Why the benefits on the Freedom Flex made the Sapphire Preferred lose its spot in my wallet

May 27, 2022

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I absolutely believe that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is the ultimate starter card for people just getting into the points and miles hobby. For the vast majority of people, it’s the first card you should get, but it’s also a solid option for more advanced travelers. The Sapphire Preferred is simply a great card in many ways.

Despite that, the card has lost its spot in my wallet. I’ve replaced it with the Chase Freedom Flex.

Why would I get rid of one of the most popular cards in this hobby — a card I just said was awesome?

Here’s my thinking.

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In This Post

Comparing the two cards

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Highlights of the Sapphire Preferred

If you don’t currently have the Sapphire Preferred, now could be a great time to apply, since the card has an elevated sign-up bonus through June 1, 2022. You can earn 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership — a haul worth $1,600 based on TPG’s monthly valuations.

Beyond that initial bonus, the perks are solid for a card with just a $95 annual fee. Here are the ongoing benefits of the Sapphire Preferred:

  • $50 annual hotel credit: This benefit applies to hotel stays paid for in the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, and the credit renews on each cardmember anniversary. It’s automatically applied to your account each year when you make an eligible charge. Note that the $50 credit does not earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Here’s how to use this perk.
  • 10% annual points bonus: Receive a 10% bonus in points based on your annual spending on the card. You’ll earn 1 point per $1 spent on the card annually. If you spend $100,000 on your Sapphire Preferred during your cardmember year, you’ll receive 10,000 bonus points at the end of the year. Note that this 10% is calculated on the dollars you spend rather than the points you earned. You thus don’t receive additional points by leveraging the card’s bonus categories.
  • DoorDash: Cardholders get at least one year of complimentary DashPass membership with DoorDash, which gives you free delivery and reduced service fees on eligible purchases. There is a cost associated with using food delivery services such as DoorDash, but this can be a valuable benefit if you already use the service.
  • Numerous travel protections: You can take advantage of perks like primary rental car coverage, trip delay insurance, trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase protection and extended warranty protection.
  • Points-earning structure: You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal and spending on Peloton Bike, Tread and Guide purchases over $450, with a maximum earning of 25,000 points (through June 2022) and 5 points per dollar on Lyft (through March 2025). You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). Cardholders earn 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through the Chase travel portal and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Points are worth an elevated 1.25 cents each: This applies to redemptions in the Chase travel portal or using Pay Yourself Back.
  • Access to Chase transfer partners.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review

Highlights of the Freedom Flex

Despite not having an annual fee, the Freedom Flex has a great package of perks. Here are the benefits offered on the card:

  • Introductory annual percentage rate offer: 0% introductory APR period for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (a 15.74%-24.49% variable APR applies after that), making it a good option for those wanting to finance a larger purchase without paying interest.
  • Cellphone protection: The Chase Freedom Flex, unlike most of Chase’s credit cards, is a Mastercard. As part of the Mastercard network, you have access to a solid cellphone protection plan. You’re covered for $800 per claim for theft or damage, with a maximum of two claims and $1,000 total in a 12-month period (though you may have to pay a $50 deductible). You do have to pay for your monthly phone bill with the card to receive this coverage.
  • DoorDash: Cardholders get three months of complimentary DashPass membership with DoorDash.
  • Travel protections: Cardholders enjoy trip cancellation and interruption insurance for prepaid, nonrefundable fares booked with your Freedom Flex. You’re covered for $1,500 per person or $6,000 per trip if it’s canceled for a covered reason.
  • Points-earning structure: You’ll earn 5% on the first $1,500 spent on rotating categories each quarter (activation required), Lyft rides (through March 2025) and 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Cardholders earn 3% on dining and 3% on drugstores. You will earn 1% on all other purchases.
  • Points are worth 1 cent each: This applies to redemptions in the Chase Travel portal or using Pay Yourself Back (Freedom Flex only has one category — charity donations — available here).

By itself, the card doesn’t provide access to Chase’s transfer partners. Instead, you need a premium card like the Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. If you have one of those, you can effectively convert your cash-back rewards from the Freedom Flex to fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points. Then, you can use Chase’s transfer partners for travel.

Note that the Freedom Flex is not great for international travel, as it incurs a 3% foreign transaction fee.

