Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

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Chase has launched a new zero annual fee card called Chase Freedom Flex. Also, there are some new changes to the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Often times when a credit card (or loyalty program) receives “enhancements”, the enhancements are a way to soften the blow of a negative bigger change. This is NOT the case here!

The new card, Chase Freedom Flex, will be replacing the Chase Freedom. This new card is very similar to the Chase Freedom, but with a few additional perks! Likewise, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is keeping the earn rate we love so much, but it is also adding some new bonus categories.

New Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card
One day we’re going to be able to travel to Europe again, and when that day comes, you can save lots of money with Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
Chase Freedom Flex is replacing Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom is now closed to new applicants.

Current holders of Chase Freedom have the option to change to the Chase Freedom Flex, or to keep the Chase Freedom. I can’t really think of a reason not to product change.

The welcome bonus on the Chase Freedom Flex will be available even if you already have a Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited as this is a separate product.

You can have both the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex, but I wouldn’t apply for both

All Chase cards discussed on this blog are now subject to the 5/24 rule. If you don’t know what the 5/24 rule is, please read this post before applying for any credit cards.

Opening both of these cards would mean you have to use two of your 5/24 slots. Since the welcome bonus on several of Chase’s other cards is better, I suggest saving your 5/24 slots for cards with more valuable bonuses.

I’ll compare these two products, but first, it is important to discuss the type of rewards the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited earn.

Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited are basically cash back cards… but there is one remarkable exception

Chase is the issuer of many of our favorite travel credit cards. In addition to co-branded travel cards such as the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card, Chase issues several credit cards that earn points that can be redeemed either as cash back or for travel with their own program, Chase Ultimate Rewards.

There are two different families/suites of Chase cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that I’m going to discuss in this post. There’s the Sapphire family and the Freedom family. Even though the Sapphire and Freedom family of cards earn Ultimate Rewards, it is important to note that there are two different types of Ultimate Rewards when it comes to redemption options.

The two personal cards in the Freedom group are Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited (Chase Freedom is now closed to new applicants).

The new card, Chase Freedom Flex, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited are both cash back cards. I generally discourage cash back cards because I can often redeem transferable points at much higher values.

BUT… there’s a huge exception here. If you also have one of the three Chase Sapphire cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points, then any points earned from the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Flex, or Chase Freedom Unlimited can be redeemed the exact same way you would redeem your transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

There are 3 Chase Sapphire cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points:

A Chase Sapphire card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points is the first card that I suggest for almost anyone who wants to start saving big money on travel. If you already have one of these 3 cards, adding a Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited can increase your earning potential. More on this later.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited. How to earn more Chase Ultimate Rewards points
We transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book a valuable stay at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica

Comparing the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited

Normally when comparing two cards, I would compare the welcome bonus, earn rate, benefits, annual fee, and redemption options. Three of these things are essentially equal with both cards. This comparison is really going to come down to earn rate and benefits. First, I’ll discuss what’s the same.

Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited have the same welcome bonus offer

Currently, the welcome bonus is $200 (or 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 in the first 3 months. Also, new cardmembers will earn 5% cash back (or 5 points per dollar) on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Chase Freedom Flex

Chase Freedom Flex

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited, best credit card offers of 2020

Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited Annual Fees

Both cards have no annual fee.

Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited Redemption options

Like I mentioned at the beginning, both of these cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. Unless you also have one of the 3 Chase Sapphire cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards, then any Rewards earned from either the Freedom Flex or the Freedom Unlimited are redeemable as cash back. The value of each point is 1 cent. So 20,000 points=$200.

If you have one of the 3 Sapphire cards that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points, you can combine your Ultimate Rewards points earned from your Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited with your points earned from your Sapphire card. Those points would then become transferable Ultimate Rewards points. They would also become more valuable than 1 cent per point when redeeming for travel through Chase’s redemption portal.

Again, I strongly encourage you to open a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred card before opening any other card. But adding one of the no annual fee Freedom cards to your wallet can increase your earning potential.

If you want the shortest version, here it goes: The Sapphire card is important because it makes the points you earn from a Freedom card more valuable when it’s time to redeem.

You can read more about why transferable Ultimate Rewards points are so much more valuable to us here.

Now I’ll discuss what’s different about the two Freedom products: earn rates and benefits.

Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited earn rates

Note that x % is like x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar if you also have a card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards. For example, 5% cash back is the same as 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, 3% cash back is the same as 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, etc.

Chase Freedom Flex

Chase Freedom Flex has the same quarterly rotating 5% bonus categories that its predecessor, Chase Freedom, had/has. But it will also feature additional year-round bonus categories.

Chase Freedom Flex
  • 5% on Bonus Quarterly Categories – Each quarter, card members can activate their ability to receive 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases on bonus categories such as grocery stores, select streaming services and many others. The categories change every quarter.
  • 5% on Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, including vacation and car rentals.
  • 3% on Dining purchases, including take out or eligible delivery services.
  • 3% on Drugstore purchases on daily essentials like medicine, toiletries, diapers and other items.
  • 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all non-category bonus purchases. To compare, the earn rate on our other Ultimate Rewards earning cards is 1 point per dollar on all non-category bonus spending. As of September 15, there are also bonus categories!

Chase Freedom Unlimited, best credit card offers of 2020
  • 5% on Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% on Dining
  • 3% on Drugstore purchases
  • 1.5 % unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

The difference between the earning potential with these two cards

The Flex has the additional opportunity with quarterly 5% categories. But the Freedom Unlimited has a better rate on purchases that do not fall into a bonus category. That extra half of a point may not seem like a lot, but that’s a 50% increase. If you extrapolate that to what you would expect to spend annually on purchases that wouldn’t fall into a bonus category, the difference between 1 and 1.5 becomes more apparent. Let’s say you spend $20,000 annually on your credit card on purchases that would not fall into a bonus category.

