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Chase Freedom Flex vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

7 min read
Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Aug 18, 2015 | Updated Sep 15, 2020

This is a review and comparison of two popular credit cards from Chase: the Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review).

These are two very different cards, designed for different kinds of lifestyles (though this doesn’t mean that owning both is a bad idea).

The Freedom Flex card is meant for general shopping, with 5% cash back categories that rotate through common expenses that many people face, along with other excellent 3% and 5% categories.

The Sapphire Preferred is a travel rewards card, providing points on travel purchases and dining that you can use to pay for travel expenses.

Are one of these cards right for you? Keep reading to learn more about how they stack up.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R).
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

The Rewards

These cards offer rewards in quite different ways.

The Freedom Flex card will be more rewarding for general spending throughout the year, providing simple cash back, while the Sapphire Preferred is a great choice for accumulating points on travel that you can cash in to pay for your vacations.

Chase Freedom Flex

  • 5% cash back on:
    • Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • Lyft rides (through March 2022)
    • Grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases; up to $12,000 spent in the first year)
  • 5% cash back in rotating categories, up to $1,500 in spending each quarter, then 1%
  • 3% cash back at:
    • Restaurants
    • Drugstores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months

Chase may also add additional merchants to each category as the quarter approaches.

Here are the current and recent 5% cash back bonus categories:

Quarter 2019 Categories 2020 Categories
January – March
  • Gas Stations
  • Tolls
  • Drugstores
  • Gas Stations
  • Streaming Services
  • Internet, Cable, Phone Services
April – June
  • Grocery Stores
  • Home Improvement Stores
  • Grocery Stores
  • Streaming Services
  • Fitness Club & Gym Memberships
July – September
  • Gas Stations
  • Streaming Services
  • Amazon
  • Whole Foods Market
October – December
  • Department Stores
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay
  • Walmart
  • PayPal
Insider tip

Take note that you’ll need to go online and activate your 5% rewards category. If you forget to activate before the category begins, don’t worry: you’ll be able to earn retroactive reward points on previous purchases you made.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Sapphire Preferred is a popular choice for travelers, providing a way to rack up points quickly while on vacation which you can then use to help pay for travel expenses.

  • 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides
  • 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel expenses and dining at restaurants
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 25% redemption bonus when redeeming points for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 80,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Airline Partners
Aer Lingus AerClub British Airways Executive Club Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM Iberia Plus JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards United MileagePlus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hotel Partners
IHG Rewards Club Marriott Bonvoy World of Hyatt

The Verdict

Both of these cards offer quality rewards in their respective ways, and the difference is quite clear. To compare them to each other is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.

If you love the retailers mentioned in the Freedom Flex’s 5% and 3% cash back categories, and could see yourself using the card with them frequently, this is probably the card for you.

If you tend to spend a lot of time on the road, in the air, or in hotels, the Sapphire Preferred is being used by many other people in your situation. You’ll be able to consistently earn points and get a 25% redemption bonus when you cash them in through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel.

You probably noticed that it’s possible shop frequently at the retailers listed and travel quite often – in these cases, there’s nothing wrong with owning both the Freedom Flex card and the Sapphire Preferred.

Far from being a bad thing, having multiple credit cards can actually help you in a number of ways, as long as you always use them responsibly.

The Benefits

The Freedom Flex card offers fewer benefits than the Sapphire Preferred.

The Flex card is issued at the World Elite Mastercard level, but you should check your own cardholder agreement for details on your perks.

None

Dining Benefits:

DoorDash Membership: A free membership (DashPass) for three months, and then a 50% discount for the next nine months; DashPass provides free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12.

Shopping Benefits:

Purchase Protection: Covers new purchases against damage and theft for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Extended Warranty Protection: Extends an original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by up to 1 year, for eligible warranties of 3 years or less.

Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent or unauthorized charges.

Chip-and-Signature Technology: This card is EMV-enabled with Chip-and-Signature technology for increased security and better accessibility in foreign countries.

Travel Benefits:

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Provides help if you get into trouble away from home, including medical and legal referrals.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage against collision damage and theft for rented cards, as long as the car rental company’s own insurance is declined.

Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance: You can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares, if your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations..

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Sapphire Preferred offers a better set of benefits than the Freedom Flex card. Many of the perks are the same type, but upgraded with better terms like more coverage.

Entertainment Benefits:

Exclusive SapphireSM Events and Experiences: Provides special discounts and perks, available to Sapphire Preferred cardholders only.

Account Benefits:

24/7 Access to Live Customer Service: When you call customer service you’ll immediately be connected to a real person, without having to go through an automated process.

Chase Blueprint: A set of features and tools to help you manage your spending and create plans for paying down your balance faster.

Year-End Summary: Organizes all of your spending for the year, providing an easy view for tracking and filing tax returns.

Shopping Benefits:

25% Bonus Points through Chase Ultimate Rewards: Redeem your points for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards to get this great redemption bonus.

Purchase Protection: covers new purchases against damage and theft for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Extended Warranty Protection: Extends an original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by up to 1 year, for eligible warranties of 3 years or less.

Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent or unauthorized charges.

