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Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited comparison: Rotating categories or flat cash back?


Chase’s array of personal credit card products ranges from the ultra-premium Chase Sapphire Reserve to the “cash back” Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards, which don’t charge annual fees. With so many options, picking the right card can be difficult if you aren’t sure what you want.

Thanks to Chase’s 5/24 rule (which means that you could automatically be rejected for most Chase cards if you’ve opened five or more cards in the last 24 months), it’s important to have a clear strategy about which Chase cards you want to add to your wallet.

Today, we’re looking at two of Chase’s no-annual-fee credit cards — the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited. By themselves, both earn points that can only be redeemed as cash back at 1 cent per point. However, you can pair either card with a more premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, to turn those points into full-fledged Ultimate Rewards points. Then, you can redeem the points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal or by transferring them to partners.

Let’s review each card’s details to see which makes more sense for you.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited comparison

Card Chase Freedom Flex Chase Freedom Unlimited
Annual fee None None
Sign-up bonus Earn $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening Earn an additional 1.5% on all purchases up to $20,000 spent in the first year. That’s a value of up to $300 cash back.
Earning rate 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate

5% cash on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards

3% cash back on dining (including takeout & eligible delivery services)

3% cash back at drugstores

1% cash back on all non-category bonus purchases

5% cash on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards

3% cash back on dining (including takeout & eligible delivery services)

3% cash back at drugstores

1.5% cash back on all non-category bonus purchases

Benefits Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

Extended warranty protection

Travel and emergency and assistance services

Purchase protection

Cellphone protection

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

Extended warranty protection

Travel and emergency and assistance services

Purchase protection

Redemption options Redeem points as cash back, or transfer them to Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold a premium Chase card Redeem points as cash back, or transfer them to Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold a premium Chase card

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited welcome bonus

The Freedom Flex offers a sign-up bonus of $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. At face value, this bonus is worth $200; however, if you also hold a premium Chase card and transfer your points, they can be worth $410, according to TPG’s valuations.

THE POINTS GUY

The Freedom Unlimited offers an additional 1.5% on all purchase categories during the first year up to $20,000. At face value, this bonus can be worth up to $300; however, if you also hold a premium Chase card, it can be worth $615, according to TPG’s valuations.

Winner: Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits

The Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited both offer trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary auto rental collision damage waiver, extended warranty protection, travel and emergency and assistance services, and purchase protection.

However, where the two cards differ is the benefit of cellphone protection with the Freedom Flex, which is a Mastercard, not a Visa. Cardmembers can get up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year (maximum of 2 claims in a 12-month period with a $50 deductible per claim).

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While there aren’t too many earth-shattering differences, Mastercard’s cellphone protection is the big — and highly desirable — perk between the two.

Winner: Freedom Flex

Earning cash back with the Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

These credit cards are cash-back-earning cards. They both offer 5% cash on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and 3% cash back at drugstores.

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Where they diverge is that while the Freedom Unlimited has a flat 1.5% earning rate on all non-bonused spending (compared to just 1% with the Freedom Flex), the Freedom Flex offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in rotating quarterly bonus categories, like gas stations, Amazon.com and PayPal.

The Freedom Unlimited is the easier option, while the Freedom Flex requires you to activate the bonus categories every quarter.

Winner: Tie. It depends on whether you want to put in the work to keep up with quarterly rotating bonus categories with the Freedom Flex or just opt for a simple flat rate with the Freedom Unlimited.

Redeeming cash back with the Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Redeeming your hard-earned cash back with either credit card is quite simple. The traditional options are to redeem for statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. In addition, you can redeem the value of your cash back as gift cards to over 175 brands offered by Chase.

“Shop through Chase” is another option where points can be applied directly for purchases on Chase’s partner websites, such as Amazon.com. You can also book travel through the Chase Travel Portal to cover airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars by paying entirely with points or a combination of points and cash. In these instances, you redeem at one cent per point.

Winner: Tie

Transferring cash back with the Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

A better way to redeem your cash back from either Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited is to transfer it to one of Chase’s premium travel cards, taking advantage of the Chase Trifecta.

JOHN GRIBBEN/POINTS GUY

These cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The value of your points is increased by 25% when transferred to the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred to redeem travel through the Chase Portal. Being a cardholder of the Sapphire Reserve gives you a 50% increase when transferred to that card and redeeming points for travel.

For even more value, you can transfer these combined points from one of the three cards to any one of Chase’s 14 transfer partners.

Winner: Tie

Should I get the Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited?

The Freedom Flex is more beneficial if your spending habits change throughout the year due to its rotating bonus categories, while also offering cellphone protection as a unique perk. Conversely, the Freedom Unlimited is ideal for those who prefer simplicity and want guaranteed rewards without the need to track or activate bonus categories, making it a great choice for beginners.

WESLEY SOARES FERRACINI/GETTY IMAGES

Bottom line

Whether you opt for the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited, these cards fit nicely into just about every type of credit card strategy. If you’re new to the world of points and miles and have a more limited credit history, these cards are easier to get approved for than premium cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

They can also help you build a strong relationship with Chase while earning valuable rewards — resist the temptation to redeem them for cash back until you get a Sapphire card later. Even if you’re a more advanced award traveler, you can get a lot of value from these cards.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of the best cards for everyday spending with its 1.5% return. And the Freedom Flex is also worth keeping around for the rotating quarterly bonus categories.


Official application link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Official application link: Chase Freedom Flex


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