Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Great Cards on Their Own, but Even Better Together

We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.
Good for Travel
Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
Rewards rate:

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 3x on dining. 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Good for Cash Back
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Rewards rate:

Enjoy 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. 1.5% on all other purchases.

Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
  • Intro offer:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    17.49% – 24.49% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Rewards rate:

    5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 3x on dining. 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

  • Intro offer:
    Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    16.49% – 25.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Rewards rate:

    Enjoy 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. 1.5% on all other purchases.

Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Generous welcome offer
  • Tiered bonus points categories
  • 25% points boost when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 1:1 point transfer at airline and hotel partners
  • No foreign transaction fee
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • High APR
  • Need to spend within bonus categories to maximize rewards
  • Other cards have similar bonus categories with higher rewards rates
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Flexible, hybrid rewards structure made up of tiered categories and flat cash back
  • No annual fee
  • Valuable first-year bonus
  • Competitive intro APR period can be useful for paying off large purchases over time
Cons
  • Not a great choice for international travelers — you’ll incur a 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Travel bonus rewards only apply to travel booked through Chase
Additional Card Details
Additional Card Details
  • 25% redemption boost on points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or eligible statement credits via Pay Yourself Back
  • Get 10% value of annual purchases back in points every account anniversary
  • $50 in annual hotel credits toward hotel stays booked through Chase
  • Primary auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
Additional Card Details
  • 0% introductory interest offer on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after account opening, variable 16.49% – 25.24% interest thereafter; intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • Complimentary 3-month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass, followed by 50% off DashPass for 9 months (activate by 12/31/24)
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
NextAdvisor’s Take

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards are both great for everyday use. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t have an annual fee and rewards you with cash back in tiered bonus categories as well as a flat 1.5% back on everything else. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns points across categories like dining and travel and comes with a $95 annual fee. Travelers may prefer the Chase Sapphire Preferred because of its 25% redemption boost when booking travel through Chase and added benefits and protections for travel. But we like these cards best as a pair — with both in your wallet, you can pool your points into your Sapphire Preferred account and redeem them all at the boosted rate when you’re ready to book your next trip.

With dozens of great credit card options on the market, it’s useful to take time to pause and figure out what type of card works best for your lifestyle before you open a new account. 

Should you sign up for a card that offers cash back, points, or miles rewards? Do flat-rate rewards or tiered bonus categories best fit your budget? Do the extra perks and benefits matter? And if there’s an annual fee — is it worth it? 

Two of our favorite credit cards for everyday users today come from popular card issuer Chase — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited®. While we like both, figuring out exactly what you’re looking for in a rewards card can help you determine which makes more sense for you. Both cards have enticing rewards structures and perks, but the first is a travel rewards card with a $95 annual fee while the second is a cash back card with no annual fee. 

It could even make sense to carry both cards in your wallet to unlock even greater value and savings. You’ll want to make sure you’re financially ready to juggle multiple credit cards and your credit score is in a good place before applying — if your balances pile up, the cost of interest will take away from any of the rewards or benefits that come with your card. 

Pro Tip

Keep in mind Chase’s 5/24 rule if you’re thinking of applying to the Sapphire Preferred, Freedom Unlimited, or both. The (unofficial) rule limits people who have opened five or more personal cards across any bank or issuer in 24 months from opening another Chase card.

Here’s a look at how the two cards compare, and how you can choose which makes sense for your wallet.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Freedom Unlimited
Annual Fee$95$0
Welcome Offer60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account openingEarn 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
Rewards• 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards 

• 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery), online grocery purchases, and select streaming services

• 2x points on all other travel purchases

• 1x points on all other purchases
• 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards 

• 3% cash back on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery) and drugstore purchases

• At least 1.5% cash back on other purchases
Other Benefits• 25% redemption boost on points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or eligible statement credits via Pay Yourself Back

• 5 points per $1 spent on Lyft rides through March 2025

• Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash subscription (through December 2024)

• Travel and purchase protections
• 0% introductory interest offer on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after account opening, followed by a variable APR of 16.49% – 25.24% ; intro balance transfer fee $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater) in the first 60 days

• 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022

• Complimentary 3-month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass followed by 50% off DashPass for 9 months (activate by March 31, 2022)

• Travel and purchase protections

Bonus Comparison

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a clear winner in this category, thanks to its 60,000-point welcome bonus. But you’ll need to spend at least $4,000 in the first three months of opening the account to earn it. Those 60,000 points are worth around $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, according to Chase.

The Freedom Unlimited’s welcome bonus is much easier to obtain, offering an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) . That’s 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 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.

