A single rewards credit card can leave you significantly better off provided you use plastic for regular purchases, pay your bill in full each month and never pay a dime in interest payments.
However, there are plenty of scenarios where a combination of rewards credit cards can lead to even greater returns, and that’s particularly true when you select rewards credit cards with complementary features, earning rates and benefits.
What is the Chase trifecta?
The “Chase trifecta,” as it is known among rewards enthusiasts, is a multi-card strategy to earn better than average returns on regular purchases, exceptional travel perks and even more rewards on business spending. Better yet, you can pool all your rewards in a single account for convenience or to score a superior selection of travel redemption options.
Of course, this strategy does require having a minimum of three different Chase credit cards, as well as the desire to make sure you’re using the right card for different types of purchases. Not everyone needs that kind of complexity in their rewards game, but for those who are willing, the pros can definitely outweigh the cons.
Which cards are part of the Chase trifecta?
The combination of cards that makes up the famed Chase trifecta is a good one. If you decide to get on board, you would pick up three insanely popular Chase credit cards you have probably already heard of before — the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
Here’s a basic rundown of each card’s earning structure, initial bonus offer and most important benefits:
- Earn a flat 1.5% back on all purchases
- Qualify for a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
- No annual fee
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 16.49% to 25.24%
- 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
- $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
- 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 80,000 points worth $1,000 in travel when you spend $5,000 on your card within three months of account opening
- $95 annual fee
- Qualify for cell phone coverage and important travel insurance benefits
How to maximize the Chase trifecta
Once you have all three credit cards, you can focus on using each of them in a strategic way. These tips can help you leverage each card to the hilt so you can wind up with the most rewards and cardholder perks your spending allows.
Use the Chase Freedom Unlimited for all non-bonus spending
Since the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the only card in the trifecta that earns more than 1x points on non-bonus spending, you’ll want to use this card for all your regular purchases that don’t qualify for extra points. This will have you earning 50 percent more rewards on expenses like groceries and gas than you would with just the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred in your wallet.
Pay for travel and dining with the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve lets you earn an unlimited 3x points on travel and dining purchases, you’ll want to use this card for all your dinners out at restaurants along with airfare, hotels and other travel you book.
Beyond the extra points you can earn on travel expenses, the Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with protective travel benefits including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary auto rental insurance, emergency evacuation coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance and trip delay reimbursement.
Take advantage of 3x points 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.
You should definitely strive to maximize this card’s bonus rewards categories if you can, especially since the bulk of these categories (other than travel) don’t overlap with the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s bonus categories.
Use Chase Sapphire Reserve travel perks
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $550 annual fee, but you can get a ton of value if you travel often and take advantage of all the perks. For starters, the $300 annual travel credit is good for any travel purchase and it is automatically applied to your account as you make travel-related purchases throughout the year.
The Priority Pass™ Select airport lounge membership that comes with this card is worth $429 and good for access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world. This access can also help you save money when you fly since you can take advantage of free food, drinks and wifi, along with relative peace and quiet when compared to the busy airport terminal.
Also remember to take advantage of the credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck (up to $100) since these memberships can save you time and stress by letting you skip past security lines.
Pool all your points in your Chase Sapphire Reserve account before you redeem for travel
If you plan to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel, you’ll want to pool all of them in your Chase Sapphire Reserve account first. This is due to the fact that 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. (That’s why the 50,000 point bonus on this card is worth $750 in travel).
Also make sure you pool your points in your Reserve account or your Ink Business Preferred account if you want to transfer to travel partners. Both let you transfer points 1:1 to popular airline and hotel programs like Southwest Rapid Rewards, JetBlue, British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt.
Why should you go for the Chase trifecta?
The Chase trifecta is best for consumers who want to maximize their rewards and cardholder perks and don’t mind keeping up with a few different credit cards in order to reach their goals. However, this combination of cards is also best for people who want access to Chase transfer partners, which are different from those offered through other flexible 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.
Strategies to get started with the Chase trifecta
As you gear up to get started with the Chase trifecta, there are a few important details you should know and understand. For starters, you’ll need to have a small business or earn some side income in order to qualify for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. However, you can apply with your small business as a sole proprietor with just your Social Security number if your business doesn’t have an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
It’s also important to note that Chase limits the number of new cards anyone can get within 24 months with their 5/24 rule. As a result, you may need to space out new credit card applications or wait for a while before you can qualify for all three cards you need.
Ideally, you should wait a minimum of 90 days each time before you apply for another credit card. Keep in mind that each application will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. These hard inquiries can temporarily ding your credit score, although the impact shouldn’t last long.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, you should sign up for Chase trifecta cards slowly over time, and in whatever order makes sense for your spending. Meanwhile, you should also make sure you can meet the minimum spending requirements in order to earn each card’s initial signup bonus. The lucrative signup bonuses on these cards can get you started with an initial rush of points, but the trifecta will ensure you’ll earn more rewards on all your spending over time.