Which Credit Card Is Better for Dining — Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire Reserve?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
“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…
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?TPG Reader Rochelle
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees