The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Chase Freedom Flex℠ vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Freedom Vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer

Written by: Brittney Mayer

Brittney Mayer

Brittney is a Credit Strategist and Finance Expert who has spent years honing her knowledge of the credit industry both personally and professionally. Brittney applies her more than a decade of research experience to crafting in-depth consumer guides designed to help CardRates readers make better, more informed financial decisions.

Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Although all the major credit card issuers have long since jumped on the rewards card bandwagon, few have embraced it as fully as Chase. Of the two dozens credit card options Chase offers, all but one of them feature some type of purchase rewards (and the one that doesn’t, the Chase Slate®, is one of the best balance transfer cards on the market).

And it’s each card’s rewards that are the biggest differentiator between them. If you want cash back rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are two strong contenders. Prefer flexible travel rewards? The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are the cards to beat. Of course, while the rewards are definitely the most divisive factor, other features do set the cards apart, including the credit score demographic and signup bonus.

In this article, we’ll focus on looking at the Chase Freedom vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve cards to help readers decide which one (or ones) may be the best option for them.

Qualifying | Rewards | Signup Bonus | Conclusion

It May Be Easier to Qualify for the Chase Freedom Flex℠

Before you can start earning rewards with a particular credit card, you need to apply for it — and have that application approved by the issuer. In general, those with the best credit scores will have the easiest time qualifying for any credit card, but this is particularly true when it comes to the Chase Sapphire cards. These cards are deliberately designed to be for consumers with excellent credit, and average applicants have credit scores around 740.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.74% - 23.74% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • New Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®, on the other hand, are intended for consumers with good to excellent credit, meaning there’s a little more wiggle room in the requirements for approval. Reviewers have reported being approved for a Chase Freedom Flex℠ with credit scores as low as 645, though keep in mind that Chase will look at all facets of your credit history to make a decision.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74% - 24.49%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74% - 24.49%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

One thing these Chase cards do share when it comes to qualifying is they’re all subject to Chase’s “5/24 Rule.” In essence, if you have opened five or more bank cards (e.g., credit or charge cards) within the last 24 months, your application for a Chase credit card will be automatically rejected. Some consumers have found ways around the limitation, but your experience may vary from reported accounts.

Both Cards Can Be Used to Accrue Ultimate Rewards®

On the surface, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (and their respective sibling cards) offer very different rewards structures. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® both offer cash back rewards, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® provide Ultimate Rewards® points for every purchase. Cash back and points are hardly the same thing, right?

Not quite. Thanks to some Chase magic, the cash back you earn with a Freedom card can be converted into Ultimate Rewards® points at a one-to-one ratio. (Similarly, the Ultimate Rewards® points you earn with a Sapphire card can be redeemed for cash back, but this method of redemption is considered to give you the lowest per-point value.)

With rewards converting to whatever form you prefer, the real difference between the cards will come down to how you earn those rewards — and what you pay for the privilege. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you’ll pay no annual fee and see tiered cash back rewards on travel, dining, and drugstore purchases plus unlimited cash back on all other purchases you make with your card.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ card also has no annual fee, and while it has a lower base unlimited cash back rate, it also provides a hefty top-tier cash back for purchases made within a qualifying bonus category, up to a set limit in purchases each quarter you activate. Bonus categories are generally useful and common purchase types, like gas stations and restaurants, and rotate each quarter.

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges a $95 annual fee. For your fee, you’ll earn an unlimited 1X point per $1 on everything, plus double points on dining and travel purchases. Cardholders will also enjoy a 25% points redemption bonus, giving you a boost to your per-point value.

For an even larger fee — $550 large — the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers the same unlimited 1X point per $1, as well as triple points on travel and dining, an annual travel credit, and a 50% points redemption bonus. Reserve cardholders can also enroll in Priority Pass™ Select for access to over 1,000 airport lounges, and up to $100 application credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®.

In the end, the best Chase rewards card for you will come down to where you make the majority of your purchases so that you can maximize your rewards. If you spend a lot on travel and dining, for example, the Chase Sapphire cards can be extremely lucrative, despite the annual fees they charge.

If you don’t spend much on travel, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ can provide significant value if you can make the most of its offered bonus categories. But if your spending doesn’t fit any particular pattern, the unlimited rewards of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® may be your most valuable Chase rewards card pick.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Has a Bigger Signup Bonus

Another major incentive for many new credit card applicants is the big, shiny signup bonus most card issuers — including Chase — offer these days. As you might expect given their annual fees, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® have the larger signup bonuses in our card comparison, each offering a significant number of points for meeting the spending requirement within the first three months.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® aren’t without their own bonuses, however, despite the lack of an annual fee for either. Each Freedom card offers a solid signup bonus. As an added perk, the Freedom cards also come with introductory 0% APR offers, which may end up the more valuable bonus for those who tend to carry a balance.

Conclusion: Complementary Cards that Can Be Used Together

Overall, despite their differences, these popular Chase rewards credit cards have a lot in common — not the least of which is the fact that they can all be used to accrue lucrative Ultimate Rewards® points on every purchase. In fact, it’s the ability to pool your rewards from each card into the same pot of awesomeness that makes the Chase cards complementary choices for a place in your wallet.

When used together, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® can give you bonus rewards in the quarterly bonus categories, plus unlimited cash back rewards on all other purchases. To really boost your earnings, add in a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card‘s double points on dining and travel (or, if you travel enough to make the annual fee worthwhile, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®‘s triple points), to maximize your rewards.

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