Credit Card Comparison: Chase Freedom vs. Sapphire Preferred

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Credit Card Comparison:  Chase Freedom vs. Sapphire Preferred

Million Mile SecretsCredit Card Comparison:  Chase Freedom vs. Sapphire PreferredMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Here at Million Mile Secrets, our favorite flexible rewards program is Chase Ultimate Rewards.  With Chase Ultimate Rewards, there are multiple ways to earn points you can redeem for travel nearly anywhere in the world!

But Chase has a number of different cards to choose from, and it can be difficult to decide where to begin.  So we’re going to compare 2 of the most popular Chase cards – the Chase Freedom and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

The information for the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase Freedom Vs Sapphire
You Can Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for a Trip to Hawaii!

Both cards have good sign-up bonuses.  But choosing the right card for you will depend on which card perks make the most sense for your unique situation.

We’ll also go over how you can pair the two cards for even more Big Travel with Small Money.  Lots of folks use both the Freedom and Sapphire Preferred to maximize the Ultimate Rewards points they earn!

Here’s a breakdown and comparison of the benefits of each card.

Which Card Is Better?  The Chase Freedom vs. Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Freedom

Link:   Our Review of the Chase Freedom

1.   Best Sign-Up Bonus

One of the fastest and easiest ways to earn miles and points for Big Travel is by earning sign-up bonuses from new credit cards.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

This sign-up bonus is worth $625 in travel (1.25 cents per point) when you redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.  And potentially much more when you transfer points to travel partners like United Airlines, Hyatt, or Singapore Airlines!

Chase Freedom Vs Sapphire
50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Is Enough for 2 Award Nights at a Category 6 Hyatt Hotel, Like the All-Inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cancun!

In comparison, with the Chase Freedom card, you’ll earn $150 (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Winner:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Looking strictly at the value of sign-up bonuses alone, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the clear winner.

2.   Best Point Earning

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  But they earn them in different ways.  And the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred are worth more when you redeem them for travel with through Chase’s travel portal.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn:

  • 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 you spend on travel and dining worldwide
  • 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1 you spend on everything else

And with the Chase Freedom, you’ll earn:

  • 5% back (5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories each quarter when you activate the bonus!
  • 1% back (1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) per $1 you spend on everything else

If you can maximize the $1,500 in spending per quarter ($6,000 per year) in popular rotating 5X bonus categories (which in the past have included restaurants, gas stations, department stores, and Amazon) you can potentially earn more cash back (or Ultimate Rewards points!) with the Freedom.  Because you’ll earn $75 cash back each quarter ($1,500 X 5%), for a total of $300 cash back (or 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) per year ($75 X 4 quarters).

Chase Freedom Vs Sapphire
If You Don’t Mind the Hassle of Tracking the Freedom’s Rotating 5% Back Categories, You Can Really Make Out Well With This Perk!

In comparison, you only earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining and 1X points on everything else with the Sapphire Preferred.  But for some, the hassle of tracking rotating categories with the Freedom isn’t worth it.  So having the Sapphire Preferred makes more sense.

Just remember, you can’t use the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with the Chase Freedom for travel unless you have other certain Ultimate Rewards earning cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred.  So ideally, you’d pair your Freedom with one of these other cards.

Winner:  It’s a toss up!  

This one depends on your spending habits and how you plan to use your rewards.  If you’re only interested in cash back and can maximize the Freedom’s quarterly 5% bonus categories, the Freedom is the better choice.  If you spend a lot on travel and dining, don’t want the hassle of dealing with rotating categories, and want to use your rewards for travel, you should go with Chase Sapphire Preferred.  In fact, it’s our #1 choice for beginners!

3.   Best Redemption Value

The points you earn with the Chase Freedom are straightforward to redeem.  Because each point is worth 1 cent each in cash back.  For example, if you spend $1,000 on the card, you’ll earn $10 back.

But you can’t use the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with the Chase Freedom for travel unless you have other certain Ultimate Rewards earning cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred.  So ideally, you’d pair your Freedom with one of these other cards.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, however, your points are worth 1.25 cents a piece when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Travel portal.  For example, if you spend $1,000 on the card, you’ll earn $12.50 in travel.

Or even more when you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to Chase’s great airline and hotel partners!

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back (1 cent per point) or paid travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal (1.25 cents per point).  But there’s another option!

Winner:  Chase Sapphire Preferred  

4.   Best Travel Protection Benefits

If you’ll be traveling often, consider the insurance and protection benefits each card provides.  Delays, cancellations, and mishaps can happen despite our best intentions.

Chase Freedom Vs Sapphire
Planning Getaway and Worried About the Potential Cost of Cancellations and Lost Luggage Along the Way? The Chase Sapphire Preferred Has Got You Covered!

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers excellent travel protections, including:

The Chase Freedom doesn’t offer these travel protection perks.

Winner:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

5.   Best Annual Fee

The Chase Freedom has NO annual fee.  While the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee.  That said, the annual fee on the Sapphire Preferred IS waived the 1st year.

Winner:   Chase Freedom (after the 1st year)

6.   Best Foreign Transaction Fees

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you never have to worry about foreign transaction fees.  But the Chase Freedom charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Winner:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

7.   Best Worldwide Acceptance

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom are both Visa cards.  So they’ll both be equally accepted around the world.

Winner:  It’s a Tie

Bottom Line:   Chase Freedom vs. Sapphire Preferred

At the end of the day, the Chase card you choose really should reflect your personal spending habits and your travel goals.

If you don’t want to pay an annual fee and like the simplicity of earning cash back, then the Chase Freedom is a great choice.

But for most folks, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a better deal.  It beats the Chase Freedom in most aspects.  And the Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Sapphire Preferred are more valuable because of the better redemption rate you get through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or by transferring points to airline and hotel programs.

  • Best Sign-Up Bonus:   Chase Sapphire Preferred offers ~$513+ more value
  • Best Point Earning:   It’s a toss up, depending on your personal spending habits
  • Best Redemption Value:   Chase Sapphire Preferred can get you significantly more value when you transfer points to travel partners
  • Best Travel Protection Benefits:   Chase Sapphire Preferred offers primary rental car insurance, trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation / interruption, and baggage delay insurance
  • Best Annual Fee:   Chase Freedom (after the 1st year)
  • Best Foreign Transaction Fees:   Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Best Worldwide Acceptance:  It’s a tie (but remember, the Freedom charges foreign transaction fees!)

Ideally you’d pair both cards to maximize the bonus categories and perks from each card!

Learn more about Chase Freedom, one of our favorite no-annual-fee cards.

Or learn more about Chase Sapphire Preferred, our #1 favorite card for people new to miles and points travel.

Have you considered either of these cards before?  If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

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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