When Chase launched the Chase Freedom Flex℠ last month, they also closed the Chase Freedom® credit card to new applicants. While Freedom cardholders can continue to use their card with no changes, the Flex card may have caught your eye.
After all, Flex builds upon Freedom's rotating bonus category rewards structure and adds above-average rewards for travel, dining and drug store purchases. Plus new Flex cardholders can earn a lucrative two-tier welcome bonus, but more on that later.
If you have the Freedom card, but also want to have Flex, you have two options:
The best option for you depends on a few factors. Namely, consider the number of credit cards you have now and whether you want to take advantage of the Flex card's new card member offers.
To help you decide, CNBC Select breaks down the similarities and differences between Freedom and Flex, plus when it makes sense to request a product change or submit a new application.
The Freedom and Flex cards have similar rewards programs, but Flex offers more elevated reward categories. In addition to Freedom's rewards, Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® and 3% cash back on dining and at drug stores.
Flex card members can also take advantage of a standout welcome bonus of $200 after spending $500 within your first three months from account opening. That's in addition to an elevated 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year (then 1%).
There's also a no-interest period: During your first 15 months from Flex account opening, you can benefit from no interest on purchases (after 14.99% to 23.74% variable APR).
All of these perks make the Flex card worthwhile, but the benefits you can receive depend on whether you request a product change or submit a new application.
Submitting a new application and getting approved allows you to take advantage of all Flex perks, from the rewards and welcome bonus to the intro 0% APR period. But a new application also results in an inquiry on your credit report and has the potential to temporarily lower your credit score roughly 5 points, which can affect bigger life events like applying for a mortgage.
If that sounds bad, look at the other option: When you request and get approved for a product change, your existing Freedom account will be transferred to a new Flex card. This preserves your existing credit limit and length of account history, and you'll be able to benefit from the new reward rates mentioned above. (However, you won't be able to take advantage of new card member offers like the welcome bonus or special financing period.)
If you know that you want the Flex card, review the scenarios below to learn when it makes sense to request a product change or submit a new application.
Forgo the new application and simply ask to switch from Freedom to Flex if any of these scenarios apply to you:
If you're looking to optimize your credit cards, applying for Flex is a better option than just switching over from your old Freedom card. Here are some scenarios that make it worthwhile:
5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and at drug stores, 1% cash back on all other purchases
$200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
0% for the first 15 months on purchases
14.99% to 23.74% variable
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater