Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

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Several Chase credit cards earn the valuable Ultimate Rewards points. These points are redeemable for cash and travel rewards. This Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comparison helps you pick the better card for your spending habits.

Learn more: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Cash Back Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Foreign transaction fee: 0%
  • Signup bonus value: 60,000 bonus points ($750 in award travel or $600 in cash rewards) after spending $4,000 in travel in the first 3 months of account opening
  • 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. You earn unlimited 2 points per $1 on travel and dining. All non-bonus spending earns 1 point per $1. Your points are most valuable when redeemed for travel.

The annual fee is $95 per year and the foreign transaction fee is 0%. It also comes with a signup bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus is worth $750 in award travel.

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 Unlimted, 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 13 airline and hotel partners.

Booking award flights directly through the airline is almost always the most valuable way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Here are the current 1:1 transfer partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Flying Blue
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • IHG
  • 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

$750 Signup Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card signup bonus is 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus is worth $750 when booking award travel on the Chase travel portal thanks to the 25% travel redemption bonus. Each point can be worth more than 1.25 cents each when you transfer them to a 1:1 partner.

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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3%
  • Signup bonus value: Earn 1.5% additional cash back on all purchases for the first year (up to $20,000 in purchases); this combined with the rewards rate of 1.5% back totals 3% back for the first year, up to $20,000 in purchases
  • Key features: Earn 1.5% back (1.5 points per $1) on every purchase

The best way to describe the Chase Freedom Unlimited is it’s a flat-rate cashback credit card. You get 1.5% back on every purchase. 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 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.

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Cash Back Credit Cards

Redeeming Points for Cash or Travel

For every $1 you spend, you earn 1.5 rewards 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 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.

You can earn 1.5 points on your non-travel and dining purchases with the Freedom Unlimited. Then, redeem them for award travel using the Sapphire Preferred.

Additional Benefits

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

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Cash Back Credit Cards

Signup Bonus

The standard Freedom Unlimited signup bonus is a 1.5% bonus match (which totals to 3% back) on the first $20,000 spent during the first year of account opening. Spending the full amount lets you earn $300 bonus cash (30,000 Ultimate Rewards points).

You might wait to apply for the Freedom Unlimited when Chase runs one of the best credit card offers 2019. For example, with the Chase Freedom® (the Freedom Unlimited’s sister card), new cardholders can earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Although you don’t earn as much, you can spend significantly less.

If you want to learn more, read our review of the Chase Freedom vs Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards.

Apply for the Sapphire Preferred or Freedom Unlimited?

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 670 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.

Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred First

If you are near the 5/24 threshold, you should consider applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred first if you redeem your points for award travel. Although you pay a $95 annual fee, the 25% travel redemption bonus, 1:1 point transfers, and 60,000-point signup bonus can be well worth it.

After waiting several months, you can apply for the Freedom Unlimited to earn 1.5 points per $1 on all non-bonus purchases. The Sapphire Preferred only earns 2 points per $1 on travel and dining and 1 point for everything else.

When to apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited is the better option if you prefer cash rewards. Earning 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 options are not worth the $95 annual fee for infrequent travelers.

Who Wins: Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Chase Sapphire Preferred?

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.

Learn more: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Cash Back Credit Cards

Josh Patoka

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.



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