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BEST Chase Credit Card Battle 2023 | Sapphire Reserve VS Sapphire Preferred

There are way too many credit cards out there for you to compare on your own. So I’ve done it for you. I am a huge spreadsheet nerd, so I had to build the ultimate spreadsheet comparing all the credit cards for myself.

If you go to a website like Nerd Wallet, they’ll tell you this card is five stars, this card is four stars, this card is four and a half stars.

Best Chase Credit Cards according to Nerd Wallet in 2023

Actually, I lied. They’re all 5 stars from being sponsored So how are you supposed to objectively find the best one for you?

But what they’re not telling you is which card is rated higher at different spending levels. The best card for you is going to depend on how much money you’re spending and what categories you’re spending that money on. I’ve taken all of that into account.

In this article, we’re going to go over my comprehensive spreadsheet comparing 6 Chase primary credit cards at different spending levels.

On the go? Watch my video HERE:

Let’s get into it.

Credit Card Spreadsheet Overview

The spreadsheet has three sections.

1. User Profile

This is where you can include or exclude different annual bonuses or sign-up bonuses that apply to you or maybe don’t apply to you.

For the sake of this comparison, we will leave a “1” in all those categories so you can get an idea of what the maximum value is that you could expect to get from these credit cards given the same user profile.

Moneycessity Chase Credit Card Spreadsheet

2. Credit Card Lineup

This is where the different Chase credit cards are shown with their annual bonuses and signup bonuses, along with their points per dollar spent.

Here we can see two columns for each credit card. The annual bonus column shows the bonuses that you get every year, year after year, whereas, the year one column only shows the bonuses the first year on signups.

I wanted to keep those two separate so you could get an idea of which bonuses are you going to get one time for like a big boost at the beginning and then which bonuses are you going to get year after year if you do decide to keep the card.

3. Spending Levels

This is where different spending levels are shown with different categories of spending, and how those different spending levels relate to the amount of points you get from each credit card.

Depending on what you fill out in the user profile section, there will be a corresponding graph to show you which card will be the best bang for your buck.

Chase Credit Card Lineup

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Sapphire Reserve is the big dog of the Chase credit cards. It has a huge annual fee. We got stuff like Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has the biggest signup bonus $900 value if you can spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That can be hard to hit for some. For others, if you’re going to hit that naturally, then it’s a pretty good signup bonus to take advantage of.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonuses and Points 2023

So in year one, if you can take advantage of all of the signup bonuses, you’ll be up $1,485. But every year after that, when all those signup bonuses are no longer in effect, you’ll be down $200 at the beginning of the year. And that’s before you take into account the different categories for points that you get from spending.

You can see you get at least 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases. Dining gives you 3 points per dollar. If you spend money on Chase flights, you get 5 points per dollar and 10 points per dollar on hotel and rental, which really gives you a good clue about what kind of credit card this is.

This is primarily a travel credit card. If you do a lot of travel, there’s a good chance that this card may be the best one for you.

Chase Preferred

This is kind of one level below the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The annual fee is only $95, so you’re starting out not quite as deep in the hole, but you don’t get as many signup bonuses.

In my mind, I think that’s a good trade because when I pick a credit card, usually I’m looking to hold it for several years, so the category that I’m more concerned with is the annual category.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Bonuses and Points 2023

Before you account for points from spending, you’re only $25 in the hole after you get the annual hotel bonus.

Of course, you do have to plan a trip every year to take advantage of that bonus every year where you stay in a hotel, then you have the annual 10% point bonus.

The way that works is you get 10% of the dollars you spent in the previous year in points. So if you spent $20,000 last year, you would get 10% of that. That’s 2000 points, and 2000 points are equal to $20 in value.

Prime Visa

For some people, this card is going to be really, really good, but it’s mainly going to be effective for people who like to shop at Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh, and also purchase a lot of things on Amazon.

For both of those categories, you get 5 points per dollar spent, which is pretty good compared to the other credit cards.

Additionally, there’s no annual fee so you’re not starting off in the hole, and only a small year-one sign-up bonus of $100 for hitting your spending.

Chase Prime Visa Bonuses and Points 2023

Now, if you are not somebody who’s going to take advantage of Amazon and Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, what you would do is you would come up to the top, you’d put a “0” in that category. Whenever we get to the point comparison section, it would not boost those points to 5 points per dollar spent and just keep them at the base 1 point for a dollar spent.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

There are three cards in the Chase Freedom credit card series.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is the most popular and it has no annual fee. You get a few year-one bonuses, a $200 signup bonus, which isn’t bad, and the DoorDash and the Instacart but only for the first year. Again, I don’t utilize DoorDash or Instacart, so I would put a “0” in those categories in the user profile section.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Bonuses and Points 2023

You do get solid points per dollar spent here. You get 1.5 on all purchases, which is a half step above the previous cards we’ve looked at, as well as 3 points per dollar on dining and drugstores, and then 5 points per dollar on travel.

Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex card is interesting because it is the only credit card we’ve looked at so far that has this flex spending category. This category changes every quarter, and it only gives you points for the first $1,500 spent in that category. Now, this one is hard to utilize completely.

Chase Freedom Flex Bonuses and Points 2023

If we go to the website, we can click on their 5% cash-back calendar for 2–23 and see what are the different categories that you’ll cycle through.

January – March: Dollars that you spend at grocery stores, Target, or fitness clubs and gym memberships will get you 5% cash back. Unless you’re going to spend $1,500 in that quarter on those three categories, you’re not going to be able to get the full value. So that’s something to be considerate of.

April – June: You only get the 5% on dollars you spend at Amazon or Lowe’s. Personally, I would have a hard time spending $1,500 at these two stores. My wife could easily do it for Amazon, but I would have a hard time. So I might not get the full bonus in that quarter.

July – September: We’ve got gas stations, EV charging, and select live entertainment. I also would have a hard time with this one as I don’t think I spend $1,500 in three months on gas.

October – December: PayPal, wholesale clubs, and select charities. Again, I would have a hard time with this one as well.

Now you could be savvy and maybe hold some of your Amazon purchases for the second quarter. But other than that, some of these categories are going to be hard to hit.

Freedom Rise

This card is primarily for people who are trying to improve their credit scores. It doesn’t have the best bonuses, but it’s not bad.

The Freedom to Rise has a $0 annual fee and has a few little bonuses here: a sign-up bonus of $25 for enrolling in AutoPay but only in year one, and 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases.

Chase Freedom Rise Bonuses and Points 2023

Are you still with me? We’re just getting started.

Best Chase Credit for Each User Profile

This section shows different spending levels as well as the different categories that are relevant to the credit cards we’re comparing.

One thing that will have a big impact on that score is the user profile, so let’s make a few changes to the user profile and see how that affects which card is the best.

The Average American

The average American spends about $19,000 on their credit card in a year. So if you spend about $19,000 a year on your credit card and also shop at Whole Foods and Amazon (let’s be honest with yourself), you would go to that row and we can see the Prime Visa wins pretty handily with $622 worth of points.

We know that the Prime card gets a lot of points if you shop at Whole Foods and Amazon. If that’s not what you do, you will put a “0” in both of those categories and we can see how those values change.

After putting “0” in both of those categories, we can see now that the Prime Visa has dropped significantly. First place now goes to the Freedom Flex at this spending level at $19,000 spent per year.

A really important factor is going to be the annual fee. If a card has a really high annual fee, then you’re going to have to spend a lot of money to account for that hit at the beginning of the year.

The Freedom Flex has $0 annual fees, so it’s going to require more spending for some of these other cards with better points per dollar spent to make up the difference.

For instance, if we go to the highest spending category $58,000 spent on your credit card per year, we can see that the Sapphire Reserve comes out on top.

The Penny Pincher

This is somebody who doesn’t travel at all. They’re not going to take advantage of Global Entry. They’re not going to take advantage of airport dining. They’re not going to take any trips per year. They’re very frugal. They don’t want to DoorDash. They don’t want to use Lyft. They don’t use Instacart. They don’t shop at Whole Foods. It’s too expensive. And we will take off Amazon heavy as well.

After editing the user profile, at the lowest spending category $10,000 put on your credit card per year, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is looking pretty rough. You’ve lost $305. That’s going to be due to the fact that one, you didn’t travel, two, you didn’t have very much spending to account for the high annual fees, and three, you couldn’t use any of the annual bonuses. Coming out on top is the Freedom Flex, and this is going to be due to having no annual fee and having high points per dollar spent on the flex categories.

When we move up to the $19,000 spending category, which is average, you can see that the Freedom Flex remains on top. When we move up to $40,000, the Freedom Flex remains on top. And finally, at $58,000, the Freedom Flex is on top. It is safe to say a very frugal spender who doesn’t travel, the best card is going to be the Freedom Flex.

The Bougie Globe Trotter

The next user category is going to be somebody who travels a lot. They like to use Lyft. They like to shop at Whole Foods. They like to use Instacart. They like to shop on Amazon. They’re taking three trips per year. And they have a family of three.

For somebody who travels so much, you might expect the Sapphire Reserved and the Sapphire Preferred to be on top. However, the high points per dollar spent on the Prime Visa are too much for those bonuses to overcome. If you’re spending a lot of money on Whole Foods and Amazon Prime, then the Prime Visa is just always going to come out on top.

You can see in the average spending category of $19,000 that the Prime Visa is in the first place. At $33,000 spent on your credit, Prime Visa is in first place. And at $58,000 per year, the Prime Visa is still in first place. So, the main takeaway here is if you’re shopping at Whole Foods and Amazon a lot, Prime Visa is for you.

The Frugal Globe Trotter

Now let’s change the user profile to keep this person as someone who travels a lot, but they no longer are going to be utilizing Whole Foods and Amazon Prime as much. So we’re going to put a “0” in the Whole Foods and Amazon section and we’ll go back and see which card comes out on top.

At the average spending category of $19,000, the Sapphire Reserve comes out on top barely over the Freedom Flex. Once you get up to $33,000 in spending, you can see it’s starting to pull away. Once we go up to the top category of $58,000 spent, it is solidly in first place. This is primarily due to the big bonuses that you get from lounge access. If each person is getting about $25 in value for each trip, $25 times three people is $75, and $75 times three trips is $225 in value just from the lounge access alone.

Here we have a graphical view of how these different credit cards are doing as you spend more and more money. The X axis is increased spending. The Y axis is increased points. As you spend more and more money, the Sapphire Reserve is gaining more and more ground over these other credit cards.

Chase credit cards tend to favor people who are going to use Chase travel benefits. If this doesn’t describe you or if there’s another credit card company that you’re interested in, let me know in the comments and I’ll do a comparison for that one.

The Churner

When you churn a credit card, you’re opening up a card, you’re taking advantage of the signup bonuses, and then you’re either going to cancel that card or you’re going to downgrade it to a lesser free card from that same company. I recommend downgrading to a free version of that credit card company. Usually, it’s better for your credit score.

If you’re looking at churning a credit card, you’re going to put a “1” in the first-year-only category. We’ll assume that this person does not shop at Whole Foods, but they do enjoy shopping at Amazon. Let’s see how this profile comes out in the spending comparison.

The result for the churning champion is pretty obvious. Anybody could have guessed the Sapphire Reserve would come out on top. It had the most signup bonuses over every other card. And then, of course, second place is the Sapphire Preferred card. The Prime Visa comes in pretty close because we did add on Amazon Prime spending, but there’s just no way it can keep up with these other two credit cards.

So if you’re into churning your credit cards, you’re going to want to pick up the Chase Sapphire Reserve to take advantage of all of the signup bonuses available.

Most of the credit cards with the really big signup bonuses do have some restrictions. They won’t let you just continually churn the same credit card. Most of them will have a restriction saying, if you’ve received this signup bonus in the last two years, you will not be eligible for it.

Which Chase Credit Card Was Right For Me?

Personally, I wouldn’t utilize Lyft, DoorDash, or Instacart. I don’t really shop on Amazon. We usually take two trips and two travelers. We’ll look at first-year spending only.

If I was going to pick a Chase credit card for churning, my churning credit card of choice would be the Sapphire Reserve even though I took out a lot of those bonus spending categories. And then second place would be the Sapphire Preferred.

However, if I was going to do my personal annual use card of choice. My categories would remain the same here, except I would put a “0” in the first-year-only category. Then we can see how the point comparison is affected. I personally have about average spending of $19,000 on my credit card, so the best card for me would be the Freedom Flex.

Before I made this spreadsheet, I would have assumed that the Sapphire Reserve would come out on top because, at first glance, it does have the most bonuses. But after filling out my user profile, I’m not able to use most of these bonuses since the biggest bonuses are year-one bonuses only.

Make sure you’re not fooled by all the bonuses that credit cards like to advertise at sign-up since a lot of times, they are for the first year only.

As you can see, it is crucial to compare different credit cards at your spending levels. Different credit cards are going to have wildly different results depending on how much money you’re spending and what you’re spending that money on.

If you liked my spreadsheet tool and would like to use it as well, I would recommend entering the values from your budget into these categories to see exactly which credit card comes out on top for you year after year.

If you need help determining your spending levels, check out this article on the most passive budgeting strategy out there.

If you are also curious about which one of the Capital One credit cards is the best, you can read my showdown here: BEST Capital One Credit Card Battle 2023 | Venture vs Venture X vs Venture One.

Until next time.

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