Rewards Comparison

Both of these cards offer competitive rewards rates, but your best value will depend on your lifestyle and the kind of purchases you make. 

The Freedom Unlimited is NextAdvisor’s pick for the best cash back credit card for a reason: You’ll earn 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase travel portal, 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. You can maximize the rewards you earn by swiping your card within bonus categories. But it also makes a great go-to for any spending that doesn’t fit within the bonus categories on this card or any other in your wallet. All non-bonus spending still earns 1.5% cash back — a step up from the typical 1% you’ll earn outside of bonus categories on most cards.

You’ll also earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025, plus a complimentary three month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass followed by 50% off DashPass for nine months (activate by 12/31/24). The card comes with Chase benefits such as purchase protection, auto rental damage collision waiver, and other travel protections.

Meanwhile, the Sapphire Preferred offers higher-than-average redemption rates for travel, the ability to transfer points to travel partners, and extensive travel and shopping protections. The Sapphire Preferred card earns you 5 points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3 points per dollar on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services; 2 points on all other travel purchases; and a decent amount of extra perks. 

You can also earn 5 points per $1 spent on Lyft rides through March 2025 and a Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash subscription (through December 31, 2024). Additionally, the Sapphire Preferred’s primary auto rental insurance beats the Freedom Unlimited’s damage collision waiver, which acts as secondary insurance within the U.S. 

Both cards give you access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, where you can potentially boost the points you earn via Chase’s Pay Yourself Back option.

The Sapphire Preferred always earns a boosted redemption rate of 1.25 cents per point for travel booked via the Ultimate Rewards portal, but Pay Yourself Back extends the boost to statement credits toward Airbnb and Away purchases (through March 31, 2022) and select charities (through December 31, 2022). That means every 10,000 points you earn on the Sapphire Preferred can be redeemed for $125, rather than $100 for cash and gift cards.

APRs

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is the only one of these two cards to offer an introductory APR. You’ll get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 16.49% to 25.24%. There’s an intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater) in the first 60 days. This can be useful if you have a large purchase to make and want to pay it down without interest over time — as long as you have a plan to pay off the balance before the intro period ends.

The Sapphire Preferred incurs a variable APR of 17.49% to 24.49% once you begin using the card. If you’re trying to consolidate high-interest debt from other cards or want to save on interest from large purchases, the Sapphire Preferred isn’t the best choice.

Fees

The no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited wins this category. The Sapphire Preferred carries a $95 annual fee — that’s significantly lower than its higher-end sister card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® — but it could be a drawback if you have a tighter budget or simply don’t want to pay a fee for a credit card.

However, you can easily recoup the Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee if you travel frequently and take advantage of its added benefits. Plus, it has no transaction fees for purchases you make abroad, while the Freedom Unlimited charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. 

Both cards incur the same late payment and returned payment fee amount of up to $40.

Learn More externa link icon
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    16.49% – 25.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
  • Intro offer:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    17.49% – 24.49% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Learn More externa link icon
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $550
  • Regular APR:
    18.49% – 25.49% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site

Deciding Between Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom Unlimited

When it comes to maximizing value, we believe these two Chase cards actually make a powerful duo together. Maximize your earnings by strategizing which card’s bonus categories will earn you the most at checkout, then  transfer points earned with the Freedom Unlimited to your Sapphire Preferred account to pool the total and boost each point’s value to 1.25 cents on travel via the Ultimate Rewards portal.

But if you have to pick one, the Freedom Unlimited offers more everyday value for nearly every cardholder, whereas the Sapphire Preferred offers tiered rewards more geared toward travel. The Freedom Unlimited’s rewards structure is flexible and straightforward, and you’ll get at least a guaranteed 1.5% on every purchase you make. On top of that, it offers a 15-month introductory 0% interest period on new purchases and balance transfers (then 16.49 – 25.24% variable APR), a great welcome bonus, and added partner benefits — all for no annual fee. Keep in mind, there is an intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater) in the first 60 days.

The Sapphire Preferred carries a $95 annual fee, but the boosted redemption rate and travel rewards can make that well worth it — if it aligns with your spending. Plus, the 60,000-point welcome bonus worth $750 in travel redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) is one of the most lucrative on the market today. Even though its rewards are focused on travel, you may be able to secure bonus points for more purchases than you think, thanks to Chase’s broadly-defined categories. For example, dining can include fast food, delivery, and even your daily coffee. Travel purchases can consist of hotel reservations, rideshare services, and more — even public transit. If you’re looking for a lucrative welcome bonus and want to earn points that you can later redeem for free travel, Sapphire Preferred is still one of our favorite cards right now.