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Which Credit Card Is Better for Dining — Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire Reserve?

July 10, 2017
4 min read
Which Credit Card Is Better for Dining — Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire Reserve?
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"Reader Questions" are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

The third quarter just started and the Chase Freedom card is offering an intriguing bonus category for the next three months. (No longer open to new applicants.) But TPG reader Rochelle wants to know if she should forgo points for the extra cash back...

[pullquote source="TPG Reader Rochelle"]Chase Freedom is offering 5% cash back on restaurants from July 1-September 30. Is this a better deal than 3x points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve?[/pullquote]

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable loyalty currencies out there, so if you're going to give them up for cash back, then you'd better be getting an even better return. But in this case, there's actually a way to have the best of both worlds.

First though, let's consider the value of 5% cash back versus 3x Ultimate Rewards points. According to TPG's most recent points valuations, Ultimate Rewards are worth 2.2 cents apiece. That means if you're getting 3 points on your dining purchases using your Chase Sapphire Reserve, you're effectively earning 6.6 cents per dollar spent. With the Chase Freedom restaurant bonus category this quarter, you're only getting 5% cash back or 5 cents per dollar spent.

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Now, there's always something to be said about the flexibility of cash versus points. Cash is king — you can spend it anytime, anywhere, without having to worry about award availability or redemption charts. It's also possible if you already have a ton of Ultimate Rewards points sitting in your account that you don't really need to earn any more at the moment, while almost no one has ever been worried about having too much cash available to spend. So there might be a reason to give up earning an extra 1.6 cents worth of points in order to get the cash, but it'd have to be a pretty compelling reason.

dsadasd
Have your cake and eat it too — combine "cash back" points earned with the Chase Freedom with the transfer ability of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

However, here's where the good news comes in — in this case, you don't have to choose one over the other at all. That's because cash back earned with the Chase Freedom actually comes in the form of Ultimate Rewards points. Normally with just the Chase Freedom, those points can only be redeemed for cash at 1 cent per point. But if you also have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the points can be combined between the two cards and used just like normal Ultimate Rewards points. So basically, you can earn 5% cash back in the form of 5x Ultimate Rewards points by dining out with the Chase Freedom card during the months of July, August and September. Then instead of redeeming those points for cash, combine them with the CSR to get 2.2 cents per point in travel value for a whopping return of 11 cents per dollar spent.

Just don't forget that you'll need to activate your Chase Freedom bonus category and bonus spend is capped at $1,500 per quarter, so you'll want to switch back to your Chase Sapphire Reserve if you hit that cap before September 30.

Thanks for your question, Rochelle, and you're a TPG reader who'd like us to answer a question of your own — or teach me something new! — tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023