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The Chase Trifecta: How to Easily Earn Tons of Travel Points With These 3 Cards and Just ONE Annual Fee

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The Chase Trifecta: How to Easily Earn Tons of Travel Points With These 3 Cards and Just ONE Annual Fee

Joseph HostetlerThe Chase Trifecta: How to Easily Earn Tons of Travel Points With These 3 Cards and Just ONE Annual FeeMillion Mile Secrets Team

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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 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:

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.

With the Chase trifecta, you can earn tons of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and take amazing trips to destinations like Switzerland with little out-of-pocket expense. I took this shot on the way to Verbier

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 ExpediaPriceline, 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 CardChase Freedom
Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit CardChase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
Chase Ink Plus or Ink Bold (no longer available to new applicants)Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card

Our recommendations:

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 PreferredChase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-Up BonusEarn 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 RateEarns 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 PartnersYes, points transfer at 1:1Yes, points transfer at 1:1
Booking Travel Through Chase Travel PortalPoints are worth 1.25 cents eachPoints are worth 1.5 cents each
Travel DetailsPrimary 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
Annual Fee$95$450
NotesThis 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 ReviewRead our review of the Chase Sapphire PreferredRead 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.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll pay a $95 annual fee. So with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll effectively pay only $55 more each year ($150 – $95) to get many extra perks.

Chase now restricts folks to only having one Chase Sapphire card at a time. So choosing between the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve is an important first step in getting the Chase trifecta.

Step 2: Sign-Up for the No Annual-Fee Ink Business Cash

Link:   Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having the Ink Business Cash also gives you access to additional bonus spending categories.  You’ll earn:

  • 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.

Supermarkets are sometimes included in the Chase Freedom 5X rotating bonus category, which is an easy way to earn extra points.

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.

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.

Get The Chase Trifecta To Earn Valuable Travel Rewards
Scott has the Chase Trifecta and uses the Sapphire Preferred to earn 2X points on travel and dining purchases. He uses Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book nearly free flights to Europe and save on Hyatt hotel stays.

Bottom Line

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:

Looking for more about Chase Ultimate Rewards points?  Check out these posts:

Let us know your ideal Chase trifecta below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more foolproof free-travel strategies!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I have the ink business card and just waiting to drop under 5/24 to add the sapphire reserve. Thoughts on adding BOTH the sapphire reserve and the freedom in one day? Better to have just the one inquiry or will chase be less likely to approve if I go for both at the same time?

I’d first apply for the one you want the most, as you’d be more likely to secure an approval.

That said, it is possible to get 2 approvals in the same day based on what I’ve read in online forums.

you completely ripped off the term trifecta.. you know where from..
shameless

Does the 3x on the CIP include uber?

I have Chase Ink for business, and Chase Explorer for mileage

I’m not now eligible to receive the cards Recommended due to the 5/24 rule. Prior to going full on with the hobby, i obtained many Chase cards including United, Marriott, Hyatt aNd more recently IHG, Ritz Carlton and British Air. They’ve served good purpose but too many overlaps and fees! So I plan to get it to 3 in 2018. A Chase phone rep encouraged me to speak with a rep at my local Chase Bank as the 5/24 rule isn’t brittle rigid. I plan to do so.

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