Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Chase Freedom Flex: How to Pick Between the Two

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Chase Freedom Flex: How to Pick Between the Two

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ are intended for two very different types of users. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is targeted at travelers who also happen to be high spenders, while the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a general-purpose cashback card for people looking to save on things like groceries or gas. As a cashback credit card with $0 annual fee, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card can be beneficial for many, offering plenty of opportunities to earn rewards on everyday purchases.

Despite their differences, both cards operate using the same point system: Chase Ultimate Rewards. As travel is limited, the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ card will likely attract travelers who already own multiple credit cards, in addition to those who prefer cashback rewards. Cardholders can redeem their Chase Freedom Flex℠ points for valuable cash back, or combine their points with another Ultimate Rewards card, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This creates the option for users to use both cards at the same time to optimize their savings.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠

Generally, the choice between the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Freedom Flex℠ comes down to the type of spender you are. The following can give you the quickest answer about which of these two credit cards will serve you best:

  • Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if most of your spending is on travel and dining purchases, and you plan to redeem your points for travel.
  • Get the Chase Freedom Flex℠ if all you’re interested in is earning cash back on typical everyday purchases, like gas, groceries or a cup of coffee. This card has $0 annual fee, so all the rewards you earn are a net positive on your finances.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Freedom Flex℠Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best For...Cash back rewards for everyday spendingTravelers and high spenders
Annual Fee$0$95
RewardsEarn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. 5% Cash Back on qualifying Lyft rides through 03/2022.2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide 5X points on qualifying Lyft rides through 03/2022.
Sign-up bonusEarn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn a $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
Rewards FormUltimate RewardsUltimate Rewards
Purchase APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Which card should you choose?

We distilled the most important benefits and features of both credit cards to help you understand how they can work with your budget. We focused on the primary features of each card, including the rewards they offer as well as promotional interest rates. We did not go into ancillary benefits, such as concierge service, cash advance fees or balance transfer fees.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for travelers and airline miles

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a good card for anyone interested in collecting and earning travel reward points. These can later be used to book travel through Chase’s website, or transferred to 11 airline programs and three hotel programs:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards®
  • Flying Blue Air France KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt®

Cardholders earn 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. Assuming you’re using points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards to earn the 25% redemption bonus, that comes out to 2.50% and 1.25% respectively. You can squeeze an even higher rate out of the card by transferring points to the right airline partner. However, this requires the cardholder to plan ahead and figure out the best way to optimize their transfer. If you aren’t someone who naturally hunts for deals or likes to manage their credit card rewards, this may not be a good pick for you.

The last point worth highlighting about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is its high sign-up bonus. The card lets you Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn a $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening. That is significantly better than what's currently offered by most credit cards on the market. Typically, the only bonuses that will give higher returns are those tied to a specific airline.

Chase Freedom Flex℠: A top-rated cash back credit card

The new Chase Freedom Flex℠ card offers some of the highest cashback rates of any credit card. You can Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Also, you get 5% Cash Back on qualifying Lyft rides through March 2022.

This is Chase's 2021 cashback calendar. The new Chase Freedom Flex℠ will replace the current Chase Freedom®, but will follow the same calendar. These are some of the common rotating categories you can expect:

January - March
April - June
July - September
October - December
Wholesale clubs, internet, cable and phone servicesGas stations and home improvement storesTBDTBD
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On top of the rotating category rewards, cardholders can earn a solid sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. While this is much lower than what you get through the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, it should be noted that it’s also a lot easier to achieve. You need to spend just $500, instead of $4,000.

Another important feature of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is its introductory promotional APR – this is something the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does not offer. Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders can get an 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months. After that, the regular APR (14.99% - 23.74% Variable) kicks in. The promotional APR can give you breathing room if you expect to have to carry a balance month to month.

