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When comparing various credit cards, you’ll frequently see several Chase Bank cards ranked among the best. Some of Chase’s top cards offer cash-back rewards (such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®), while others focus on travel benefits (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card). To assist you in determining which card may be a better fit for your needs, we will compare the Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred cards—two of their finest offerings!
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Chase Sapphire Preferred
This expert Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comparison review will help you pick the best Chase credit card for your spending habits. Both of these cards are some of the most popular picks for a reason. One card can get you several cash-back rewards on every purchase while the other earns coveted Ultimate Rewards® points. Let’s take a look at what each has to offer.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – $750 in Award Travel
- Annual fee: $95
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Signup bonus value: New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Member FDIC
- Key features: 25% travel redemption bonus, 1:1 airline and hotel point transfers, travel insurance
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the better option if you redeem your points for travel rewards. Your points are actually most valuable when redeemed for travel since this card comes with a 25% travel redemption bonus when you book travel through the Ultimate Rewards program.
The Sapphire Preferred earns unlimited:
- 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (excluding hotel purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit)
- 3x points on dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out)
- 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target®, Walmart®, and wholesale clubs)
- Also 3x points on select streaming services
- 2x points on all other travel purchases
- 1x point per $1 spent on all non-bonus purchases
There is a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit. It comes in the form of a statement credit that will automatically be applied to your account when your card is used for hotel accommodation purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards program, up to an annual maximum accumulation of $50. This can be a nice hotel credit card option if you want flexibility.
Plus, on each account anniversary, you’ll earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year. So, if you spend $25,000 on purchases, you’ll get 2,500 bonus points.
Redeeming Rewards Points for Travel
The winner of the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Freedom Unlimited comparison comes down to how valuable each point is for your preferred redemption option.
Each point is worth 1 cent when redeeming cash statement credits, gift cards, and Amazon.com shopping credits. However, your points are worth at least 1.25 cents each when booking award travel. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, your points are only worth 1 cent each for any redemption.
Because of the value of points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit score needed may be slightly higher, though it’s not impossible.
25% Travel Redemption Bonus
Your points are worth 25% more when booking award travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, making 10,000 points worth $125. However, the same 10,000 points are only worth $100 if you redeem your points for cash rewards to cover recent purchases.
1:1 Airline and Hotel Point Transfers
Another Chase Sapphire Preferred perk that the Freedom Unlimited doesn’t have is the 1:1 point transfers. You can transfer your points in 1,000-point increments to airline and hotel partners. Booking award flights directly through the airline are almost always the most valuable way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Here are the current 1:1 Chase transfer partners:
- Aer Lingus
- Aeroplan Air Canada
- British Airways
- Air France KLM Flying Blue
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
You can find some of your best value by transferring your points and booking first-class or business-class seats.
Additional Travel Benefits
This card offers some valuable trip protection benefits that can save you thousands if your trip gets delayed or canceled:
- Up to $10,000 per person ($20,000 per trip) in non-refundable travel purchases for delayed or canceled travel under covered reasons
- Chase Sapphire Preferred rental car insurance benefits for collision and theft damage
- Baggage delay insurance up to $100 per day for 5 days
- Trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per ticket) for essential purchases
Signup Bonus Offer
New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Member FDIC
Note that you won’t qualify for this bonus if you currently own the Chase Sapphire Reserve or have earned a Sapphire bonus within the last 48 months. This is also known as the Chase 5/24 rule.
Chase Freedom Unlimited – No Annual Fee
- Annual fee: $0
- Foreign transaction fee: 3%
- Signup Bonus Offer: New Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything they buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!
- Key features: Earn up to 5% back on every purchase
The best way to describe the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is it’s a cashback credit card that gets at least 1.5% back on every purchase.
Cardholders earn unlimited:
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
There is no limit to how much cashback can be earned.
You also have the option of redeeming your points for cash, gift cards, award travel, and Amazon.com shopping points. Your points are only worth 1 cent each for any redemption option.
Getting at least 1.5% back and no annual fee makes this one of the best travel credit cards with no annual fees. However, the 3% foreign transaction fee means this card isn’t a good option for international travel.
Redeeming Points for Cash or Travel
For every $1 you spend, you earn at least 1.5 reward points. Points are redeemable for cash back, gift cards, Amazon.com shopping points, and booking award travel on the Chase travel portal.
But unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you don’t get a 25% travel redemption bonus or have access to 1:1 point transfers. The good news is that no matter how you redeem your points, they are always worth 1 cent each. So, 10,000 points are worth $100 in cash or travel rewards.
One way to have a redemption value higher than 1 cent for each point is to also own the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. You see, Chase lets you pool your rewards points but only on your cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points. For this reason, it is one of the best Chase credit cards.
This card offers some additional card benefits to protect your shopping purchases:
- 120 days of purchase protection for theft and damage up to $500 per claim
- Extended warranty protection on select purchases
New Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything they buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! That means new cardholders can enjoy:
- 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (Chase’s premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards, and more)
- 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 4.5% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service)
- 3% on all other purchases
New cardholders earn this extra 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 spent in the first year.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Sapphire Preferred?
These two cards cater to different spending habits. Both cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points which are redeemable for cash, travel, gift cards, or Amazon.com credit.
Either card requires a minimum 680 credit score to have the best approval odds. Both of these cards also fall under the Chase 5/24 rule. Even with a good credit score, Chase will decline your application if you have opened or been listed as an authorized user on 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months.
When to Try for the Chase Sapphire Preferred First
If you are near the 5/24 threshold, you should consider trying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card first if you want to redeem your points for award travel. This means you can basically offset travel fees with your points. Although you pay a $95 annual fee, the 25% travel redemption bonus, 1:1 point transfers, and signup bonus can be well worth it.
Then, perhaps after waiting several months, you can try for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
When to Try for the Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is the better option if you prefer cash rewards and won’t find the travel perks to be useful. Earning at least 1.5% back on every purchase is one of the best cashback rates.
Although you don’t get a 25% travel redemption bonus or 1:1 point transfers, these two perks are not worth the $95 annual fee for infrequent travelers.
Chase Freedom Flex
The information for the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Before we conclude, it’s worth noting that Chase also has the Chase Freedom Flex℠ no annual fee card. It also comes with cashback perks that may be more suited to your spending. You can learn more about it in our Chase Freedom Flex review.
You may also want to visit our comparison of the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited if you prefer these no-annual fee options over the $95 annual fee Sapphire Preferred.
Is Chase Sapphire Preferred better than Chase Freedom Unlimited? Both the Sapphire Preferred and Freedom Unlimited make it easy to earn more rewards from your daily spending. The Sapphire Preferred is the better option because of the flexible travel redemption options if you book award travel on a regular basis. But the Freedom Unlimited is better if you don’t want to worry about an annual fee and still want to earn unlimited cashback on all of your purchases.