Compare Credit Cards: Chase Freedom vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

See how these two popular cards stack up.

Lindsay KonskoDecember 29, 2014
Chase Freedom vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

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Deciding between two great credit cards can be tough. If you’ve narrowed your search down to the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you might be feeling stuck.

We dove deep and compared the two cards on every important metric, which will make it easy to see which one is right for you. Let’s dig in.

Chase Freedom® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Rewards

When it comes to earning rewards, both the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer something to get excited about.

With the Chase Freedom®, you’ll earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly bonus categories, up to $1,500 spent per quarter. You’ll also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. In recent years, the Chase Freedom® 5% categories have included gas stations, department stores, wholesale clubs and grocery stores, so there’s something for everyone.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll be earning 2 Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent on travel and dining out and 1 Ultimate Rewards point on all other purchases. Generally, points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth $.01 apiece. But if you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the value of each goes up by 25%.

Speaking of redeeming, using your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points to book a trip through Chase’s Expedia-like tool isn’t your only option. You can also transfer your points to participating frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 ratio. For experienced travel hackers, this is a handy feature that could help you wring a lot of value out of each point.

Alternatively, when you’re ready to redeem the rewards you’ve earned with the Chase Freedom®, your choices are a little bit different. Although the card technically earns Ultimate Rewards points, you won’t be able to redeem them for travel directly. You’ll have the option to cash them in for gift cards, make purchases on Amazon, or receive a statement credit or deposit into your bank account.

As far as signup bonuses go, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s offer is impressive: 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®. The signup bonus offered by the Chase Freedom® is more modest — but easier to attain: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Chase Freedom® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Fees

Credit card fees should be avoided whenever possible, so being aware of your spending patterns is key.

When it comes to annual fees, the Chase Freedom® is the cheaper of the two. Its annual fee is $0. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an annual fee of $95.

However, if you travel overseas a lot, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a better pick. It charges no foreign transaction fee, but the Chase Freedom® will tack an extra 3% onto every purchase you make abroad.

Chase Freedom® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Special features

Again, both the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provide a unique benefit that consumers will value.

Let’s start with the Chase Freedom®: If you’re coping with high-interest debt and want to save money with a balance transfer, this card might be able to help. It offers 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR.

When it comes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, it’s worth pointing out that it’s a rare find among travel credit cards because it provides two solid options for redeeming your rewards. On the one hand, if you have a flexible schedule or are planning a long-distance trip, you can transfer your points to a frequent flyer program. This could result in scoring a killer deal on an award ticket.

But you might find yourself in a situation where you have to arrange a trip at a particular time and are running up against too many blackout dates to use frequent flyer miles. In this case, you can use your points to book whichever flight you want through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and get 1.25 cents per point.

The bottom line: Should I get the Chase Freedom® or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?

The choice between the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card really boils down to how you spend your time and money. If you devote a lot of your income to travel and dining and have a passion for seeing the world, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is probably the card for you. But if your spending tends to change throughout the year and you don’t travel much, the Chase Freedom® is a solid, low-cost pick.

There’s another option: Get both cards and use them simultaneously. Rewards earned on the Chase Freedom® can be transferred to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and redeemed with greater flexibility. With their powers combined, you’ll have a winning formula for racking up serious rewards.

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