The former is a flexible cash-back credit card, the latter is a versatile travel credit card, and in many ways a decision between them hinges on what your goal is.
In a head-to-head rewards battle, the Flex comes out on top. It has far superior rewards-earning power, not to mention a $0 annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn't as lucrative or varied in terms of ongoing rewards, and you'll owe an annual fee to boot.
But, again, for travelers, the Sapphire Preferred isn't totally down for the count. That's because it unlocks impressive travel perks — including elevated point values and transfer partners — that you won't get with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ alone.
If you’re trying to decide between these two cards, we'll tell you what to know. But, pro tip? You may want to consider both. More on that later.
How they compare at a glance
Even though the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is considered a cash-back card, both it and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card technically earn points in a currency called Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Those points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash back, but you'll have other redemption options, too.
Here's how the cards stack up:
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Foreign transaction fee
0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR.
The ongoing APR is 15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.
Value of points when redeemed for travel through Chase
1 cent each
1.25 cents each
Why the Chase Freedom Flex℠ wins out in most respects
Its ongoing rewards are richer, hands down
When it comes to earning rewards through everyday spending, it's not much of a contest. The Flex is the clear winner, even though its earning structure is certainly more complicated.
In a rarity among cash-back cards, you get rotating 5% categories and fixed bonus categories. And notably, when it comes to those fixed bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ just simply beats the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card at its own game.
The only bonus categories the Sapphire Preferred offers are dining and travel, both at 2X back per $1 spent. But the Flex gives you 3X back on dining and 5X back on at least some travel (booked through Chase or Lyft) — and that's on top of several other bonus categories that the Sapphire Preferred doesn't touch.
Without question, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is the more lucrative card for everyday use.
It's also the less expensive option (if you don't travel internationally)
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers all of this impressive rewards-earning power for an annual fee of $0.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges an annual fee of $95, and it's not waived in the first year either.
An annual fee can absolutely be worth paying as long as you're earning enough rewards and/or perks to offset it, and the Sapphire Preferred offers several. But bottom line, the Flex is cheaper to carry.
It offers a 0% intro APR period and other perks
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has no such APR promotion, so you won't want to use it to finance a large purchase upfront.
Also, because the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a World Elite Mastercard, it offers some side perks you might find useful, including cell phone insurance, as well as discounts and special incentives on services like Fandango, Shoprunner and more.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card runs on the Visa payment network, which offers its own side perks, including various insurance benefits and protections — but not for your cell phone. Visa also lacks the kind of targeted deals with specific merchants that Mastercard can offer.
Where the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card still shines
Points are potentially more valuable and flexible
Generally, points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth a penny apiece when redeemed for cash. But if you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, the per-point value goes up by 25%. If you have 80,000 points, they're worth $800 when redeemed for cash — but $1,000 if you book travel via Chase.
Plus, booking a trip through Chase’s Expedia-like tool isn’t your only option with the Sapphire Preferred. You can also transfer your points to more than a dozen travel partner programs at a 1:1 ratio. (Marriott, Hyatt, United and Southwest are examples.)
For experienced travel hackers, this is a handy feature that could help you wring a lot of value out of your points.
With the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you don't have those options. Although the card technically earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, you won’t be able to redeem them for travel directly. You can cash them out as a deposit into your bank account, receive a statement credit, redeem them for gift cards or make purchases on Amazon, but the card has no point-boosting features or travel partners.
Sign-up bonus gives you more upfront
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card wins easily in this category for new cardmembers: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
That’s an eye-popping bonus, even if you choose to use it for cash back.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ currently offers the following: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Obviously, $200 is a lot less.
Why not both?
If you want to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards® for cash back, there’s really no need to go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ easily bests it.
If you want to use your points for travel, the decision gets tougher given the features you'll find on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
But you don't necessarily have to choose one or the other. In fact, having both cards can be the sweet spot.
You can move points that you earn with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and then either transfer those points to Sapphire travel partners or redeem them for travel through Chase at the higher value.
With their powers combined, you’ll have a winning formula for both earning and burning your rewards.
» MORE: What is the 'Chase trifecta'?