Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Chase Freedom Card

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. 

For traveling, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) is easily a superior card to the Chase Freedom but the two cards offer different perks that, depending on your goals, might make one or the other better suited for you. Also, these two cards compliment each other very well and are one of the best duos currently out there for travel rewards when used together. Here is a comparison of the two cards with a focus on how the two cards can help you achieve more when traveling.

1. Transfer Partners

The biggest difference between the Freedom and the CSP is that you can’t transfer the Ultimate Rewards (UR) earned with your freedom to any of the UR travel partners. It’s a little confusing but the UR points earned on the CSP (or the Ink+) are considered premier and can be transferred 1:1 to any travel partner. However, UR points earned on cards like the Freedom or Ink Cash can only be redeemed for cashback. This is a very important difference if you’re wanting to take advantage of travel perks because it essentially renders the Freedom useless as a travel card in terms of transfer ability.

However, you can transfer UR points earned on your Freedom card to your CSP UR account. Thus, the Freedom is a great companion to have with the CSP, especially when you consider the bonus point potential as shown below.

2. Sign-up Bonus

The standard bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is around 40K to 50K, with an additional 5K for adding an authorized user. In order to qualify for the bonus, you have to spend between $3K-$4K within the first three months of getting your card, depending on the offer you get.

Tip: sometimes if you apply in-branch, the spending requirement is lower than the requirement found online.

The Freedom bonus is a lot less lucrative. The best offer that you could ever find is a 30K + 5K offer but it seems that the bonuses seem to normally be around 10-20K for about $500 spend in the first 3 months. Keep in mind these Freedom offers are advertised in dollars since the points can only be redeemed as cash back without CSP or the Ink+.

Tip: if you sign up for a Chase card and earn a sign-up bonus that later increases within 90 days, simply call Chase or send them a secure message and request the additional bonus points as a courtesy. In my experience, they will almost always honor your request.

3. Bonus spending

Both cards earn 1X points on all spending outside of bonus categories but they have very different bonus earning rates.

Freedom: 5X Rotating Bonus Categories

If you don’t know what 5X means, it means that you get 5X the points per dollar spent (i.e, 5% cash back) on certain categories each quarter up to a maximum number of dollars spent ($1,500). The categories usually rotate are:

  • Dining
  • Movies, Groceries
  • Kohls, Gas Stations,
  • Amazon

Thus, each quarter you can earn up to 7,500 points based purely on bonus categories. Here’s one thing that some people find annoying about Freedom — you have to manually activate the bonus categories each quarter… it is a bit of a “first world” problem but it would be nice if Chase didn’t make you do so.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 8.10.34 PM

To activate your bonus categories all you have to do is go to this Chase page and enter in your card information and zip code and you should be able to activate your bonus category about two weeks prior to the category kicking in. You can also sign up to get SMS reminders here. In the end, it’s really not a big deal to have to activate your bonus categories but it is something to be mindful about.

CSP: 2X

The CSP doesn’t boast the 5x bonus earning categories but it does earn the following:

  • 2X on Travel: This covers a broad range of travel expenses (probably the broadest out of any credit card) from tolls, parking, bus fairs, train tickets, air line tickets, and even campgrounds. Also, 3X points can be earned via the Ultimate Rewards Travel partner. Unfortunately, gas is not one of the 2x travel categories.
  • 2X on Dining

Obviously, the bonus categories on the cards differ but again, I have to reiterate that getting both of these cards is ideal. The way I look at it is that the CSP with the Freedom (which has no annual fee) acts like one single card that offers 2X dining, 2X travel (3X in UR travel portal), and 5X in rotating categories of gas, dining, Amazon, etc. That’s a pretty awesome combination and it can get even better with the Ink+!

4. Annual Fee

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 8.04.31 PMFreedom

  • Free!
  • In addition, the Freedom boasts a 0% Intro APR for the first 15 months!

CSP

  • Usually waived first year, $95 after.

I love free cards, and it can be tough to find rewards cards with no annual fee, especially cards that are really worth applying for. The Freedom is definitely one of the fee-free cards that I intend on keeping open forever.

Tip: if you’re not a fan of paying any annual fees at all, keep in mind that you can apply for the CSP and within a year cancel your card or downgrade the CSP to the standard Chase Sapphire or even the Freedom. However, when you downgrade, you will lose the ability to transfer your UR to valuable travel partners.

