Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited Card [Detailed Comparison]

Christine Krzyszton's image
Christine Krzyszton
Christine Krzyszton's image

Christine Krzyszton

Senior Finance Contributor

311 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 98U.S. States Visited: 45

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, deta...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3228 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

Upgraded Points: Expertise You Can Trust

Our seasoned and experienced team brings years of expertise in the credit card and travel sectors. Committed to integrity, we offer data-driven guides to help you find the card(s) that best fit your requirements. See details on our intensive editorial policies and card rating methodologies.

  • Content by Leading Industry Experts
  • Routine Updates and Fact-Checks
  • First-Hand Credit Card Experience
  • Shared Across 200+ Top Outlets
  • Methodical “U.P. Rating” System
  • 1040+ Expert Credit Card Guides

Building a relationship with Chase as a financial institution can deliver tremendous value over the long term. Chase offers a variety of financial products, including banking accounts, mortgages, personal/business loans, savings vehicles, and investment solutions, that can be utilized over your lifetime.

Chase credit cards add additional value with the ability to manage your spending while earning rewards, receive a great value at redemption time, and enjoy benefits/protections that can save you money or provide protection when you need it.

Today, we’ll look at 2 of the most popular Chase cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, both of which are fine examples of the value provided by Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning cards.

While we believe either of these cards is an excellent choice, even for your first travel rewards card, we’re prepared to back up this statement with all the information you’ll need to decide for yourself as to which card is a better fit for you.

Let’s review the key features and benefits you can expect to realize as a cardholder with either of our featured cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Freedom Unlimited Card — Overview

Let’s take a topline view of both cards with a side-by-side comparison that makes it easier to review the features and benefits of both the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card.

Here’s how the cards compare in each category:

SCROLL FOR MORE
BenefitChase Sapphire Preferred CardFreedom Unlimited Card
Earning
  • 5x points on travel booked via Chase Travel portal and Lyft rides (through March 2025)
  • 3x points on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases
  • 2x points on travel
  • 10% card anniversary bonus points
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • 5% cash-back on travel purchased via Chase Travel portal and Lyft rides (through March 2025)
  • 3% cash-back on dining and at drugstores
  • 1.5% cash-back on all other purchases
Redemption Options
  • Redeem points for 25% more value for travel via the Chase Travel portal
  • Transfer points to airline and hotel partners
  • Statement credits, cash-back, gift cards, Amazon or Apple shopping
  • Statement credits, cash-back, travel
  • Transfer to premium Chase cards to unlock transfers to travel partners
  • Gift cards, Amazon or Apple shopping
Travel Benefits and Protections
  • Up to $50 hotel credit via Chase travel portal
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption
  • Trip delay reimbursement, lost or delayed baggage, roadside dispatch, travel emergency services
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary car rental insurance, trip cancellation/interruption, roadside dispatch, travel emergency services
Shopping Benefits and Protections
  • Chase Offers, purchase protection, extended warranty
  • DoorDash, and Instacart benefits
  • Chase Offers, purchase protection, extended warranty
  • DoorDash, and Instacart benefits
Annual Fee and Authorized Users
  • $95 no charge for authorized users
  • $0 annual fee, no charge for authorized users

Note that we haven’t listed every benefit of our featured cards and descriptions are abbreviated. You’ll want to check each card’s Guide to Benefits before applying to see expanded coverage descriptions, terms, conditions, rates, and fees.

The Value of a Welcome Offer

The best travel rewards cards offer a welcome bonus offer that allows you to earn a large number of rewards in the first few months after card approval when meeting minimum spending requirements.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card each offer such a bonus. The value of these welcome offers will vary, however, due to the different redemption options offered on each card. We’ll expand more on that shortly.

But first, let’s take a look at the current welcome offers that come with our featured cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.

A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's worth over $900 when redeemed through Chase Travel℠.
75,000 points
$1,500
$95
21.49%-28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.

Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.

Pros
  • 5x points on all travel booked via the Chase Travel portal
  • 5x points on select Peloton purchases over $150 (through March 31, 2025)
  • 5x points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2025)
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • No elite benefits like airport lounge access or hotel elite status
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s over $900 when you redeem through Chase TravelSM.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase TravelSM, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase TravelSM. For example, 75,000 points are worth $937.50 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This all-purpose cash-back card offers great bonus categories, including bonus points for every purchase you make!

This all-purpose cash-back card offers great bonus categories, including bonus points for every purchase you make!
Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.
Up to $300 cash back
$0
0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is easily one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. There aren’t many no-annual-fee credit cards that offer multiple great bonus categories like 5% back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases.

When paired with other Chase cards in the Ultimate Rewards family, you can transfer that cash back into points if you wish – making it one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet.

Pros
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Travel
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases
Cons
    • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • INTRO OFFER: Earn 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!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 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).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • No annual fee – You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, alerts, and more.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers a welcome bonus offer that’s worth far more than the Freedom Unlimited card. Even with the $95 annual fee, the welcome offer on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card can provide tremendous value. 

