Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ vs. Sapphire Preferred®

July 6, 2016, Written By Jason Steele
Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ vs. Sapphire Preferred®

Chase offers an impressive array of reward credit cards to suit the need of nearly any customer. Some cardholders look for the best rate of return on a cash back credit card, while others try to earn valuable travel rewards. Chase offers its new Freedom Unlimited card for those who want to earn cash back without paying an annual fee, while its Sapphire Preferred appeals to those who are willing to pay an annual fee in order to earn award travel opportunities.

Let’s take a look at these two cards, and see which one is right for you.

Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

Chase Freedom UnlimitedFor many years, the standard Chase Freedom card has offered bonus cash back on select categories of purchases that change each quarter, and 1% on all other purchases. But since some cardholders preferred to earn their cash back rewards without keeping track of rotating bonus categories, Chase recently introduced the Freedom Unlimited card, which offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, all the time. It also offers new applicants a $150 bonus after using their card to spend $500 within three months of account opening, and another $25 if they add an authorized user who makes a purchase within the same time period. New applicants also receive 0% APR introductory financing for 15 months on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 5% balance transfer fee. After that, the standard interest rate will apply, which is 14.24%, 19.24% or 23.24%, depending on the creditworthiness of the account holder at the time of application.

Other benefits include a purchase protection policy that covers theft or damage within 120 days of purchase, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account. A price protection policy also covers you if you find a lower price for your purchases within 90 days. There is no annual fee for this card, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee imposed on all charges processed outside of the United States.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Sapphire PreferredThe Chase Sapphire Preferred is travel rewards card that offers double points for all travel and dining purchases, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points are earned in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which offers many valuable options to redeem your rewards. Points are worth one cent each toward cash back and gift cards, and 1.25 cents each toward travel reservations made through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards online travel center. Alternatively, you can transfer your points to airline and hotel travel partners including United, Southwest, British Airways and Hyatt.

New applicants currently receive 50,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening, and another 5,000 bonus points when they add an authorized cardholder who makes a purchase within the same time period.

Other benefits include numerous travel insurance and purchase protection policies. When traveling, you are covered by trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and travel accident insurance. You also receive purchase protection coverage, extended warranty protection, price protection and return protection.

Finally, this card actually feels different than other cards. It has a solid metal core that makes it stiffer and heavier than most cards, as any cashier or waiter you hand it to will instantly recognize. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

Which card is right for you?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is clearly the choice for those who are more interested in cash back than earning travel rewards and don’t want to pay an annual fee. It also has a competitive promotional financing offer that many new applicants can utilize.

At the same time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the leading travel reward cards offered. Travelers love earning double points for all their travel rewards, redeeming points for 1.25 cents in value towards travel reservations, and transferring rewards to airline miles and hotel points. And when rewards are transferred to travel partners and redeemed for expensive last minute flights, reservations in business or first class, or luxury hotel awards, points can be worth far more than 1.25 cents each. Other reasons to choose the Sapphire Preferred over the Freedom Unlimited include a more valuable sign-up bonus, more robust benefits, and a lack of foreign transaction fees.

But in choosing between these two competitive cards, there is another option worth considering. Chase allows rewards earned from the Freedom Unlimited card to be transferred to other accounts that participate in the Ultimate Rewards program, including the Sapphire Preferred. Therefore, some people carry both cards, and simply transfer their Freedom Unlimited points to their Sapphire Preferred account, where these points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents in value toward travel reservations or transferred to airline or hotel programs. Having both cards allows you to enjoy the strongest benefits of each card, including 1.5% rewards from most purchases, or double points for travel and dining expenses.

By looking closely at the rewards, benefits and costs of these two cards, you can choose the one that better fits your needs, or realize how well these cards can compliment each other.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of July 6, 2016. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.

About Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a freelance journalist and an expert on the credit card industry. He contributes to several of the top personal finance sites, and his work is syndicated to mainstream outlets such as MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, and Business Insider.
View all posts by Jason Steele