Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most popular — and valuable — rewards among travelers. These points can…
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most popular — and valuable — rewards among travelers. These points can be redeemed for cash back, travel, gift cards and more. The highest value tends to be when you transfer to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners or book travel through the Chase rewards portal.
Savvy travelers and credit card insiders work to earn as many Ultimate Rewards points as possible, and they do this by employing the Chase Trifecta — a collection of three credit cards and a strategy to optimize their points. This article will explain what the Chase Trifecta is and share which credit cards to get, how to maximize points and who should use this strategy.
What Is the Chase Trifecta?
The Chase Trifecta is a strategy that earns you more points on purchases by taking advantage of credit card bonus categories. As the word “trifecta” indicates, you’ll have three credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points in your wallet. When shopping at a store that qualifies for category bonuses, you’ll use a specific credit card. For all other purchases, you’ll use a card that earns 1.5 points per dollar.
Bethany Walsh, founder of BougieMiles.com, says that “the trick is to earn as many points as you can in a variety of categories and then transfer those points into a premium card account so that you can redeem them for maximum value.”
Without the Chase credit card trifecta, you’ll earn significantly fewer points. For example, purchases that don’t qualify for category bonuses earn only one point per dollar. When you add in the right credit card, you’ll receive at least 50% more points on those purchases.
[Read: Best Rewards Credit Cards.]
What Cards Are Included in the Chase Trifecta?
Chase has many credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, but the following three credit cards will earn the most points on your spending. Walsh says that you can also “achieve similar results by subbing cards that work better for you based on your specific needs.” The goal is to pick cards with bonus categories that don’t overlap.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the bank’s premium travel credit card. It earns three points per dollar spent on travel and dining worldwide, up to 10 points per dollar spent through the Chase rewards portal and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Chase offers Reserve cardholders five points per dollar when booking flights and 10 points per dollar on car rentals and hotels booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Additionally, you can earn 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases.
In addition to the points you’ll earn, the Reserve credit card comes with many other valuable perks. You’ll receive an annual $300 travel credit, Priority Pass Select lounge membership, and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit every four years. Other perks include a complimentary Lyft Pink membership, $120 in Peloton subscription credits and $60 in DoorDash statement credits.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve does have an annual fee of $550.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
While this is a business credit card, many consumers qualify without realizing it. You have a qualifying business if you own rental properties, have a side hustle or earn money from sources besides your traditional W-2 paycheck. The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card contributes to the Chase Trifecta by earning bonus points on shipping purchases, online advertising, internet, cable, telephone and travel. You’ll receive three points per dollar on the first $150,000 you spend on those combined categories.
Jon Nickel-D’Andrea, travel blogger at No Mas Coach, says that “by adding in the Ink Business cards you create the potential for even more unique categories that the personal cards don’t permit.”
You can also add authorized users to the Ink Business Preferred for no charge to earn even more points. Plus, the card includes trip benefits, purchase protections and cell phone protection. Your phone is protected up to $600 per claim against theft or damage with a $100 deductible. This protection allows a maximum of three claims in a 12-month period.
The Ink Business Preferred has an annual fee of $95.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
For all of your other purchases not covered by the bonus categories above, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is your go-to credit card. Although it is labeled as a cash back credit card, your purchases actually earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be turned into cash.
The Freedom Unlimited earns an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase. Chase recently added additional bonus categories to earn even more points. You can now earn five points per dollar spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and three points per dollar on dining and drugstore purchases. Plus, you’ll earn five points per dollar on the first $6,000 you spend at gas stations during the first year.
|Credit Card||Bonus Categories|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||
— 10 points per dollar on rental cars and hotels booked through Chase
— 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases
— 5 points per dollar on flights booked through Chase
— 3 points per dollar on travel or dining worldwide
|Ink Business Preferred||
— 3 points per dollar on shipping
— 3 points per dollar on travel
— 3 points per dollar on online advertising
— 3 points per dollar on internet, cable and phone
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||
— 5 points per dollar on travel booked through Chase
— 5 points per dollar on gas stations (first year only)
— 3 points per dollar on dining and drugstore purchases
— 1.5 points per dollar on everything else
How to Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
To maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, there are a few simple steps that you should take.
