When is the Freedom Card Better than the Sapphire Preferred?

Note that Mile Collector has written a post about this topic and has a very detailed database that you might find very useful.

Many points bloggers have noted the earning potential of the Chase Freedom card when used in conjunction with the Chase Exclusives program. For those that are unaware, if you have the Freedom card and also have a checking account with Chase, you can register (by calling – can’t be done online) for the Chase Exclusives program that provides some extra benefits.

One of these benefits is extra points on each purchase. Non-bonus category spend earns one point per dollar, and bonus category spend earns 5 points per dollar. The Exclusives program adds another 10 points per purchase AND an extra 10% on that purchase. For example, a $1 purchase would earn one point for the purchase itself, plus 10 points, plus another one point for the 10% bonus (it gets rounded up). That’s a whopping 12 points per dollar!

Math shows that this benefit diminishes as your purchase price increases. For example, a $5 purchase would earn 5 points for the purchase itself, plus 10 points, plus another one point for the 10% bonus (rounded up). This means you earned 16 points for your $5 purchase, or 3.2 points per dollar. Clearly that’s a huge decrease from the 12 points per dollar example above, but still better than most other cards.

So when you’re making a small food purchase, for example, how do you know which card is the one you’re earning the most points with?

Points per Dollar breakdown

As you can see from the chart above, the points earned from the Freedom card diminishes very quickly as you get to the $10 mark, where you’re “only” earning 2.1 points per dollar spent on non-bonus category purchases.

If you’re at a cheap restaurant (fast food, etc.) then you’re better off using the Chase Freedom card instead of the Sapphire Preferred card for purchases up to $9. Any restaurant purchases over $9 should go on your Sapphire Preferred card.

I also added the Bluebird card for a reference. As I’ve mentioned before, the Bluebird card isn’t for everyone and not everyone has a Chase Ink Bold card to earn 5x everywhere, but if you do you can see you’re almost always better off using Bluebird vs the Freedom. It’s only worth it to use the Freedom card over Bluebird for ultra-small purchases under $3.

Of course if you’re making a purchase in one of the Freedom quarterly bonus categories, it is ALWAYS better to make the purchase on the Freedom vs the other options (up to your $1,500 maximum). The only reasons to consider using different cards in this case is if you’re trying to meet a minimum spend requirement or if you don’t value Ultimate Rewards points highly (hint: you SHOULD value them highly).

What about large purchases?

Points per Dollar for Large Purchases

While the Freedom card’s 10% bonus may sound like an impressive amount, all it really does is add .1 points per dollar to your purchase. Still, if you’re deciding between using the Sapphire Preferred or the Freedom card for large purchases in a non-bonus category (i.e. not restaurants, travel, or Freedom’s quarterly bonus categories), it’s marginally better to use the Freedom card. As you can see above the Freedom will earn you 1.1 points per dollar and the Sapphire Preferred will earn you 1.07 with the dividend. Again, this difference very marginal and not likely to add up to much of a difference unless you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, but more is more.

Note that for simplicity I compared only Chase cards and assumed that the Freedom card user also has a card with Ultimate Rewards (like the Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Bold).

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3 responses to “When is the Freedom Card Better than the Sapphire Preferred?

  1. I created a similar analysis a few weeks ago (check my post from 10/19). I think you’ll find it useful. FWIW, I really only use my Freedom card for any small purchases (<$10) and the 5x categories, which agrees with both of our analyses.

  2. Pingback: Beginners Guide Part 4: Know Your Spending Habits Really Well | Travel Summary

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