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Chase Freedom Flex Review

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Chase Freedom Flex

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Keep up With the Rotating Categories to Earn the Most

Credit Needed: Good/Excellent

There is no doubt that the Chase Freedom Flex card is a fan favorite among credit cardholders. There’s no annual fee and the card offers incredible earnings. Not only does the Chase Freedom Flex card offer cash back, but it provides the opportunity for cardholders to earn bonus cash back. This is done through rotating categories each quarter. The categories vary per year, but they have previously included gas stations, commuter expenses, home improvement stores and department stores.

You must opt in to the bonus category each quarter. Once you’ve done that, you’ll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in that category.

The Chase Flex also offers you additional ways to earn cash back. You can earn 5% cash back on travel when you make your travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also earn 5% cash back on groceries on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. However, this does not include purchases at Target or Walmart. 

Earn 3% on drugstore purchases and on restaurant purchases including take out. Some delivery services are also eligible for the 3% cash back. You automatically earn 1% back on all other purchases. Should you forget to opt in one quarter, your purchases will earn only 1%. Luckily your cash back rewards will never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. There is also no limit to how much you can earn at the 1% cash back rate.

Once you sign up for the card, you will have three months to spend $500 on purchases to earn a $200 bonus. After opening your account, the first 15 months are subject to a 0% intro APR for purchases. After that period, the variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable applies.

Additionally, balance transfers and cash advances come with a transaction fee. Cash advances cost $10 or 5% of the amount, whichever is greater. Balance transfers come with a $5 or 5% of the amount, whichever is greater balance transfer fee. Foreign transactions also come with a fee of 3% of the transaction amount.

Chase tracks your earnings as points. As a cash back card, you can take the cash back through direct deposit or statement credit. However, you could also convert your cash back to points, meaning 100 points for every dollar spent. You can then use these points to shop on Amazon, buy gift cards or book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Program is an extensive rewards program that includes the Chase Freedom Flex card.

Smart Features

No annual fee – The Chase Freedom Flex card does not have an annual fee.

No penalty APR - While there is a late payment fee, you won’t have to worry about a penalty APR.

$200 bonus - Earn a bonus of $200 after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months.

Rotating categories - Special rotating categories mean that you can earn extra cash back within a certain quarter when a category is specified.

0% intro APR - The APR for purchases will be 0% for the first 15 months of having the card. After that period, the variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable applies.

High rate of cash back - The Chase Flex card offers many ways to earn cash back - 5% rotating rewards categories (up to quarterly cap), 5% grocery (up to $12,000 the first year - No Target/Walmart), 5% travel (Chase Ultimate Rewards), 3% drugstore, 3% dining, 1% everything else. 

Redemption options - Not only can you earn cash back, but you can instead redeem points for rewards like Amazon purchases, gift cards or travel expenses.

Extra protections - Chase ensures your safety and comfort as a cardholder. This means protection for fraud, stolen or damaged purchases, merchandise prices, extended warranties and merchandise returns.

Who it Benefits

The Chase Freedom Flex card stands to benefit the everyday credit cardholder. With its special rotating categories including home improvement, gas stations and department stores, your everyday purchases could earn you some huge rewards. You just have to make sure you have opted in and you’re using your card in the right places at the right times to score the big rewards. Besides the rotating categories, the card offers a 5% cash back rate on groceries and travel and 3% cash back rate on drugstores and dining. Depending on how you use your card and the category available, at times you may be only earning 1% on purchases. 

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How it Works

The Chase Freedom Flex card is a cash back card with rotating special categories. Your spending within a quarter’s specified category will earn you 5% cash back on up to $1,500. After you spend $1,500, you earn 1% back on the rest of your purchases with no caps. You’ll earn 5% at grocery stores up to $12,000 in the first year, Target and Walmart are not included in this category. You can also earn 5% cash back on travel when you purchase through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You’ll earn 3% at drugstores and when dining at restaurants. Those purchases also include take out and some delivery services are also eligible.  All other purchases will still automatically earn 1% cash back, again with no limit.

Your rewards will never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.

The special categories include, but are not limited to, groceries, gas stations and drug stores. Note that you will have to opt in for each quarter’s category in order to earn the bonus 5% cash back. You can activate online or via text, email, phone, Chase location or ATM. Luckily, as long as you activate before the deadline for each quarter, your purchases can retroactively earn 5% back. Activating after the deadline, however, means your purchases earn only 1% back.

