What's better than a credit card that gets you an incredible range of rewards and benefits? Three credit cards, or a trifecta! Have you ever considered the additional earning power that can come from having three rewards credit cards, all from the same issuer? The Chase Trifecta can multiply your rewards to levels you never thought possible.
For the record, “Chase Trifecta” isn’t a particular credit card package offered by Chase. It’s more of a pet name among credit card rewards fanatics. Credit Card enthusiasts discovered a strategy for using a combination of credit cards to reap more rewards. We'll explain how it works below along with a simple guide to building your perfect Chase trifecta.
What Is the Chase Trifecta?
The Chase Trifecta is a combination of three Chase credit cards you use to earn rewards and maximize their value. Other credit card issuers can also have their own informal trifecta combinations. But Chase stands out in the field by offering some of the best standalone rewards credit cards in the industry.
Why three cards?
Having a good rewards credit card is a way to get hundreds of dollars in extra cash and points each year. But a combination of good rewards credit cards can potentially get you thousands of dollars in cash and points each year depending on how you use them.
And if you have a business, one of those credit cards can also be a business card to help you earn rewards when paying for necessary business expenses. Talk about a win-win!
Is the Chase Trifecta Worth It?
The trifecta strategy can be worth it and works best if you typically spend heavily in select categories. For example, if you spend a lot on travel, you can apply for a Chase card that offers generous travel rewards. If you also have a business, you can add a rewards business card to earn even more when making business-related purchases. Adding a card with the best general purchase rewards can get you rewards on practically everything you purchase throughout the year.
Chase has dozens of credit cards with different features, such as sign-up bonuses, rewards, 0% introductory APR offers, business, and travel perks. The wealth of cards presents an opportunity to come up with the best combination of three cards to generate more rewards and collect more benefits.
A trifecta credit card strategy using cards from any issuer can enhance rewards. But Chase stands out because they are the largest credit card issuer.
What Credit Cards Can Be Used in a Chase Trifecta?
Chase issues dozens of credit cards in different categories. In theory, one could use any of them in a three-card strategy. Below are the seven cards that are most commonly used within a Chase Trifecta:
|Credit Card||Sign Up Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Chase Freedom Flex(SM)||Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.|| $0|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.||$0|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve® ||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®||$550|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.||$95|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card ||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.||$95|
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||$0|
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card||Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening|| $0|
What's So Special About These 7 Credit Cards?
These seven cards earn rewards in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards. That's true even for cards like the Flex and Unlimited, which are both known as cash back credit cards. And that raises another big question–what's so special about Chase Ultimate Rewards?
Chase Ultimate Rewards are incredibly valuable, if, and this is really important, you redeem them for travel. There are two reasons for this: (1) the potential to earn up to a 50% bonus when you redeem points for travel booked through Chase; and (2) Chase travel transfer partners. In addition, these cards earn excellent rewards.
Chase Redemption Bonus
Three of the above seven cards pay a bonus when you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel booked through Chase. To be clear, the bonus applies only if you book travel through Chase. If you do, you can earn a bonus of either 25% or 50% on the redemption.
Here are the three cards:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® : Points are worth 50% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card : Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card : Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
At the risk of being called Captain Obvious, keep a few things in mind:
- If you don't plan to redeem your points for travel booked through chase, these bonuses are of no value to you. None.
- While the Reserve pays the highest bonus (50% instead of 25%), it also comes with a hefty fee. You can earn some of that fee back in the form of the $300 travel credit.
So let's talk strategy. If you plan to redeem points for travel through Chase, you'll want at least one of these three cards in your trifecta. For most people, the Sapphire Preferred's combination low annual fee, 25% redemption bonus, and rewards make it an ideal choice. For those frequent travelers who will use the travel credit, Sapphire Reserve works well.
For small business owners, the Ink Business Preferred, which I carry, is a solid option if, and this is important, you take advantage of its tiered rewards. See our Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card review for details.
Chase Travel Partners
Arguably the highest and best use of Ultimate Rewards is to transfer them to airline and hotel programs. Where 1,000 points redeemed for travel through Chase are worth $12.50 (1.25%) or $15.00 (1.50%) with one of the three bonus cards above, transferring points to travel partners can increase the value to well over $20.00 (2.0%). Transferring points does take a bit more work, but the rewards can be well worth it.
Recently allCards founder Rob Berger transferred some Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott.
As you consider what combination is best for you, it's important to evaluate the rewards each card offers in light of your spending patterns. Here's a summary of the rewards structure for each card.Chase Freedom Flex(SM)
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
The tiered rewards structure can make the Chase Trifecta a reasonable strategy if your focus is cash back instead of travel. In that case, however, you may opt for cards that don't have an annual fee. It may make sense to pick one of the three cards from an issuer other than Chase. For example, you might pair the Flex and Unlimited with a card paying 2% cash back or more on every purchase.
Popular Chase Trifecta Combinations
The most popular Chase Trifecta combinations depend largely on your spending patterns.
If you’re a frequent traveler, the best combination is likely to be the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Freedom Flex(SM), and Chase Freedom Unlimited®. While Chase Sapphire Reserve® will earn you up to 10X points on hotels and car rentals, Chase Freedom Flex(SM) can fetch you 5% on revolving quarterly categories, and Chase Freedom Unlimited® can pay you 1.5% cash back on everything else. (Any of the three cards will also pay you 5% on the airfare portion of travel booked through Chase.)
