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Chase trifecta: the optimal combination of Chase cards

Three cards is all it takes for maximum value.

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Our pick for a card in the Chase trifecta: Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠ logo

Up to 5%

Cash back

  • Huge signup bonus for a no-annual-fee card
  • 5% back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 quarterly, then 1%
  • New rewards on travel, dining and drugstores
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The Chase trifecta is a combination of Chase cards that gives you everything you need to earn the absolute maximum number of points and redeem them at highest value possible.Best of all, maxing your points is simple. All you have to do is use each card where it earns accelerated points, then pool the points into one card.

But as of September 15, 2020, the Chase cards that make up the ideal trifecta have shifted thanks to a new version of the classic Chase Freedom along with tweaks to the remaining card lineup. Here are the new cards you’ll want to grab for max value and how the system works.

What is the Chase trifecta?

The Chase trifecta is a combination of three Chase credit cards that can help you maximize your credit card rewards. The cards cover three categories: a flat-rate earning card, a card for quarterly accelerated categories, and a card for travel, dining and point transfers. The cards involved and their roles are:

Typical Chase Trifecta credit cards

Below are the primary reward categories you’ll want to be focusing on with each Chase card. Note that there is some overlap between these cards: the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited both earn 3% at drugstores for example. For simplicity, we’re just noting the highest category for each card.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ Chase Freedom Unlimited® Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Rewards rate
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases on rotating categories each quarter, 1% after that
  • 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and on Lyft through March 2022
  • 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • 10x points on Lyft rides
  • 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit
Signup bonus $200 cash back bonus when you spend $500 in your first 3 months of card membership, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in the first year $200 cash back bonus when you spend $500 in your first 3 months of card membership, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in the first year 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months of card membership
Annual fee $0 $0 $550

Note: Despite being marketed as cash back, all three cards earn points, which you can redeem for a variety of rewards including cash.

Signup bonuses stack

If you get all three credit cards for the first time, or if you haven’t earned any of the cards’ signup bonus in the past 24 months, you are eligible to earn all three bonuses.

This can boost your rewards to a total of $1,000 when you earn the bonus of all three cards. If you spend $12,000 on groceries during your first year with either the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, that’s another $600 on top.

Average annual value of Chase trifecta

Chase Freedom Flex℠ Chase Freedom Unlimited® Chase Sapphire Reserve® Total
Gas stations $1,500 $1,500 $0 $3,000
Grocery stores $1,500 $3,000 $0 $4,500
Restaurants $0 $0 $3,000 $3,000
Travel $3,000 $0 $0 $3,000
Lyft $0 $0 $3,000 $3,000
Other $0 $2,000 $0 $2,000
Total spent $6,000 $6,500 $6,000 $18,500
Total rewards $300 $202 $390 $892

If you move your Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® card points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® and then redeem your points for travel purchases, your $892 will be worth 50% more or $1,338.

Using the Chase Sapphire Preferred in the Chase trifecta

Because of its low annual fee and decent rewards on travel and dining, we used to recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred as the ideal “card pooling and redeeming” option for the average cardholder. But with the introduction of the Flex Freedom, the additions to the Freedom Unlimited, and overall lack of changes to the Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is generally the better value choice. This is because you’ll get the highest earning rate available on dining, as well as the 50% bonus on point redemptions through the Chase Travel Portal.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a valid option if you want the 25% bonus and don’t want to deal with the Reserve’s higher annual fee. However, the Preferred’s Ultimate Reward earning rate is generally outclassed by the Freedom cards at this point, offering only a slight advantage on dining purchases. If you picked up a Preferred, you’d likely only use it for transferring and redeeming points.

Chase trifecta business credit cards Chase trifecta

The Chase business trifecta is a combination of the three Chase business credit cards.

  • Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card: for accelerated earning on business products.
  • Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card: for flat-rate earning year-round.
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: for travel and dining. Also for redeeming points and point transfers.

The difference between the personal and the business trifecta is that with the business cards, you earn accelerated points on business-related purchases, such as office supplies, shipping and advertising on social media and search engines.

