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What's the difference between the Chase Freedom® and Chase Sapphire® cards? Which one is preferred?

By , CardRatings contributor
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Question: What's the difference between the Chase Freedom® and Sapphire cards? Which one is preferred?

Answer: That's a bit like asking whether you prefer the Frappuccino or the Vivanno, even though you get them both at Starbucks. Both rewards credit cards seem to be geared to different consumer groups.

If you travel often, you'll probably prefer the Chase Sapphire® Preferred Card. If you're looking for more opportunities to earn cash back the Chase Freedom® offer may be a better fit for you. Let's run down some of the key points between the two rewards cards:

  • Bonus offers: Chase Freedom® appeals to budget-conscious consumers with a current offer where you can get a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card hooks frequent travelers by allowing you to earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. And offers 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Bonus rebate offers: Chase Freedom® cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card cardholders can earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.

  • Reward redemption: Both cards run on the Chase Ultimate Rewards® engine, so the points are actually interchangeable between the cards and can be redeemed for a wide variety of products and services. More on this below.

  • Customer service: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card members get an exclusive perk. Call the number on the back of your card, and you can get direct access to a customer service specialist anytime.

  • Annual fee: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a $0 introductory for the first year, then $95. The Chase Freedom® card has a $0 annual fee.

Both cards feature Chase's "Ultimate Rewards," a program the Wall Street Journal covered when it launched in 2009. At the time, WSJ pointed out that Chase program managers wanted to streamline some of the rewards offered in the credit card issuer's previous version of the Freedom card. Chase also wanted to compete more aggressively against American Express, launching a Sapphire card to appeal to the kinds of cardholders accustomed to carrying Platinum Card® from American Express or Centurion cards.

Both Chase cards also happen to include one of our favorite features, the Chase Blueprint online service. Blueprint helps you manage your plan to pay down balances faster, especially when you've been making major purchases. If you're really on the bubble and you've got the excellent credit score needed to qualify for either card, just take a look at which card would best fit your needs.

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