If you are into earning cash back or travel points on your credit card purchases (as you should be), the Chase Freedom card has always been a no-brainer. Cards with high annual fees may offer 4% on certain categories year round, but the Chase Freedom is free, and offers 5% on usually desirable rotating categories, such as grocery stores, gas stations, Amazon, Walmart, and PayPal. If the current categories are not your cup of tea, you can just keep it in your sock drawer until a useful category comes around.
But now comes the Chase Freedom Flex to take the place of the Chase Freedom. It offers the same 5% arrangement, but also offers a fixed 3% on dining and drugstores, along with 5% on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Reward portal. (One percent on everything else.)
At the time of this article, all this credit card goodness comes with a sign-up bonus of $200 (if you spend $500 in the first three months), and 5% on up to $12,000 in grocery spending for the first year. All told, you could net about $1,100 in cash back your first year with this free card. Additionally, you get trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and cell phone protection for up to $800 per claim, up to $1,000 per year, with a $50 deductible.
Best strategy if you have the Chase Freedom card.
Even though Chase won’t be offering the Freedom card to new applicants, that doesn’t mean it is going away. It will simply become a legacy card, and people who already have can continue to use it. If you have the Chase Freedom card, you could product switch over to the Flex, and avoid taking up a 5/24 slot. (Chase has an unwritten rule whereby they will decline you if you have obtained five or more personal credit cards in the prior two years.) But personally, I think it is worth taking the hit on the 5/24 front in order to have both the Freedom and Freedom Flex. The 5% rotating category feature is capped at $1,500 in spending per quarter, so if the category is Best Buy and you spend $1,500 on an 80″ television, you are done for the quarter. By keeping the Freedom, you double your 5% limit. Additionally, if you switch to the Flex, you’ll give up the sign-up bonus and the 5% on groceries for the first year.
Best strategy if you don’t have the Chase Freedom card.
If you don’t have the Chase Freedom card, then your choice is clear. The Freedom is no longer offered, so you’ll need to go straight to the Freedom Flex. Alternatively, the Freedom Unlimited is still available, and while it does not offer the 5% on rotating categories, it still offers 5% on travel and 3% on dining and drugstores, plus 1.5% on everything else. Some prefer the 1.5% on everything over the 5% rotating categories.
To apply for the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited, use this referral link to get all the sign-up benefits, and support this site in the process. If you are just beginning your credit journey, this link also offers the Chase Freedom Student card, which is much easier to get.