Skip to content
RATING

2021 Comparison: The Chase Freedom Flex℠ vs. the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Updated Apr 13, 2021 | Published Feb 16, 20219 min read

Advertiser Disclosure

Credit Card Insider is an independent, advertising supported website. Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers. Advertiser relationships do not affect card ratings or our Editor’s Best Card Picks. Credit Card Insider has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace. Content is not provided or commissioned by any credit card issuers. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information, though all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on any ‘Apply Now’ button, the most up-to-date terms and conditions, rates, and fee information will be presented by the issuer. Credit Card Insider has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Credit Card Insider and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. A list of these issuers can be found on our Editorial Guidelines.

At a glance

The Chase Freedom Flex and the Bank of America Cash Rewards card are strong contenders to add to your wallet. They both feature impressive rewards and some useful benefits, but one would likely be better than the other depending on where you shop most. Or, you could use them together to maximize your rewards.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

These are both strong rewards cards that offer more flexibility than most.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review) covers a ton of ground with its bonus categories, offering both static and quarterly rotating categories.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card (Review) lets you tailor your rewards to your spending, letting you choose which 3% bonus category you’d like each month, in addition to static cash back categories.

Both cards have 0% APR offers, and neither one asks for an annual fee, so you can use either of them virtually for free as long as you avoid interest and fees.

So how do you choose?

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Chase Freedom Flex℠
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable

The information related to Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

What’s the Difference Between the Freedom Flex and Bank of America Cash Rewards Cards?

There are quite a few differences. They have different reward programs, different terms, and different benefits.

The Freedom Flex has 3% and 5% cash back categories, plus additional 5% categories that rotate every three months. The Cash Rewards card gives you your choice of one 3% cash back category per month, plus 2% static categories.

These cards also feature different intro APR offers. The Freedom Flex offers 0% interest for purchases only, while the Cash Rewards includes both purchases and balance transfers.

And finally, the benefits. The Freedom Flex offers far more than the Cash Rewards card. It features cell phone protection, a DoorDash membership, Lyft credits, the Shop through Chase shopping portal, and more shopping and travel protections. The Bank of America card offers very little in comparison.

The Rewards

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on:
    • Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • Lyft rides (through March 2022)
    • Grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) up to $12,000 spent in the first year
  • 5% cash back in rotating categories, up to $1,500 in spending each quarter, then 1%
  • 3% cash back at:
    • Restaurants
    • Drugstores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months

Despite having a $1,500 spending limit on its rotating categories, you’ll still be able to earn plenty of rewards. When you hit that limit, you’d have already earned $75, plus the other rewards from all of its other categories.

Another thing of note here is that the Freedom Flex only earns 5% cash back on travel if it’s booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you book your travel through normal means, you’d only earn 1% cash back.

Here are the 5% cash back categories for 2021, and the previous categories from 2020:

Quarter 2021 Categories 2020 Categories
January – March
  • Wholesale Clubs
  • Streaming Services
  • Internet, Cable, Phone Services
  • Gas Stations
  • Streaming Services
  • Internet, Cable, Phone Services
April – June
  • Gas Stations
  • Home Improvement Stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness club and gym memberships
  • Streaming services
July – September
  • TBA
  • Amazon.com
  • Whole Foods Markets
October – December
  • TBA
  • Walmart
  • PayPal

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card

Spending Rewards
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drugstores
    • Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 3% and 2% rewards only up to $2,500 spent per quarter, then 1% cash back
Introductory Bonus
  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

This online shopping category is pretty rare, and could be very useful, covering your favorite online retailers. The Freedom Flex could occasionally earn rewards at Amazon, but will typically only earn 1% at any other online retailer, or when that category isn’t active.

And while the 3% and 2% categories do have a spending limit of $2,500 per quarter, that’s really not something to worry too much about. You’ll likely still be able to pull pretty good rewards.

Additionally, there’s a way to boost the Cash Rewards’ reward rate past what it normally offers, thanks to Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program.

The Preferred Rewards program will give you a rewards bonus based on how much money you keep in your Bank of America bank accounts and Merrill investment accounts. It’ll also incrementally increase the interest you earn on your account balances, among other perks.

The program is split into three tiers, each one providing a larger bonus than the last. The tiers are Gold ($20,000), Platinum ($50,000), and Platinum Honors ($100,000). Gold provides a 25% bonus to your credit card rewards, Platinum ups it to 50%, and Platinum Honors provides a 75% rewards bonus.

Redeeming

The Cash Rewards card has a pretty straightforward redemption path. You can deposit your cash back into a Bank of America bank account, redeem it as statement credits, or have them mail you a paper check.

