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.
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.
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.
This card is currently not available. Additional Disclosure: The information related to Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
This card is currently not available.
Additional Disclosure: The information related to Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
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.
Apply for the Chase Freedom Flex℠
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.