All the rewards earned through the Chase Freedom Flex℠ come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, even though it’s advertised as a cashback card. This is because on its own, the points you earn through the Chase Freedom Flex℠ can be predominantly used to get cash back, gift cards and other cash-equivalent rewards. However, when you get this card along with other Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can get much more out of it.

Pairing the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Freedom Flex℠

As we alluded to previously, you may use the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card together to your benefit. The card combo actually allows you to optimize your rewards and earn significantly better returns than if you were to use just one card. Both cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, which you can pool together into the same account. If you get the Chase Freedom Flex℠ along with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can use all the points you earn for travel bookings, or transfer points to participating airline and hotel partners. That means the rewards rate on the Chase Freedom Flex℠ can surpass the standard 5% in certain scenarios.

Here’s an example how much you might earn on $4,000 credit card spend:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
$250 on travel x 2 points/$1 = 500 points
Chase Freedom Flex℠$1,500 on bonus category purchase x 5 points/$1 = 7,500 points, plus $250 on dining x 3 points/$1 = 750 points, plus $1,000 in other purchases x 1 point/$1 = 3,000 points
Total points11,750
What it’s worth$118 cash back, $148 in travel redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards portal (1.25 cents/point)
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The optimal way to use the two cards together: Use the Chase Freedom Flex℠ for any purchases that can earn you 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Leverage the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to get 25% more value in travel redemption, trip and baggage delay insurance and $0 foreign transaction fees.

What's the cost? The Chase Freedom Flex℠ has $0 annual fee, therefore the biggest annual cost you should worry about is the fee that comes with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. As you can justify paying $95 per year, there is no explicit monetary cost to getting an extra card with no annual fee — assuming you never carry interest.

However, your credit score may suffer temporarily when you open both accounts around the same time. Each new credit card account drags down your average age of credit and puts another hard credit pull onto your account. Both these actions will decrease most credit scores. If you open just one credit card, these are still factors you have to contend with. However, opening two new accounts will have twice the impact on your credit. Despite this, you shouldn't be too concerned unless you are looking to apply for a loan or mortgage in the next one to two years. By that time, your credit score should bounce back.

Alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Freedom Flex℠

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Freedom Flex℠ aren’t the only credit cards in the world, and it’s best if you consider other options before settling on one. We took a look at an alternative to each of the two cards in question.

Best Chase Freedom Flex℠ alternative: The Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • On Chase's Secure Website

Those who are turned away by the complexity of the Chase Freedom Flex℠, but still want a no-annual-fee cashback card, should consider getting the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. This card has no rotating categories and instead offers a fixed rewards rate on several categories: Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. You don’t have to worry about activating the rotating bonus categories every quarter. The 1.5% rewards rate is still competitive, so you are also saving a decent amount of money.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is also a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card. That means it has the same combo potential with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, as the Chase Freedom Flex℠.

Highlights

  • Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • $0 annual fee

Best Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card alternative: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • On Capital One's Secure Website

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another top-tier travel rewards credit card. Instead of focusing on one or two categories, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers the same rate on every purchase: 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, this simple rewards rate frees you from having to determine when you should or shouldn’t use your credit card to pay for various things. The annual fee is just $95. This makes it better suited for those who are modest spenders, since you don’t have to accumulate as many points to break even. After just $4,750 in purchases, you will earn enough miles to cover the annual fee.

Highlights

  • 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • $95 annual fee

The information related to Chase Freedom® has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Stella Shon

Stella Shon is a travel credit cards writer with ValuePenguin. After studying abroad in Paris three years ago, she became determined to keep traveling. That’s when she discovered the world of points and miles, which enabled her to travel on a student budget. Since then, she’s flown over 150,000 miles and earned more than 500,000 points and miles with eight different credit cards. While in college, she even co-founded her own travel agency, helping her peers plan and book trips on a budget. As a recent journalism graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, her goal is to write about travel to make it simpler and achievable for everyone. Her work has also appeared on JetBlue, The Points Guy, Travel + Leisure and CNBC.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).