Chase is well known for its popular travel and rewards credit cards already, yet consumers were excited when it announced the addition of a new cash back credit card. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ maintains the same 5 percent rotating categories as the old Chase Freedom did, yet with the addition of more bonus points in categories like travel booked through Chase, drugstores and dining.
At the same time, Chase boosted the sign-up bonus on its popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and added new rewards rates in major categories, which might make it difficult to decide which of these two cards to sign up for. And since the Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you qualify for superior travel redemptions and 1:1 transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners, this card can be an especially good deal for consumers who want more ways to cash in their rewards.
|Chase Freedom Flex(SM)||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|Welcome bonus||Earn a $200 bonus when you spend $500 within three months of account opening||60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening (worth $1,000 toward Chase Ultimate Rewards travel)|
|Intro APR||Introductory 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 16.49% to 25.24%||Variable APR of 17.49% – 24.49%|
|Value of points when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards||
||Points are worth 25 percent more (1.25 cents apiece)|
|Foreign transaction fee||3%||None|
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred highlights
Both of these cards are excellent options if you want to earn rewards on your spending, yet they both stand out in a few different categories. As you compare the Chase Freedom Flex and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, consider how they stack up in the following categories.
Welcome bonus winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits really shine when it comes to the welcome bonus. For the initial bonus you can earn in the first few months, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the obvious winner. You’ll earn 60,000 points worth $800 in gift cards or $750 in travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months. On the flip side, the Chase Freedom Flex bonus is only worth $200 when you spend $500 within three months of account opening.
The only factor to keep in mind here is the considerably higher minimum spending requirement. You’ll need to spend around $1,334 per month on your card for three months in a row to earn the bonus with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, whereas the Chase Freedom Flex only requires you to spend $500 in the same time period.
Rewards rate winner: Chase Freedom Flex
Even though Chase updated the rewards rate on the Sapphire Preferred in August 2021, it’s still overshadowed by the Chase Freedom Flex’s cash back rewards rates.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, cardholders can earn 5X points on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards, 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2025), 3X points on dining (previously 2X points), 3X points on select streaming services and 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). This is all in addition to the 2X points on general travel purchases that you receive and 1X points on everything else.
On the other hand, Chase Freedom Flex offers a more tempting rewards earning rate. You’ll start off by earning 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 spent in a quarterly bonus category after activation (then 1 percent), and you’ll also earn 5 percent back on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards, 5 percent back on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 3 percent back on dining and drugstore purchases and 1 percent back on everything else.
Annual Fee winner: Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Flex doesn’t charge an annual fee, so that makes it the obvious winner in this category. Keep in mind, however, that the Chase Sapphire Preferred only charges $95 per year. That’s pretty reasonable for a card with such a generous bonus offer, so we wouldn’t rule it out based on the annual fee alone.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred also comes with no foreign transaction fees, which is pretty standard among travel credit cards. With the Chase Freedom Flex, you’ll need to pay an additional 3 percent in foreign transaction fees for every purchase you make outside of the United States. If you frequently travel internationally, you’ll quickly make up for the annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred with your foreign transaction fee savings.
Which card earns the most?
For most people, the Chase Freedom Flex is going to net them the most rewards over time. The big difference between these two cards, when it comes to rewards, is redemption.
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred spending example
To understand what we mean about earning potential, keep the following example in mind. Let’s say you want to use a credit card for all your regular spending and bills, and that you hope to earn the highest rate of rewards possible in any given month. On a regular basis, your monthly spending might look like this:
- $1,200 spent on gas, utility bills and miscellaneous purchases
- $700 spent at the grocery store
- $400 spent on restaurants including takeout
- $200 spent at the drugstore
With the Chase Freedom Flex, you would earn $65 in rewards on regular spending during this sample month—$12 on miscellaneous purchases, $35 on groceries, $12 on restaurants including takeout and $6 earned at drugstores.
But if you had the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead, you would only earn 4,700 points worth $47 in cash back or statement credits—1,200 points on miscellaneous purchases, 2,100 points on grocery spending if ordered online, 1,200 points on restaurants including takeout and 200 points at the drugstore.
This example doesn’t take into account redemption options or the welcome bonus on each card. Since the initial bonus offer on the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be worth $750 in some cases (earn 60,000 bonus points is you spend $4,000 within the first three months), this card could easily leave you with more rewards during the first year.
Why should you get Chase Freedom Flex?
The Chase Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard instead of a Visa card like its Chase Freedom predecessor. However, it still maintains many of the same consumer protections and benefits as it did before. Here are some of the reasons you should consider signing up for this card.
The Chase Freedom Flex comes with consumer protections like purchase protection against damage or theft, extended warranties, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and travel and emergency assistance services. In terms of its World Elite Mastercard benefits, you’ll get cellphone insurance when you pay your phone bill with your credit card, $10 in Lyft credits each month you take five rides in a calendar month, 5 percent in rewards on Boxed.com purchases, a free ShopRunner membership and other perks.
Keep in mind this card offers an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 16.49 percent to 25.24 percent. This is a benefit you don’t get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and it’s one that could save you considerable amounts of money on interest if you wind up carrying a balance on your card during the first 15 months.
While the Chase Freedom Flex is a cash back credit card at heart, you do have quite a few redemption options to choose from. You can redeem your rewards for cash back, statement credits, merchandise through places like Amazon.com or Apple, travel through Chase and more.
Recommended credit score
You’ll need good credit or better to qualify for this credit card, which typically means a FICO score of 670 or higher.
Why should you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
While the Chase Freedom Flex is valuable in its own right, many rewards enthusiasts still swear by the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Here are some of the main reasons why.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with no foreign transaction fees, which makes it a far superior card for consumers who frequently travel abroad. By not having to pay foreign transaction fees, you’re saving around 3 percent in fees on international purchases.
Other benefits include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, an auto rental collision damage waiver, purchase protection against damage or theft and extended warranties. With the new upgrades to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, cardholders also enjoy an annual $50 hotel stay statement credit and a 10 percent anniversary point bonus on purchases made the previous year.
Further, you’ll get a Chase Sapphire Preferred DoorDash benefit, which includes complimentary DashPass membership for one year when you activate by March 31, 2022.Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum on qualifying food purchases with DashPass.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred really stands out in terms of rewards redemption. While you have all the same options as the Chase Freedom Flex, you get 25 percent more value when you redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Further, you can transfer your points to Chase transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio—turning your Chase points into rewards points with programs like Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt and more.
Transferring points is a huge deal since you may be able to get outsized value with airline partners. This is particularly true when you are able to use airline miles to book premium cabins or unusually expensive itineraries.
Recommended credit score
You’ll need good credit or better to qualify, which typically means a FICO score of 670 or higher.
How to choose between the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Sapphire Preferred
Before you choose to take out either the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Sapphire Preferred, keep the following considerations in mind to help you pick the right one for your wallet.
Your spending habits
Each of these credit cards reward individual spending categories differently. Sit down and look at your past month’s spending (especially any spending done with a credit card) and take note of the categories you spend the most in. Then, do a quick calculation to see how many points and cash back rewards you would typically earn with each card.
Your travel habits
While both of these credit cards offer rewards on travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a much better fit for those who tend to travel internationally as it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Take a look at both cards’ travel perks and see which ones better suit your typical travel plans.
If you’re on a tight budget and looking to cut back on recurring monthly and annual costs, you’ll probably find that having a credit card without an annual fee, like the Chase Freedom Flex, will help you save on upfront expenses each year.
Consider getting both cards
You don’t necessarily need to choose between either of these credit cards. If you have a strong credit score, there’s a good chance you can successfully apply for both cards at once—which allows you to strategically pick which card you want to use when making purchases. That being said, you’ll need to keep Chase’s 5/24 rule in mind if you decide to take this route.
The bottom line
Picking between the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Sapphire Preferred may not be easy, but it all boils down to what you value most. Would you rather earn more bonus points in a broader range of categories, or would you rather have the option to redeem for superior travel redemptions, including point transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners?
Of course, you don’t have to choose between these two cards. You can be approved for both at the same time, depending on your creditworthiness and other factors. And with both cards in your wallet, you could take advantage of the best rewards potential and perks each one offers.