Better for Travel? Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Freedom Unlimited? – Forbes

Two very popular Chase credit cards are the Sapphire Preferred and Freedom Unlimited. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers travel rewards while the Freedom Unlimited provides 1.5% cash back on every purchase. While both Chase credit cards can add spending power to your wallet, is the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Freedom Unlimited better for you?

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Freedom Unlimited better for travel?

Chase.com

Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Freedom Unlimited better for travel?

Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Purchase Rewards: 2 points per $1 on travel and dining plus 1 point per $1 on all remaining purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points worth $625 in award travel after spending $4,000 in first three months.

Best For: Travel Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is arguably the best flexible travel rewards credit card. For $95 a year, you earn two points per $1 on all travel and dining purchases. These points are also worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed for award travel. Very few travel cards have higher point values!

You can also transfer the Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel travel partners including British Airways, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Hyatt. This can be a great option if you want to secure partner flights or top off your existing balance with a loyalty program for a reward night or flight.

If you primarily plan to use your rewards points for travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the better option.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Sign-Up Bonus

The Sapphire Preferred has one of the best standard sign-up bonuses of 50,000 points. You do need to spend $4,000 within the first three months which can be too expensive for some. But, the $625 in bonus rewards (book through the Chase travel portal) are well worth the minimum spending requirements. Plus, you can get even more value by transferring your points out to a travel partner like Southwest, or Hyatt.

By adding an authorized user, and having them make a purchase in the same time period you will also earn an additional 5,000 points.

As an added value, the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Redeeming Chase Sapphire Preferred Points

Although you can redeem your Sapphire Preferred rewards points for non-travel rewards including gift cards and statement credits, the points are only worth one cent ($0.01) each.

You will get the most value for your Chase Sapphire Preferred points when you redeem them for the following rewards:

  • Award travel booked on Chase
  • Transfer points to a Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partner

All travel-related purchases booked on Chase can be redeemed with award points for 1.25 cents each. Every $100 award travel purchase requires 8,000 points. You can also pay with a combination of points and cash if you don’t want to use all your travel points for a single trip.

You can also transfer your points to a travel partner on a 1:1 basis in 1,000-point increments. There are no hidden fees or surcharges.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase Rewards: 1.5 points per $1 on every purchase

Sign-Up Bonus: $150 after spending $500 within the first three months

Best For: Cash Back Rewards

The Chase Freedom Unlimited can be the better option for several reasons:

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1.5% cash back per $1 spent on all every purchase
  • Want cash back rewards instead of travel rewards

Your earning potential with the Freedom Unlimited is higher than the Sapphire Preferred for all non-travel and dining purchases. This is why you should use the Freedom Unlimited for your everyday purchases to maximize the value of your spending.

If you don’t plan on using your credit card rewards for travel, the Freedom Unlimited will give you more freedom (pun intended) as you get cash back.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Sign-Up Bonus

The Freedom Unlimited has a competitive bonus for cash back credit cards. You will get $150 back after spending $500 in the first three months. By adding an authorized user, Chase will give you an additional $25 bonus for a total sign-up bonus worth $175.

Redeeming Chase Freedom Unlimited Rewards

The Chase Freedom Unlimted also earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. They can be redeemed for cash rewards, gift cards, and travel rewards. BUT, you can’t transfer them out to the Ultimate Rewards travel partners. 

You will receive the most value for your Chase Freedom Unlimited purchase rewards when you redeem them for cash back. They are worth 1.5 cents each for cash statement credits. There are no redemption minimums and there are no limits to how many rewards you can earn each year.

A Bonus Redemption Option for Chase Freedom Unlimited

If you redeem your Chase Freedom Unlimited points for non-cash rewards, they will only be worth one cent each.

A “secret” way to increase the value of your Freedom Unlimited rewards points is by also owning the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. That’s because all three of these cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but, the award travel is worth 1.25 cents each or 1.5 cents each with either Sapphire credit card.

If you own either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer your Freedom Unlimited points to your Sapphire credit card to increase their value for award travel. You will earn 1.5 points for each purchase. For every $10 in non-travel and dining purchases, that’s an extra 5 points earned! Over time, the extra points will help you reach your travel goals sooner.

Plus, you get the added flexibility of being able to use your “combined” Ultimate Rewards points to transfer to one of the Ultimate Rewards travel partners. You can more value from transferring your Ultimate Rewards points out to a travel partner. Or, you can always redeem a portion of them for cash statement credit at 1.5 cents each as well.

If you plan to own both credit cards, use the Sapphire Preferred to earn the double points on travel and dining. Then, use the Freedom Unlimited for all remaining purchases to accumulate points as quickly as possible. Just remember to transfer your Freedom points to your Sapphire Preferred account, because you get a higher value on booking travel through Chase’s travel portal, or by transferring out to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner.

Which is Better? The Chase Sapphire Preferred or Freedom Unlimited?

Determining which rewards credit card is better depends on your spending and credit card reward preferences. This section will help you quickly identify the better option for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

You should consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred when:

  • You want a credit intended for travel rewards
  • Want to maximize the 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • Can earn and redeem enough points to justify the $95 annual fee
  • Want points worth 1.25 cents each for Chase travel
  • Plan to transfer points to airline and hotel travel partners

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited is better if:

  • Want cash statement credits
  • Never want to pay an annual fee
  • Earn a higher reward rate on non-travel and dining purchases
  • Need a free, secondary credit card

Summary on Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Freedom Unlimited

Both Chase credit cards are great options. The Sapphire Preferred is a better option if you want travel rewards and are willing to pay the annual $95 annual fee. Because the Freedom Unlimited doesn’t charge an annual fee, it is a great option as a primary credit card if you are more focused on earn cash back. But really the Freedom Unlimited makes a great companion to the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

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Better for Travel? Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Freedom Unlimited? – Forbes