The underrated benefit of pairing a Chase Freedom and Sapphire card
Chase’s Freedom and Sapphire families of cards are regarded by many to be some of the most rewarding to hold. Beyond the ongoing benefits they provide, they give you great earnings on your spending in the form of UR (or ‘Ultimate Reward’) points. These are some of the most valuable points out there, since they are very flexible; you can transfer them 1:1 to a healthy list of partners, for instance. Alternatively, you can redeem them for travel purchases in Chase’s own travel portal.
As of this writing, the Freedom family of cards includes the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited. Meanwhile, the Sapphire family includes the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve. Individually, each one of these has distinct pros and cons, and there are many blog posts and reports that break down their benefits. What’s not discussed so often, however, is how a Sapphire card can greatly boost the value of the points you earn on a Freedom card. This can transform the average cash-back rates of either Freedom card into travel redemptions that are substantially more valuable.
How this works
Let me explain what I mean. This ability comes down to the fact that the UR points earned by all Freedom and Sapphire cards are (crucially) transferrable between cards in any amount, at any time. This is helpful since you can pool points from multiple cards together to make purchases. But it also means that you can spend UR points on one card as if they were earned on another. In other words, I can use points on my Freedom Unlimited as if I had earned them on my Sapphire Reserve,
Why is this important? Well, with a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited card, you can only ever redeem those UR points for a cent each. You also can’t transfer the points to airline or hotel partners for award redemptions. So they really are just ‘cash back’ cards, since you only ever get a cent per point (1 cpp) as cash back.
Comparatively, with a Sapphire card, you can transfer UR points 1:1 to a bunch of different airline and hotel partners. Furthermore, if you redeem the points for travel purchases in Chase’s portal, you get either 1.25 cpp (with the Preferred) or 1.5 cpp (with the Reserve)! This acts as a guaranteed minimum redemption rate, since you can always choose to redeem in this way. Meanwhile, the transfer ability opens you up to a ton of possibilities, including redemptions that are 2 cpp or even higher. Suddenly, those UR points earned on a Freedom card are way more valuable, and way more flexible.
Example & Conclusion
An example is perhaps the best way to illustrate the power of a Freedom and Sapphire card working together. In my own wallet, I have a Freedom Unlimited card which earns 1.5 UR points per dollar on all purchases, coupled with a Sapphire Reserve card which can redeem points for 1.5 cpp, as well as transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to partners. Normally, if I had the Freedom Unlimited card alone, I’d only get 1 cent for each UR point. But with the Sapphire Reserve, I can spend those points at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. Thus, my effective ‘return’ on purchases on the Freedom Unlimited is actually 1.5 UR * 1.5 cpp, or 2.25%. That’s higher even than the well-regarded Citi DoubleCash, which has an industry-leading 2% cash back!
Bear in mind, too, that this assumes that I can’t get better redemption through 1:1 point transfers to partners. In many circumstances, however, it’s possible to get 2 cpp or higher redemptions rates for these transfers! Thus, it’s in fact possible to get 1.5 UR * 2 cpp, or a 3% return in many circumstances. That’s pretty unbelievable for a card that has no annual fee by itself!
Indeed, this dynamic between Freedom and Sapphire cards is unique to Chase’s lineup, and remains one of the most powerful industry-wide. For those who are less-than-comfortable paying annual fees, it’s also a great way to justify keeping a Sapphire card; in my own circumstances, each $2,000 of spend on my Freedom Unlimited card yields me an additional $15 of value at minimum, courtesy of my Sapphire Reserve. For transfers, I can squeeze out even more value.
Best of all, though, Chase makes it easy to transfer UR points between cards at any time. Just navigate to the UR portal (through any card), click your points balance on the top-left:
…then click “Combine Points” to enter the transfer tool:
For those who currently carry a Freedom or Sapphire card, I hope this illustrates the additional power that a Freedom/Sapphire pair can bring. And, for those that already have cards from both families, I hope you can begin to enjoy the fantastic redemptions that the cards in tandem can provide.