  • With Chase Freedom Flex, that would yield 20,000 points, or $200.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited has an earn rate of 1.5, so $20,000 would yield 30,000 points or $300.

Both cards have the same earn rate for travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal (5%), dining (3%), and drugstore purchases (3%). Freedom Flex has an additional earning opportunity with its quarterly bonus categories. Each quarter, you can enroll to earn 5% cash back on up to $1500 spent in that quarter’s categories. For example, October-December will be Paypal and Walmart.

The quarterly 5% bonus is capped at $1500. But if you’re able to max out the $1500 each quarter, that’s up to $6,000 per year. 5% on $6,000 would be $300 or 30,000 points.

The bottom line is that the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a better earn rate on anything that doesn’t fall into a bonus category which is 1.5 % (Freedom Flex is 1%). But the Chase Freedom Flex has that additional ability to earn with quarterly 5%. I’d say the winner here just depends on your spending habits.

Other card features/benefits worth mentioning

Unlike some of the premium cards discussed on this site, there usually aren’t many noteable extra perks on cards with no annual fees. Most no annual fee cards are not going to come with any sort of statement credits or hotel status. Both the Chase Freedom Flex and the Chase Freedom Unlimited do have some Lyft and Doordash benefits worth mentioning, though.

Also, the new Chase Freedom Flex will be a Mastercard, and as such, cardmembers will receive Mastercard World Elite benefits.

Lyft and DoorDash benefits

Cardmembers of Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited will also receive Lyft and Doordash benefits:

  • 5% total cash back on all Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • In addition to earning 3% on all dining purchases, cardmembers can activate and receive complimentary DoorDash DashPass for the first three months. After the first 3 months, cardmembers can choose to keep the DashPass membership at a 50% discount price for the next nine months.

*Complimentary DashPass Subscription for Chase Freedom®, Freedom Unlimited®, Freedom Student® and Slate® cardmembers: Your credit card account will receive one complimentary 3 month DashPass from DoorDash when the subscription is activated by 12/31/21. After your complimentary period ends, you’ll be automatically enrolled for 9 months at 50% off the then current monthly DashPass rate. After the DashPass discounted period ends, you will continue to be enrolled and charged the then current monthly DashPass rate. You can cancel at any time on the DoorDash mobile application. Subscription will be registered in the name of the primary cardmember or an authorized user, whoever activates the benefit first. To receive the subscription benefits, the primary cardmember or authorized user(s) must first add their eligible Chase credit card as payment method in the DoorDash mobile application, and then click the activation button. Benefits of DashPass from DoorDash include no delivery fees on orders that total over $12 (amount subject to change – see DoorDash site for current minimum); however service fees and other fees on food orders will apply.

Chase Freedom Flex Mastercard World Elite Benefits
  • Cell phone insurance-this provides $800 per claim and up to $1,000 per year for damage or theft
  • Free ShopRunner Membership- this allows members to receive free 2 day shipping and free returns at over one hundred retailers
  • Lyft- Earn $10 credit if you take 5 rides in one month. This resets every calendar month.
  • Boxed- Earn 5% in rewards on Boxed purchases
  • Fandago- earn double VIP points when you purchase movie tickets through Fandago. These points are redeemable for movie tickets and streaming on FandangoNow

After looking over the earn rates, you’re probably asking…

If the earn rate is better, why not stick with these no-fee Freedom cards?

If you’ve ever read here before, you know that I encourage everyone to open a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or a Chase Ink Business Preferred before opening any other card. Well, as far as bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Freedom Flex cards are arguably better than the 3 Chase Sapphire cards.

All three of the transferable Ultimate Rewards earning cards (CSR, CSP, CIBP) have an annual fee. While each of these cards do have benefits and a welcome bonus that makes the fee worth it, the earn rate on some purchases is going to be higher with one of the Freedom cards.

For a cash back card, the earn rates on both the Chase Freedom Flex and the Chase Freedom Unlimited are good. But a having both a Freedom card and a Sapphire card will give you the best earn rate and the best redemption options.

When you have a Freedom card AND a Sapphire card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer points earned from the Freedom to the card that earns the transferable Ultimate Rewards.

When you’re ready to redeem, having the CSP, CSR, or CIBP makes your points more valuable. The point of this post is to compare the Freedom cards, so I’m going to try to stay on topic. But I would encourage you to read this post about combining a Freedom card with one of the 3 transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards. It shows the math.

Final Thoughts

So which card is better? I think the deciding factor really comes down to spending habits.

The bottom line is that the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a better earn rate on purchases that do not fall into a bonus category (1.5 %). But the Chase Freedom Flex has that additional ability to earn with quarterly 5% categories. I would consider most of the other card features and benefits pretty equal amongst the two, although the World Elite Mastercard benefits on the Chase Freedom Flex may appeal to some people. The phone protection that comes with the Mastercard World Elite benefits on the Chase Freedom Flex is particularly notable for those who do not already have phone protection through another card or avenue.

If you like the simplicity of cash back rewards, either of these cards would be a great choice, but you can maximize your return on spending by also opening a transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards card. If you do not already have a transferable Ultimate Rewards earning card such as a Chase Sapphire Preferred, I suggest starting with that. Then, you can increase your earning potential by adding a Chase Freedom Unlimited or the new Chase Freedom Flex card to your wallet.

The welcome bonus on both the Chase Freedom Flex and the Chase Unlimited cards is $200 cash back (or 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months, plus 5% cash back on grocery store purchases for the first year (on up to $12,000).

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited. How to earn more Chase Ultimate Rewards points
We redeemed Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book a valuable stay at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. The comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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