Cash-back credit cards are not something I get excited about. My goal is to maximize my credit card points and be a travel hacker and rewards optimizer. While cash-back credit cards are rewarding, I find the thrill in travel rewards.
Why is the Chase Freedom Flexible(sm) so unique? It’s a rotating category bonus credit card
Chase Freedom Flex(sm), which earns a 5% cashback on quarterly rotating bonus categories up to $1,500 combined spending (activation required). It’s not the only one. There are many cash-back cards that offer similar rewards. The Discover it(r), Cash Back, offers almost identical rewards.
What is the main difference? Discover will earn 1% on all other purchases. Chase Freedom Flex(sm) offers a variety of permanent bonus categories.
Get 5% off your travel bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards(r).
3% back on dining.
Buy Drugstore Products and Get 3% Back
All other items eligible for a 1% discount
It was this category that first attracted me to it.
I stayed away from grocery stores during the COVID pandemic of 2020. I opted to have food delivered or pick it up curbside. Sometimes, however, I could not wait to order more ibuprofen and hand sanitizer. Instead of fighting the crowds at the grocery stores, I prefer to run to my local CVS to grab last-minute medication or household items. My bonus rewards card earned me bonuses on grocery store purchases. However, my drugstore purchases went unbonused. The Chase Freedom Flex(sm), which offered a solid 3% return on drugstore purchases and a bonus for new cardholders was attractive to me so I added it into my wallet.
The Chase Freedom Flex(sm), I thought, would be a panademic-era card. Once I quit social distancing, I could retire with the Chase Freedom Flex(sm). Even though I spend less at CVS, it is still one of my top credit cards. The 5% rotating categories are very valuable.
You’d earn $300 per year if you spent $1,500 every quarter. Even if your spending isn’t that high, you will still likely earn a decent amount. These categories can include gas stations, grocery stores, streaming services and Amazon.com. I spent only $2,800 on eligible spending in 2022 for rotating categories. However, that’s still $140 worth of rewards for a card without an annual fee.
Great for travellers, too
With the opening of borders, I am now healthy and quadruple vaxxed. I plan to travel internationally in 2023. Before the pandemic, I was a budget-minded traveler who could comfortably travel to Europe from the back of an airplane. Now, I value my sleep more than ever so I avoid overnight flights in economy class. Business class tickets are not within my budget so I am focusing my travel rewards on subsidized flights.
Chase Freedom Flex(sm), the best part of the Chase Freedom Flex(sm), is its ability to combine the best of both travel and cash-back. The card does not earn cash but you can earn Ultimate Rewards(r), points which you can use to redeem for cash at 1 cent per point. If you have other Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred(r), which I own, you will be able to redeem your Ultimate Rewards(r] points for cash at a rate of 1 cent per point. You can also book directly with Chase, or transfer points to hotel and airline partners. Because I know that I can often redeem rewards at higher values than what I would get if they were redeemed for cash, I prefer this. That’s all I need to secure a flat seat on my next international flight.
Get extra points for online shopping
My social distancing helped me to realize that I don’t enjoy shopping in stores. Although I am less likely to catch COVID, I have less patience with the Target shoppers who are lugging around carts. Don’t get me started about having to go to a shopping mall.
It’s possible that Amazon and PayPal will offer a bonus category, so it’s safe to assume that online purchases will earn 5% for six months. Your earning possibilities don’t stop there. You can also access Shop Through Chase with the Chase Freedom Flex(sm), a shopping portal that offers extra rewards for hundreds of stores when you use the portal link to make purchases. The portal is more difficult than the rotating categories because big box stores don’t usually earn extra rewards. It is worth it, especially as any reward you earn can be stacked with other rewards you might receive.
I love Costa Rican coffee from Cafe Britt and buy it online. I noticed that the shop earned 8 points per $1 when I clicked on it through the Shop Through Chase portal in December 2022. Cafe Britt allows you to pay via PayPal, which is one of the available quarterly categories. I earned 13 points per $1 by purchasing Cafe Britt coffee online and paying with PayPal.
Log into your Chase card account to find the Shop Through Chase portal. Click “Earn bonus points” in the top menu section. There will be different offers and every store will have its own bonus points offer. Click “Shop Now” once you have found the store you wish to shop at. You should receive your points within 3-5 business day if you make a qualifying purchase.
Additional bonus: Long 0% APR Period
Because I was not getting on any planes anytime soon, I couldn’t use travel rewards as the pandemic raged. Instead, I was about take a month’s unpaid disability leave due to lingering symptoms of the “mild” covid case I had months ago. Because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to recover, I wanted as much money in the bank as I could.
I opted to dip into my savings instead of using the Chase Freedom Flex(sm). The introductory 0% annual rate offer from Chase Freedom Flex(sm), helped me cover a month’s lost wages without worrying too much about interest. For purchases and balance transfers, the card offers a 0% intro APR for 15 month. Then you will be charged an ongoing APR of 19.24% to 27.99% Variable APR. Consider a card that has a longer 0% intro APR or low interest if you have to keep a balance over a long period. The Chase Freedom Flex(sm), for me, had the perfect combination of outstanding bonus rewards and flexibility on interest.