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Best Travel Card Pairing: Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred

Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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best travel card pairing chase freedom chase sapphire preferred

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.

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® bonus rewards categories for 2017
Q1 (Jan. 1 - March 31)Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls or Amtrak)
Q2 (April 1 - June 30)Grocery stores and drugstores
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)Restaurants and movie theaters
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)Walmart and department stores

You’ll receive 1% back on any other purchases. The Chase Freedom® has a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 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% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 24.74% Variable APR.

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

 The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2X points on every dollar spent on travel and dining out, and 1 point on all other purchases. There’s a killer sign-up bonus: 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®. You get an extra 5,000 points if you add an authorized user and make a purchase within three months.

Rewards are best redeemed for travel. You can either book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website 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 and an $0 for the first year, then $95 after that.

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 Ultimate Rewards 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.

Erin El Issa is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @Erin_Lindsay17 and on Google+.

Image via iStock.