If you are looking in to dipping your toes into the Chase ecosystem, you may be facing the decision of which Freedom card you want to start with. Both cards are great cards with no annual fee and decent multipliers. Both cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, which are valued at 1 cent per point (cpp) for cash-back.
The main difference between the two is that the Flex earns 5x back on a rotating category every quarter whereas the Unlimited will earn 1.5x back in every category, with the exceptions of dining, drugstores, and travel booked through Chase's Ultimate Rewards Portal, which give 3x, 3x, and 5x respectively. The Freedom Flex is also a Mastercard and The Freedom Unlimited is a Visa. Having a rotating-category and catch-all card are both good pieces of a well-rounded credit card setup, but which one should you get first? Even if you want to keep it simple and prefer to stick with one card, there's a few things to consider before making a decision.
Categories vs. Catch-All
The main strength of the Flex is quarterly (every 4 months) 5x categories. There is a $1,500 limit to the amount of Ultimate Rewards points that you can earn each quarter, which means that you can earn up to $75 (7500 UR points) back in that category with the 5x multiplier. After you max out the 5x back, you will continue to earn 1x on the quarterly category until it changes.
The Unlimited, as appropriately named, does not have a cap on the amount that you can earn 1.5x points, and is often used as a catch-all card for some setups like the Chase trifecta that has both freedom cards plus one of Chase's higher end Sapphire cards.
If your current setup already has a rotating category card such as the Discover It, it may be prudent to start with the Unlimited and increase the base amount of points/cash-back you earn on your everyday purchases. However, if you already have a catch-all card like the Capital One Quicksilver, or a catch all that earns 2x back, then adding a rotating category card like the Freedom Flex can help strengthen your credit card setup.
Generally the sign-up bonus for both Freedom cards is $200 back after spending $500 within the first 90 days with an additional 5x category for a whole year. This bonus category changes every so often, and as of 2/7/23, covers groceries, and has covered gas in the past as well. Something really nice about this bonus category is that it stacks with the current multiplier so that you could earn at least 6.5x and up to 9x UR points, depending on the bonus category and card you end up with. The 5x bonus category and 5x quarterly category only stack up to 9x, which is still a pretty good multiplier!
Your plans for future finances can help guide your decision as to which Freedom card you
could go for. For example, if the Flex's quarterly and bonus categories line up, and you plan on making some larger purchases in that category within the current quarter, then it would be a great way of securing 9x back on that spending until the end of that quarter. Alternatively, if you spend a lot in a specific category in general, then having the Unlimited with the bonus category can secure you 6.5 back in that category for up to a year.
Taking the way that the bonus categories stack with each card's multipliers into account, along with evaluating which card is best for your current credit card setup and financial/spending habits, can help point you in the direction of the Freedom Flex or the Freedom Unlimited.
Both Mastercard and Visa have certain benefits available to their respective cardholders, so make sure to review which ones can benefit you the most. The choice is ultimately up to you personally, as you (hopefully) know your financial needs best.
Keep in mind that both Freedom cards and credit cards that require healthy financial habits in order to avoid paying interest or fees. Never increase your spending in a specific category only because of the multipliers unless you have the funds for those purchases and were already planning on making those purchases anyway.
If you found any of the information in this
article helpful, please consider using my referral link for either the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited!
Chase, Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited, Freedom cards, Ultimate Rewards points, and Ultimate Rewards portal are property of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank. See https://creditcards.chase.com/cash-back-credit-cards/freedom for more information. Discover It is property of Discover Financial Services. Capital One and Quicksilver are properties of Capital One Bank. Use of these properties and infographics in this article are for educational purposes and subjective review. This article is not financial advice. Use of any cards mentioned in this article are subject to their respective cardmember agreements.