$200 Signup Bonus, 5% Cashback, & More –

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Do you like cash back credit cards or looking for more ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards? Your quest is easier now that Chase is refreshing its Freedom rewards credit card family. First, you can now apply for the Chase Freedom Flex℠ that Mastercard is issuing. Visa will continue to issue the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, yet some purchases now earn up to 5% cashback. And, new cardholders can earn a $200 cash bonus after making $500 in purchases during the first 3 months of account opening.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach (Credit: Bill Rockwell)
You can use cards like the Chase Freedom Flex to earn rewards to use for travel. Visit Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. Credit: Bill Rockwell

There will continue to be two different credit cards in the Chase Freedom family. One card awards up to 5% cashback on the first $1,500 in quarterly bonus categories. The other option earns at least 1.5% cashback on purchases.

Chase Freedom Flex by Mastercard

The newest addition to the Chase credit card lineup is the Chase Freedom Flex℠ by Mastercard. The Freedom Flex replaces the Chase Freedom®, although the purchase rewards structure is similar.

One of the first changes you will notice is that Mastercard issues the Freedom Flex. A few years back, you could get the Freedom Card as either a Mastercard or Visa product. This card has World Elite Mastercard benefits.

You will continue to earn up to 5% cashback on rotating quarterly bonus categories. Plus, you can earn 5%, 3%, or 1% back anytime on select bonus categories (more on that below).

New cardmembers have the opportunity to earn a $200 cash bonus after making $500 in purchases during the first 3 months of account opening. Also, cardholders can earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

This card doesn’t have an annual fee but does have a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Earn Up To 5% Cashback

You now have more ways to earn bonus rewards on purchases besides the quarterly bonus category. It’s possible to earn up to 5% cashback (5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on purchases.

These are the Chase Freedom Flex℠ bonus categories:

  • 5% cashback on the first $1,500 on quarterly bonus categories you activate (then 1% back)
  • Up to 5% cashback on groceries (excludes Target and Walmart purchases) on the first $12,000 in the first year
  • 5% cashback on travel purchases in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 3% cashback on restaurants, including takeout and delivery services
  • 3% cashback on drugstore purchases
  • 1% cashback on everything else

It’s likely that the 5% quarterly bonus category will be the same for the Visa and Mastercard versions. In the 4th quarter of 2020, you can earn 5% cashback on the first $1,500 in holiday-related purchases.

The 5% grocery purchase benefit can be a good way to maximize the Chase Freedom Flex℠ during your first year of ownership. However, Target and Walmart purchases only earn 1% as they are “discount stores” that also sell merchandise.

Many who have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Chase Sapphire Reserve® also have a Freedom product to earn more bonus points. You can then transfer them to your Sapphire account for the travel redemption bonus or 1:1 point transfers.

Each Ultimate Rewards point is worth 1 cent each for cash redemptions or award travel you book through the Chase travel portal.

World Elite Mastercard Benefits

You may wish to add this card to your wallet so that you have a Mastercard product. The brand new Chase Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard (that’s the Mastercard equivalent of a Visa Signature product). The Chase Visa Freedom products are a Visa Signature product.

Some of the card’s built-in benefits include:

  • $10 Lyft credit after you take 5 rides in a month (one $10 credit per month)
  • 5% cash rewards at Boxed for future purchases
  • Free ShopRunner membership
  • $5 off future movie tickets or at-home purchases with Fandango
  • 10% off onefinestay rental homes and villas
  • Exclusive PGA Tour golf offers and discounts
  • Cell phone protection (up to $1,000 per year)

The complimentary cell phone protection is an exciting benefit and saves you a small fortune. First, you will need to pay your monthly cell phone bill with the Chase Freedom Flex℠. You get up to $1,000 in yearly coverage benefits. Mastercard lets you make up to two claims per year ($800 max per claim) if your phone is stolen or needs certain repairs. There is a $50 deductible per claim.