Earning Potential

Hawaiian Airlines plane
Earn elevated rewards on travel purchases with either of our featured cards. Image Credit: Hawaiian Airlines

Both of our featured cards earn valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The Freedom Unlimited card, however, functions as a cash-back card, initially earning rewards in the form of points that can be redeemed for cash-back.

Here’s how both of these cards earn rewards, along with which bonus-category spending results in the best earning potential.

SCROLL FOR MORE
Earning Category (as Defined by Chase)
Chase Sapphire Preferred CardFreedom Unlimited Card
Travel Purchased via the Chase Travel Portal5x points per dollar spent5% cash-back
Restaurants Worldwide and Takeout and Eligible Delivery3x points3% cash-back
Select Streaming Services and Online Grocery Purchases3x points1.5% cash-back
Drugstores1x points3% cash-back
Other Travel2x points1.5% cash-back
Grocery Store Purchases1x points1.5% cash-back
Lyft Rides5x points through March 20255% cash-back through March 2025
All Other Purchases1x points1.5%
Card Anniversary Bonus10% of total purchasesN/A

Bottom Line: While both the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card have robust earning structures, the Freedom Unlimited card does charge a 3% foreign transaction fee, making it a poor choice for international travel and foreign purchases. 

Redemption Options

While both the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Freedom Unlimited card earn the same Ultimate Rewards points, your options at redemption time will differ with each card.

Here are your options, and the values you can expect to receive, for Ultimate Rewards points earned on each card.

SCROLL FOR MORE
Redemption OptionChase Sapphire Preferred CardFreedom Unlimited Card
Redeem for Travel via Chase Travel Portal1.25 cents per point1 cent per point
Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Airline and Hotel PartnersTransfer to travel partners to purchase award tickets or hotel nightsN/A; points earned on the Freedom Unlimited card must be transferred to a premium Chase card in order to be transferred to travel partners
Statement Credits/Cash-back1 cent per point
Pay Yourself Back1 to 1.25 cents per point for select categories1.25 cents per point for select charities through December 2023
Additional Redemption OptionsStatement credits, cash-back, gift cards, Amazon and Apple shopping, experiencesGift cards, Amazon and Apple shopping, experiences

Bottom Line: The most significant difference in redemption options for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Freedom Unlimited card is that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card allows you to redeem points for travel via the Chase Travel portal for 25% more value and has the ability to receive even greater potential value when transferring points to airline or hotel partners. 

Travel Benefits and Protections

Dollar Young Renters
Enjoy car rental insurance and other travel benefits and protections with either card. Image Credit: Dollar Car Rental

Travel benefits can save you money or provide protection that can give you peace of mind during your travels.

Here are some of the key travel benefits and protections you’ll find on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Freedom Unlimited card:

  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver — Pay for your car rental with your card, decline the rental agency’s CDW/LDW coverage and receive coverage for damage or theft of the rental car. Coverage is primary on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and secondary on the Freedom Unlimited card. Secondary means that you must first file a claim with any other insurance that applies before card coverage kicks in.
  • Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance — If your trip is canceled or disrupted due to a covered reason, the Freedom Unlimited card could pay up to $1,500 per person, $6,000 per trip. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card could pay up to $10,000 per person, $20,000 per trip.
  • Roadside Dispatch — Pay 1 predetermined service fee to receive jumpstart or lockout services, towing up to 5 miles, fuel delivery (up to 5 gallons), standard winching, and spare tire changing.
  • Travel and Emergency Services — Make 1 call to receive assistance 24/7 while traveling. Receive translation services, medical/legal referrals, assistance with emergency transportation, and more. Cardholders are responsible for actual services received.

Additional Benefits and Protections

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • $50 Hotel Credit via Ultimate Rewards — Book your hotel via the Chase Travel portal and receive a statement credit of up to $50 each card anniversary year.
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement — Receive up to $500 in reimbursement for eligible expenses due to a covered trip delay of more than 12 hours or overnight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees — Use your card abroad, or for any foreign purchase, as the card does not charge foreign transaction fees.
  • Baggage Delay — If your bags are delayed more than 6 hours, you could receive up to $100 per day for up to 5 days for eligible incidentals, including clothing, toiletries, and cell phone charging cables.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement — Receive up to $3,000 if your luggage is lost or stolen.
  • Roadside Dispatch — If you are stranded on the side of the road, 1 call 24/7 can provide assistance. Cardholders are responsible for actual services received.

Shopping Benefits and Protections

When you shop with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll want to understand the additional benefits available. For example, you may earn more rewards by taking advantage of card offers or have coverage if something goes wrong with your purchase.

Here’s a sampling of some of the best shopping benefits and protections that come with both of our featured cards:

  • Chase Offers — Log in to your Chase account and view your available Chase Offers. Add the offer to your card, make the required purchase, and receive cash-back as a statement credit.
  • Chase Shopping Portal — Earn up to 25 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent via the shopping portal. In your online account, select Ways to Earn, then Shop Through Chase to view available retailers and offers.
  • Purchase Protection — Purchase an eligible item with your card and receive coverage for theft, accidental damage, or “involuntary or accidental parting” for 120 days from the date of purchase. Coverage is limited to $500 per item, $50,000 per account.
  • Extended Warranty — Eligible items with manufacturer’s warranties of 3 years or less that you purchase with your card will have the warranty extended by 1 additional year. Coverage is limited to $10,000 per claim, $50,000 per account.

