Chase Trifecta: Easily Earn Ultimate Rewards

by John Terry | Last Updated:  April 14, 2020

The Chase Trifecta is the quickest way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. A combination of strategically using different credit cards to earn one of the most valuable point currencies is one of the best tricks toward earning points and miles.

It will enable you to earn a ton of Chase Ultimate Rewards. Fast.

So, if you’ve read our Beginner’s Guide, you’ve learned that the most important part of earning points and miles for the everyday person is through spending your credit cards. The second most important thing is being smart about is which credit cards you are using for specific purchases.

Using certain credit cards to take advantage of specific bonus categories is what the Chase Trifecta is all about.

Let’s Talk About Chase Ultimate Rewards

We have an entire separate overview of Chase Ultimate Rewards. But, let’s quickly go over it before talking about the Chase Trifecta.

Chase Ultimate Rewards are a type of transferable-point currency. Many, including myself, believe that it is one of the most valuable travel rewards that exist.

Spending money on certain Chase credit cards is the way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. All of the Sapphire and Ink Preferred cards that carry an annual fee earn Ultimate Rewards. Cards like the Freedom, Freedom Unlimted, and Ink Cash cards actually earn cashback.

However, when a cardholder has an Ultimate Reward earning card such as the Sapphire, the cashback can be transferred to Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards is not only the fun part, but it is also where the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards comes in to play.

Chase has 13 transfer partners: Aer Lingus, British Airways, Emirates, Flying Blue, Hyatt, Iberia, IHG, JetBlue, Marriott, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. The transfers are at a 1:1 ratio. For example, 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards will turn into 1,000 Southwest RapidRewards.

The other way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards is through the Chase Travel Portal. Similar to a site like Expedia, you can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards to purchase flights, hotels, rental cars, and even trip activities.

Having access to Chase Ultimate Rewards and the Chase Travel Portal is another reason why the Chase Trifecta is valuable.

The value of each Ultimate Reward differs, as well. Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get 1.5 cents per Ultimate Reward, while Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders get 1.25 cents per point.

Travel possibilities are literally endless. Let’s learn about how to earn Ultimate Rewards through the Chase Trifecta.

What Cards are in The Chase Trifecta?

We learned why Chase Ultimate Rewards are valuable, but now let’s learn about what cards you will be using with the Chase Trifecta. As we mentioned, the goal is to strategically use a set of credit cards to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards.

There are many different variations of the Chase Trifecta, but the one we like has just one annual fee. To put it simply, if you have the Chase Trifecta, you will have the following three credit cards:

As you can see, with the Chase Trifecta, no purchase will earn less than 1.5x points. All of your travel and restaurant purchases should be put on the Sapphire Reserve. All purchases that involve the rotating category bonus should be put on the Chase Freedom. And everything else should be put on the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

The Chase Freedom card has rotating categories each quarter. Below is a recent list of the Chase Freedom rotating categories to give you an idea of what they are. Cardholders must activate the bonus categories each month.

Taking advantage of the Chase Freedom Calendar is crucial to earning Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Trifecta.

Alternative Versions of the Chase Trifecta

As we mentioned, there are several different options when it comes to the Chase Trifecta. If you have a lot of different expenses in certain categories, there are other cards that could make sense.

Additionally, if it makes sense to you, adding a fourth card to the mix could also make sense.

After looking at this list, you can see that there are categories on the “alternative” cards that aren’t on the original trifecta. If you have high spending in one of those categories, it could be worth adding a fourth card to the mix.

When Is an Additional Annual Fee Worth It?

The elephant in the room are the annual fee’s of these cards. Obviously, in order to gain value from Chase Ultimate Rewards (and other points and miles, for that matter), keeping annual fees down is important.

There are two ways to recover annual fees: earning points and card benefits. Many of these cards have purchase protection benefits, different travel related benefits and even credits for food which can “decrease” the annual fee.

However, in order to earn points, divide the annual fee by .02 (the rough value of a Chase Ultimate Reward). The simple equation will tell you how many Chase Ultimate Rewards you need to earn from that card in order to make it worth it.

Other Considerations with the Chase Trifecta

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

While both of these cards are similar, there are two major differences. The annual fee of the two cards is very different. The Sapphire Reserve, one of the best premium travel cards, has an annual fee of $550. On the contrary, the Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of just $95.

Being a premium travel card, the Sapphire Reserve comes with many other perks: TSA PreCheck/Global Entry Credit, Priority Pass Lounge Access, $300 annual travel credit and an annual Seamless credit.

The other major difference is that the Reserve earns 3x points on restaurants and travel, whereas the Preferred earns just 2x on those purchases.

So, which should you get? The Reserve travel credit essentially knocks the annual fee down to $250. If you think you can get $155 out of the other benefits, it could be worth getting the Reserve. You can always product change either up or down if the specific card doesn’t suit your needs.

Chase “5/24 Rule”

So, this is a big one. Chase instituted the 5/24 rule which states that a cardholder can’t open five credit cards over a twenty-four month period. That’s five credit cards from any bank – not just Chase. There are rare exceptions that you can read about here, but if you’ve opened five credit cards in the last two years, don’t apply for any of these Chase Trifecta cards.

Secondly, it’s a good idea to apply for these credit cards before opening cards with Bank of America or American Express. Those banks have rules too, but they aren’t as restrictive.

Having Multiple Credit Cards

It’s more difficult to manage multiple credit cards. The easiest way to eliminate any value from points and miles is to rack up late fees or even interest payments. If you can’t pay off balances in full each month or you do not think you will be responsible, collecting points and miles isn’t for you. Therefore, no judgment, but don’t get yourself into financial trouble to collect some points – just go buy flights with cash!

If you are interested in the Chase Trifecta, Chase will let you set up auto payments or even change the due dates to make sure you don’t incur any fees. However, you can typically get the late fee waived if it was a rare, honest mistake.

Redeeming through Chase

We covered the many advantages of using Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel, however, make sure the transfer partners will work for you. This type of point currency is so flexible, so it would be shocking if there wasn’t a use for them. But, before you go all-in with the Chase Trifecta, make sure you will not regret it.

Let the Chase Trifecta Get to Work!

Enough reading about how to let the Chase Trifecta earn you Chase Ultimate Rewards – get to work!

Seriously, though, this can be a great way for someone who doesn’t spend a lot to rack up a ton of travel points.