Limited-Time Chase Benefits

In addition to the recurring benefits above, Chase is offering a few limited-time partner benefits for many of its rewards credit cards. These partner perks are available to the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited credit cards.

  • Free DoorDash DashPass for three months and then 50% off for the next nine months
  • 5% cashback on Lyft rides through March 2022

You will need to activate the DoorDash DashPass benefits by December 31, 2020. DashPass benefits include a $0 delivery fee on orders above $12.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is getting a few new purchase rewards yet remains a Visa product. It’s a great card if you prefer earning fixed rewards as you get at least 1.5% on all purchases.

The signup bonus for new applicants is $200 bonus cash after spending $500 in the first three months. Additionally, cardholders can earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Like the Chase Freedom Flex, there is no annual fee but foreign purchases have a 3% transaction fee.

Purchase Rewards

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is still a flat-rate cash back credit card at its core. However, a few select purchases now earn up to 5% cashback.

  • Up to 5% cashback at supermarkets on the first $12,000 during the first year (excludes Target and Walmart)
  • 5% cashback on travel you book using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 3% cashback at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 3% cashback on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cashback on all other purchases

Besides the 5% and 3% bonus categories, the base rate of 1.5% cashback (1.5 Ultimate Rewards per $1) lets you earn 50% more on non-bonus purchases than most rewards credit cards. Like the Chase Freedom Flex, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards to a Chase Sapphire product to get a potentially higher redemption value.

Also, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠, each Freedom Unlimited point is worth 1 cent each for cash redemptions and award travel bookings.

Visa Signature Benefits

The built-in Visa Signature benefits are competitive with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ World Elite Mastercard benefits. One perk that the Chase Freedom Unlimited® lacks is free cell phone protection.

The two most notable benefits are secondary coverage for rental cars plus discounts at select retail and travel partners. Chase also provides purchase protection and extended warranty on select purchases.

Can Existing Chase Freedom Cardholders Upgrade?

It’s possible for existing Chase Freedom® cardholders to request an upgrade to the Chase Freedom Flex℠. This can be a good move to get exposure to Mastercard in your wallet and to enjoy some of the extra perks your current Chase Freedom Visa card doesn’t offer.

There isn’t a forced conversion from the Visa to the Mastercard version at this time.

If you already own the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you might consider applying for the Chase Freedom Flex.

Keep in mind that either Freedom card falls under the Chase 5/24 rule. You may need to wait to apply if you have too many new credit card accounts on your credit report.

Summary

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is an exciting addition to the Chase portfolio and the overall cash rewards credit card space. The additional bonus categories for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are nice too. Having more opportunities to maximize lifestyle purchases and the $200 cash signup bonus is worth pursuing.

FAQs

What is the Chase Freedom Flex signup bonus?

The signup bonus for the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is $200 bonus cash (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards) after spending $500 in the first 3 months. This offer is open to new applicants who currently do not have the Chase Freedom and have not received its new cardmember offer in the most recent 24 months.

You also earn 5% cashback on grocery store purchases (excludes Target and Walmart) on the first $12,000 you spend during the first 12 months.

What are the Chase Freedom Flex bonus categories?

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns up to 5% cashback on purchases.

  • 5% cashback on the first $1,500 for quarterly bonus categories after activating (then unlimited 1% back)
  • 5% cashback on travel you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 3% cashback at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 3% cashback on drugstore purchases
  • 1% cashback on everything else.

You will need to opt-in to the quarterly bonus category before you start earning 5% cashback on purchases.

For the time being, supermarket purchases also earn 5% cashback on the first $12,000 you spend during the first 12 months of having the Chase Freedom Flex.

What credit score do you need for the Chase Freedom Flex?

You will have the best approval odds for the Chase Freedom Flex℠ with a minimum credit score of 680.

Other factors affect your approval odds for this card too. The most notable factor is the Chase 5/24 rule. If you have opened or been added as an authorized user for 5 or more new credit cards in the most recent 24-month period, your application may be rejected.

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Josh Patoka

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