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

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

Million Mile SecretsHow to Easily Earn Tons of Travel Points With These 3 Cards and Just ONE Annual FeeMillion Mile Secrets Team

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When you’re starting out in the miles & points hobby, the thought of developing a long-term travel rewards card strategy can seem overwhelming.  We’ve all been in your shoes!

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!

Examples of the Chase Trifecta for 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.

The information for the Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Best Credit Cards With Lounge Access
With the Chase Card Trifecta, You Can Get $1,000s Worth of Travel Savings! You’ll Be Able to Take Amazing Trips to Destinations Like Switzerland With Little Out-of-Pocket Expense!

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 ExpediaPriceline, or any other online travel agency.

We’ll share the Chase card trifecta strategy and how it can get you Big Travel!

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Are so Useful

Link:   A Review of the Most Useful Points for Budget Travelers OR First Class Jetsetters

The thing we 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 we 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:

Get The Chase Trifecta To Earn Valuable Travel Rewards
You Can Get Amazing Value and Savings by Using Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Book Travel to Destinations Like Cabo San Lucas!

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.

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 1 card from the first column, and 2 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 PreferredChase Freedom
Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Ink Business PreferredChase Ink Business Cash
Chase Ink Plus or Ink Bold (no longer available to new applicants)Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Example Trifecta

Step 1.   Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred OR Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   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 get 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 50,000 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, waived the first year$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 ReviewOur review of the Chase Sapphire PreferredOur review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

So in exchange for paying a higher annual fee, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get extra perks, like:

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!

Get The Chase Trifecta To Earn Valuable Travel Rewards
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Is a Popular Premium Travel Rewards Card Because It Offers Fantastic Perks, Like Lounge Access and 3X Bonus Points on Travel & Dining Purchases!

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

Link:   Biggest No-Brainer Deal of the Year: $500 Cash Back (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!)

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 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®

Link:   Our Review of the Chase Freedom Card

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!

Get The Chase Trifecta To Earn Valuable Travel Rewards
Supermarkets Are Sometimes Included in the Chase Freedom 5X Rotating Bonus Category, Which Is an Easy Way to Earn Extra Points!

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!

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!

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.

Get The Chase Trifecta To Earn Valuable Travel Rewards
Besides Earning Lots of Points on Travel & Dining Purchases, Team Member Keith Loves the Free Priority Pass Membership He Gets With the Sapphire Reserve

Bottom Line

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:

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!

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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 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.

I have the Chase Ink and I love that it has cash back on the purchases I make the most!

Chase Freedom, Unlimited, Sapphire Reserve, IHG. Would love to get Chase Ink.

Citi PremierMiles Visa Card. Residing in Singapore so unfortunately Chase credit card is no longer an option for me.

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