The Freedom Flex, on the other hand, offers a few more options. Once you’ve earned your cash back, you can redeem for:

  • Statement credits
  • Gift cards
  • Travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Or you could actually increase your reward value by transferring your cash back to another card in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Certain other Chase cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review), offer travel loyalty programs to which you can transfer your rewards. Sometimes you’ll be able to find a higher per-point value, meaning your cash back equivalent would increase.

Which Card Would Earn the Most?

Because the most important differences rest in these cards’ reward programs, we’ll compare how much you might earn in a handful of categories.

For the comparisons below, the Freedom Flex earns 5% cash back for three months before falling to 1% for the remaining nine months, because of its rotating categories. This doesn’t apply to its static categories for travel (5% or 1%) and dining (3%).

The Cash Rewards card earns 3% cash back for one month before you can choose a new category. For the purpose of these examples, we’ll assume you keep the same category for three months, and therefore earn 1% for the remaining nine when you choose a different 3% option.

Gas Rewards
Card Annual Spending Annual Rewards
Cash Rewards (3% cash back, then 1%) $3,000 $45
Freedom Flex (5% cash back, then 1%) $3,000 $60

 

Online Shopping Rewards
Card Annual Spending Annual Rewards
Cash Rewards (3% cash back, then 1%) $1,000 $15
Freedom Flex (5% cash back for Amazon, then 1%) $1,000 $20
Freedom Flex (1% cash back at other online retailers) $1,000 $10

So if you were to do all or most of your online shopping at Amazon with the Freedom Flex, you’d outearn the Cash Rewards card. If you shop online but not as much with Amazon, the Cash Rewards card would come out on top.

Grocery Rewards
Card Annual Spending Annual Rewards
Cash Rewards (2% cash back) $4,000 $80
Freedom Flex (5% cash back, then 1%) $4,000 $80

 

Restaurant Rewards
Card Annual Spending Annual Rewards
Cash Rewards (3% cash back, then 1%) $1,000 $15
Freedom Flex (3% cash back) $1,000 $30

 

Travel Rewards
Card Annual Spending Annual Rewards
Cash Rewards (3% cash back) $5,000 $150
Freedom Flex (5% cash back for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards) $5,000 $250
Freedom Flex (1% cash back for travel booked normally) $5,000 $50

If you’re able to book all of your travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you would earn far more than if you booked through normal means.

Now let’s see the total spending and the total rewards you would’ve earned for each card.

Total Annual Rewards
Card Annual Spending Annual Rewards
Cash Rewards $14,000 $305
Freedom Flex $14,000 $230–$440

Based on these examples, and provided you book all of your travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Freedom Flex would be the more rewarding card.

However, if you book your travel through normal means, the Cash Rewards card would likely overtake the Freedom Flex, albeit not by much.

Keep in mind there are a number of variables here that will impact how much you earn with each card. For example, you might choose to keep a specific bonus category with the Cash Rewards for longer than three months, or perhaps you spend less on travel with the Freedom Flex, or don’t do most of your online shopping with Amazon.

These examples also assume you’re spending evenly across the categories for the entire year. If you were to spend more online, for example during the holidays, that category would obviously pertain to you even more. Or if you travel only once or twice a year, that would decrease the rewards you’d earn.

Both of these cards can be very rewarding, and one might be better for you depending on where and how much you spend. And don’t forget, the Cash Rewards card could be even more rewarding if you qualify for the Preferred Rewards program’s credit card bonuses, or you could bump up the Freedom Flex’s reward value by smart transfers to other Chase cards.

How Do the Terms Compare?

Card Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card 0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable 0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable 16.99%–28.99% Variable
Chase Freedom Flex℠ 0% for 15 months, then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable 14.99% - 23.74% Variable 24.99% Variable
Card Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card $0 3%
Chase Freedom Flex℠ $0 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Card Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card 3%, $10 minimum See Terms
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card Up to 29.99% Variable Up to $40 Up to $29
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Up to 29.99% See Terms See Terms

There are a few differences within these card’s terms that you should be aware of. While they both offer 0% intro APR periods, the Cash Rewards card offers 0% interest on both purchases and balance transfers, and the Freedom Flex gives 0% interest for purchases only.

0% APR offers for balance transfers and purchases are great ways to save money and mitigate debt. If you have a balance accruing interest on another card, you can transfer it to either of these to pay it down at no interest. Doing so will save you money from interest charges and could help you get out of debt faster.

Purchase APR offers can be extremely useful if you have any large expenses planned. You could buy a new couch or TV and then pay it down while it accrues no interest, giving yourself some extra time to pay without incurring extra charges.

Keep in mind that once the intro 0% APR periods end, you’ll need to pay your statement balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.

How Do Their Benefits Compare?

When it comes to the benefits, the Freedom Flex comes out on top. It offers far more than the Cash Rewards card. There are Lyft credits and Fandango discounts, a DoorDash membership, access to Chase’s shopping portal, and a slew of travel and shopping protections like cell phone protection and rental car insurance.

