Chase Freedom® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

5 min read

When deciding between the Chase Freedom® and Chase Sapphire Preferred®, there are a few key differences to consider. First and foremost, the Freedom offers a higher cash back rate on rotating categories, whereas the Sapphire Preferred offers unlimited rewards on travel and dining purchases. Further, the Freedom has no annual fee and a great introductory APR offer, making it perfect for balance transfers. The Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, doesn’t have an introductory APR and charges a $95 annual fee. Both cards offer attractive bonus offers and can be a good fit for a specific type of spending.

Card comparison overview

 Features Chase Freedom Chase Sapphire Preferred
Welcome bonus $150 cash back bonus when you spend at least $500 within the first three months of card ownership 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months
Rewards rate 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined bonus category purchases each quarter (activation required) and 1 percent on everything else 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1X points on everything else
Introductory APR Zero percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then 16.49 percent to 25.24 percent variable APR None
Annual fee $0 $95

Chase Freedom vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred highlights

The Freedom and Sapphire Preferred both offer great rewards, so it can be tough to decide which one is more beneficial. Here’s a breakdown of some of their key features.

Sign-up bonus winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Freedom comes with a $150 cash back bonus when you spend $500 within your first three months. The Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within your first three months. The bonus is worth $600 when redeemed for cash back or $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards to pay for airline tickets, rental cars, hotels or travel experiences.

Rewards rate winner: Tie

The Freedom offers 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined bonus category purchases each quarter (activation required), then 1 percent on all other purchases. That means you can earn $300 per year in cash back from the 5 percent rewards rate.

The Sapphire Preferred offers an unlimited 2X points on dining and travel and 1X points per dollar on everything else. You can get even more value from your points by redeeming them through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Both cards offer attractive rewards rates, so the one you should choose comes down to your spending habits. The Sapphire Preferred is best for frequent travelers who spend upwards of $2,000 per month on dining and travel expenses, while the Freedom is better for people who spend closer to $500 per month.

Annual fee winner: Chase Freedom

When comparing the annual fees of the Freedom and Sapphire Preferred, a clear winner emerges. The Freedom doesn’t charge an annual fee, whereas the Sapphire Preferred has a annual fee of $95. You’ll have to spend $4,750 per year on dining and travel with the Sapphire Preferred to earn the 9,500 points you need to break even.

Balance transfer winner: Chase Freedom

The Freedom has a 15-month zero percent introductory APR that applies to balance transfers as well as purchases (16.49 percent to 25.24 percent variable APR thereafter). It also has a 3 percent balance transfer fee for the first 60 days. After 60 days, you’ll pay 5 percent of the amount transferred. The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer an introductory APR on balance transfers, so this one goes to the Freedom.

Introductory APR winner: Chase Freedom

When it comes to introductory zero percent APR offers, the Freedom wins again. It has a zero percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable APR of 16.49 percent to 25.24 percent. The Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer an introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers, and you’ll receive a variable APR between 17.49 percent and 24.49 percent when you sign up for the card.

Which card earns the most?

The Sapphire Preferred will earn you the most due to its unlimited 2X rewards rate. The Freedom, on the other hand, allows you to earn 5 percent cash back on up to $6,000 in combined purchases per year ($1,500 per quarter) on bonus categories (activation required). After that, you’re limited to the 1 percent cash back rate. The Freedom can earn you $300 cash back more quickly, but the Sapphire Preferred will earn you more in the long run if you spend enough on dining and travel.

Chase Freedom vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred spending example

If you consistently spend within the bonus categories, the Freedom can earn you significant rewards. By hitting the $1,500 cap on bonus category purchases each quarter, you’ll earn $300 in cash back for the first year (or $450 for the year when you add in the $150 welcome bonus). If you increase your spending to $4,000 each quarter, you’ll earn an extra $100 for the year for a total of $550 in cash back rewards.

On the other hand, if you spend $1,500 each quarter on dining and travel with your Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 12,000 points during the year (equal to about $120 in cash back). By instead redeeming those points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they’ll be worth $150. Finally, if you spend $2,500 in the Sapphire Preferred’s 1X category each quarter, you’ll earn a total of 22,000 points for the year (which would cash out at $220 or $275 through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal). Combined with your welcome bonus of 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 within your first three months), you’ll have earned $820 in rewards for the year or $1,025 through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. However, you’ll also need to deduct the $95 annual fee from your total earnings.

Welcome bonuses aside, the Freedom comes out the winner for lower spenders, but the Sapphire Preferred takes the lead as spending increases. If you spend $50,000 a year on dining and travel with the Sapphire Preferred, for example, you’ll earn $1,000 in cash back, whereas the most you could earn from the Freedom is $740.  The tipping point toward the Sapphire Preferred is around $25,000 spent on dining and travel per year.

Why should you get Chase Freedom

If you plan to spend around $500 to $1,000 per month on a credit card and don’t mind tailoring your spending to rotating bonus categories, then the Chase Freedom is the better card for you.

Additional benefits

The Freedom offers secure contactless payments and a wide range of protection benefits. You’ll get zero liability protection, fraud protection and extended warranty protection on qualifying purchases.

Redemption options

The Freedom comes with a few different redemption options: cash back, shopping with points on Amazon.com, gift cards or transfer your points to an eligible Chase card that has Chase Ultimate Rewards.

You can receive your cash back rewards as either statement credit or a direct deposit into your checking or savings account. If you want to maximize your points, avoid shopping at Amazon; each point is only worth around $0.08, so you’ll get more value from your points if you choose other redemption options.

Recommended credit score

You’ll need a good or excellent credit score to qualify for this card (between 670 and 850).

Why should you get Chase Sapphire Preferred?

The Sapphire Preferred is best for those who travel frequently and enjoy dining out. For the Sapphire Preferred to surpass the cash back earning potential of the Freedom (welcome bonuses aside), the cardholder would need to spend just under $2,100 per month — or $25,000 per year — on dining and travel expenses.

Additional benefits

The card comes with a lot of travel-related benefits, including baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement and travel and emergency assistance services. You won’t get charged foreign transaction fees, either.

Redemption options

With the Sapphire Preferred, you have multiple redemption options: Gift cards, cash back, travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and shopping with points at Amazon.

When you redeem your points for hotels, airfare, car rentals or cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll get 25 percent more value for your points. For example, 60,000 points would equal $750 rather than $600.

If you’re a member of a frequent travel program like Marriott Bonvoy, you can also transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your account at a one-to-one value.

Recommended credit score

The Sapphire Preferred requires a good or excellent credit score, which starts at around 670.

Bottom line

When comparing the Freedom and Sapphire Preferred, the best card for you really comes down to your spending habits and rewards preferences. If you’re looking for travel rewards and are a heavy spender, the Sapphire Preferred is the way to go. But if you plan to spend a reasonable amount on everyday expenses, the Freedom is a better fit.

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