Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred: Flex is Stronger Overall

The Flex has better rewards, plus a $0 annual fee. But the Sapphire Preferred still carries some cache for travelers — and nothing says you can't have both.

Erin HurdOctober 1, 2020
On a similar note...
On a similar note...
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred: Flex is Stronger Overall

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are two different beasts.

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

Annual fee

$0

$95

Sign-up bonus

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, for new cardholders only, earn 5% cash back at grocery stores for the first year on up to $12,000 in spending.

Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Ongoing rewards

  • 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in combined spending per quarter.

  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 3% back at restaurants.

  • 3% back on drugstore purchases.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel.

  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Foreign transaction fee

3%

None

APR

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

Enhanced offers

  • Through March 31, 2022, all cardholders can earn a total of 5% back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app.

  • Cardholders get three free months of access to DoorDash's subscription delivery service, DashPass. After the first three months, you'll be automatically enrolled at half off for the next nine months. (You must activate the offer by Dec. 31, 2021.)

  • Through March 31, 2022, all cardholders can earn a total of 5% back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app.

  • Cardholders get a free DashPass subscription from DoorDash for at least one year. (You must activate the offer by Dec. 31, 2021.)

Why the Chase Freedom Flex℠ wins out in most respects

Its ongoing rewards are richer, hands down

Chase Freedom Flex
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

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.

Nerd tip: However, if you travel overseas frequently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is likely a better pick because it charges no foreign transaction fee. The Chase Freedom Flex℠, on the other hand, will tack an extra 3% onto every purchase you make abroad.

Even their sign-up bonuses are comparable

At first glance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card seems to win easily in this category for new cardmembers: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

That’s an eye-popping bonus, even if you choose to use it for cash back (which would still snag you $800).

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers the following: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Obviously, $200 is a lot less. But it's not the whole story because new cardmembers also earn 5% cash back at grocery stores for the first year on up to $12,000 in spending. Maxing that out would earn you an additional $600, which — when added to the traditional upfront bonus — nets you $800 (or 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points).

The Flex's full bonus is harder to attain, and it doesn't offer you the ability to redeem toward travel at a higher value per point. But from a pure cash-back perspective, it's a tie.

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.

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.

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.