chase freedom flex vs chase freedom unlimited
Updated April 03, 2022

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Freedom Flex – Is Bonus Spending Worth It?

Credit Cards

We may receive a commission if you sign up or purchase through links on this page. Here's more information.

The Chase Freedom Flex and the Chase Freedom Unlimited are Chase’s two main cash-back cards.

Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between them, as well as who they might be a good fit for.

If you’d rather watch a review comparing the Freedom Flex and the Freedom Unlimited, my YouTube video has all of the information in this post.

Rewards and Points Compared

The Chase Freedom Flex is a hybrid between a rotating-category cash-back card and a standard cash-back card.

There is no minimum amount to redeem Freedom Flex cash-back earnings, and as long as your account remains open, your cash-back earnings do not expire.

The Freedom Flex also offers 5% cash back on bonus categories that rotate each quarter.

These are generally areas of common spending, such as grocery stores, wholesale clubs, and streaming services.

The Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer cash back for bonus categories, but it offers 1.5% cash-back on non-bonus purchases, while the Freedom Flex only offers one percent.

Freedom UnlimitedFreedom Flex
Cash back on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards5%5%
Cash back at restaurants3%3%
Cash back at drugstores3%3%
Rotating categoriesNone5% in a different category each quarter on up to $1500 in purchases per quarter
Cash back on all other purchases1.5%1%

Earning Points with Freedom Unlimited

With the Freedom Unlimited card, you have these ways of earning cash back.

  • 5% cash back on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases.
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Earning Points with Freedom Flex

The Freedom Flex offers these methods of earning cash back

  • 5% cash back on quarterly bonus categories.
  • 5% cash back on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The best non-travel cash-back rewards with the Freedom Flex card come from buying within the quarterly bonus categories.

These were the categories in 2021.

Q1 2021: January-March
Wholesale clubs; Internet, cable, & phone Services; Select streaming services
Q2 2021: April-June
Gas stations; Home improvement stores
Q3 2021: July-September
Grocery stores (excluding Target & Walmart); Select streaming services
Q4 2021: October-December
Walmart, PayPal

At time of writing, there is a quarterly limit of $1,500 in spending on bonus categories.

After reaching the $1,500 limit, the cash-back bonus goes back down to the standard 1% for “all other purchases.”

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points can be redeemed for:

  • Gift cards
  • Statement credit
  • Travel
  • Cash
  • Limited-time offers for products and services

All of the offers are available through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website.

Sign-Up Bonuses for Each Card

sign up bonuses for each card

As of December 2021, the Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex credit cards offer the same $250 sign-up bonus.

Sign-Up Bonus for the Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited sign-up bonus is $250, if you spend $500 in the first three months of having the card.

Sign-Up Bonus for the Freedom Flex

The Freedom Flex sign-up bonus is $250. You must spend $500 in the first three months of having the card to get the bonus.

Chase Freedom Card Perks Compared

Earning cash back is the main reason to choose one of the Freedom cards. But they also come with some additional benefits.

Let’s see how the two compare.

Freedom UnlimitedFreedom Flex
Welcome Bonus$250$250
Intro APR0% for first 15 months0% for first 15 months
World Elite Mastercard PerksNoYes
DoorDash SubscriptionFree for 3 months, 50% off next 9 monthsFree for 3 months, 50% off next 9 months
Lyft Discount5%5%
Transferable RewardsYesYes
Zero Liability ProtectionYesYes
Purchase Protection$500 per claim / $50,000 per account$500 per claim / $50,000 per account
Extended Warranty ProtectionYesYes
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance$1,500 per person / $6,000 per trip$1,500 per person / $6,000 per trip
Cell Phone ProtectionNoneUp to $800 per claim / $1,000 per year
24/7 Fraud Monitoring & AlertsYesYes
Auto Rental Collision Damage WaiverYesYes
Travel and Emergency Assistance ServicesYesYes

Welcome Bonus

Both Freedom Flex credit card and Freedom Unlimited credit card currently come with an introductory sign-up offer of $250, which you’ll receive after spending at least $500 within three months of getting the card.

0% Intro APR

The Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited card offer a 0% APR for the first 15 months.

You won’t be charged any interest on any purchases or balance transfers you make, as long as you pay them off by the end of that 15-month period.

However, you will still have to make the minimum payment on your card in order to avoid late fees.

World Elite Mastercard Perks

The biggest difference in perks between the two cards is that the Freedom Flex is part of the World Elite Mastercard program, and the Freedom Unlimited isn’t.

mastercard world elite perks

The World Elite Mastercard partnership means the the Flex comes with these additional benefits.

  • In addition to the free DoorDash membership, $5 off two orders per month.
  • Cell phone protection (covers up to $1,000 per year; 2 claims per year and $800 maximum per claim). You must pay with your Chase Freedom card to activate this benefit.
  • Zero Liability & ID theft protection.
  • $5 Lyft credit if you take at least 3 Lyft rides per month (the $5 credit is issued once a month).
  • Free Shoprunner membership.
  • 5% cash back on HelloFresh orders (to use for future purchases), plus up to 14 free meals for new customers.
  • $5 Fandango Reward if you spend at least $20 on movie tickets.

