Chase Freedom Flex Vs. Freedom Unlimited: Which Is Better?

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Card Comparisons
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Chase has a great portfolio of credit cards that can potentially earn Ultimate Rewards points, and two of my favorites are the Chase Freedom FlexSM Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Significant changes were made to these cards in 2020 and in this post I wanted to take an in-depth look at the two cards, and which makes the most sense based on your situation. If you want to learn more about the individual cards:

Let’s first talk about the card similarities then talk about the card differences, and then talk about which card makes the most sense.

What Chase Freedom cards have in common

The truth is that the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited have a lot in common, from their lack of annual fees, to their welcome bonuses, to some of their bonus categories, to their World Elite Mastercard benefits. Let me cover a few of the key similarities between the two cards:

Identical sign-up bonuses & eligibility requirements

Both the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited offer nice bonuses for no annual fee cards. Each card currently offers:

  • 20,000 points after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months

Furthermore, both cards have identical eligibility requirements:

  • Each card is only available to those who don’t currently have that specific card, and those who haven’t received a new cardmember bonus on that specific card in the past 24 months
  • Both cards are subjected to Chase’s typical eligibility restrictions, including the 5/24 rule

Overlapping bonus categories

Both the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited offer the following overlapping bonus categories on spending:

  • 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x points on dining, takeout, and eligible delivery services
  • 3x points on drugstores

Flexibility to earn cash back or Ultimate Rewards points

Both the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited accrue the same types of rewards:

Earn Ultimate Rewards points with Chase Freedom cards

Differences between Chase Freedom cards

There is one primary area where the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited differ, and that’s one aspect of the bonus categories. Both cards offer:

  • 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x points on dining, takeout, and eligible delivery services
  • 3x points on drugstores

But each card has one unique bonus category:

The Freedom Unlimited offers a better return on everyday spending

Which Chase Freedom card is better?

Deciding whether the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited makes more sense comes down to one very simple question — would you rather earn 1.5x points on all purchases (with the Freedom Unlimited), or would you rather earn 5x points in rotating quarterly categories and 1x points on non-bonused purchases?

The math will work out differently for everyone, but here are a few general considerations:

  • What card do you otherwise use for non-bonused spending, and how much do you spend in categories that don’t otherwise qualify for bonus categories? If you don’t have a great card and you spend a lot in non-bonused categories, then the Freedom Unlimited is the obvious choice
  • Do you have another great card for non-bonused spending but think you could get value from the 5x points categories on the Freedom Flex? Then the Freedom Flex is the obvious choice

The good thing is that you don’t have to choose — you can get both the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited, and that’s a great way to maximize your rewards, especially since neither card has an annual fee. Personally, that’s my approach, but I also get that lots of people want a simpler credit card strategy than that.

Build up a portfolio of Chase cards to maximize your points

Bottom line

Both the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited are great no annual fee cards that can help you maximize the Ultimate Rewards points that you earn. For savvy consumers they’re an essential complement to a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Which Freedom card makes more sense depends on your circumstances. Personally, I think the Freedom Unlimited is the all around more rewarding card, given that it offers one of the best returns of any card for non-bonused spending. But some may get more value out of the Freedom Flex’s 5x points categories.

The good thing is that you don’t have to choose, as you can always pick up both cards.

What’s your take — which of the two Chase Freedom cards do you prefer?

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  1. Great info but what is not clear to me is whether grocery delivery services, especially Instacart are considered “groceries” for the 5% bonus category for Chase Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited cards. The same would be true for the temporary 3% bonus on Chase Sapphire Reserve. Those of us who are older and sheltered at home with health issues need to use delivery services for groceries from Safeway, Costco, etc. I researched online but cannot find any answer. Does anyone know if Instacart would qualify for grocery purchases?

    Thank you for your help.

  2. The Ink Business Cash is still to me a better options for most items given the 5X back on office supply stores because i can buy any gift card including amazon i want at my local Staples. This to me makes having the Freedom Unlimited a better options because the Flex rotating category is something i can always get on the Ink Cash through staples gift card purchases.

  3. Hi, Anybody know how to get the Chase unlimited business card with the 2,000 bonus-but you have to spend $50,000 within 6 months….

  4. @Old Flyer, on my Chase Southwest RapidRewards card, Instacart codes as “groceries”. I assume that would be true for all Chase cards. I’ve been getting 5x RapidRewards points for my Instacart purchases on their current grocery promotion.

  5. Thanks for the comparison!

    Do you have a list The rotating categories over the last two years? Subcategories would be great for me, others meh

  6. Thank you Robert D and TBurrke. This makes a huge difference for those of us that have to use a delivery service. Thanks again.

  7. I make so many non-categorized purchase so that between the two I would lean on CFU.

    Of course, both are better together, and best with a CSR.

    Also from what I’ve been reading, Chase business cards have tightened up recently over their criteria for “business,” so one will need to put more of an effort for getting those.

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