The card’s current sign-up bonus offers $200 cash back after you spend $500 on the card in the first three months of card membership. If you have a premium Chase card, you can turn this into 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

What the cards have in common

While there are many differences between the cards, there are also some commonalities.

  • Gopuff monthly credits: Use this perk to get $10 per month in statement credits across numerous Chase credit cards when ordering grocery delivery.
  • Chase credit card application rules: Both cards fall under the typical application rules, like Chase 5/24 and maximum numbers of new accounts in 30- and 90-day periods.
  • You can cash out your points: Most people don’t think of it this way, but you can cash out your points from the Sapphire Reserve at 1 cent each (though you shouldn’t!). The same applies to the Freedom Flex.

Related: Chase’s newest cash-back option — Chase Freedom Flex card review

Why the Sapphire Preferred is out of my wallet

An unidentified woman stands over a bed looking at a wallet full of credit cards
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

So what led me to remove the Sapphire Preferred from my wallet?

When I consider the card’s perks, I wasn’t using a decent number of them — and that really made it clear that I shouldn’t keep the Sapphire Preferred. Here are the perks that don’t provide value to me:

  • Pay Yourself Back: The only categories for Sapphire Preferred cardholders right now are charity donations and Airbnb stays. Redeeming my points for these purchases doesn’t provide value to me.
  • Travel protections: I may be an outlier here, but I actually don’t care if any credit cards offer this benefit. There are a lot of rules to follow and hurdles to overcome when actually making use of these protections — like needing to pay with a specific card or navigating a complicated claims process. Instead, I’d rather just spend on the card with the highest earning rate (or on the card where I’m working on a sign-up bonus). My wife and I carry an annual travel insurance plan that includes everything credit cards offer and even more — like emergency helicopter medical evacuation, for example.
  • DoorDash: I find this benefit costs more to use than what I get out of it. Others love it, but it doesn’t offer any value to me.
  • Earning structure: I’m not a Peloton customer, and I have other cards that cover many of the other bonus categories.

I felt like I was paying a $95 annual fee but using a small number of the card’s perks each year.

On top of this, the other cards we carry in our wallets really sealed the deal.

My wife and I have different cards that we use for dining and supermarkets that earn rewards at a higher rate, so we weren’t using the Sapphire Preferred in a meaningful way. And a lack of spending means fewer points — especially when considering the annual 10% bonus on your cardmember anniversary. If you only spend a few thousand dollars a year on the Sapphire Preferred, you’re getting just a few hundred bonus points.

In addition, we don’t really use the Lyft perks. I get enough Uber credits from our American Express cards that I don’t need bonus points on Lyft rides. And I have plenty of other cards that don’t incur foreign transaction fees.

Beyond these limitations of the Sapphire Preferred, the Freedom Flex provides a lot of appeal. Few other cards have strong earnings at drugstores. We wind up at CVS pretty often, but we didn’t have a good card to use here previously.

Access to the rotating 5% bonus categories on the Freedom Flex each quarter (after registering) was also a big motivator. The categories we see each quarter tend to align well with our spending — like Amazon purchases in the second quarter of 2022. We’re earning more points here than we were when I had the Sapphire Preferred.

Finally — and probably most importantly — my wife has the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Since we can combine our Freedom Flex earnings with those from the Sapphire Reserve (which we use for all rental car spending and most of our hotel stays to earn 3 points per dollar), this was the last straw for us.

Related: Chase Sapphire showdown: Sapphire Preferred vs. Sapphire Reserve

Bottom line

(Photo by AmyLaughinghouse/Getty Images)

It’s critical to consistently evaluate what cards you carry in your wallet. When an annual fee comes due on a card, consider whether you’re getting enough perks and benefits to justify paying that fee each year. If not, you should probably close that credit card or consider changing it to a different card, where possible. That applies even to the most popular cards.

The points and miles hobby is not “one size fits all” — even though I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great option, it wasn’t adding any value to my wallet. So, I changed it to the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex, and I am much happier after the change. As long as I don’t make any purchases in a foreign currency with my Freedom Flex, I think I’m coming out ahead after shaking up my credit card portfolio.

Featured photo by Emilija Manevska/Getty Images.

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