The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards have some overlap when it comes to rewards categories, but each offers unique advantages.
Two of Chase’s most popular credit cards, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, have both earned high praise from savvy rewards hunters who like to squeeze as much value as possible from their spending.
Here we take a look at each card’s value and help you decide which is the best fit for you.
Freedom Flex vs. Sapphire Preferred: At a glance
|Sign-up bonus||$200 when you spend $500 in the first three months||60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months|
|Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends $15,900 and maxes out the Freedom Flex rotating categories)||$493||$376|
|Card benefit highlights|
Which should you choose?
It depends on how you plan to use it.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is known as one of the best travel credit cards with one of the cushiest sign-up bonuses you can get without paying more than $100 on an annual fee. The card charges a yearly fee of $95 and offers 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 points per dollar on dining purchases and 2 points per dollar on all other travel purchases.
The Chase Freedom Flex card, by contrast, offers a wide array of bonus categories and no annual fee. Though it’s best known for its 5% cash back rate in everyday spending categories that rotate each quarter, such as gas and online shopping (upon enrollment, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, then 1%), it also offers 3% back on drugstore purchases. Like the Sapphire Preferred, the Freedom Flex also offers 5% on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and 3% back on dining purchases.
While the Freedom Flex will likely be a better deal for many cardholders since it charges no annual fee and offers a wide range of rewards categories, there are still good reasons to consider the Sapphire Preferred, including its sizable sign-up bonus.
If you travel regularly and want to maximize your spending, consider applying for both credit cards. Chase lets you pool rewards from different card accounts, and you can get a higher point value when you redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal with the Sapphire Preferred. If you only have the Freedom Flex, you won’t be able to take advantage of Chase’s transfer partners, which is one way that you can really maximize the value you get from your points.
Best for heavy grocery spenders: Chase Freedom Flex
With the updates in mid-2021 to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it now also comes with the 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through the Chase portal and 3 points per dollar on dining. Previously, those had been differentiators for the Freedom Flex. Additionally, if you now max out your bonus categories, the Freedom Flex earns an average rewards rate of 1.72 points per dollar across its bonus categories, compared to the Sapphire Preferred card’s average 2.1 points per dollar across its bonus categories.
One area where the Chase Freedom Flex shines is that it has a two-part sign-up bonus. In addition to getting $200 if you spend $500 in first three months, you’ll also get 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. That 5% back does not include purchases at Walmart or Target, but if you do your grocery shopping elsewhere, you have the chance to score a lot of points. If you max out your grocery spending to the tune of $1,000 per month, the Freedom Flex’s grocery bonus could get you 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points. That same grocery spending on the Sapphire Preferred would only get you 12,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
Best for flexible travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred
If you want more control over how you use your points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the clear winner. The Sapphire Preferred not only offers a very nice sign-up bonus (worth several round-trip domestic flights), but also a more flexible transfer policy that lets you transfer points on a one-to-one basis to a number of Chase travel partners.
For example, frequent flyers of Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Air France, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, United and Virgin Atlantic can apply their Sapphire Preferred points to their travel loyalty programs. Frequent guests of Marriott Bonvoy, IHG and Hyatt can do the same. And along with the Sapphire Preferred card’s 25% travel redemption bonus when you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal, the card features a long list of travel partners to which you can transfer points and get even higher point values.
For example, the 60,000-point sign-up bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is worth around $750 when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, but if you transferred to United at a 1:1 ratio, your points would be worth $912, as we value United miles at 1.52 cents each. You could get even more value transferring to Singapore Airlines ($1,416 at a point value of 2.36 points per dollar) or World of Hyatt ($1,200 at a point value of 2 points per dollar).
For heavy travelers, this perk alone can help make up for the card’s annual fee. You’ll still want to consider whether it makes the most sense to redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or by transferring to partners.
|Rewards on $5,000 annual air travel spend|
|Travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards||Transferring points to World of Hyatt|
|$5,000 x 5 points x 1 cent average point value = $250||$5,000 x 2 points x 2 cents average point value = $200|
Best for earning an influx of rewards quickly: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card also stands out with its sizable sign-up bonus. New cardholders who spend at least $4,000 in the card’s first three months will receive 60,000 bonus points. Chase points are worth 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, making this bonus worth approximately $750. The Freedom Flex card, by contrast, offers a $200 bonus (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points, worth 1 cent each) after spending $500 in the first three months.
Best for everyday purchases: Chase Freedom Flex
For cardholders who want to earn rewards on both travel spending and everyday expenses, such as dining, groceries, clothing and gas, the Chase Freedom Flex card is a clear winner. As long as cardholders don’t mind tracking the Chase cash back calendar and enrolling in rotating spending categories, they can earn a significant amount using their Freedom Flex card each time a purchase qualifies for a 5% bonus.
Let’s say, for example, that you average $300 per month on gas. If you use your Freedom Flex card to earn 5% cash back during a quarter that gas qualifies for a bonus and 1% cash back the rest of the year, you’ll earn $72 by the end of the year. By contrast, if you use a Sapphire Preferred card for the same purchases, you’ll earn around $45 worth of rewards on your gas purchases by the end of the year.
|Rewards earned on $300 monthly gas spend|
|Chase Freedom Flex card||Chase Sapphire Preferred card|
|($300 x 5% x 3 months) + ($300 x 1% x 9 months) = $72||$300 x 1 point x 12 months x 1.26 cent average point value = $45|
Pro tip: Use them both
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom Flex rewards programs overlap when it comes to travel and dining, the cards can still make a great pairing if you want to maximize the value of your Ultimate Rewards points. You can use the Freedom Flex for much of your everyday spending and the quarterly bonus categories and save the Sapphire Preferred for one-off travel purchases outside of Chase’s portal.
Because Chase lets you pool your rewards from different accounts, you can transfer earnings from your Chase Freedom Flex card to your Sapphire Preferred card and buy travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards with a 25% bonus. You can also transfer your Freedom Flex points to other travel loyalty programs once you’ve transferred the points to the Sapphire Preferred card.
|Pairing the Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Chase Freedom Flex ($15,900 annual spend)|
|Chase Freedom Flex card (with maxed-out 5% bonus categories)|
Chase Sapphire Preferred card
|Average rewards rate||Average point value||Rewards earned minus $95 annual fee|
|1.68 points per dollar||1.26 cents||$493|
Savvy card users will benefit the most from using both cards. But cardholders who want to stick to just one shouldn’t have much trouble squeezing value out of either card.
Unless you’re a heavy traveler, though, the Freedom Flex card has more to offer longtime cardholders – particularly since it doesn’t charge an annual fee. But the Sapphire Preferred card’s sign-up bonus and flexible redemption policy make it an ideal choice for cardholders who want to earn a free trip quickly.