Within the first three months of signing up for the card, you can earn a bonus of $200 by spending $500 on purchases.

The card does not have an annual fee or a penalty APR. It also carries an intro APR of 0% for purchases for 15 months. After that, the normal variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable applies. Cash advances come with a 24.99% Variable APR. Balance transfers and cash advances come with their own fees. Cash advances cost $10 or 5% of the transaction amount, whichever is greater, while balance transfers cost $5 or 5% of the amount, again, whichever is greater. Foreign transactions made on the card will also trigger a fee of 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars.

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What's the Catch

The Chase Freedom Flex card is a pretty good card on the whole. However, there are a couple of catches to the card. For one, you have to manually opt in each quarter to earn the 5% cash back on the special category. It is not done automatically, so you do have to pay attention to each quarter’s categories and deadlines. You can opt into the special reward categories online, through text or email, by phone or by visiting a Chase location or ATM. It’s worth noting that you can still activate late in the quarter, as long as it’s before the activation deadline. That way, your previous quarter purchases can still earn 5% cash back. Should you forget to opt-in, however, depending on what you purchase (unless it falls into grocery, drugstore, dining, or travel), you may only earn 1% cash back.

The other catch to the Chase Freedom Flex card is that you earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter. So any purchases you make after you’ve already spent $1,500 within the category earns 1% cash back. So if you think you’re going to be spending more than $1,500, either be aware that not all your purchases will earn 5% back.

Just the Math

You earn 5% cash back on a different category each quarter. The 5% cash back applies until you’ve spent $1,500 in that quarter. You’ll earn 5% at grocery stores up to $12,000 in the first year (Target and Walmart not included) and 5% on travel when you purchase through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You’ll earn 3% at the drugstore and when dining at restaurants. After that, you earn 1% cash back with no limits on how much you can earn.

There is also a sign-up bonus of $200 if you spend $500 on the card within the first three months.

Balance transfers from this card will cost you either $5 or 5% of the transaction amount. The variable APR is between 14.99% - 23.74% Variable, depending on your credit score.

How it Stacks Up

U.S. Bank also offers a rotating categories card, the Cash+ Visa Signature Card. Interestingly, this card gives you the option to choose your cash back categories, rather than them being determined for you. You can earn 5% cash back for the first year on your first $2,000 in eligible purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose. You choose from a given list that includes more specific categories like fast food restaurants or sporting goods stores.  You also can earn 2% cash back for the first year on your choice of one everyday category (i.e. gas or groceries). You earn 1% cash back on everything else and if you forget to choose your special categories. The card also offers some good sign-up bonuses, all for no annual fee either, making the Cash+ Visa Signature card a pretty nice option.

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Interest Rates

Annual percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months. After the intro period ends a 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR will apply, based on your credit-worthiness. 

APR for Balance Transfers

There is no intro APR on balance transfers. A 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR will apply, based on your credit-worthiness.

APR for Cash Advances

Pay 24.99% Variable for cash advances. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

How to Avoid Paying Interest on Purchases

Your due date is at will be a minimum of 21 days after the close of each billing cycle. You will not be charged any interest on purchases if you pay your entire balance by the due date each month.

Minimum Interest Charge

None

Fees

Annual Fee: 

$0

Transaction Fees

  • Balance Transfer: 5% or $5 of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Cash Advance: $10 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign Purchase Transaction: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Penalty Fees

  • Late Payment: Up to $39

  • Returned Payment: Up to $39

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The Bottom Line

The Chase Freedom Flex card definitely provides a solid cash back return. At 5% cash back for specific categories, you can really earn a lot back on your everyday spending. You do have to make sure that you are activating the bonus each quarter. But even when you don’t opt in, you still earn 1% cash back on all purchases with no limits. Plus, the Flex card offers other 5% and 3% cash back benefits you don't have to opt in to earn. 

With a sign-up bonus and no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Flex makes sure that you earn cash back, and keep on earning. You will just have to watch out for cash advance fees, balance transfer fees and the end of the intro APR period. 

Next Steps

  • Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Saving money is easier said than done, but having a high-yield savings account is a great start. To see what's available today, take a look at our overview of the top savings accounts.

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