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There’s a trifecta of Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning cards that can give you an amazing head start on your journey to Big Travel with Small Money!
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. And the cards have access to different bonus spending categories, which means you can boost your points balances quickly with your everyday purchases!
You do NOT have to be a miles & points expert to make the most of the points you earn with the Chase card trifecta. At a minimum, you’ll have the option to access the Chase travel portal. This means you can quickly redeem points for flights and hotel stays like you would through Expedia, Priceline, or any other online travel agency.
I’ll share the Chase card trifecta strategy and how it can get you Big Travel!
Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Are so Useful
The thing I like most about earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points is you have many different ways to redeem these flexible rewards. You can transfer points directly to airline and hotel travel 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 I typically don’t recommend using points this way because you’ll get much more value toward travel redemptions. Just take a look at these success stories from team members and readers that were made possible thanks to Chase Ultimate Rewards points:
- 6 Business Class Award Flights From Australia worth $45,000 for only $540!
- ~$66,000 Worth of Travel to New Zealand and Australia
- $20,000+ Saved on a Family Vacation for 5 to Europe!
- A Luxury Hawaiian Honeymoon for Nearly NOTHING (Really!)
- Transcontinental Business Class award flight worth ~$1,647
- Only ~$80 Out-of-Pocket for a $2,000+ All-Inclusive Vacation to Los Cabos, Mexico!
Million Mile Secrets team member 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! And Scott uses United Airlines miles on their partner airlines like LOT Polish and TAP Portugal to fly to Europe.
But you can only transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners if you have certain cards. You must have at least one annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card in order to transfer points directly to travel partners. If you have a no-annual-fee card, you can still combine points to another eligible card and then transfer points as shown in graphic below.
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! Before you get started with this strategy, 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 these other business cards) in the past 24 months.
Step 1. Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred OR Chase Sapphire Reserve
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
First, I 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 get 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 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening|
5,000 extra points for adding an authorized user and making a purchase within 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 & 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
|Annual Fee||$95, waived the first year||$450|
|Notes||This is my all-around favorite credit card for Big Travel with Small Money! It’s also the top card I 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||My review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred||My review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve|
So in exchange for paying a higher annual fee, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get extra perks, like:
- 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel & 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 $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 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). And having the Chase Sapphire Reserve increases the value of all your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which is ideal for folks who hold the Chase trifecta!
After the first year with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll pay a $95 annual fee. So with the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll effectively pay $55 more each year ($150 – $95) to get many extra perks, like lounge access, more bonus points on travel & dining purchases, rental car discounts, and much more!
Step 2. Sign-Up for the No Annual-Fee Ink Business Cash
When you sign-up for the Ink Business Cash, you’ll earn $500 cash back (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points!) after spending $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 (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! Team member Keith has an eBay side hustle and applies for Chase small business cards using just his social security number.
Step 3. Add the Chase Freedom to Your Wallet
Link: 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. If you spend the maximum, you’ll earn 7,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($75 cash back)! These points can really add up during the year!
And when you sign-up for the Chase Freedom, you’ll 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 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.5% cash back) on ALL purchases. 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.
How Million Mile Secrets Team Members Make the Most of the Chase Trifecta
Million Mile Secrets team member 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!
Team member Keith follows a similar strategy. But instead of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, he uses the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining purchases! He doesn’t mind paying the card’s $450 annual fee because it’s easily offset with the $300 annual credit for travel purchases and Priority Pass Select membership.
The Chase trifecta is an ideal card strategy for folks looking to get Big Travel with Small Money while minimizing annual fees. Here’s how it works:
- Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve to have the ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to airline and hotels partners, like Hyatt or Southwest
- Sign-up for the no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash to get access to 5X bonus spending categories
- Add the Chase Freedom card to your wallet and you’ll earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on popular rotating bonus categories
Team member Scott has used this 3-card strategy for 5 years! He earns lots of points, which he uses to book nearly free flights to Europe and completely free stays at Hyatt hotels! And only has to pay one annual fee!