Chase Freedom vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Versus

Aug 18, 2015 | Updated Oct 18, 2018

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This is a review and comparison of two popular credit cards from Chase: the Chase Freedom Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

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 card is meant for general shopping, with 5% cash back categories that rotate through common expenses that many people face.

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.

We're currently unable to link directly to an application for the Chase Freedom, but you can learn more here, on our advertising partner's website.
We're currently unable to link directly to an application for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, but you can learn more here, on our advertising partner's website.

The Rewards

These cards offer rewards in quite different ways.

The Freedom 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 Card

The Freedom card offers:

  • 5% cash back in specific categories, which rotate every 3 months (up to $1,500 in purchases every quarter)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards marketplace, which features special deals with particular retailers

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

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.

You’ll also have an opportunity to earn extra cash back:

  • $150 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

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.

This card provides:

  • 2X points per $1 on travel expenses and dining at restaurants
  • 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards marketplace, which features special deals with particular retailers
  • 25% redemption bonus when redeeming points for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Participating frequent flyer programs include:
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® United Mileage Plus® Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
British Airways Executive Club Hyatt Gold Passport® Marriott Rewards® Priority Club® Rewards
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Amtrak Guest Rewards® IHG® Rewards Club The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®

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’s 5% 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.

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 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.

Chase Freedom Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories, up to $1,500 in spending each quarter
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 2X points for every $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants
  • 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Transfer points to eligible frequent travel programs, including British Airways Executive Club, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Amtrak Guest Rewards®, Hyatt Gold Passport®, Marriott Rewards®, IHG®Rewards Club and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®

The Benefits

The Freedom card offers fewer benefits than the Sapphire Preferred.

Since these benefits may change depending on the level of service you qualify for (Visa or Visa Signature), you’ll need to check your own cardholder agreement for details on your perks.

Chase Freedom Card

Shopping Benefits:

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

Price Protection: If you find an item you bought being advertised for less than what you paid within 90 days, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.

Return Protection: If the retailer won’t take back an item within 90 days of purchase, you can be reimbursed up to $250 per item, up to $1,000 per year.

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.

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.

Visa Signature Travel Benefits:

If you qualify for a Visa Signature level card, you’ll also receive these benefits.

Travel Accident Insurance: Provides up to $250,000 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 $5,000 in reimbursement for non-refundable expenses if your trip is cancelled or interrupted for eligible reasons, like sickness or severe weather.

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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Sapphire Preferred offers a better set of benefits than the Freedom 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.

Price Protection: If you find an item you bought being advertised for less than what you paid within 90 days, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.

Return Protection: If the retailer won’t take back an item within 90 days of purchase, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item, up to $1,000 per year.

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 is little contest here.

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

Take the Travel Accident Insurance, for example. The Sapphire Preferred offers coverage up to $500,000, but the Freedom card only provides up to $250,000.

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

Chase Freedom Chase Sapphire Preferred

Shopping:

  • Purchase Protection
  • Price Protection
  • Return 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:

  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement

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
  • Price Protection
  • Return 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 Intro Purchase APR Regular Purchase APR Intro Balance Transfer APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Chase Freedom $0 0% for 15 months 16.99%–25.74% Variable 0% for 15 months 16.99%–25.74% Variable 26.99% Variable 3%
Chase Sapphire Preferred $95, $0 first year None 17.99%–24.99% Variable None 17.99%–24.99% Variable 26.99%Variable None
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Chase Freedom None Up to $38 Up to $38
Chase Sapphire Preferred None Up to $38 Up to $38

The Verdict

A major difference here is the annual fee: the Freedom card has none, while the Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, though it’s waived for the first year.

Another important factor is the foreign transaction fee: the Freedom card costs 3%, while the Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fee. Spending with your Freedom 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 Freedom 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% cash back categories of the Freedom card – do you see any of your favorite stores, or the ones you shop the most at? If so, the Freedom card will probably help you save some money along with giving you the convenience of a credit card.

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

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 card and also travel quite a bit, consider owning both cards. You can use the Freedom 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? Click to leave your own review of the Chase Freedom or Sapphire Preferred for other visitors, we’d love to hear from you!

We're currently unable to link directly to an application for the Chase Freedom, but you can learn more here, on our advertising partner's website.
We're currently unable to link directly to an application for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, but you can learn more here, on our advertising partner's website.
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