CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value, but does not review all financial companies or all available financial offers. We may receive compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com, and this compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site.
The Chase Freedom Flex is a cash back credit card with no annual fee and a unique feature. Every three months, the card switches its bonus categories, offering new opportunities to earn extra cash back. Once you activate the categories, you’ll earn 5% cash back anytime you make a purchase during the quarter in any of the selected categories, up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter.
On Monday, Chase revealed the latest set of Chase Freedom Flex bonus categories. The new categories, which launch on April 1 and run through June 30, 2021, are:
- Gas Stations
- Home Improvement Stores
Many Chase Freedom Flex card holders will find these categories easy to maximize, since nearly everyone still needs to fill up their cars at gas stations, and home improvement stores sell not just hardware, but a large variety of household items.
If you have a home improvement project coming up this spring, you can earn 5% cash back on supplies with your Chase Freedom Flex card.
Remember that in order to earn 5% bonus cash back on the Chase Freedom Flex, you need to activate the categories each quarter by phone or online at chase.com/freedomflex. You can activate these second-quarter categories starting on March 15, but you don’t have to activate them before you’ve made a purchase — you can do it afterward and still get bonus cash back retroactively. However, the last day to activate these categories is June 14, 2021.
Also, keep in mind that you’ll only earn 5% cash back in these categories on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter. For any purchases beyond that cap, you’ll earn 1% cash back, which is the same rate you’ll get on any purchases made outside the bonus categories. And these same categories are also available on the original Chase Freedom credit card, which is no longer open to new applicants but still used by many Chase customers.
In addition to earning 5% cash back on the rotating categories, the Chase Freedom Flex also comes with a trio of fixed bonus categories. You’ll earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining (including eligible delivery services) and 3% cash back at drugstores. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
Plus, there’s a way to increase the value of your Chase Freedom Flex cash back even further. When you also have one of Chase’s premium travel credit cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — you have the option to convert your Chase Freedom Flex cash back into Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent per point.
You can then redeem those points at a higher value for travel purchases — either at 1.5 cents apiece on the Chase Sapphire Reserve or 1.25 cents each on the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred.
Last year, Chase also launched additional redemption options on its Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cards. The issuer’s “Pay Yourself Back” feature allows you to redeem points in several other eligible categories in addition to travel.
The current categories are grocery stores, dining establishments (including delivery and takeout) and home improvement stores, and from now through April 30, 2021, you’ll get the same redemption rates in these categories — 1.5 cents for the Sapphire Reserve, and 1.25 cents for the Sapphire Preferred — as you do for travel redemptions.
Finally, you can potentially increase the value of your Ultimate Rewards points even further by transferring them to any of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel partners. This option requires some time and research in order to understand how these partner loyalty programs work, and you may not thinking much about travel just yet. But when airlines return to the skies in the near future, it’s possible to use these points to travel to exotic destinations in first class for very little money.
Convert your Chase Freedom Flex cash back to Ultimate Rewards points and redeem them for travel at a higher rate.
Of course, if you prefer cash to travel rewards, you can just redeem the cash back you earn on the Chase Freedom Flex for a statement credit, or a direct deposit into most US checking and savings accounts. Other options for redeeming include gift cards and Amazon’s “Shop With Points” program, though you may not get as much value for your points when using those methods.
Regardless of whether you’re interested in cash back or travel rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex is a useful credit card to have in your purse or wallet. You’ll just want to make sure you have another credit card to pair it with, since that’s when it’s most valuable.
If you’re interested in travel, get a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve to go with the Chase Freedom Flex, and convert your Freedom Flex cash back to travel points, increasing their value and opening up multiple additional redemption options.
If you prefer cash back, pair the Chase Freedom Flex with another credit card that earns a higher rate on purchases outside the bonus categories. CNN Underscored’s benchmark credit card, the Citi® Double Cash Card, is one such option, as it earns 2% cash back on everything you buy — 1% when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay it off. Then use the Freedom Flex when you make a purchase in the bonus categories, and the Citi Double Cash on everything else.
And if you don’t already have a Chase Freedom Flex credit card, you might want to consider getting one and using it to earn extra cash back. The card even currently comes with a sign-up bonus of $200 in cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months after you open the account.
Thinking about getting a new credit card? Read CNN Underscored’s guide to the best credit cards of 2021.