Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
INSIDER SECRET: Small business cards aren’t just for individuals with millions in revenue each year. If you’ve got a for-profit venture (like a freelance writer, tutor or even if you sell items on Etsy or eBay), you can qualify for a small business card with great perks.
When you’re starting out in the miles and points hobby, the thought of developing a long-term travel rewards credit card strategy can seem overwhelming. We’ve all been in your shoes. One easy way to do this is something we call the “Chase trifecta”: using 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning cards to quickly earn your way to your next free vacation just by using your cards for everyday expenses.
Here are some examples of cards that would qualify:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, Chase Freedom®
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, Chase Freedom®, Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Why Consider the “Chase Trifecta”?
The Million Mile Secrets team loves Chase Ultimate Rewards points because they’re easy to earn and redeem. With little effort, you can use these flexible points to save lots of money on airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals.
Having the Chase trifecta means you’ll have an opportunity to earn 3 lucrative sign-up bonuses. Each card also has access to different bonus spending categories, which means you can boost your points balances quickly with everyday purchases.
You do not have to be a miles & points expert to make the most of the points you earn with the Chase trifecta. At a minimum, you’ll have the ability to use the Chase travel portal to quickly redeem points for flights and hotel stays just as you would through Expedia, Priceline, or any other online travel agency.
Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Are So Useful
The thing we like most about earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points is that you have many different ways to redeem them. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to Chase transfer partners, like Hyatt or Southwest, or you can use points to book paid travel through the Chase travel portal without having to worry about blackout dates.
It’s also possible to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for gift cards, cash back, or to pay for Amazon purchases, but we typically don’t recommend using points this way because you’ll get much more value toward travel redemptions.
Scott loves transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt or United Airlines for easy yet valuable awards because Hyatt has no blackout dates — even at their all-inclusive hotels on the beaches of Cancun, like the Hyatt Zilara Cancun. Scott also uses them to acquire United Airlines miles, then to book flights on their partner airlines like LOT Polish and TAP Portugal, to travel to Europe.
Note that you can only transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners if you have at least one annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card. If you have a no-annual-fee card, however, you can still combine those Chase Ultimate Rewards points with another eligible card and then transfer points to a travel partner.
Chase Trifecta Card Strategy (Only ONE Annual Fee!)
Here’s a guide to getting 3 fantastic Chase Ultimate Rewards point earning credit cards and only having one annual fee. One caveat: Keep in mind you’re unlikely to get approved for any of these cards if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (not counting Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months. This is referred to as the Chase 5/24 rule.
You don’t have to get these exact 3 cards: As long as you have one annual-fee card, you can mix and match the rest between Chase’s no-annual-fee cards. Pick one card from the first column and two cards from the second column as shown below:
|Choose Your First Card From This Column (Cards With an Annual Fee)||Choose Your Second and Third Card From This Column (Cards With NO Annual Fee)|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||Chase Freedom|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Chase Freedom Unlimited|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card|
|Chase Ink Plus or Ink Bold (no longer available to new applicants)||Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card|
Step 1: Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred OR Chase Sapphire Reserve
Apply Here: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred
Apply Here: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve
First, we recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. Having either one of these cards gets you access to amazing and easy-to-use travel partners. This is the one annual-fee card you’ll want as part of the Chase trifecta strategy.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison to help you choose between both cards:
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Chase Sapphire Reserve|
|Sign-Up Bonus||Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening||Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
|Rewards Earning Rate||Earns 2X points on travel & dining|
Earns 1 point per $1 everywhere else
|Earns 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) & dining
Earns 1 point per $1 everywhere else
|Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Travel Partners||Yes, points transfer at 1:1||Yes, points transfer at 1:1|
|Booking Travel Through Chase Travel Portal||Points are worth 1.25 cents each||Points are worth 1.5 cents each|
|Travel Details||Primary rental car insurance|
$10,000 in trip cancellation / interruption per covered trip
$500 in trip delay reimbursement
NO foreign transaction fees
|Primary rental car insurance
$10,000 in trip cancellation / interruption per person per covered trip (up to $20,000)
$500 in trip delay reimbursement
$300 annual credit for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels
$100 statement credit for Global Entry
Priority Pass Select for access to airport lounges
NO foreign transaction fees
|Notes||This is our all-around favorite credit card for Big Travel with Small Money! It’s also the top card we recommend if you’re new to miles & points.||This is a fantastic premium travel credit card with top-quality travel perks. It is also a Visa Infinite credit card|
|Full Review||Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred||Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve|
In exchange for paying a higher annual fee, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get extra perks like:
- 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining purchases
- $300 annual credit for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels
- $100 statement credit for Global Entry
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents each through the Chase travel portal
- Priority Pass Select membership for access to airport lounges
- Visa Infinite benefits like a $25 food and beverage credit at the Luxury Hotel Collection and complimentary car rental elite status with Silvercar
You’ll have to run the numbers yourself, but for many folks the additional benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve offset the annual fee. For example, the $300 travel credit effectively makes the Sapphire Reserve annual fee $150 ($450 annual fee – $300 travel credit). Having the Chase Sapphire Reserve in your pocket also increases the value of all your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which is ideal for folks who hold the Chase trifecta.