5. Purchase and Travel Protection

I’m always surprised at the number of cardholders who aren’t aware of the protections that come when purchasing items with their cards, especially when cards have some great benefits like both the Freedom and the CSP. The Freedom — especially the Visa Signature Freedom — actually has some pretty solid protections that compare to the CSP. You’ll notice that key differences are no primary car rental insurance and that many of the totals for policy limits are cut in half for the Freedom when compared to the CSP. Note: these below lists are NOT exhaustive.

Freedom

  • Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • Coverage is provided for theft and collision damage for most cars in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., coverage is secondary to your personal insurance you already have.
  • VISA SIGNATURE VERSION: If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
  • VISA SIGNATURE VERSION:If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • VISA SIGNATURE VERSIONWhen you pay for your air, bus, train or cruise transportation with your card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.

CSP

  • Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • If a card purchase you made in the U.S. is advertised for less in print or online within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.
  • You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase, up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year.
  • Car rental coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
  • When you pay for your air, bus, train or cruise transportation with your card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.
  • If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
  • If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.

7. Foreign Transaction Fees

The CSP has no foreign transaction fees which although is becoming more standard in rewards cards, it still really nice to have and can add up in savings over time. The Freedom,  on the other hand, has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

8. Customer Service

One of the best perks of the CSP is that when you call the number on the back of your card, you’re almost always greeted within seconds by a live representative. The Freedom has the customer service that’s standard with Chase and while in my experience it’s not horrible, it’s not the same as the CSP.

9. Appearance

The Chase Freedom card isn’t an ugly card at all — it’s just not really anything special. One thing I do like about the card is that it has a lime green outline on the outside rim of the card. This makes it easy to quickly identify the card when it’s in your wallet. 

 

 

 

And of course, the CSP is on a level on its own with its metal material and sophisticated look and appeal. It’s always fun to get remarks about your credit card and something just feels good about paying with metal. I really think that in terms of appearance the CSP is one of the best-looking/feeling cards available to the masses.

Until you start getting into Centurion card territory or other ultra-elite cards, the CSP is probably one of the best looking cards out there. Because the CSP card is metal, however, I’ve noticed that it can collect streaks or scratches that are a bit more noticeable than what typically occur on a plastic card. This is yet another reason why having both the CSP and the Freedom can come in handy. You can elect to use your Freedom in non-bonus spending like your everyday trips to walmart or CVS. You can still transfer the UR points to your Sapphire and in the meantime you can preserve your CSP so it remains as pristine as possible.

10. Getting Approved

I don’t like giving too much advice about getting approved for cards because there are simply too many variables that go into a credit card application approval decision. I can give a few basic pointers, though.

For the CSP you’re going to need good credit, usually over a 700 and even better if 720 or higher. It really helps if you have established some history with Chase, whether through banking or another credit card, although history with Chase by no means necessary. Because the CSP only comes as a Visa Signature, the minimum credit line for the card is $5,000.

For the Freedom, you can be in the 600s and still have a decent shot at getting approved. Again, your approval odds will depend on other things like utilization, payment history, average age of accounts, etc. so it’s hard to really give any kind of prediction. You can also try the pre-approval feature on Chase’s website to see where you stand but remember being “pre-approved” does not mean you are guaranteed approval.

It is possible to apply and get approved for both of these cards at the same time. However, if you don’t have established credit or a great credit score, most people would probably recommended applying for the Freedom first and then using that card for at least 3 months to establish some history and spending habits with Chase and then going for the CSP — this is especially true if you have no previous history with Chase.

One important thing to know is that Chase will combine hard pulls to credit bureaus so if you apply for two cards at the same time you only get dinged for one pull.

Don’t apply for more than 2 Chase cards in 30 days

One word of caution: applying for more than 2 Chase cards in 30 days almost always results in denials. There are ways to state your case in a reconsideration call to get credit shifted over from other cards but you’re still taking a chance that Chase may not budge on granting your request.

5 accounts in the past 24 months (5/24 Rule)

If there’s one bit of advice I can give it’s that you need to have fewer than five new credit card accounts opened in the last two years to stand a good chance at getting these cards. It is possible to get them with more than five new cards but those approvals tend to be the outliers based on my research. It’s generally recommended for you to apply in branch if you have more than five new accounts in the past 24 months. And remember, it’s credit card accounts that matter. Car loans, mortgages, etc. shouldn’t factor into that decision.

 

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *