Home » Credit Card Reviews » Chase Freedom Flex vs. Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Flex  vs. Freedom Unlimited

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Sep 15, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® might have similar-sounding names, but they have substantially different rewards structures. Both share rewards categories on travel, dining and drugstore purchases, but that’s where the similarities end.

In addition to the ongoing rewards categories mentioned above, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers better flat-rate cash back on purchases not in a rewards category. So which would be the best fit for you? We’ll help you figure it out.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited® at a glance

 Chase Freedom Flex℠Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Sign-up bonusEarn 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.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.
RewardsEarn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months. After, a 14.99% - 23.74% variable APR applies.0% Intro APR for 15 months. After, a 14.99% - 23.74% variable APR applies.
Annual fee$0$0
Foreign transaction fee3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

  • 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.

  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

  • 14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Highlights
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.

See additional details for Chase Freedom Flex℠

More Info

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
(213)
Apply Now

on Chase's secure site

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases

  • 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.

  • 14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Highlights
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open

See additional details for Chase Freedom Unlimited®

More Info

Chase Freedom Flex℠ pros and cons

Pros

Generous rewards. Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.

The rotating 5% categories will be the same going forward as those for the classic Chase Freedom® (which closed to new applicants with the release of the Chase Freedom Flex℠).

Here are the 2020 rotating 5% cashback categories so far:

  • January-March: Gas stations, internet, cable and phone services, as well as select streaming services
  • April-June: Gym memberships and fitness clubs, grocery stores
  • July-September: Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
  • October-December: Walmart and PayPal

And here’s what got 5% cash back on the Chase Freedom® in 2019:

  • January-March: Gas stations, tolls and drugstores.
  • April-June: Grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Target) and home improvement stores.
  • July-September: Gas stations and select streaming services.
  • October-December: Department stores and purchases made using PayPal or Chase Pay.

Useful benefits, including:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Mastercard World Elite benefits such as cellphone protection

Chance to spend less, earn more. If you hit the 5% spending maximum of $1,500 each quarter, you’ll earn $300 cash back on an annual spend of $6,000. To hit $300 cash back on a card that earns a flat rate of 1.5%, you’d need to spend $20,000.

Cons

You have to activate quarterly categories. If you don’t remember to activate the 5% categories each quarter, you’re only going to earn 1% cash back on purchases outside the higher ongoing rewards categories.

Categories aren’t announced early. Unlike its competitor, the Discover it® Cash Back, for which the quarterly categories are announced at the beginning of each year, the Chase Freedom Flex℠’s rotating 5% categories aren’t announced until right before each quarter. This means you can’t plan very far ahead — though you can look at past 5% categories to get an idea of what’s been included before.

5% cash back is capped. If you spend more than $1,500 in the current rotating 5% category, your cashback rate will drop to 1% until the next quarter. That means you can get a maximum of $75 cash back each quarter at the higher rate.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® pros and cons

Pros

Generous rewards. Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. If your spending doesn’t often match up with the Chase Freedom Flex℠’s rotating 5% categories, you might prefer the Chase Freedom Unlimited® for its earning rate of 1.5% cash back on purchases that aren’t in a specific rewards category.

No categories to activate. Even though activating quarterly categories with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ can be done in just a few minutes online, you still have to remember to do it every quarter. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, there are no categories to activate.

Pairs well with non-Chase cards. If you like Chase rewards, we’ve got some tips below for using both cards on how to maximize what you earn. But the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can also pair well with non-Chase cards. For example, you could use a card, such as the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, to earn a higher cashback rate at the grocery store, then use the Chase Freedom Unlimited® for purchases the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express doesn’t earn a higher rate on.

Useful benefits, including:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Cons

Potentially less cash back. The great thing about the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is simplicity — but there’s no denying you’re missing out on the chance to earn more cash back if you go with this card. If your spending matches up with the Chase Freedom Flex℠’s rotating 5% categories even part of the time, the latter card has the potential to earn more cash back for you.

Using both cards

If you’re willing to juggle two cards, you can maximize your cash back by using both. For example, you could use the Chase Freedom Flex℠ when your needs line up with a rotating 5% category and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® at all other times.

Those who are willing to keep three cards in their wallet can get even more value by making use of the Chase Ultimate Rewards ecosystem. Rewards earned on both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be transferred to either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Then, those points can be redeemed for more value when booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Be aware when planning to apply for multiple Chase cards that you need to know your 5/24 status. The unwritten Chase 5/24 rule means if you’ve been approved for five or more personal credit cards from any issuer within the past two years, Chase will likely deny your application.

One option for getting a Chase card you want without increasing your 5/24 count could be to do a product change. For example, if you got the Chase Slate® for a balance transfer, and you’ve now paid off the debt you transferred, you could request that card be upgraded to the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. (You probably won’t be eligible for a sign-up bonus if you do this.)

Last but not least, it’s important to note that pairing a cashback card with a Sapphire card means you’ll have to pay for a card with an annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges an annual fee of $95, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve® charges an annual fee of $550.

The bottom line

Put simply, the Chase Freedom Unlimited®’s rewards program is simpler to use, but the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has the potential to earn you more cash back at a lower spend amount. And, if you carry either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can get more value out of your cash back by turning it into Ultimate Rewards points and redeeming them for travel.

If you don’t want to bother with travel points, don’t worry — both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® allow you to redeem for cash back with no minimum redemption amount. You can’t go wrong with either one if you need a good cashback card.

The information related to Chase Freedom® and the Chase Slate® has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. 


Recommended Posts:

Read More

Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card Review

Odds are you haven’t heard of the Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card — but, it is a valuable rewards card that can benefit frequent travelers. Similar to other travel rewards cards, the Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card offers robust travel benefits, such as an annual airline fee credit and Global Entry application fee credit, high rewards on travel purchases, and more that can […]

Read More

Read More

Capital One Spark Classic Business Review

Business owners with less-than-stellar credit can build credit history and earn cash back with the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business. It’s a flat-rate, no-annual-fee card that’s worthy of consideration if you think you’ll struggle to qualify for other business credit cards. We break down what the card offers, who it’s best for, and suggest another business card to consider. […]

Read More