Step 2: Sign-Up for the No Annual-Fee Ink Business Cash
Read our review of the Ink Business Cash Credit Card
The no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash card is the next card you’ll want to add to your wallet. It’s an especially good time to consider this card because there’s an increased sign-up bonus offer.
When you sign-up for the Ink Business Cash, you’ll earn $500 cash back (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This is the highest bonus I’ve ever seen on this card.
Because you’ll have a Sapphire branded card (if you followed Step 1, above), you’ll have the ability to move points from your Ink Business Cash account and then transfer them directly to travel partners. Here’s a step-by-step video guide to combining points.
- 5% cash back (5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on phone, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year
- 2% cash back (2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
This is a small business card, so you must have a for-profit venture to qualify. (That said, you might have a small business without realizing it!)
Step 3: Add the Chase Freedom to Your Wallet
Link: Chase Freedom®
Read our review of the Chase Freedom
To complete the Chase trifecta, you’ll want to get the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom card. With this card, you’ll earn 5% cash back (5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on popular rotating bonus categories, which in the past have included restaurants, gas stations, department stores and Amazon.
You’ll earn 5X bonus points, up to $1,500, in combined bonus category spending each quarter you activate. If you spend the maximum, you’ll earn 7,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($75 cash back), which can really add up during the year.
When you sign-up for the Chase Freedom, you’ll also earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150) after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
Some folks might choose the Chase Freedom Unlimited instead. With this card, you’ll earn 3% cash back (3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on all purchases for the first year, up to $20,000 spent; then 1.5% cash back. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a good catch-all card if you want to maximize the points you earn on all your spending.
It depends on your spending habits, but if you make purchases in the 5X Chase Freedom bonus categories, you can likely earn more points for your everyday spending going that route.
How Million Mile Secrets Team Members Make the Most of the Chase Trifecta
As we mentioned earlier, MMS senior editor Scott uses Chase Ultimate Rewards points mostly to get nearly-free flights to Europe and stay completely free at awesome Hyatt hotels. Here’s how he takes advantage of the Chase trifecta:
- Scott uses the Chase Sapphire Preferred card he’s kept for many years to earn 2X on travel expenses and restaurants. He uses it a lot while out of the US because there are no foreign transaction fees
- He uses his Ink Business Cash (that he’s also held for many years) to earn 5X points on his internet bill and 2X points on business meals in the US
- Scott puts his Freedom card to work when there are 5X categories he likes. He especially enjoys when the quarterly category includes grocery stores
Scott has been using this strategy for the past 5 years, so he earns lots of points without having to put much thought into it.
The Chase trifecta is an ideal strategy for folks looking to travel for free while minimizing annual fees. Here’s a recap of how it works:
- Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred to have the ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt or Southwest
- Sign-up for the no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash to get access to 5X bonus spending categories. Or consider the Ink Business Unlimited to earn 1.5X everywhere
- Add the Chase Freedom card to your wallet and you’ll earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on popular rotating bonus categories. If you prefer simplicity, consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited which earns 1.5X on all purchases
Looking for more about Chase Ultimate Rewards points? Check out these posts:
- Our Chase Ultimate Rewards review
- What to expect for Chase points value
- The best way to use Chase points
- All about Chase transfer partners
- How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- How to setup a Chase Ultimate Rewards account
- Do Chase Ultimate Rewards points expire?
Let us know your ideal Chase trifecta below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more foolproof free-travel strategies!