Decision-Making Help: Sapphire Preferred or Freedom?

Emily and I are grateful to be nominated for best travel blog. We'd love your vote!
Ps: You can vote everyday!

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

The sign-up bonus for both the Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards have increased.  So many folks are wondering which card they should get!

These are 2 of my favorite reward cards.  So it can be hard to decide which 1 to sign-up for!

Decision-Making Help Sapphire Preferred Or Freedom

How Do You Choose Between 2 Solid Reward Cards?

I’ll help you compare, so you can make the right choice for your travel plans!

What’s the Difference?

You can currently earn an increased bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred account.

And the Chase Freedom card’s sign-up bonus has gone up 5,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150) when you spend $500 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

So which card should you get?

Let’s take a look at how the Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred stack-up against each other:

CardSign-up BonusBonus CategoriesForeign Transaction FeesRedemption OptionsAnnual Fee
Chase Freedom15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150) when you spend $500 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (on up to $1,500 in spending) in rotating categories each quarter3%$150 in cash back
Chase Sapphire Preferred50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining0$500 in cash back

$625 in travel booked through the Chase portal

Big Travel by transferring to airline, hotel, and rail partners like United Airlines and Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio
$95 waived the 1st year

Who Should Consider the Chase Freedom Card?

Link:   Chase Freedom – 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Link:   My Full Review of the Chase Freedom Card

I’ve had my Chase Freedom card for many years and have no intention of canceling.  There’s no annual fee on this card, so it doesn’t cost me anything keep it.  And having a no annual fee card is 1 of the 3 keys to getting approved for more cards from Chase in the future.  That’s because it helps you start a long-term relationship with Chase.

Decision-Making Help Sapphire Preferred Or Freedom

With No Annual Fee, It’s Easy to Keep the Freedom Card Year After Year to Build Your Relationship With Chase by Paying Your Bills On-Time. This Could Mean More Chase Credit Card Approvals in the Future

Plus, you can earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (5% cash back) on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories.

So this is a terrific card for folks who:

  • Are new to miles and points  If you’re just getting started with this hobby, the no annual fee and a low minimum spending requirement make it a low risk way to test the waters.
  • Don’t need a card to use overseas – You’ll pay 3% in foreign transaction fees
  • Want to earn 5X points (or 5% cash back) – You can earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (or 5% cash back) on up to $1,500 in rotating categories each quarter with the Chase Freedom.  In past quarterly categories have included Amazon, gas stations, restaurants, and more.
  • Might have trouble meeting larger minimum spending requirements – You only need to spend $500 in 1st 3 months to earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150 in cash back)

Who Should Consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Link:   My Full Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a much more powerful card.  Not only can you earn a higher sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you complete the minimum spending, but you also get more options for using your points.

When you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at 1.25 cents per point.  So your 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus would be worth $625 in flights, hotels, cruises, and more.  And you don’t have to worry about blackout dates!

But the biggest benefit you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred over the Chase Freedom is the ability to transfer your points to airline and hotel partners:

 Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners 
British AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)Korean Air
Singapore AirlinesSouthwestUnited Airlines
Virgin Atlantic
 Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 
Decision-Making Help Sapphire Preferred Or Freedom

You Need a Card Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred to Access Travel Partners With Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

This can get you the most money for your points!  For example, you could transfer your 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points to United Airlines for a 1-way Business Class flight to Costa Rica.  Or with a bit more spending, you’ll have the 60,000 points you need to fly round-trip!

Decision-Making Help Sapphire Preferred Or Freedom

Fly to Costa Rica in First Class and Swing Through the Lush Jungle Like Tarzan With Their World Class Zip Lining, Rappelling, and Whitewater Rafting

A 1-way Business Class flight to Costa Rica could cost ~$800!  That’s a lot more than the 1 cent per point you’ll get by redeeming the points you earn with the Chase Freedom card for cash back!

