Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Chase Freedom Flex: Which Cash-Back Credit Card Is Better?

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Choosing between the Chase Freedom Flex vs. Freedom Unlimited can be challenging. They’re both no-annual-fee cash back credit cards with plenty of opportunities to grow your cash rewards balance fast. 

With so much going for each card, how do you choose the right one? The best way to choose between the Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Flex is to keep the following in mind: the Unlimited card has a higher cash back rate on general purchases while the Freedom Flex gives you the chance to earn 5% cash back on revolving categories. Here’s more on how the two cash rewards cards compare.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Freedom Unlimited Overview and Comparison

Card spending using either of the two Chase Freedom cash back cards will earn you points that can be redeemed for cash. Here’s a quick look at the similarities — and differences — between the two Chase cash back cards. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited Chase Freedom Flex
Best For Rewards simplicity Targeting bonus categories
Credit Score Good or better Good or better
Card Type Cash back Cash back
Rewards -5% back on travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
-3% back on drugstore, dining, takeout and select food delivery services
-1.5% on all other purchases
-5% back on up to $1,500  in bonus category purchases
-5% back on travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
-3% back on drugstore, dining, takeout and select food delivery services
-1% on all other purchases
Annual Fee $0 $0
Signup Bonus -Up to $300 cash back: Additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)
-6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)
-$200 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months
Introductory Offer Get 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases in the first 15 months Get 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases in the first 15 months
Annual Percentage Rate
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Differences Between Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Flex

You probably noticed that both cards are similar in fees, interest rates and other factors.  The following main categories break down the details more closely to help you understand the difference between Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Flex.

Fees

Both cards come with no annual fee and an interest rate of , based on your creditworthiness. Other fees include a late payment fee of up to $40 and foreign transaction fees of 3%. 

Neither card is a standout winner when it comes to fees. Not having to pay $50 or more per year for the privilege of having a specific credit card is a plus, but Chase’s foreign transaction fee of 3% on Freedom cash back cards can add up if you travel abroad often.

Signup Bonuses and Offers

Card companies typically offer enticing bonuses that encourage individuals to apply for a credit card. The Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex both offer generous rewards, but with different structures. With Freedom Flex it’s simple, you’ll earn $200 after spending only $500 in the first three months.

Freedom Unlimited can bank you an extra $300 within the first year since you’ll earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (up to $20,000 spent within the first year). This means you’ll earn up to 6.5% cash back in the first year or on your first $20,000 spent on select categories with Freedom Unlimited.

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With both cards you’ll get an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months. There’s a 3% or $5 fee on transfers made in the first 60 days, which jumps up to 5% or $5 on balance transfers after the initial period.

In conclusion, Chase Freedom Flex will earn you $200 within the first 3 months if you meet the spending requirement, but you can earn up to $300 as a bonus with Freedom Unlimited. However, Chase limits who can earn the bonus to new cardholders who haven’t received one in the last 24 months.

Good To Know

Both cards provide a great way to save money on purchases by paying you back a portion of your spending. The Chase Freedom Flex allows you to activate bonus categories for a generous 5% cash back. On the other hand, the Chase Unlimited rewards you with an unlimited 1.5% cash back on purchases that don’t fall into other categories — instead of 1%. 

Travel is a big category with both cards at 5% cash back (after the first year with Freedom Unlimited), although there may be better ways to earn rewards for your travel spending. Nevertheless, a cash back card could be a good option in conjunction with a travel rewards credit card if you’re motivated to maximize the number of rewards you could earn.

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Earning Rewards

The biggest difference between the Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Flex is the earning potential. 

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card earns 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, you’ll earn 5% cash back on Chase travel and 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining. All other qualifying purchases earn a flat rate of 1.5%.

The Chase Freedom Flex also offers 5% cash back for travel purchased through Chase and 3% on dining and drug stores. However, it will only award 1% — instead of 1.5% — on general purchases. For anyone who doesn’t spend much on travel, gas or dining out, the difference can be significant. To make up for the half-point loss, the Freedom Flex offers rolling categories that can earn you 5% cash back each quarter for a maximum of $1,500.

To earn the cash back, you’ll need to look out for each quarter’s offers and activate them. Categories include groceries, eBay, subscriptions and more. Regardless of the card you choose, rewards don’t expire so you can take your time to redeem them for any amount you’d like.

Redemption

The cash back rewards you earn with either Freedom card are tracked by Chase as points. For every 100 points you earn, you could redeem as much as $1 in cash back. Besides cash, you could also redeem your points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards website, get gift cards, or pay with points from partners such as Amazon. However, redeeming your points for Amazon shopping will only earn you 80 cents per 100 points. If you hold a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards, like Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll be able to combine the cash back rewards you earn with Freedom cards with your Ultimate Rewards points. This makes your points more valuable and flexible because you can transfer them to Chase’s various transfer partners.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Freedom Unlimited: Which Card Is Best For You?

If you enjoy maximizing rewards and have the time and headspace to track spending categories, the Freedom Flex may be the right choice. In addition to an unlimited 5% in travel, 3% in dining and drug stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases, you could activate bonus categories for 5% cash back. 

If you’re new to cash back cards and you’re in search of a simple rewards card structure, the Freedom Unlimited skips the rotating bonus categories and provides you with a higher, 1.5% cash back and the ability to earn even more cash back throughout the year if you max out category spending.

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Freedom Flex FAQ

The following information is also worth considering if you're weighing your credit card options.
  • What other benefits do the Chase Freedom cards offer?
    • Besides the opportunity to earn cash back on spending and receiving an introductory offer of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers in the first 15 months, Chase Freedom cards have special partner benefits. You can activate three months of a free DashPass subscription for free deliveries on orders over $12. You'll receive 50% on a subscription for the remaining nine months. Plus, Lyft rides earn 5% cash back for a limited time.
  • What is the difference between Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Flex vs. Sapphire?
    • The Chase Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex are both cash-back rewards credit cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve are travel rewards credit cards. The main difference is the earnings -- you'll rack up cash back with the Freedom cards instead of points for travel or merchandise with the Sapphire credit cards.
  • Which is better, Chase Freedom Unlimited or Freedom Flex?
    • Choosing between the Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Flex depends on how involved you want to be in earning cash back. The Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards you 1.5% on all spending, plus 5% for travel and 3% for dining and drug stores. The Chase Freedom Flex offers bonus categories each quarter that can be activated to earn 5% cash back for a limited time. However, you'll earn 1% instead of 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Is Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it?
    • If you're capable of spending responsibly on your credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is worth getting. There's a $0 annual fee. Plus, you can earn an unlimited 5% on travel, 3% on dining and drug stores and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. Best of all, rewards don't expire and don't require a minimum to redeem -- for the ultimate flexibility.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase.

Rates, offers and requirements are subject to change.

About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

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