The Sapphire Reserve card also gives you 50% more value for your points when you use them to purchase travel through Chase. So you can earn rewards on all three cards, transfer the rewards to your Sapphire Reserve and squeeze maximum travel value out of them.
Between those three cards, you can also get generous secondary travel benefits. Those include auto rental collision damage waiver (a valuable benefit that’s been eliminated on many competing cards), and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
Meanwhile, Chase Sapphire Reserve® also throws in:
- Complimentary airport lounge access
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck or NEXUS Fee Credit of up to $100 every four years
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- $300 travel credit
If you’re a business owner, you can add Ink Business Cash® Credit Card to any two of the three cards listed above. There you’ll enjoy 5% cash back on the first $25,000 in purchases of various business expenses, 2% cash back on the first $25,000 at gas stations and restaurants, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
What if you’re a beginner looking for a low annual fee? Chase Freedom Flex(SM) and Chase Freedom Unlimited® pay generous rewards with no annual fee. As a beginner, you may also be attracted to the 0% introductory APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers that each card offers for the first 15 months.
You can then add the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Both pack in plenty of travel-related rewards, with an annual fee of just $95. These cards also offer 25% more value for your points when you use them to book travel through Chase.
How to Build Your Perfect Chase Trifecta
There is an art to building your perfect Chase Trifecta. It may take some time, but it's not difficult to do.
Follow these 4 simple steps to get started:
1. Apply for just one credit card at a time.
Chase has an unwritten policy frequently referred to as the Chase 5/24 Rule. The rule prohibits issuing a new card to any applicant who has opened five or more credit cards within the past 24 months. The rule extends to cards issued by companies other than Chase as well.
To avoid bumping up against this rule, plan to apply for each of the three cards in the Chase Trifecta in intervals of at least six months. Also, check your credit report to see how many cards you opened in the last 24 months.
2. Choose a Sapphire Card.
Either the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card pay the highest rewards levels overall. This is especially true when it comes to travel benefits. Chase limits you to just one Sapphire branded card, so choose wisely.
If you’re a frequent traveler and spend a lot of time in airports, the Reserve will be the best choice. But if you’re a not-so-frequent traveler, the high annual fee of the Reserve card can be scary. You do get a $300 travel credit with the Reserve, which effectively slices the annual fee in half. But the Preferred card pays high rewards with a much more modest fee.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may also be the better choice if you don’t have excellent credit. Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an elite card designed for applicants with the highest credit scores. Keep in mind, you can upgrade from a Preferred to a Reserve card later on.
3. Choose which card to apply for first.
It’s likely you’ll want to choose a card that will provide the biggest benefit upfront. Premium cards offer the most generous sign-up bonuses, but they’re also the most difficult cards to qualify for.
Instead, you may choose to start with either the Chase Freedom Flex(SM) or the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Neither card has an annual fee, and both offer easy-to-qualify for sign-up bonuses. That, and the 0% APR offer on both cards make them excellent choices.
Going back to the 5/24 rule, if you've opened four cards in the last 24 months, carefully choose the next card to apply for. For example, say you don't plan to travel anytime soon but one of the cards in your trifecta is a travel card. Then you might choose to first apply for one of the other cards in your trifecta.
4. Match rewards with your spending preferences.
In general, this is a difficult choice when it comes to any of the four Chase personal credit cards. Apart from travel, the rewards structure of each card is surprisingly similar.
But if you don’t travel often, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will be a better choice than the Reserve. That’s because it packs many of the same rewards (except for travel) and benefits, but does it with a much lower annual fee.
And obviously, you’ll have no need for a business credit card unless you have a business.
Business owners or freelancers may at least want to consider the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card with its generous sign-up bonus, 5% cash back on various business purchases, 2% cash back on gas and restaurant purchases, and no annual fee.
Who Is the Chase Trifecta Best For?
The Chase Trifecta is best for those who are frequent credit card users with a desire to take advantage of the rewards they offer. Additionally, the strategy is most beneficial if you tend to spend heavily in categories favored by each of the cards within your trio.
You also want to be able to manage using multiple credit cards. It's especially important to pay off your balance each month. After all, there's no point in spending money to earn rewards while also having to pay interest on your balance.
Can you have more than three Chase credit cards?
Yes. In theory, at least, there is no limit as to how many credit cards you can have with Chase, although you can only have one Sapphire branded card. But be sure to respect the 5/24 rule when applying for multiple Chase cards.
What is the easiest card to get from Chase?
There’s no easy answer to this question because credit card approval is based on multiple factors. Those can include income and credit, which can further be broken down by credit history, the amount owed, and types of delinquencies, if any.
Based on our review of the different Chase credit cards, the Chase Freedom Flex(SM) looks like the easiest to qualify for – at least as far as credit is concerned.
We did find data indicating applicants with credit scores of 611 and 632 were approved, though each was granted a credit limit of just $500. But another applicant with a credit score of 622 was approved with a $2,200 credit limit.
The Chase Trifecta can be the perfect strategy to maximize credit card rewards. The key is to choose the cards that match your regular spending activity. You can build a low or no annual fee trifecta or one that rewards your heavy travel or business expenses. Think about your current financial situation and tailor your trifecta to suit your needs.