Typical Chase Trifecta business credit cards

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Rewards rate
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases on Internet, cable and phone services and at office supply stores each year, 1% after reaching the cap.
  • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each year, 1% after reaching the cap.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 3x points on the first $150,000 spent annually in combined purchases on travel, shipping, Internet, cable and phone services, and advertising on social media sites and search engines, 1x point after reaching the cap.
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Signup bonus $750 cash back bonus when you spend $7,500 in your first 3 months of card membership $750 cash back bonus when you spend $7,500 in your first 3 months of card membership 100,000 bonus points when you spend $15,000 in your first 3 months of card membership
Annual fee $0 $0 $95

Average annual value of Chase business trifecta

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Total
Internet, cable and phone services $3,000 $0 $0 $3,000
Office supply stores $7,500 $0 $0 $7,500
Gas and restaurants $7,500 $0 $0 $7,500
Travel $0 $0 $10,000 $10,000
Shipping $0 $0 $5,000 $5,000
Advertising with social media and search engines $0 $0 $20,000 $20,000
Other $0 $15,000 $0 $15,000
Total spent $18,000 $15,000 $35,000 $68,000
Total rewards $675 $225 $1,050 $1,950

Your rewards valued at $1,950 can be worth $2,437.50 if you move your Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card points to your Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and redeem them for travel purchases.

What should I do with my Chase rewards?

While you can redeem your Chase points for a variety of options, there are generally two best choices:

  • Redeeming points through Chase’s travel portal
  • Transferring points to Chase’s airline or hotel partners

Which option you should choose depends on what type of redemption you’re going for. Chase’s portal tends to offer good value for economy flights, or if you’re staying in a hotel that isn’t under the IHG, Hyatt or Marriott umbrellas. Keep in mind your points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. You’ll find a 50% boost if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

For fancier fares, consider transferring your points to Chase’s airline partners. You may be able to find excellent deals on business- and first-class flights. Similarly, you can often find great award bookings with IHG, Hyatt and Marriott.

Mixing and matching Chase trifecta cards

While we’ve given guidelines on which cards you might optimally pick for the Chase trifecta, know that you can create your own mix.

The essential element is throwing in one of the annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, including:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Cards to pick after you’ve included an annual-fee Ultimate Rewards card

Include other Ultimate Rewards cards that encompass the majority of your spending, and you can accumulate major points that you can redeem through Chase’s portal or with the bank’s travel partners.

To round out our list, here are the other cards under the Ultimate Rewards banner:

  • Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
  • Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Compare Chase trifecta cards

Want a side-by-side comparison of your Chase trifecta options? Select your credit score below and click “Show Cards” to compare cards directly.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Freedom Flex℠
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in the first year
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in the first year
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
$0
This solid 1.5% cashback card gets even better with the addition of up to 5% back in categories like travel, drug stores and dining.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
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How to maximize rewards with Chase trifecta

Having the Chase trifecta won’t mean much if you don’t maximize the cards’ value. Here’s how to do that:

  • Use each card where it earns most rewards.
    Keep an eye on the reward categories. If none of your cards earn accelerated rewards on a select category of purchases, use the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card.
  • Activate rotating categories.
    To earn the Chase Freedom Flex℠‘s 5% cash back on rotating categories, you must activate them first. If you forget to activate for the quarter, you’ll earn 1% back in all categories. You’ll also earn 1% back after you’ve spent $1,500 in activated categories each quarter.
  • Intro APR period.
    The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards offer a long intro APR period on purchases. If you’re planning to renovate at home or buy something expensive, apply for one of the two cards first and use the intro APR period on purchases. Once it expires, apply for the second card and use another round of intro APR period.
  • Earn the signup bonus.
    Make sure you meet the spend requirements with all three cards to earn a bonus of up to $1,000.

Chase 5/24 rule

One thing to keep in mind is the unwritten Chase 5/24 rule that will make Chase automatically reject your credit card application if you opened five or more new credit cards in the past 24 months. Even if you had a card briefly opened and then closed, it will still count toward the rule.

Bottom line

Loyal Chase customers who want to maximize their credit card rewards should apply for the Chase trifecta cards. With all three cards, you have the firepower you need to best earn Chase points and redeem them at max value.

However, if you don’t want to get multiple cards, compare other rewards credit cards until you find the right card for your needs.

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