points to your other Chase cards (of the Sapphire variety, for example) to increase their value from 1 to up to 1.5 cents per point.
If you’re sick of home cooking the card comes with a free three-month DoorDash DashPass membership (requires activation). Be forewarned: You’ll be automatically enrolled (yuck) after that, but at least at a 50% discount for nine months.
The 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balances transfers is pretty sweet, although a 3% to 5% balance transfer fee applies.
What we don't like
The Chase Freedom Flex card’s $1,500 quarterly — quarterly! — spending cap on purchases in its 5% bonus categories is [redacted]. Once you hit it, the cashback rate reverts to a measly 1% (aka chump change).
Like so many rewards cards, groceries from Target and Walmart aren’t eligible for any supermarket cashback bonuses. What’s up with the hatin’ on our big-box go-tos?
Requires activating rewards bonus category 👏 every 👏 three 👏 months. If you just barely squeak in by the deadline, at least bonuses apply dating back to the beginning of the quarter.
So much for planning ahead: Chase doesn’t announce the coming quarterly rewards categories in advance. Hope you like surprises!
“May charge a 3% foreign transaction fee,” according to the fine print, means does charge a 3% foreign transaction fee, according to the even smaller fine print. 🙄
The bottom line
Is the Chase Freedom Flex the best rewards card for your wallet? The answer depends entirely on your spending patterns. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Use the investor.com Cashback Credit Card Calculator to see which credit card pays back the highest rewards based on how much you spend each month.
Chase Freedom Flex fine print
Does the Chase Freedom Flex charge an annual fee?
No, there is no annual fee for the Chase Freedom Flex.
Roughly 14% of the consumer cashback cards we track in our database charge an annual fee. The average annual fee is $72.60, while the median is $95.
Does the Chase Freedom Flex offer a welcome bonus?
Yes, the Chase Freedom Flex has a welcome bonus of $200.
Of the more than 60 cashback credit cards in our database, 66% offer a welcome bonus. Currently, the average sign-up bonus on a new cashback card is $210.71, with the median being $200.
How much cash back can I earn with the Chase Freedom Flex?
The average American that spends $1000 per month will earn $166.08 in cash back per year using the Chase Freedom Flex. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the investor.com database is $191.26, and $180 is the median.
These calculations are based on average consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the reward payout rates from the providers we track. Of course, you’re so much more than an average data point (aka “consumer unit,” in BLS parlance). The amount you can earn in cashback rewards using the Chase Freedom Flex depends entirely on your unique spending habits.
Find out exactly how much you’ll rake in with the Chase Freedom Flex by tailoring the spending inputs in the calculator above.
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Compare Chase Freedom Flex
The results of the investor.com Credit Card Rewards Calculator are based on the monthly spending amounts you enter and the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. Credit card companies often express this payout amount as a percentage (e.g., 1.5% of every dollar spent) or on a points basis (e.g. ,1.5 points for every dollar spent). We converted all of them to a dollar amount (“Cash Back Per Year”) to make comparing offers easier.
To calculate the amount of cash back you could earn per year, we factored in:
- Spend category inputs: The default dollar values for each “Spend Category” in the Best Cashback Credit Cards tool — gas, groceries, travel, restaurant, entertainment, pharmacy, other — are based on average American spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also include additional spend categories (such as streaming services, online shopping, utilities, transit, Amazon and more) to help you see which rewards cards are most closely aligned with your actual spending patterns. We encourage you to customize the monthly spend inputs for the most accurate results.
- Tiered rewards rates: If a rewards credit card pays higher cashback rates on certain spending categories (also called “Bonus Rewards”), that difference is reflected in the total “Cash Back Per Year” tally.
- Rewards spending caps: Some cards impose category- or time-based limits (monthly, quarterly, annually) that affect the amount of rewards you can earn. For example, a card may pay 3% cash back on groceries on up to $1,000 of spending each quarter, then revert to the base/default rewards rate until the following quarter. We accounted for bonus spending caps and timeframe in the calculations.
- Default rewards rates: Purchases that exceed a spending cap are usually subject to a lower default rewards rate (e.g., 1% or 1.5%). We mathed that out too.
- Annual fees: If a rewards card charges an annual fee, we deducted that amount from the “Cash Back Per Year” total to provide a true accounting of a card’s annual rewards payout.
What’s not included in the “Cash Back Per Year” total is the cash value of any sign-up/introductory bonus. We highlight any Welcome Bonus separately. While sign-up bonuses can be the most lucrative part of getting a new cashback rewards credit card, not everyone will want or be able to do what it takes to earn the extra cash. (It usually requires spending a certain amount in a specified time period after the card is activated.)