November 29, 2021

Model Desac

It’s Time to Fly

Pairing Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom Unlimited

5 min read

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Having a credit card that matches your lifestyle and budget is a key part of a healthy financial strategy. And sometimes having two is a great way to maximize the rewards you get from both. 

That’s the case with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. When combined, those two cards — the first a travel rewards card with a $95 annual fee, the second a cash back card with no fee — can help you unlock free travel faster.

That’s because they earn rewards at elevated rates in different categories, and also because you can turn the cash back into points, which have a higher value when redeemed for travel. But that’s only possible if you have both cards.  

Pro Tip

If you pair credit cards, make sure they earn elevated rewards in different categories, so you can really maximize your earnings.

These two cards together are arguably the perfect combination for beginners in the world of travel rewards, especially those without debt and who have some level of confidence using travel rewards credit cards responsibly. Using both of these cards strategically on many of your normal purchases can help you earn more points — that you can later redeem for free flights and hotels — than you would with one card. (You’ll pay just taxes and fees on award travel.)

Let’s take a closer look.

How the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom Unlimited Work Together

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards are two of our favorite beginner-level credit cards. They offer different perks and benefits that can be beneficial for the right cardholder.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Quick Look

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a $95 annual fee travel rewards credit card. It earns 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining and travel, and comes with perks like $60 in Peloton membership credits and a yearly DoorDash Dash Pass membership, worth up to $9.99 per month (There are rumors that Chase may add more perks.) The Peloton and DoorDash benefits alone would more than offset the annual fee, if you use them. 

In fact, now is a great time to get the Sapphire Preferred card as it’s currently offering a 100,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Those 100,000 points are worth around $1,250 when redeemed for travel, according to Chase/Here’s a look at what some travel experiences you can have with 100,000 Chase points.  

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Quick Look

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a no-annual fee cash back credit card. It earns 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase travel portal, 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% cash back on everything else. You’ll also get a $200 bonus after spending $500 within three months of account opening.

While the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a cash back card, if you have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can convert those earnings into Ultimate Rewards points to unlock even greater value.

  • Intro bonus:
  • Annual fee:

    $95

  • Regular APR:

    15.99% – 22.99% Variable

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
  • Intro bonus:
  • Annual fee:

    $0

  • Regular APR:

    14.99% – 23.74% Variable

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
  • Intro bonus:
  • Annual fee:

    $95

  • Regular APR:

    15.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.

Combining the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom Unlimited Cards

Typically, converting your cash back to points with the Freedom Unlimited card will yield a fixed rate of 1 cent per point. However, you can transfer points earned with the Freedom Unlimited to the Sapphire Preferred within the Ultimate Rewards portal. Doing so will yield 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel, giving you a 25% increase in the value of your points.

With that in mind, we recommend using your Chase Freedom Unlimited card for dining and drugstore purchases, as well as travel purchases booked through the Chase portal. You’ll want to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred for travel purchases not booked through the portal, as well as rideshares and train or mass transit tickets.

That way, you’ll be able to maximize your earnings by putting your spending on the card that will earn the greatest amount of points possible.

Why Should You Pair Credit Cards?

Each individual credit card has its own perks, and the right combination of credit cards can complement each other, especially in terms of benefits and earning rates. For example, one card might earn more points on dining while another might be better for everyday purchases or come with credits that you can use for travel. 

While having more than one credit card can help you maximize earnings, it’s important to pay your bills on time and in full so you won’t accrue a balance on which you’d pay a high interest. If balances pile up, the cost of interest can negate any of the rewards or benefits that come with your card. Ideally, when applying for a credit card with a welcome offer or a signup bonus, you should have a plan ready for how you’ll meet the spending requirements in the allotted time, without overspending.  

How Quickly Can You Apply for Both Cards?

We recommend applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card first, and then the Freedom Unlimited. That way, you can hit the minimum spending requirement to earn bonus points or cash back on each one individually. The 100,000-point bonus currently available on the Preferred is an attractive proposition, and you may want to make sure to apply for that card first, in the event that Chase reverts at some point to the previous bonus of 80,000 or even 60,000 points.   

As the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a three-month period to obtain the 100,000-point bonus offer, we’d recommend waiting until you hit the minimum spending requirement within those three months before applying for the Freedom Unlimited.

However, if your budget allows, you can apply for both back-to-back. Either way, it’s important to not spend more than you can afford or what you would have spent using cash or a debit card just to earn a sign-up bonus.

You’ll also want to keep in mind Chase’s 5/24 rule. This policy limits potential cardholders who have opened five or more personal cards across all banks and issuers (including non-Chase, such as American Express) within 24 months from opening an additional Chase card. So if you find yourself within this timeframe, you’ll want to wait until 24 months from the opening of your last card have passed.

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