Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Cash Back Showdown

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Cash Back Showdown

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If you’re looking for a new cashback credit card, the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® should be at the top of your list. On Sept. 14, 2020, Chase introduced the Chase Freedom Flex℠ to the mix, replacing the existing Chase Freedom®. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ has the same rotating bonus categories but with improved cashback opportunities, such as 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. As the new card is issued by Mastercard, cardholders will also enjoy exclusive World Elite Mastercard benefits.

At the same time, the ever-popular Chase Freedom Unlimited® card also received an update, with a nice boost in cashback categories. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® allows users to Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

Though both cards have no annual fees and are part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, they have a few key differences: For people who value simplicity, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a solid 1.5% cash back on most purchases, plus bonus cash back on a few extra categories. On the other hand, if you prefer to maximize rewards on your spending, the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a better choice. With rotating bonus categories that change quarterly, you can earn a higher cashback percentage on these purchases, but only 1% cashback on many of your purchases.

Difference between the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Whether to choose the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Chase Freedom Unlimited® depends on your spending.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Annual Fee$0$0
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.
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.
Best for ...People looking to maximize rewardsPeople who value simplicity
Rewards formUltimate RewardsUltimate Rewards
Purchase APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable14.99% - 23.74% Variable
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  • On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website

Both cards offer 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases. The difference between the two is how they earn in other categories. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ card offers 5% back on categories that rotate each quarter, up to $1,500 in spending. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers 1.5% back on every dollar spent — no matter the category — with no spending limit on rewards.

It's important to note that both cards earn Ultimate Rewards points and not straight cash back. These points can be redeemed for gift cards, statement credits and cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can also redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel on the Chase portal, or you can transfer your points to Chase’s travel partners.

For maximizers: 5% on rotating categories

Our thoughts

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is an excellent card for people who have expenses that fall under the rotating categories. In years past, the Chase’s quarterly categories have included gas stations, grocery stores, department stores, Lyft, Walgreens, wholesale clubs and mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay. View the 2021 calendar below.

January - March
April - June
July - September
October - December
Gas stations, internet, cable, phone services and select streaming servicesGas stations and home improvement storesGrocery Stores (excluding Walmart and Target) and select streaming servicesTBD

You'll get the most value out of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ if you can max out the rotating categories each quarter — i.e., spend $500 each month in the eligible category for a total of $1,500 per quarter. With the 5% rewards rate, you'll get a total of $75 back per quarter when you hit the $1,500 spending cap. That's a total of $300 cash back per year.

For simplicity: 1.5% on every purchase

Our thoughts

While the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is designed for people with predictable expenses in certain categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a card that can be useful for anyone. It lets you Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. In contrast, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns only 1% on purchases that aren't in the rotating bonus categories and 1% once the $1,500 spending cap is hit each quarter.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is particularly great as an everyday card, regardless of the other payment options you have in your wallet. Almost every credit card earns 1% back on purchases outside of their bonus category, whereas the Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 1.5% back on general purchases. Plus, you can increase the value of the cash back you earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® when you pair it with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® and redeem your rewards for travel.

Why not both?

If you are responsible with managing credit, you'll get the most value by opening both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Neither card has an annual fee, and both excel in different areas. For example, once you hit the $1,500 spending max on the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you can switch to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Plus, you can use the Chase Freedom Unlimited® for all purchases that aren't in the rotating bonus category of the Chase Freedom Flex℠, to earn 1.5% instead of 1% cash back.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® FAQs

What's the difference between Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®?

Both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are consumer rewards credit cards with no annual fee. Both earn 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% unlimited cash back on dining and drugstore purchases. The difference is that the Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% on quarterly rotating categories and 1% cash back on everything else, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 1.5% cash back on everything else.

Can I upgrade my Chase Freedom Flex℠ to a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?

Yes. Both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be upgraded to a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You can request an upgrade by contacting Chase. However, we'd recommend keeping the no annual fee card and adding a Chase Freedom Unlimited® to maximize your rewards.

Can I change my Chase Freedom® to a Chase Freedom Flex℠?

Yes. If you are an existing Chase Freedom® cardholder, you can request a product change by contacting Chase. Keep in mind that you won’t be eligible to earn the sign-up bonus.

Do I have to change my Chase Freedom® to a Chase Freedom Flex℠?

No. While the Chase Freedom® will close to new applicants, existing cardholders will continue to enjoy all card benefits. However, we’d recommend requesting a product change to unlock the new earning categories in travel, dining and drugstore purchases.

Can I change my Chase Freedom Flex℠ to a Chase Freedom Unlimited®?

Yes. You can request a product change from a Chase Freedom Flex℠ to Chase Freedom Unlimited® and vice versa. However, we'd recommend getting both cards to benefit from both the 5% back on rotating categories and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Also note, you won’t be eligible to earn the sign-up bonus through a product change.

Can I have both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®?

Yes. You can have both cards at the same time, and we recommend doing so to maximize your rewards.

Can I use Chase Freedom Unlimited® on international trips?

Both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be used internationally, but you'll have to pay a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. Other Chase cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®, have no foreign transaction fees.

Can you transfer Chase Freedom Unlimited® points?

You can transfer points earned on the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® to Chase's travel partners only if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Can I withdraw money from my Chase Freedom Unlimited®?

You cannot withdraw money from a bank account with either of these cards; however, for a fee, you can get a cash advance from both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Can I downgrade my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to a Chase Freedom Unlimited®?

Yes. You can downgrade both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® to either of Chase's no-fee cashback card options.

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

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses 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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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).