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Why you shouldn’t upgrade your Chase Freedom credit card (and when you should)

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Why you shouldn’t upgrade your Chase Freedom credit card (and when you should)

Joseph HostetlerWhy you shouldn’t upgrade your Chase Freedom credit card (and when you should)Million Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Over the years, readers have continued to inquire about one important aspect of the miles and points hobby. It’s something called “product changing,” and it’s got a lot to do with how you manage rewards credit cards. If you misunderstand it, you’ll cheat yourself out of potentially thousands and thousands of dollars in hotel stays, business-class flights and plenty more.

Chase credit cards are by far the most popular travel credit cards. A common question we receive is guidance as to whether one should upgrade the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom® to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This is an example of a “product change” – switching your current card to a similar card issued by the same bank.

There are very compelling reasons on both sides of this argument. By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly what you should do. I’ll explain what you stand to gain and lose by upgrading your Chase Freedom.

Information for the Chase Freedom card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets and has not been reviewed by the card issuer.

Upgrading cards at inopportune times could mean you missing out on enough points for a free trip to the Maldives. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Why you should not upgrade your Chase Freedom

You can have both cards

These cards serve different purposes. The Chase Freedom is a powerhouse for earning Chase points on rotating bonus categories (5x points on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter when you activate your card, then one point per dollar) like Amazon, gas stations, supermarkets, streaming services and more. The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve are perfect for dining and travel. You can hold both cards at once, so why wouldn’t you? It’ll ensures you’ll get bonus points for more of your spending.

Read our post on Chase Sapphire Preferred approval tips to give yourself the best chance of a successful application.

You won’t earn a welcome bonus

This is very important. When you upgrade the Chase Freedom to the Sapphire Preferred, you are disqualifying yourself from earning the card’s sign-up bonus. Currently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. We estimate Chase points value to be around two cents each, meaning you’ll forfeit around $1,200 in free travel by upgrading.

These travel card bonuses are a gigantic reason not to upgrade your cards.

You’re on the hook for an annual fee

This point is positively moot if you know how to use the cards. Remember, the goal here is to save money.

Despite a $550 annual fee (prorated when you upgrade), the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth it for most of us. But if you intend to product change your no annual fee Chase Freedom, make sure the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits will save you more money than you’re spending. Remember, you’re not even earning the card’s sign-up bonus when you upgrade. And the Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee is only $95 and much more reasonable.

Why you should upgrade your Chase Freedom

Chase “5/24 rule”

One rule you must know is that if you’ve opened five or more cards – from any bank – in the past 24 months (excluding certain small business credit cards), Chase won’t approve you for a new credit card.

Perhaps you want all the features of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but you’ve already applied for five cards in the past two years. After all, the Chase Freedom is inferior to the Sapphire Preferred. You can redeem its points with valuable Chase transfer partners like Hyatt and Southwest. You can book travel through the Chase Travel Portal for 1.25 cents per point. You’ll receive top-notch travel protection when you book your flight with the card.

If you’ve collected a whole bunch of points/cash back with the Chase Freedom and you want to use them for travel, you can upgrade your card.

Upgrading doesn’t show up as a hard pull on your credit

When you upgrade a credit card, it doesn’t appear on your credit report as a new card:

  • Chase will let you keep your same credit card number
  • The information attached to the card will be transferred
  • It won’t show up as a new account

As far as the credit bureaus are concerned, you still have the Chase Freedom.

Bottom line

As with everything in the miles and points world, whether you should upgrade your Chase Freedom is situational. Most of the time, however, you shouldn’t upgrade your cards. Upgrading means you won’t have a chance to earn the welcome bonus worth tens of thousands of points. Welcome bonuses are a points enthusiast’s best friend.

If you’re above the Chase “5/24 rule” and you’ve got a lot of points on your Chase Freedom, it could certainly be a good idea to upgrade your card to a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Let us know if you plan to upgrade your Chase Freedom. And subscribe to our newsletter for more miles and points guidance like this delivered to your inbox.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Are you badly in need of repairing your poor credit records and getting rid of the negatives items from your credit report within few days. I was once a victim of bad credit score but they helped me to increase my FICO Score to 790 across the three credit bureaus and get rid of the negative items on my credit report. For more credit repairing details, contact him at COMPUTER.SURGEON at OUTLOOK dot COM

How do you feel about upgrading the Freedom Unlimited Card? A few months ago I upgraded from the Slate card to Freedom Unlimited. Was thinking about upgrading to the Sapphire Preferred sometime. I have the Capital One Venture Card and Amex Delta Gold Card. Just been debating if the Sapphire would be worth it, considering I’m planning a trip for summer next year.

Could we get a general post about upgrade and downgrades? What it means for credit lines, credit scores, etc? I have a Citi card that I had for years and hadn’t really been using. They offered me a promotional 0% APR period when I happened to be needing money, so I’ve been using it again and wracked up a bit… and they just keep sending me different upgrade offers. It feels like a trick, as though I’ll upgrade and the offer won’t transfer, and my credit score will go down because I don’t have the history of the old card.

Advice?

what would be the impact of possibly upgrading to a CSP from Freedom to take advantage of the transfer then shortly thereafter downgrade (and recover a prorated rate of the AF) and go back to the Freedom? I only ask as I have about 100,000 UR points, but no transfer cards (Ink, CSP)

I was wanting to take out a Freedom card due to the rotating bonuses. With the changes to Chase I doubt I’d get approved. I have a Sapphire and an Ink card. I was thinking of closing my Sapphire (my husband also has one we can use) and then I could transfer my Freedom points to my Ink. Would Chase change my Sapphire to a Freedom card? I realize I would not get the 20,000 sign up points.

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