DoorDash Subscription

doordash subscription

Chase offers a free three-month DoorDash DashPass subscription followed by nine additional months at 50% off when you open a new Freedom Unlimited or Freedom Flex card.

DoorDash DashPass can be used for both DoorDash and Caviar and removes the delivery fee on orders of $12 or more from eligible restaurants.

This subscription normally costs $10 a month, so this benefit lowers the price to $45 your first year 一 $0 for the first three months and then $5 for the next nine months 一 instead of the normal $120.

As mentioned above, Flex members get $5 off of two orders per month.

5% Cash Back from Lyft

cash back from lyft

Both offer 5% off on all Lyft rides and subscriptions through the end of April 2022. While this discount doesn’t apply to gift cards, car rentals, etc., it can be a great bonus for someone who uses rideshare services frequently, especially considering that there are no limits or restrictions on this.

Transferable Rewards

Both Freedom Unlimited and the Freedom Flex allow you to transfer unlimited points to a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card belonging to a household member via either the app or the website.

Why does this matter?

Both Sapphire cards have a relatively low cash-back rate of one percent on non-bonus spending, but they provide extremely high rewards 一 25% with the Preferred and 50% with the Reserve 一 on points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

chase ultimate rewards

Thus, if you have both a Freedom Unlimited and a Sapphire Reserve, you can put your non-bonus spending on the Freedom Unlimited for a 1.5% cash-back rate and then transfer those points to the Sapphire Reserve, where you can redeem them for 50% extra through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

This effectively increases your cash-back on non-bonus spending to 1.5% with the Freedom Flex or 2.25% with the Freedom Unlimited.

This also applies to other categories; for example, you could increase your cash-back on drugstore purchases from three percent to 4.5% with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Zero Liability Protection

Both cards protect you against charges made by unauthorized users. (You aren’t protected if an authorized user makes a charge you don’t want them to.)

Purchase Protection

When you buy something with either card, you can be reimbursed if the product is damaged or stolen.

Up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Extended Warranty Protection

When you purchase eligible products with warranties of three years or less with either card, you’ll get an extra year of warranty.

Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance

Travel purchases with either card are eligible to be refunded if illness, severe weather, or certain other situations force you to cancel your trip.

Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip.

Cell Phone Protection

Only the Freedom Flex offers cell phone protection, in the case of a damaged or stolen phone.

Up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year (after paying a $50 deductible).

There is a maximum of two claims per year.

Fraud Monitoring and Alerts

Both cards are monitored for fraudulent activity. Chase will contact you via phone and/or text if they notice anything suspicious going on.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

If you charge the cost of a rental car to either card, you’ll be covered for theft and collision damage for most cars in the U.S. and internationally.

You can safely decline the rental company’s collision insurance.

Warning: Don’t automatically decline coverage if you are renting a high-end vehicle like a Ferrari or Maserati — in these cases, check with Chase to see exactly how much coverage you have.

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

Holders of either card can contact Chase for assistance if they face an emergency situation while traveling abroad.

The types of assistance will vary depending on the situation.

Fees Compared

The fees for the Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex are the same.

Neither card comes with an annual fee, but both charge a three percent foreign transaction fee, so if you’re planning on travelling internationally, you should consider a more travel-specific card.

Freedom UnlimitedFreedom Flex
Annual Fee$0$0
Foreign Transaction Fee3 percent3 percent

Why Choose the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

If you’re just looking for a starter credit card, you’ll likely get more overall cash-back rewards with the Freedom Unlimited’s benefits on non-bonus spending since you’ll only have one credit card for all your purchases.

Your Non-Bonus Spending Will Be At Least Seven Times Your Bonus Spending

This is because non-bonus spending with the Freedom Unlimited comes with .5% more cash-back, while spending in rotating categories with the Freedom Flex comes with 3.5% more cash-back.

The advantage of the Freedom Flex in the rotating categories is seven times higher than the Freedom Unlimited’s advantage on non-bonus spending.

That sounds great — but if you spend at least seven times more in non-bonus categories than you would in the Freedom Flex’s rotating categories, you’re going to come out ahead with the Freedom Unlimited.

Freedom UnlimitedFreedom Flex
Spending on Bonus Categories$2,000$2,000
Cash Back from Bonus Categories$30$100
Spending on Non-Bonus Categories$14,000$14,000
Cash Back from Non-Bonus Categories$210$140
Total Cash Back$240$240

In the example above, if you would only spend $2,000 in the Freedom Flex’s rotating categories per year, your rewards with the Freedom Unlimited would break even with only $14,000 in non-bonus spending, a little over $1,000 a month.

You Spend a Lot Overall

The Freedom Unlimited might also be a better option for you if you’re a big spender.

Due to the quarterly limit on rewards in the Freedom Flex’s rotating categories ($1,500 per quarter, at time of writing), the Freedom Unlimited’s rewards will increase more with your spending than the Freedom Flex’s.

For example, if your spending in the rotating categories is under $1,500, your rewards on those purchases will be five percent with the Flex.

But what if you spend more than that?

Freedom UnlimitedFreedom Flex
Spending on Bonus Categories $6,000 $6,000
Cash Back on First $1,500 Spent$22.50$75
Cash Back on Remaining $4,500 Spent$67.50$45
Total Bonus Category Cash Back$90$120
Spending on Non-Bonus Categories$7,500$7,500
Non-Bonus Category Cash Back$112.50$75
Total Cash Back$202.50$195
Effective Cash Back Rate1.5% 1.44%

In the example above, you can see that once you pass the $1,500 per quarter limit, your cash back rate on the Flex drops drastically (down to 1%).

If you expect to spend a lot on the rotating categories, your non-bonus spending is probably also extremely high, making the Freedom Unlimited’s higher non-bonus cash-back rate even more important.

As the example proves, If you spend $2,000/month on bonus categories, and $2,500/month on non-bonus purchases, you’d actually make more cash back with the Unlimited.

Why Choose the Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card

The Freedom Flex is probably a better fit for you if you have another cash back card for non-bonus purchases, or if you just don’t spend that much.

You Have a High-Return Cash Back Card Already

if you already have a Citi Double Cash or similar card with a high return on non-bonus spending, as this would negate the Freedom Unlimited’s advantage in that area.

However, if you already have a Chase Sapphire card, you’ll need a card with an even higher cash-back rate than the Citi Double Cash to negate the combined 2.25% non-bonus cash-back rate of the Freedom Unlimited and a Sapphire card.

You Don’t Spend Much Overall

The Freedom Flex is also a better option for people who don’t spend much.

After all, its main advantage is five percent back on rotating bonus categories, but that only applies to a maximum of $1,500 in purchases per quarter, equal to a maximum of $300 in cash-back per year.

Freedom UnlimitedFreedom Flex
Annual Bonus Category Spending $6,000 $6,000
Annual Bonus Category Cashback$90$300
Annual Non-Bonus Category Spending$42,000$42,000
Annual Non-Bonus Category Cash Back$630$420
Total Cash Back$720$720

As you can see from the example, the Freedom Unlimited only earns $90 in cash-back on these bonus categories.

Once you spend $42,000 more per year, the Freedom Unlimited’s higher non-bonus category earnings match those of the Freedom Flex.

Thus, if you’re able to maximize your rewards in the rotating categories but spend less than $42,000 in other areas per year, the Freedom Flex is probably a better option for you.

Final Thoughts

If you want a starter credit card to put your general spending on, don’t want to worry about rotating categories, or want a simple credit card setup, the Freedom Unlimited is probably a better option for you.

Chase Freedom UnlimitedChase Freedom Flex
  • Starter card to put general spending on
  • No need to worry about bonus categories
  • Big bonuses available if you pay attention to detail
  • Must look up bonus categories every three months
  • The Freedom Flex is a great card for many people, but it requires a little more attention to detail since you need to activate and keep track of the bonus categories for each quarter.

    When considering these cards, bear in mind that both are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, so no matter how good your credit is, your application will automatically be denied if you’ve already opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months.

    Overall, these cards are quite similar, but the trade-off between the bonus categories and the higher rewards for non-bonus spending can make it difficult to choose between the two.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Here are some short answers to basic questions people often have about these two rewards cards.

    • What’s the difference between Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited?

      The main difference between these two cards are that the Flex offers 5% cash back on rotating categories, but only 1% cash back on non-bonus-category purchases.

      The Unlimited does not offer additional cash back on rotating categories, but it offers at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

    • Which is better: Chase Freedom Unlimited or Flex?

      The Chase Freedom Unlimited is best for people who plan to put all of their purchases on one card.

      The Chase Flex is best for people who target a lot of their spending on bonus categories, and can earn cash back on other purchases with a different card.

    • Should I get the Freedom Flex if I already have the Freedom Unlimited?

      If you plan to spend a lot of money on the bonus seasonal categories, it might be worth it for you to add the Flex.

      However, you could be subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, which automatically denies applications from anyone who has opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months. rather than the select categories.

    • Is Chase Freedom Flex hard to get?

      The Chase Freedom Flex is relatively hard to qualify for.

      Multiple sources suggest that you must have a credit score of 670 or higher to get approved — that’s considered the “good” range.

      Increasing your credit score above 700 is the best way to ensure you’ll get approved for this card.

    • Is Chase Freedom the same as Freedom Unlimited?

      Chase Freedom is a category of card. Chase offers a Freedom Flex and a Freedom Unlimited, but there is no “Freedom” card.

    • Does Chase Freedom Unlimited have rotating categories?

      No, this card does not have rotating categories like its sibling card, the Freedom Flex.

    • Can you upgrade from Chase Freedom Flex to Unlimited?

      Yes, you can upgrade by requesting a product change from Chase or submitting an application. Contact Chase customer service.

    Author:

    Logan Allec, CPA

    Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

    Back to top  
    Subscribe
    Notify of
    guest
    0 Comments
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments