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Earlier this month, Chase announced a major update to their credit card offerings and the Ultimate Rewards ecosystem – a massive expansion of benefits and Ultimate Rewards earning opportunities and a new card, the Freedom Flex (replacing the old Freedom.)

The Freedom Flex is now one of the best no-fee cards available.

Freedom and Freedom Unlimited of Yore

Before the announcement of the “new” Freedom Flex there were two no-fee Freedom cards offered by Chase: the Freedom and the Freedom Unlimited.

Both of these are considered cash back cards, but when paired with the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or an Ink Business card, you could instead earn Ultimate Rewards points, which are extremely valuable when transferred to travel partners.

The original Freedom card’s earning is rather simple: 5% cash back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points) on up to $1,500 in purchases made within categories that rotate each quarter of the calendar year. Every other dollar spent earns 1% (or 1 Ultimate Rewards Point.)

The Freedom Unlimited was even simpler: 1.5% cash back (or 1.5 Ultimate Rewards Points) per dollar spent on all purchases with no limits. With these two cards, in combination with another fee-carrying Ultimate-Rewards-earning card like the Sapphire Preferred, you could easily earn at least 1.5 UR points per dollar on all spend, and usually 3-5x UR.

Now, however, Chase has updated the earning structure of both the Freedom (now Freedom Flex) and Freedom Unlimited to broaden the categories of bonused spend. Instead of simply having rotating categories, Chase is incentivizing customers to book travel through their Ultimate Rewards Portal (which is sometimes a good deal, but not always) and also adding additional multipliers for dining and drugstore spend. What’s more, most of the Freedom Flex’s perks are also being added to the Freedom Unlimited.

New Freedom Flex Perks

The new Freedom Flex comes with some new benefits in addition to the name change. These include:

  • 5% (or 5x UR) on quarterly rotating categories – similar to the old Freedom
  • 5%/5x on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 5%/5x on grocery store purchases (for 1st year, up to $12,000)
  • 3%/3x on drugstore purchases
  • 3%/3x on dining
  • 5%/5x on Lyft (through March 2022)
  • 1%/1x on all other purchases
  • Mastercard World Elite benefits such as $800 in cell phone insurance, 5% cash back at Boxed, $10 in Lyft credit with 5 rides per month, and more.

Updated Freedom Unlimited Benefits

The existing Freedom Unlimited is also getting most of the additional new benefits:

  • 5%/5x on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 3%/3x on drugstore purchases
  • 3%/3x on dining
  • 5%/5x on Lyft (through March 2022)
  • 1.5%/1.5x on all other purchases

When is the Freedom Flex Available?

Chase is accepting applications for the Freedom Flex now. They are offering a welcome bonus of $200/20,000 UR after $500 in spend within 3 months, as well as 5%/5x at grocery stores for the first year (up to $12,000, not including Target® or Walmart® purchases)

What Else Should You Know?

Existing Chase Freedom cardholders will be able to product-change their cards to the Freedom Flex.

If you are under their “5/24” rule (fewer than five opened cards within the past 24 months) you can also apply for the card directly  – a “new” card for a new welcome bonus. (The original Freedom is no longer be available for new applications.)

Furthermore, Chase allows you to have both a Freedom Flex and a Freedom Unlimited card open simultaneously, as well as an original Freedom, but you will not be able to have multiple Freedom Flex cards open at the same time (in the past it was possible to have multiple Freedom cards – this appears to be a new rule).

Current Freedom Unlimited cardholders will automatically get access to the new bonus spend categories without having to take any action.

Best Use of the Freedom Flex

The best use of the Freedom Flex is when pairing it with the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or an Ink Business card.

Although the new category bonuses and benefit provided by the Freedom Flex are useful and welcomed, the real power of this card is through its synergy with other Chase products.

The Freedom Flex travel bonus only works when going through the Ultimate Rewards Portal – so other regular travel expenses do not count. What’s more, this card incurs Foreign Transaction Fees on all charges made outside the United States so if you were to use it at a restaurant in Italy it would tack on a 3% fee.

Therefore these cards are most powerful when partnered with a premium Chase product in order to transfer your earnings to Ultimate Rewards points and, ultimately, to travel partners.

One last point to mention here is that when you have the Sapphire Reserve, Ultimate Rewards points are redeemable for 1.5 cents per point. This means that if you earn 5x with the Freedom Flex on their rotating categories, those points are actually worth 7.5 UR points per dollar – a fantastic and unmatched return. Similarly, the 3x categories of dining and drugstore purchases would have value of 4.5 UR/$.

Final Thoughts

The fact that the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards are offering 5x on travel (when booked through Chase) and 3x on dining and drugstores is a huge addition. The Freedom Flex has become an extremely useful card. However it is not without its limitations in terms of earnings (5x on travel only through Chase’s portal which is not always the best deal) and limited use outside of the U.S.

All told, the Freedom Flex is a fantastic addition to the Chase credit card ecosystem and offers a lot of value for a no-fee card. I will certainly be picking up this card very soon and am looking forward to earning some points this fall as travel starts to slowly become viable once again!

Brandon Chase is a financially independent writer, endurance athlete, and travel hacking enthusiast originally from Maine. He is currently serving out the remainder of his final overseas tour as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State in Islamabad, Pakistan and has previously lived in Cairo, Egypt, and Nicosia, Cyprus. Since getting hooked on “the hobby” in 2013, he and his wife have accumulated and redeemed millions of points and miles for luxury travel, including a $35,000 trip around the world for 97% off retail which he wrote about on his blog Fit For Miles. In addition to travel, he loves to be outdoors and has summited Mr. Kilimanjaro, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and completed ultramarathons at the 50k and 50-mile distances. Brandon is thrilled to share his knowledge of credit cards, award travel, and optimization with the Go Curry Cracker readers and hopes to help people travel more and better than they ever thought possible.

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Editorial Note – Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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