Best Travel Card Pairing: Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred

This perfect coupling of credit cards can give your travel rewards balances a big boost when you use them for different categories.
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Written by Erin El Issa
Senior Writer

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The Chase Freedom® is no longer available to new applicants, so this page is out of date. See our review of the card that has replaced it, the Chase Freedom Flex®. That card offers quarterly 5% categories like the original Freedom, as well as fixed bonus categories that pay 3% to 5% cash back. Rewards earned on the Chase Freedom Flex® can also be transferred to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Some credit cards go better together, like the Chase Freedom® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card -- a travel rewards pair the Nerds are crazy about. Learn how to use these cards in tandem to get the best bang for your rewards buck.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The Chase Freedom® still exists, but is closed to new applicants. It can be product-changed to a Chase Freedom Flex® if you call Chase and make the request.

Chase Freedom®: Sky high rewards on rotating purchase categories

The Chase Freedom® offers 5% cash back on quarterly categories on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. The bonus categories are as follows:

Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex® bonus rewards categories for 2024

Q1 (Jan. 1-March 31)

  • Grocery stores.

  • Fitness clubs and gym memberships.

  • Self-care and spa services.

Q2 (April 1-June 30)

  • Select hotel bookings.*

  • Restaurants.


Q3 (July 1-Sept. 30)

  • Gas stations and EV charging.

  • Select live entertainment.

  • Movie theaters.

Q4 (Oct. 1-Dec. 31)

  • TBD (In 2023: PayPal; wholesale clubs; select charities).

*Includes bookings made directly with the hotel and prepaid bookings through Chase's travel portal.

You’ll receive 1% back on any other purchases. The Chase Freedom® has a sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. These rewards can be used for cash back, but you’ll enjoy a higher rewards value if you transfer the points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card account.

The Chase Freedom® has a $0 annual fee, and you'll get an 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99%-23.74% Variable.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Travel rewards redemption worth bragging about

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on all travel booked through Chase.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout).

  • 3 points per $1 spent on select streaming services.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).

  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel not booked through Chase.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.

There’s a killer sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Rewards are best redeemed for travel. You can either book travel through Chase at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, or if you’re savvy at travel hacking, you can transfer points to a partner program at a rate of 1.25 to 5 cents per point.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has no foreign transaction fees but charges an annual fee of $95.

How to use the Chase Freedom® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to score free travel

It’s easy to use the Chase Freedom® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card together for higher travel rewards. Here’s how to organize your spending:

Every quarter, opt into the Chase Freedom®’s 5% bonus categories. Use your Chase Freedom® for up to $1,500 in spending each quarter in the bonus categories. Then transfer your points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card account and use them to book travel through Chase at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.

For dining and travel purchases, use your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, unless the Chase Freedom® is offering 5% on those purchases. Any other purchases can be made on either card. With the high redemption values, you’ll effectively earn 6.25, 2.5 or 1.25 points on every dollar you spend.

Bottom line: Take advantage of the Chase Freedom®'s 5% bonus categories and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card's high travel redemption options to score major travel rewards on all of your purchases.

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