Additional Shopping Benefits and Protections

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • DoorDash DashPass — Receive a complimentary DashPass subscription. If activated by December 31, 2023,  the subscription is active through December 31, 2024. If activated during the 2024 calendar year, the subscription will be valid for 1 year from the date of activation.
  • Instacart Benefits — Cardholders are eligible for a free 6-month Instacart+ membership plus a $15 quarterly credit. Activate by July 31, 2024.

Freedom Unlimited Card

  • Introductory 0% APR on Purchases — Enjoy no interest charges on purchases for up to 15 months from card approval. After that, normal interest rates as indicated in the card table above apply.
  • DoorDash DashPass — Enjoy a complimentary 3-month DashPass subscription. Activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Instacart Benefits — Cardholders are eligible for a free 3-month Instacart+ membership plus a $10 quarterly credit. Activate by July 31, 2024.

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card — with key benefits such as primary car rental coverage and trip cancellation, interruption, and delay insurance — is hard to beat when it comes to benefits and protections, but the no-annual-fee Freedom Unlimited card offers several benefits and protections that can also make it a good value. 

Annual Fees and Adding Authorized Users

Annual fees are important, as you’ll want to make sure you’re receiving sufficient value from a card to offset that fee. Authorized users can help you earn rewards faster, and users may benefit from the opportunity to establish a credit history.

Annual Fees

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card charges an annual fee of $95, which is a modest fee considering its generous welcome offer, flexible redemption options, and its valuable travel insurance benefits. The Freedom Unlimited card does not charge an annual fee.

Adding Authorized Users

Neither of our featured cards charge for adding authorized users. Note that the primary cardholder is responsible for all card purchases made by the additional user.

Bottom Line: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a modest $95 annual fee while the Freedom Unlimited card does not charge an annual fee. There is no charge to add authorized users to either card. 

Everything Else You Need To Know

Both of our featured cards fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule that dictates whether you’ll be approved for a Chase credit card. If you’ve had 5 (or more) credit cards issued from any financial institution in the last 24 months, you won’t be approved for a Chase card.

It’s recommended that you have “Good to Excellent credit” of 570 to 840 to qualify for either of these Chase cards.

Both of our cards utilize the Visa payment processing network. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a Visa Signature card, and the Freedom Unlimited card can be issued as either a Visa Platinum (for credit limits under $5,000) or as a Visa Signature card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers some of the best travel insurance available on a credit card. This coverage, however, does not take the place of a comprehensive travel insurance policy, especially if your trip is expensive, complicated, or you need medical coverage during your travels.

Final Thoughts

Both of our featured cards offer great value and are appropriate choices for your first-time travel rewards card.

Although both cards offer excellent earning potential, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has an edge over the Freedom Unlimited card thanks to its generous welcome offer and the opportunity to receive better value for your points at redemption time. The card also offers better travel insurance benefits.

To maximize the value received on your Chase cards, however, it can be productive to pair a no-annual-fee card, such as the Freedom Unlimited card or Chase Freedom Flex℠, with a premium Chase credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This card combination will allow you to maximize earnings and receive up to 50% more value at redemption time.

Whichever Chase card (or cards) you select, if you manage your usage well, you’ll certainly reap the rewards that come along with being a Chase cardholder.

The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which card is better, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Freedom Unlimited card?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the better card with elevated earning on travel, dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases. It also has some of the best travel insurance benefits available and a generous welcome bonus. The card packs a lot of benefits for a travel rewards card with a modest annual fee.

The Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t charge an annual fee but still has good earning potential for everyday purchases. Plus, the card offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases that can save you money on interest charges if you have an upcoming large purchase planned.

Does the Freedom Unlimited card have primary car rental coverage?

No. The Freedom Unlimited card has secondary car rental collision damage waiver coverage, meaning that you must first file a claim with any other insurance that would apply before card coverage would be applicable.

Do Ultimate Rewards points expire?

Chase Ultimate Rewards points do not expire as long as you have your Ultimate Rewards-earning card open. If you should cancel the card, any points that have not been redeemed will be forfeited.

Can I use Ultimate Rewards for flights?

Yes. You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points earned on any Ultimate Rewards-earning card via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel portal for flights.

If you have a premium Chase rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can redeem points via the portal for 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents per point, respectively. You can also transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned on these cards to airline and hotel partners for even greater potential value.

Christine Krzyszton's image

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, detailed content for UP.

INSIDERS ONLY: UP PULSE

Deluxe Travel Provided by UP Pulse

Get the latest travel tips, crucial news, flight & hotel deal alerts...

Plus — expert strategies to maximize your points & miles by joining our (free) newsletter.

We respect your privacy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. Google's privacy policy  and terms of service  apply.

Deluxe Travel Provided by UP Pulse
DMCA.com Protection Status