Advertiser Disclosure

Compare Credit Cards: Chase Freedom vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

December 29, 2014
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
Chase Freedom vs Chase Sapphire Preferred
At NerdWallet, we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

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.

AT A GLANCE
Chase Freedom® Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual fee $0 $0 for the first year, then $95
Rewards program Cash back:

  • 5% back on up to $1,500 per quarter in rotating bonus categories
  • 1% back on all other spending
Ultimate Rewards points:

  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining out
  • 1 point per dollar on all other spending
Sign-up bonus Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening 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®
Foreign transaction fee 3% None
VERDICT: If you travel frequently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a better pick. If you’re looking for a general rewards credit card, the Chase Freedom® fits the bill
Good for:
  • Someone who wants cash-back rewards
  • Someone who doesn’t want to pay an annual fee
  • Someone willing to put in a little effort to maximize rewards
  • Someone who spends a lot on dining and travel
  • Someone who frequently travels internationally
  • Someone looking for a big signup bonus
  • Someone looking to get started with travel hacking
Bad for:
  • Someone who doesn’t like rotating bonus categories
  • Someone looking for a big signup bonus
  • Someone who wants consistent bonus rewards in one or two categories
  • Someone who doesn’t travel much
  • Someone who doesn’t dine out often
  • Someone who doesn’t use frequent flyer programs and isn’t interested in starting

Wonder whether you qualify? 
Use NerdWallet’s tool to prequalify for Chase credit cards.


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 Kayak-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 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®. 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. The Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card both waive different ones, which makes each card special in its own right.

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 $0 for the first year, then $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% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.74% - 25.49% 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.