— Use the right credit card. The first step is to take advantage of the bonus category rewards by using the card that earns the most points at each place you shop. An easy way to remember the bonus categories is to add a sticker on the back of each card and write how much it earns at which stores.
— Earn your welcome bonuses. You should spend enough on each card to receive the welcome bonus that is available to new cardholders. This is the quickest way to earn a lot of points. Make sure that you can meet the spending requirement within the specified time. Some people time their applications to coincide with large purchases — like a home improvement project or a car repair — so that it is easier to hit the spending hurdle to earn the bonus.
— Shop online through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. When you shop online via the Chase portal, you can earn additional rewards on your purchases. These points earned are in addition to the points earned from your credit card.
— Refer friends and family. Chase rewards cardholders for referring people to open a new credit card. The points vary depending upon which card they apply for, but this is an easy way to earn extra points without spending any money. Take note, though, that you will receive a 1099-MISC for the value of points earned from referrals.
— Combine points into one bucket. Chase allows you to transfer points between credit cards without a fee. When you combine all of your Ultimate Rewards points into your Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s bucket, those points have the same benefits and value as if they were earned on the Sapphire Reserve Card.
— Book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. When you book travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can make reservations for flights, hotels, rental cars, excursions and more. Sapphire Reserve points are worth 1.5 cents each toward paying for those travel reservations. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 in travel when you have the Sapphire Reserve Card.
— Transfer to airline and hotel partners. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer on a 1:1 basis to 14 airline and hotel loyalty programs. When you transfer points to these partners, you may be able to redeem for even higher value, such as booking a five-star resort or first-class airplane tickets.
[Read: Best Airline Credit Cards.]
To get the Chase Trifecta, you need to open all three credit cards. Do not apply for all three at once, because Chase will most likely decline one or more of your applications.
Before applying, consider your Chase 5/24 status. If you’ve opened more than five credit cards in the last 24 months, your application will be declined. This includes new credit cards from any issuer, not just Chase.
First, make sure that you have a high credit score. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve requires excellent credit with a score of at least 740. If you need to improve your credit score, follow these tips.
Nickel-D’Andrea says that “the hardest part of this promotion will be getting the Ink Business Card. You’ll need a valid business, but chances are that many of us, especially during the pandemic, have started a side business” or are earning extra money as part of the gig economy.
Once you’ve been approved for the first card, wait at least three months before applying for the next card. Spreading out your card applications minimizes the impact on your credit score and gives you time to focus on meeting each card’s spending requirements to earn the welcome bonus. Banks get concerned when someone applies for too much credit within a short time. Even though you may meet the card’s qualifications, the issuer may still deny you because of these concerns.
After you’ve opened the first two cards and have earned their welcome bonuses, then you can open the final credit card. Although it may take a few months to get the Chase credit card trifecta, that is OK. You don’t want to rush the process and get declined for one of your cards or miss out on a welcome bonus.
Once you have all three cards open, you can start maximizing the number of Chase Ultimate Rewards points you can earn.
Other criteria to consider:
— Chase will not approve your application for the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you’ve received a bonus from any Sapphire card in the last 48 months.
— To be eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you cannot have any Sapphire card currently open (either the Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred).
Who Should Get the Chase Trifecta
The best candidates for the Chase Trifecta are people with excellent credit and the ability to meet each card’s sign-up bonus spending requirements. It also helps to be organized so that you can keep track of all three credit cards, which will help you maximize the points that you earn. Additionally, being organized ensures that you will keep track of each credit card statement so you can pay each one in full each month.
Chase Trifecta Pros:
— Earn three different welcome bonuses.
— Maximize points on every purchase.
— Receive additional benefits from the cards.
— Redeem points for higher value.
Chase Trifecta Cons:
— Pay multiple annual fees.
— Keep track of three cards.
— Remember which card to use to earn the most points.
The Bottom Line
The Chase Trifecta is a smart way to earn the most Ultimate Rewards points on all of your purchases. By using these three credit cards, you can take advantage of each card’s bonus categories and earn at least 1.5 points per dollar on everything else. Then, you can maximize your points again by consolidating them and redeeming them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. These cards also offer additional perks that help to offset their annual fees and improve your travel experience.
The Chase Trifecta requires you to be a very engaged credit card user, however. You’ll need to keep track of bonus categories, transfer points between cards and do your travel planning through the Chase portal. If this sounds like too much work, consider a cash back card instead.
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