Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review
Get 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter you activate, up to $1,500 in combined purchases..
By Mandy H.|Updated on 3/2/2023Back
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is one of the best no annual fee cash back cards available. One key advantage of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is that it’s highly flexible and can scale with you whether you’re focused on cash back or decide to run a travel setup like the Chase Trifecta.
The main value prop of the card is you earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in spend per quarter (after that, it’s 1%). These categories are selected by Chase and usually announced one month before the quarter starts.
Examples of quarters from 2022:
- Q1 (Jan to Mar) = Grocery Stores (excluding Target and Walmart) | eBay
- Q2 (Apr to Jun) = Amazon.com | Select Streaming Services
- Q3 (Jul to Sep) = Gas Stations | Car Rental Agencies | Movie Theater | Select Live Entertainment
Note, the 5% on $1,500 is cumulative. If you spend $1,500 at gas stations, any additional spent at car rental places will be at 1%.
Outside of the 5% quarters, the Flex is still very formidable. You earn:
- 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase’s travel portal)
- 3% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery apps)
- 3% on drugstore purchases
- 1% everywhere else
Unlike other cards with set categories, this one acts as a utility player on your team. If you’re spending more on restaurants this month, the 5% will kick in for your meals. If it’s gas stations next month, it will treat that as the 5%. All of this is done automatically and doesn't require any additional work on your end.
I would use the Chase Freedom Flex℠ for the 5% categories when appropriate and use it for the 3% back categories if you don’t have a better alternative.
If you decide to run a Chase setup (i.e., Chase Trifecta), this can be a great earner if you don’t mind juggling quarterly categories.
Despite the “cash back” marketing, you’re technically earning Ultimate Reward (UR) points. At a minimum, you’re getting 1 cent per point (1 CPP) meaning that 5x = 5% and 1x = 1%.
If you end up pairing this with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card you can get 1.25 CPP when redeeming points on the Chase Travel Portal. This means that 5x * 1.25 CPP = 6.25% in value.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it’s 1.5 CPP for the Chase Travel Portal, so 5x * 1.5 CPP = 7.5% in value.
With both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can transfer to Chase’s airline and hotel partners (both at the same transfer rate; so 1,000 = 1,000 regardless of which one you have). This is useful if you’re interested in aspirational trips (think first and business class).
If you like the idea of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ but are not a fan of the rotating quarters, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® might be a better pick. Everything is the same but replace the “5% on up to $1,500 per quarter” with 1.5% on “everything else” – for example, you would earn 3% on dining or drugstores, but 1.5% on something like gas.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has the same upside with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® (1.5% = 1.5x UR points). It’s often paired with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ to form the Chase Trifecta (Flex, Unlimited, and either one of the Sapphires).
If Chase isn’t your jam, I would consider other 5x or 5% cards. The Citi Custom Cash® Card is a fan favorite that earns 5% back on up to $500 in spend per billing month. Categories are defined by Citi but are extremely broad and include large categories like gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is one of the best cards to get early on and has continued value if you decide to run a Chase Trifecta. Even if you move on to other issuers, 5% (5x UR) back is strong for a no annual fee card and can have a lot of utility.