In comparison, the Cash Rewards card comes up light. It features very few extra perks outside of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program and the standard fraud liability protections, although it will likely come with some shopping and travel protections too.

You can compare the complete selection of benefits from both cards below.

Freedom Flex

  • Complimentary DoorDash membership: You’ll get three free months of DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. You’ll pay $0 in delivery fees for orders over $12, and get reduced service fees. Once those three months are up, you can reenroll for 50% off.
  • Shop through Chase: Cardholders can get more cash back at select retailers with the Shop through Chase marketplace. You’ll find deals that come and go over time, which let you earn a good reward rate outside the bonus categories.
  • Chase Offers: Browse and activate special offers from a selection of retailers on the Chase app.
  • ShopRunner membership: Get free two-day shipping at a wide selection of retailers.
  • Lyft credits: Once per month you can earn a $10 Lyft credit for every five rides you take.
  • Boxed rewards: You’ll earn 5% cash back rewards on Boxed Wholesale orders to be used for future purchases.
  • Fandango discount: You’ll get $5 off every two tickets you buy.
  • Chase Credit Journey: You can check your VantageScore 3.0 credit score, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Cell Phone Protection: Your phone is covered against damage and theft when you pay the bill with your card, up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year.
  • Extended Warranty: Buy a product with your card, and an eligible manufacturer’s warranty will be extended for an additional year.
  • Purchase Protection: Your new purchases are covered for 120 days against damage and theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Decline the rental car provider’s insurance offer and charge the whole amount to your card, and your rental car will be covered against damage and theft. This is secondary to your personal insurance.
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance: If your trip is delayed or interrupted by eligible conditions, such as sickness or weather, you could be reimbursed by up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip.
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: If you’re in need of legal or health assistance, or are having other travel emergencies, call your Benefit Administrator.

Bank of America Cash Rewards

  • Preferred Rewards program: Earn a 25%–75% cash back bonus, determined by the balances of your Bank of America and Merrill bank accounts. There are three tiers: Gold ($20,000 minimum balance, 25% bonus), Platinum ($50,000 minimum balance, 50% bonus), and Platinum Honors ($100,000 minimum balance, 75% bonus).
  • FICO Credit Score Monitoring: Use this card to monitor your FICO Score 8 over time, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • $0 Fraud Liability: To protect against unauthorized charges
  • Identity Theft Resolution: Services to help if you become a victim of identity theft

What if I Want Both?

You could use both cards to maximize your rewards, particularly because neither card requires an annual fee. (See more great cards without annual fees.)

With both cards, the variety of purchases you’d earn rewards for would be pretty impressive. Each month you could choose one of the 3% categories for the Cash Rewards card that isn’t covered by the Freedom Flex to maximize your earning potential.

Having both cards would also let you use the Cash Rewards card for a balance transfer, and while you work to pay that balance down, you could use the Freedom Flex for its intro 0% APR for purchases. It’s a lot easier to pay down a balance that isn’t growing from fresh purchases.

The Verdict

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review) and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card (Review) are both very rewarding choices. They each earn rewards on a wide variety of purchases and offer more flexibility and versatility than most reward credit cards.

Which card earns the most will depend on your spending habits. If you could spend a lot on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Freedom Flex would likely be the more lucrative option. If you don’t spend a lot on travel, the Cash Rewards card could be better.

From the examples above, based on $14,000 in annual spending, the Freedom Flex earns $230–$440 in rewards compared to the Cash Rewards card earning $305. That significant difference is from travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. However, your rewards from the Cash Rewards card could reach that high too, depending on your Bank of America and Merrill account balances. So there are several factors to consider.

From a benefits standpoint, the Freedom Flex has the Cash Rewards card beat. The Cash Reward’s benefits, aside from the Preferred Rewards program, don’t really offer much.

With all that said, keep in mind you could get both of these cards to truly maximize your rewards. Between the two of them, they cover a ton of ground, and provide plenty of value thanks to their APR offers. Not to mention neither features an annual fee, meaning with a little work to avoid interest and fees, you could use both of them free of charge.

Here are a few more cash back cards you might like:

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Chase Freedom Flex℠
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable

The information related to Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99%–23.99% Variable
Was this helpful?

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

Written by

Evan Zimmer

Evan graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in journalism and creative writing. In his professional writing career, he strives for precision and comprehension in his work. He’s written news articles, blog posts, and copy, working across a slew of different mediums. With in-depth research and great care for accuracy and detail, he now works to bring you the most up-to-date credit information.

Do you have a correction, tip, or suggestion for a new post? Contact us here.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts are accurate and/or questions are answered.

Scroll to top