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

Jul 10, 2017

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.

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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.