The all-new Chase Freedom Flex Mastercard is now live. Within Chase’s family of Ultimate Rewards cards, this one replaces the Freedom Visa. The Freedom Visa was a good card thanks to its rotating 5X categories, but the Freedom Flex is better. Much better. In addition to offering 5X categories that change each quarter, the Freedom Flex offers 5X for travel booked through Chase, 5X for Lyft, 3X for dining, and 3X at drugstores. That’s a powerful combination.
Chase is currently offering best-ever welcome bonuses for their Freedom card lineup. Both the Freedom Flex and the similar Freedom Unlimited offer three components to their offer: 1) 20,000 points after $500 spend; 2) 5X earnings at grocery stores for the first 12 months (on up to $12K of spend); and 3) 0% APR for 15 months. With either offer, if you spend the full $12K at grocery stores, you’ll end up with at least 80,000 points. It’s convenient too that the Freedom cards are great companions to the Sapphire Preferred, which is currently sporting a 80,000 point offer. See: Chase Sapphire Preferred 80K Offer – Should you go for it?
To get the most value from your points, you’ll want to have a premium Ultimate Rewards card in your household. With the Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred you’ll be able to use points to purchase travel at a value of 1.25 cents per point. With the Sapphire Reserve you’ll be able to purchase travel at a value of 1.5 cents per point. With the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve you can use Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature to essentially cash out points for 1.25 cents per point (Preferred) or 1.5 cents per point (Reserve). With any of these premium cards, you’ll gain the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel partners.
The Freedom Flex card does charge foreign transaction fees, so leave it at home when traveling internationally. But within the US, the Freedom Card is a great choice for earning 3X to 5X rewards in selected categories.
Chase Freedom Flex Application Tips
Chase Application Tips
Call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status
In my opinion, the Freedom Flex is an excellent choice in many cases, but it’s especially good if you or a household member has (or plans to get) the Sapphire Reserve card. Use the Freedom Flex to earn 5X for travel booked through Chase, 5X in rotating categories, and 3X for drugstores and dining. Move your Freedom Flex points to the Sapphire Reserve account to get at least 1.5 cents per point value from all points. When you earn 3X to 5X with the Freedom Flex and redeem at 1.5 cents value with the Sapphire Reserve, you get a 4.5% to 7.5% return on your spend.
To apply for the Freedom Flex card, you must not currently have the same card (it’s okay to have a different Freedom card), and you must not have received a welcome bonus for the Freedom Flex in the past 24 months. Of course, since the card is new, this shouldn’t be a problem for anyone yet!
More critically, to get this card you must be under 5/24.
|Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.
After you apply, call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status.
If your application is denied, I recommend calling for reconsideration (1-888-270-2127). It’s surprising how often denials can be changed to approvals just by asking.
Chase Freedom Flex Perks
- Auto Rental Coverage: Chase offers secondary auto rental CDW (collision damage waiver) when renting within your country of residence (presumably it is primary for rentals in other countries).
- Trip Cancellation / Interruption Insurance: If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
- Extended Warranty: “Extends the time period of U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.”
- Damage and Theft Protection: “Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.”
- Cell Phone Protection: Up to $800 per claim and $1K per year against theft or damage with a $50 deductible when you pay your monthly bill with the card (max of 2 claims per year)
- DoorDash DashPass: Complimentary DashPass subscription for 3 months on DoorDash and Caviar. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at 50% off for the next 9 months – activate by 12/31/2021.
- Lyft credits: Get a $10 credit for every 5 Lyft rides you take in a calendar month.
- Boxed Rewards: Earn 5% back in Boxed rewards for future purchases.
- Free Shoprunner Shipping
- Fandango points: Double VIP+ points for movie tickets purchased via the Fandango app or at Fandango.com.
Chase Freedom Flex Earn Points
The welcome bonus for this card is advertised as cash back, but the rewards are actually delivered as Ultimate Rewards points. Here’s the current offer:
This is the most interest aspect of the card. 5X bonus categories change every 3 months. 5X rewards are capped at $1500 in spend per 3 months. It’s often possible to maximize your 5X earnings by buying gift cards. For example, during a quarter in which the card offers 5X at grocery stores, you can buy $1,500 in gift cards at grocery stores and then spend those gift cards at your leisure.
In addition to the rotating 5X categories, this card offers 3X to 5X earnings, uncapped, in the following categories of spend:
- 5X Travel Booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 5X Lyft (through 3/31/22)
- 3X Dining (restaurants and food delivery)
- 3X Drugstore
Chase Freedom Flex Redeem Points
Cardholders can redeem points for 1 cent each either as statement credits or as cash back. Cash back can be taken as a statement credit or via check or ACH transfer.
Pay Yourself Back
If someone in your household has the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card, then you can take advantage of the Pay Yourself Back feature by moving your Freedom points to the Sapphire card. The basic idea is that Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cardholders can exchange Chase Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits against certain categories of purchases. For example, at the time of this writing, you can redeem points, at full travel value, to offset restaurant, grocery, food delivery, home improvement store, and select charity purchases. With the Sapphire Preferred card, points are worth 1.25 cents each. With the Sapphire Reserve card, points are worth 1.5 cents each.
Redeem points for travel: 1.5 cents per pointThis option requires that someone in your household has the ultra-premium Chase Sapphire Reserve card. First move (combine) points from your no-fee card to the Sapphire Reserve account. Next, log into Chase under the Sapphire Reserve account, and go to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book your travel. A $500 flight would usually cost 50,000 points if you used points attached to the no-fee card, but with the Chase Sapphire Reserve it would cost only 33,333 points.
Redeem points for travel: 1.25 cents per pointThis option requires that someone in your household has a premium Ultimate Rewards card: Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred. First move (combine) points from your no-fee card to one of these premium cards. Next, log into Chase under the account that now has the points, and go to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book your travel. A $500 flight would usually cost 50,000 points if you used points attached to a no-fee Ultimate Rewards card, but with the Chase Sapphire Preferred it would cost only 40,000 points.
Details about booking travel through ChaseYou can use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book airfare, hotels, cruises, activities, and car rentals. Airfare purchased through the portal still earns airline miles and elite qualifying miles. Hotels booked this way do not earn hotel rewards. Worse, hotels booked through the portal often won't offer you elite benefits even if you have status. Unfortunately, Chase switched to an Expedia-backed portal and removed some ultra low cost carriers. For example, you can no longer book Spirit Airlines or Southwest through Chase Ultimate Rewards. There is a work-around for some carriers though. Please see this post for details: How to book the cheapest flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Travel protections applyWhen you pay with points for travel, Chase's automatic travel protections do apply. So, you can be covered for things like car rentals, trip delays, trip cancellation & interruption, lost luggage, etc. The coverage you receive will be based on which card's rewards were used to book the trip. For example, if you have both a Chase Sapphire Preferred and a Sapphire Reserve, you would want to move your Ultimate Rewards points from the Preferred to the Reserve and then use the Reserve points to book your trip. You will get both better value (1.5 cents per point) and better travel protections. See: Sapphire Reserve Travel Insurance.
Move points to premium or ultra-premium card firstYou cannot transfer points directly from a no-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card to airline and hotel partners, but you can move points first to a premium card (Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, for example) or ultra-premium card (Sapphire Reserve) and then transfer the points to airline or hotel partners. Points can be transferred to the loyalty accounts of the primary cardholder or any authorized user on the account. Points can also be transferred to the loyalty account of a joint business owner, but they do need to be an authorized user on the associated business account.
