A rewards credit card can be an excellent way to earn cash back or points on your regular purchases and bills—provided you never carry a balance to avoid interest.
However, one of the best ways to maximize your rewards earning potential is creating a combination of rewards credit cards that will lead to even greater returns. With a good combo, your credit cards will complement each other’s features, benefits and earning rates.
One such combination consists purely of Chase credit cards and is known among rewards cards enthusiasts as the “Chase trifecta.”
What is the Chase trifecta?
The Chase trifecta is a multi-card strategy that can help you get better-than-average returns on regular purchases, exceptional travel perks and enhanced rewards on business spending. Better yet, you can pool your rewards into a single account to score a superior selection of travel redemption options.
The strategy requires you to have at least three different Chase credit cards, hence the name. For the trifecta to work, you also need to make sure you’re using the right card for different types of purchases. Not every cardholder needs that kind of complexity, but if you’re willing, the pros can easily outweigh the cons.
Which cards are part of the Chase trifecta?
When it comes to building your Chase trifecta, you have quite a few variations to choose from. Generally, you want one of Chase Sapphire cards, one card from the Chase Freedom family and a Chase business credit card. The most common variation, however, is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers three bonus categories and flat-rate cash back on all other purchases with no annual fee. Note that while this card advertises cash back, the rewards come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a value of 1 cent per point.
- Earn 5 percent cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 percent on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services), 3 percent on drugstore purchases and 1.5 percent back on all other purchases
- Qualify for a $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
- No annual fee
- 0 percent APR on purchases for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent
You can swap the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Freedom FlexSM, which is replacing the original Chase Freedom®. It offers 5 percent cash back in rotating categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter), meaning you’ll need to make sure you activate cash back and use your Freedom Flex in the right categories to maximize the earnings.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Pairing a Freedom card with the Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to earn some of the most valuable travel rewards on all kinds of spending.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the most popular travel credit cards thanks to its amazing benefits and high rewards value.
- Earn 10X points on Lyft purchases (through March 2022), 3X points on all travel (after earning your $300 travel credit) and dining and 1X points on other purchases
- Qualify for 50,000 points (worth $750 in travel) when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening
- Get 50 percent more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- $550 annual fee
- Perks include airport lounge access with Priority Pass Select, a $300 annual travel credit, a one-year Lyft Pink membership, up to $120 in credits for DoorDash, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, a range of travel insurance benefits and more
Since a $550 annual fee can seem rather high, especially if you’re new to credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be a good alternative. The Sapphire Preferred offers 2X points on travel and dining and 1X points on all other purchases for a $95 annual fee. You’ll also get 25 percent more value when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is arguably one of the best credit cards for small businesses, thanks to a generous sign-up bonus, a high rewards rate in common business categories and quite a few valuable perks.
- Earn 3X points on up to $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and select online advertising (then 1X points), as well as 1X points on other purchases
- Qualify for 100,000 points (worth $1,250 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) after you spend $15,000 on your card within three months of account opening
- $95 annual fee
- Qualify for cell phone coverage and important travel insurance benefits
If you’d like to avoid the annual fee, look into Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, which earns 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year, 2 percent on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year and 1 percent on all other spending.
If you’re only looking into consumer cards, complete your Chase trifecta with another Freedom card to maximize your reward earning potential with more bonus categories.
Tips on maximizing the Chase trifecta
To get the most out of having this powerful credit card combo, you need to know how to use your Chase cards strategically; here’s how you can do it.
Maximize the Freedom categories
Whether you have one Chase Freedom card or both in your Chase trifecta, make sure you use them for the right kind of spending. For example, you can use either of them to pay for drugstore purchases and earn 3X points. If you have the Chase Freedom Flex, activate 5 percent cash back rotating categories every quarter (on up to $1,500 in purchases) and make a point to use the card when making eligible purchases.
Book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Freedom Flex or Unlimited
Both Freedom cards offer 5 percent cash back when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, making either card a great choice for maximizing points on travel accommodations.
Use Chase Sapphire Reserve when paying for other types of travel
The travel category on Chase Sapphire Reserve is rather broad, allowing you to earn 3X points on many types of travel expenses, from hotels to tolls to parking garages. Use it for all travel expenses outside of the travel you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Pool all your points in your Chase Sapphire Reserve account before you redeem for travel
Before you redeem your points, pool them in your Chase Sapphire Reserve account. This card gives you 50 percent more for your points when you use them to book airfare, hotels, rental cars, activities and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
If you want to transfer points to travel partners, it’s recommended you pool them in your Reserve account or Ink Business Preferred account. Both allow you to transfer points at a 1:1 transfer ratio to popular airline and hotel programs, such as Southwest Rapid Rewards, JetBlue, British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt.
Use Chase Sapphire Reserve travel perks
One of the reasons the Chase Sapphire Reserve is so widely popular (despite the $550 annual fee) is its travel perks. For instance, the $300 annual travel credit is good for any travel purchase and automatically applied to your account as you make travel-related purchases throughout the year.
Further, the Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership that comes with this card is worth $429 and provides access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world. This access also comes with free food, drinks and Wi-Fi, along with an elevated level of comfort when compared to the busy airport terminal.
Take advantage of bonus categories with the Ink Business Preferred
The Ink Business Preferred offers 3X points on up to $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and select online advertising (then 1X points). You’ll also earn 1X points on all other business expenses charged to your card.
Use the Chase Freedom Unlimited for all non-bonus spending
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is the only card in the trifecta that earns more than 1X points on non-bonus spending, so you’ll want to use this card for all your regular purchases that don’t qualify for extra points.
Who is the Chase trifecta for?
The Chase trifecta is a great card combo for cardholders who want to maximize their rewards and benefits and don’t mind keeping up with a few different credit cards to reach their goals.
This combination of cards is also an excellent choice for people who want access to Chase transfer partners, which are different from those offered through other travel programs like American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards.
The full list of Chase transfer partners, all of which are offered at a 1:1 transfer ratio, includes:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Air France / Flying Blue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
If these transfer partners don’t appeal to you, you might want to consider another flexible rewards program and perhaps even another trifecta.
For example, the Amex trifecta includes the American Express® Gold Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express and an almost entirely different set of transfer partners with just a handful that overlap.
American Express credit cards also come with different earning structures and cardholder perks, so it could be worth it to compare these options to see how they would work for your spending and travel goals.
How to get the Chase trifecta
The credit cards in the Chase trifecta are targeted towards consumers with good to excellent credit. If your credit could use some work, you might want to wait before starting to build your Chase cards combo.
It also might take a while to collect the full trifecta. Chase limits the number of new cards anyone can get within 24 months to five with their 5/24 rule. For that reason, it’s best to space out new credit card applications to qualify for all three cards.
Ideally, you should wait a minimum of 90 days before you apply for another credit card. It’s also important to remember that a credit card application triggers a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily ding your credit score.
The bottom line
The Chase trifecta can be a great combination of cards for rewards enthusiasts looking to maximize points and their value with everyday spending, while still being able to earn cash back.
However, you have to be willing to strategize your card usage to get the most out of the trifecta, which might not be ideal for every cardholder. Additionally, it may take a while to sign up for all three cards due to the issuer’s policies.