I have recently received a Chase Freedom Flex credit card and it has left a sour taste in my mouth. I've made a feedback post to Chase on twitter, which they have acknowledged my complaint. But I feel credit card review sites are overlooking this, including NerdWallet, and it is deserving of a half star reduction in your review.
The fundamental problem is Chase changing from Visa as their card processor for the Freedom Flex to Mastercard. This is a little known change for the average consumer. And it is a especially negative change for the Freedom Flex due to one word. Costco.
In general, I find your reviews are exceptional. Some of the best on the internet. And on your review website, it does make very clear that the new Freedom Flex is a Mastercard. For example, in the review you mention, "Other benefits: The Chase Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard..." In a couple other spots you mention some of the benefits of being a Mastercard. But then the review says this: "The Chase Freedom Flex℠ runs on the Mastercard payment network, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a Visa. In terms of acceptance, it doesn't matter much if you carry a Visa or a Mastercard, but those networks do provide some different side perks."
I disagree with that final comment because of Costco. I've been eyeing getting a Chase freedom for about a year. My mom has a Discover cash back and she was telling me about the 5% bonuses. And I did some research a year ago and saw that Chase Freedom has these rotating bonuses. I did some research, but didn't sign up last year because at the time I was thinking about buying a new car and didn't want to impact my credit. I'm also not the the type of person that likes having a lot of credit cards. The last time I got a credit card was maybe four or five years ago. So getting another one was a big deal for me.
I finally got around to it this winter and just received my card a few days ago. Now, I'm someone with a Chase Ink, Chase Sapphire, and Chase Amazon Prime card. All Visa. When I looked at the card a year ago, it was a Visa. I wasn't doing much travel then but looking to do some more and thought the Chase Freedom would be a good way to get additional travel points.
And I was just surprised that it's a Mastercard. Now, I know, it's not hidden. Hell, I didn't even notice the new Mastercard logo on the Freedom Flex until I got the card. But like probably most consumers, I'm not constantly checking the latest credit card news when banks are changing processors. And I don't have 20 credit cards in my wallet and doing constant point maximizing calculations.
In my area, Costco is by far the most popular Warehouse store in the area with people driving up to an hour+ away to visit it. They only accept Visa. The Freedom Flex gives rotating 5x on gas, which now you can't use at the most inexpensive gas station in town, Costco. It's being reported that next month it'll offer 5x on restaurants and warehouse stores. Which you can't use at Costco. The new card literally does not have the same utility as the old card on the Visa network, even with additional benefits, yet gets the same rating?
As I mentioned, the card now leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, because I feel like I'm only going to be able to get half the benefits I was thinking. I was looking forward to getting 5x points on gas for a few months a year. I recently had a promotion with my Amazon card that offered 5x on gas (a Visa), which I used at Costco. I received $120 in cashback over three months. I was looking forward to getting 5X on Costco purchases a few times a year. No longer an option.
Yes, there is the Citi Costco Card, which is 4% on gas and 2% on Costco purchases, but it's not the same. Especially with the points value of Chase points and the fact that you have to wait a whole year to get your cash back.
I strongly feel that the Chase Freedom Flex needs to be downgraded a half point to be put on par with the Discover card specifically because of the processing network. The irony is that Chase could have probably avoided this is they kept the Freedom Flex a Visa and made the Freedom Unlimited a Mastercard. But I'm sure they have some deal that makes economic sense for them for the Flex to be Mastercard.
But ultimately, being a Mastercard hurts the value of the Freedom Flex specifically because it can't be used at Costco. I feel strongly this should be further highlighted in your review and half a point should be deducted from the card. It's clearly lost utility by changing provider networks.
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