|Rewards Program||Best Uses|
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.|
|Avios||While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Great value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower than when booking through British Airways. Aer Lingus shares the "Avios" currency with British Airways and Iberia. In most cases it is best to move points to one of those programs in order to book awards for less.|
|Emirates Skywards||Emirates has different award charts for each airline partner. Sometimes they allow one-way awards, sometimes they do not. In general, award prices are fairly high, but there are a few sweet spots such as New York to Milan for 90K round trip in business class.|
|Hyatt||Use for Hyatt free nights or points + cash nights. Hyatt points are often worth at least 1.7 cents each towards free nights, but they’re sometimes worth far more. One hidden bonus: award nights are not subject to resort fees.|
|JetBlue||JetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one or both cards.|
|Marriott Bonvoy||5th Night Free awards|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members) or for Star Alliance awards. Low change fees and no close-in booking fees make this a very good program for booking United Airlines flights.|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||Award flights are fully refundable. Point values vary due to certain taxes not being charged on awards, but tend to average around 1.5 cents per point.|
|United MileagePlus||Even though Singapore Airlines miles have a number of advantages over United miles for booking Star Alliance flights, United has advantages too. For one, it is possible to book most Star Alliance awards online at United.com. Additionally, United awards sometimes cost fewer miles with United than with Singapore (especially premium awards on United’s own flights). And, most importantly, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. In some cases, United is far cheaper than Singapore Airlines for this reason alone.|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Virgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses. Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines. A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart. Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly. Virgin Atlantic also offers great award prices for Air France premium economy awards.|
You can also use points to pay some merchants directly (Amazon.com, for example or via Chase Pay). Don't do this. These options offer very poor value. Further, they may compromise the security of your account (i.e. if someone hacks into your Amazon account, they might spend your Ultimate Rewards points - causing you a headache in getting your points reinstated).
Chase Freedom Flex Manage Points
If you intend to cancel a Chase Ultimate Rewards card, you should first combine your points with a card you intend to keep active. Once you cancel, you will forfeit any unused points in that account (See: My 90,000 Ultimate Rewards Points mistake). A product change should not affect your balance, but some people prefer moving points before a product change as well just to be safe.
Why this is valuable:
- You earn points with the card offering the best return on purchases and then use points with the card offering the best redemption rate.
- Only one member of your household needs to maintain a premium card for transferring to partners or booking travel (though note that the primary cardholder can only transfer points to partner loyalty programs in the name of the primary cardholder or authorized users).
Transfer difficulties? Create a loopIf you have trouble transferring between accounts, some users have been able to combine points between their own accounts — like from Bob’s Ink Business Cash to Bob’s Sapphire Reserve — via secure message.
However, you may run into an issue if you try to connect more than one of your cards to a single card that belongs to someone else. Chase allows you to combine/transfer to someone else who lives in your household (or a co-owner of your business for business cards), but I’ve had complications with this from time to time.
For example, let’s say that Joe and Suzy live in the same household and are joint owners of a business and have the following accounts:
Joe first combines points from his Freedom Unlimited to Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve. Later, he logs into his Ink Business Cash account and tries to combine points with Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve. Joe may run into an error adding Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve card to combine points. This has happened in our household several times. In that case, Joe should log into his Freedom Unlimited account and remove Suzy as a household member (click “remove saved card). About 24 hours later, he should be able to add Suzy to his Ink Business Cash in order to combine his points to her account.
The easy solution I’ve found is to create a loop. In the example scenario they should transfer like this:
Joe’s Freedom Unlimited —> Joe’s Ink Business Cash —> Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve —> Joe’s Freedom Unlimited
Creating a loop chain has solved that problem in my household. As noted, it took 24 hours after removing accounts to re-add them to other cards, so be aware of that limitation.
Chase Freedom Flex Lifecycle
How to meet minimum spend requirements
Keep, cancel, or product change?
Is this card worth keeping in the long run? Yes! It has no annual fee and it offers great 3X and 5X reward categories. If you decide to cancel anyway, make sure to first redeem any remaining points or move them to another Ultimate Rewards card.