We’ve redeemed our Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a stay at 1 of the top hotels in Sydney Harbor, a flight to the Aloha state for a Valentine’s Day getaway, and much more!

Decision-Making Help Sapphire Preferred Or Freedom

Visiting Australia to Explore the Great Barrier Reef, Watch a Cricket Match, or Enjoy the Fine Dining? The Park Hyatt Sydney Has Impeccable Service and You Can Stay for Free!

You might consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you:

  • Don’t want to pay an annual fee – The $95 annual fee is waived the 1st year.  This gives you time to evaluate the card and decide if it’s worth paying for the following year.  The benefits you get with this card are worth much more than the annual fee, so that’s why I’ve kept it for all these years.  But if you choose to cancel, you can call Chase to cancel and they won’t give you the hard sell.
  • Frequently travel abroad – There are NO foreign transaction fees
  • Do a lot of spending on dining & travel – You’ll earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points in these categories even when you’re out of the country
  • Want a larger sign-up bonus – 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth at least $500) with the Chase Sapphire Preferred versus 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150) with the Chase Freedom

Why I Have Both Cards in My Wallet!

I keep the Chase Freedom card because I don’t need to cancel.  And I earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (5% cash back) in categories like gas stations, department stores, and Amazon each quarter.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is also in my wallet, because it gives me the ability to combine Chase Ultimate Rewards points and transfer to partners for Big Travel!

Plus, I can earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining, which are 2 big spending categories for many travelers, like me.

Decision-Making Help Sapphire Preferred Or Freedom

The Chase Sapphire Preferred & Chase Freedom Cards Are Like the Dynamic Duo of Travel! With Both You’ll Open Up a World of Possibilities!

Many folks have been approved for 2 Chase personal cards on the same day.  Whether or not you’ll be approved depends largely on your relationship with Chase and your credit score.

If you want to play it safe, you could also apply for 1 now and the other later on.  Start with the card that best fits your needs based on the comparison above.  

I’d suggest the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  Because you can use it for cash back OR Big Travel.  And the annual fee is $0 for your 1st year with the card.

After ~10 months you can figure out if it’s worth keeping for $95.  At that point you can

  • cancel (avoiding the annual fee in year 2)
  • pay the fee (like I’ve done for years)
  • ask Chase if they’ll change the card to the Freedom or a different Chase card that has no annual fee (although you won’t be able to earn a separate sign-up bonus)

Some folks have been told by Chase that their application was denied because they signed-up for ~5 cards within the past 24 months.  For that reason, I’d also apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred before the Freedom.  And before other cards too.

That said, there are exceptions to the rule and folks report mixed results.  If you’re new to this hobby and haven’t signed-up for a lot of cards, don’t worry about it too much!

Bottom Line

The Chase Freedom card’s sign-up bonus has increased to 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you complete the minimum spending.

And the Chase Sapphire Preferred now has the highest publicly available offer I’ve seen of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you complete the minimum spending.

When deciding which card is right for you, take a look at your spending habits and travel plans.

The Chase Freedom is a terrific choice for folks who don’t want to commit a lot of money to annual fees and minimum spending, but still want to earn cash back on their purchases.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred, with its big sign-up bonus and the ability to transfer to airline partners, is the best option if you’re looking for Big Travel with Small Money!

Or you can apply for both!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 responses to “Decision-Making Help: Sapphire Preferred or Freedom?

  1. Looking for some advice. I just got the Sapphire card a little over a month ago. I currently also have the United Mileage Plus Explorer (Chase), Delta Skymiles (Amex), and USBank Flex Perks Travel Rewards. I was thinking of closing the United and/ or Delta cards as they both are near the year anniversary. My plan was to then open the Chase Freedom card and have that be the card I hold onto full time as there is no annual fee.

    My question is this: with my current situation should I close either or both of the cards mentioned above before or after I apply for the Freedom card? You always mention Chase being leery of handing out too many cards but wasn’t sure if closing the United card would be viewed as negative from their persepctive.


  2. In my humble opinion (IMHO), although Darius my think that my opinion is anything but humble, almost arrogant, but I do know some things about Miles and Points. Darius was kind enough to talk to me when I was considering trying to make a go of a blog (I decided not to do so), but to comment sporadically when I think I have something that can help others (usually by mistakes that I have made.

    Chase is a VERY important card issuer (as well as JP Morgan). Since I share my hobby with my sister, when I make a screw up, she usually get s the benefit of my mistake. The first card we applied for her was the Chase Sapphire preferred, and we have it 3 years later. Because I did not apply for the Chase Sapphire preferred, I don’t have any of the big three Chase branded products (SP, Freedom-and it’s new companion Freedom Unlimited, or Ink Plus.) I applied for hotel cards, and since I like so many on here apply and open many more than 4-5 cards in 2 years (Chase’s somewhat recent cutoff for new accounts) I always seem to screw myself up with getting a SP card. I would say the SP is MUCH more important than the Freedom, as if you don’t have the SP, you can’t transfer points from your Freedom account. Recently, we changed from the Freedom to the Freedom Unlimited as in effect it’s a no-fee card (I don’t ever plan to drop it from my sisters portfolio of cards) and in essence you can get 1.5 miles on, say United versus 1.0 mile on united if you use Chase’s UA branded product, or a 50% bonus. Plus, you have the option to choose to top off so many different hotel and several airline accounts you might have. Without the SP, you don’t have this option, so definitely secure the SP prior to getting the Freedom. I learned this the hard way.

    Recently, I was attracted to the Marriott Personal card due to the 80,000 sign up bonus (plus 7,500 more if you add an additional user and the make at least one charge during the 3 month qualification period for the bonus.) In retrospect, I REALLY wish I had applied for the Sapphire Preferred card FIRST, as Chase was obviously in the mood to give me another card (ONE, only.) I then tried to get the SP (I probably would have applied for both on the same day and probably would have had a decent chance of getting both, but I have never been very good at playing the double browser trick or getting 2 cards from one bank in one day. Chase, if you had to calling for a forced reconsideration if they were not both approved, would probably NOT have given me 2 cards in one day. They gave me the highest credit limit I have ever received in a first open for an account (33K), but they would NOT allow me to divide the limit into 2 accounts (the SP). I thought the were really being jerks, but their 4-5 cards in 2 years from ALL banks is getting to be taken more and more seriously by them. It’s a shame, because they have some of the best travel cards, 3 versions of the Marriott/Ritz product (one a business) and exclusivity with United’s business, if you don’t count the transfers you can do with American Express or Diners Club. At this point, I have converted or closed all my Citibank cards as we both have the no longer available Barclays Aviator Aadvantage card and would like to wait out the two years to get a good bonus offer again. I believe Chase is the worst in terms of their stupid underwriting process, because having 2 cards with say 16,000 each versus one with a 33K limit actually defies the logic in that is a customer is offering to decrease the total debt they could accumulate with a bank, underwriting norms say to accept the offer from the customer, especially when it’s good for the bank (lower outstanding’s) and won’t piss off the customer. I love and hate Chase at the same time, but think they are stupid about not allowing large limits to be divided into several, or at least 2 cards, if not several.

    My posts tend to be lengthy, so I probably lose a lot of people in the process, but I think what I have to say and the mistakes that I have made which possibly others reading this blog can avoid might be worthwhile for some, who go through the process of reading my long posts.

    Good luck out there, it’s getting harder in the dark arts of accumulating and churning cards, but the USA is by far the most generous (due to competition) of all countries by a wide margin in new account bonuses. Thank God that you live here if for nothing else than that. You can’t be happy you live here due to our backward and strange gun availability, especially the ridiculous availability of assault-automated weapons. I mean, that the heck?