Chase shocked the money back world when they announced they were dropping the popular Chase Freedom card, but thankfully the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ card has proven itself to be a more than worthy successor.
Freedom Flex builds on the legacy of the Freedom Card by offering new categories of bonus rewards and cardholder benefits, and it already stands out as one of the best cashback credit cards on the market, especially for first-time travelers and flexible rewards enthusiasts.
If you are a current Freedom Card holder, you may already be planning to request a product change. But wait: despite the similarities between Freedom and Freedom Flex, they are technically two completely different products.
This begs the question: should you switch or install a new app?
|Card||Chasing Freedom*||Chase Freedom Flex|
|Bonus for registration||No (the card is no longer available to new applicants)||$200 if you spend $500 in the first 3 months|
Freedom and Freedom Flex: Key Differences
While the old and new Chase Freedom cards share a lot of DNA, there are some key differences to keep in mind if you’re considering switching or a new app. The good news for current Freedom cardholders is that the Freedom Flex builds on what was already good about its predecessor.
The most significant change is the refund categories of the Freedom Flex Bonus Card. Both Freedom and Freedom Flex offer 5 percent cash back on spinning bonus categories, up to $1,500 in spending per quarter after activation, and then 1 percent. However, the strength of Freedom Flex lies in the extra fixed bonus tiers. With Freedom Flex, you’ll receive an unlimited cash back of 5% on trips booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and 3% on purchases at restaurants and pharmacies.
Part of the popularity of Freedom Flex can be attributed to the general structure of the rotating categories that made the original Freedom map so popular. In addition, Freedom Flex provides much-needed consistency with year-round categories.
The fixed categories of the Freedom Flex card should greatly increase your cashback earnings, especially if the Chase cashback calendar doesn’t match your quarterly spending. Indeed, thanks to the inclusion of a practical year-round category such as meals, we estimate that Freedom Flex has an average reward rate of 1.68 percent outside of its rotating categories (compared to a flat 1 percent with the Freedom card).
Switching from Visa to Mastercard
Another major difference between Freedom and Freedom Flex is the network card processor: Freedom uses Visa as the network processor, while Freedom Flex uses Mastercard.
This transition from Visa to Mastercard opens up a number of new benefits for cardholders. Most notable is the cell phone protection included when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your Freedom Flex card. You will be protected up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year against theft and damage to any phones listed on your bill.
Freedom Flex also gives you the opportunity to earn one $5 per month Lyft credit and a free ShopRunner membership. Meanwhile, Chase special perks such as purchase protection, an extended warranty, and a limited-time free DashPass membership have been moved from Freedom to Freedom Flex.
Should you upgrade to Freedom Flex or install a new app?
Given the improvements Chase has made to the Freedom card family with the introduction of Freedom Flex, current Freedom cardholders may want to upgrade to the new card. And doing so is as easy as calling Chase and asking for a product change.
As long as your account is in good standing, your request should go through without issue. Your rewards, credit limit, APR and card number should be transferred from Freedom to Freedom Flex, making the transition smooth.
However, replacing Freedom with Freedom Flex is not the only way forward. Depending on your short and long term goals, a new app might be the smarter move.
The switch case
Because Freedom Flex also has rotating Freedom bonus categories and adds new year-round categories, it’s all about rewards whether you switch or apply a new one.
By switching from Freedom to Freedom Flex, you will get more consistency in earning rewards and probably more money overall than if you switched to Freedom, especially if you spend a lot on food, pharmacy shopping or travel (and don’t mind booking through the Ultimate Rewards Portal). In addition, you receive a number of valuable privileges for new cardholders as part of the transition from Visa to Mastercard.
One of the big benefits of changing the product is that you will avoid the complex queries associated with a new credit card application. A hard request temporarily lowers your credit score by several points and remains on your credit report for up to two years. Too many complex questions on your report can hurt your chances of getting a new card approved in the short term.
The toggle also allows you to leave the Chase 5/24 slot open. Under Chase’s informal 5/24 rule, you are more likely to not be approved for a new Chase card if you have opened five or more credit cards from any issuer in the last 24 months.
Since Freedom Flex is considered a new product, if you apply and get approved, you will have one slot less than 5/24. This can be a deal breaker if you’re looking for a premium travel card, an airline rewards card, or a business card issued by Chase.
The Case for the New Application
The most obvious benefit of installing a new app instead of switching is the Freedom Flex card signup bonus. Because Chase considers Freedom Flex to be a brand new product, current Freedom cardholders are eligible for a card signup bonus even if they have already earned a bonus with their Freedom card.
If you switch instead of applying fresh, you will have to miss out on the bonus – in which case it’s a big loss. Freedom Flex is currently offering a $200 cash bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months, which is relatively impressive for a bonus card with no annual fee.
By hosting a new app for Freedom Flex and keeping your Freedom account active, you will also be able to earn a higher total spending cap on rotating Chase cashback categories. Because the categories on both cards are the same, if you apply for Freedom Flex and keep your Freedom account open, you can make the most of the rotating categories with both cards, earning 5 percent back on up to $3,000 on cumulative spending per quarter.
While the $3,000 quarterly spend limit may not be practical in some bonus categories, it can seriously increase your cashback in others, such as online purchases (purchases on Amazon.com are eligible for bonus cashback from October to December 2022 after registration).
In addition to the benefits of being rewarded, the new app can also help your credit score. Although you will take a temporary hit from a difficult investigation, opening a new account will increase your total available credit. Credit utilization is 30 percent of your FICO credit score, and the new Freedom Flex credit line should give you even more room to keep your credit utilization low.
While switching from Freedom to Freedom Flex is the most obvious path for most cardholders, the new app for Freedom Flex definitely makes sense.
Not only can you get a big signup bonus and a higher spend cap on Chase’s rotating cashback categories, but you’ll also get peace of mind and credit score benefits with more credit available. If you can’t allocate a Chase 5/24 slot, it’s worth considering applying for Freedom Flex.