Chip-and-Signature Technology: This card is EMV-enabled with Chip-and-Signature technology for increased security and better accessibility in foreign countries.

Travel Benefits:

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Provides help if you get into trouble away from home, including medical and legal referrals.

Travel Accident Insurance: Provides up to $500,000 in coverage for accidental death and dismemberment, when you pay for air, bus, or cruise transportation with your card.

Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance: Provides up to $10,000 in reimbursement for non-refundable expenses if your trip is cancelled or interrupted for eligible reasons, like sickness or severe weather.

Trip Delay Reimbursement: Provides up to $500 per ticket for eligible expenses if your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay. Eligible expenses include meals and lodging.

Baggage Delay Insurance: If your baggage is delayed by over 6 hours, you can receive up to $100 per day for 5 days for essential purchases, which include toiletries and clothing.

Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Provides up to $3,000 in reimbursement if you or your family members’ checked or carry-on bags are lost or damaged.

Roadside Dispatch (for Visa cards) / Roadside Assistance (for MasterCard cards): For Visa cards, call 1-800-VISA-TOW for any kind of help on the road, like towing or a tire change ($59.95 fee per service call). For MasterCard cards, call the customer service number on the back of your card (service fees will apply).

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage against collision damage and theft for rented cards, as long as the car rental company’s own insurance is declined.

The Verdict

As you can see, there’s little contest here.

The Sapphire Preferred offers quite a few more extra perks than the Freedom Flex, like the exclusive Sapphire Events and Experiences and baggage delay insurance. It also sometimes provides better versions of the Flex’s benefits.

While the Sapphire Preferred does provide more and better extra perks, the Flex card still has quite a valuable selection that could come in very handy.

Chase Freedom Flex Chase Sapphire Preferred

Shopping:

  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Zero Liability Protection
  • Chip-and-Signature EMV Technology

Travel:

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Roadside Dispatch / Roadside Assistance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Visa Signature Travel Benefits:

  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance

Entertainment Benefits:

  • Exclusive Sapphire Events and Experiences

Account Benefits:

  • 24/7 Access to Live Customer Service
  • Chase Blueprint
  • Year-End Summary

Shopping Benefits:

  • 25% Redemption Bonus on Travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Zero Liability Protection
  • Chip-and-Signature EMV Technology

Travel:

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement
  • Baggage Delay Reimbursement
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Roadside Dispatch / Roadside Assistance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

The Costs and Fees

Card Annual Fee Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Freedom Flex $0 0% for 15 months, then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable 14.99% - 23.74% Variable 24.99% Variable 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Chase Sapphire Preferred $95 15.99% - 22.99% Variable 15.99% - 22.99% Variable 24.99% Variable $0
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Freedom Flex None See Terms See Terms
Chase Sapphire Preferred None Up to $39 Up to $39

The Verdict

A major difference here is the annual fee: the Freedom Flex card has none, while the Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee.

Another important factor is the foreign transaction fee: the Freedom Flex card costs 3%, while the Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fee. Spending with your Flex card in foreign countries could be costly, but you won’t have to worry with the Sapphire Preferred (which is good, because it’s a travel-oriented card).

Less-qualified applicants will end up with a higher interest rate with the Flex card, though you’ll also benefit from the 0% introductory APR. The Sapphire Preferred has no introductory rate

If you take our advice and avoid paying interest altogether by paying your bills in full by the due date, you won’t have to be concerned with any interest rates at all.

The Bottom Line

Both of these cards are useful and rewarding, but you’ll want to use them in very different ways. It’s more important to examine how these cards reward you for spending rather than their interest rates, because you can simply avoid interest by paying your bill in full.

Take a look at the 5% and 3% cash back categories of the Flex card – do you see any of your favorite stores, or the ones you shop the most at? If so, the Freedom Flex card will probably help you save some money along with giving you the convenience of a credit card.

Insider tip

Interested in cards with rotating 5% cash back categories? Take a look at the Discover it® Cash Back.

Frequent travelers, on the other hand, love the Sapphire Preferred for the deep discounts you can find with this card.

As a new cardholder, you can help pay for trips and vacations with this card by booking your flights and hotel stays, earning double points on those purchases as well as at any restaurants. Use all of the points you’ve accumulated through the Chase Ultimate Rewards marketplace to get your 25% redemption bonus on travel.

And, you can always transfer any points you earn to a frequent flier program where they might be more valuable to you.

For both cards, don’t forget to take a look at the deals you’ll find in the Chase Ultimate Rewards marketplace, where participating retailers offer substantial discounts and/or points.

If you shop in the categories of the Freedom Flex card and also travel quite a bit, consider owning both cards. You can use the Freedom Flex whenever you’ll earn the 5% cash back, the Sapphire Preferred for all of your travel and dining expenses.

Don’t worry — as long as you commit to using credit cards responsibly, owning and using multiple credit cards is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be more convenient and better for your credit scores.

Do you use either of these cards, or are you considering getting one? Why do you like it? Have you gone anywhere special with the Sapphire Preferred? Leave your own review of the Chase Freedom Flex or Sapphire Preferred for other visitors below, we’d love to hear from you!

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R).
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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