How to Use The Chase Trifecta to Score Free Travel

CREDIT CARDS - CREDIT CARD REWARDS
By juggling multiple Chase credit cards, you can earn more rewards and redeem them at a higher rate through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Updated Aug. 22, 2023
Man with several credit cards in his wallet

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Chase credit cards are repeatedly ranked as the most popular cards available today. And it’s easy to understand why: With the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you can redeem your points or cash back for valuable rewards.

If you’re a Chase devotee, using the Chase trifecta can be a smart way to boost your rewards to score free travel and other amazing perks. A process where you juggle multiple Chase cards to maximize your earnings, this approach can help you indulge in your dream vacation faster than you thought possible.

Here’s how to utilize the Chase trifecta to achieve your goals.

What is the Chase trifecta?

The Chase trifecta isn’t a company-sanctioned strategy; it’s an informal approach credit card experts use to get the most value from their cards. Users will sign up for and use three different Chase cards so they can take advantage of different bonus categories and earn rewards faster.

While some people opt to use different credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the most commonly used cards in the trifecta are the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Freedom Flex℠, and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Annual fee $550      $0 $0
Sign-up bonus Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back
Earnings rate 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service); and 1% cash back on all other purchases 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Perks
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit
  • Complimentary airport lounge access
  • Two free years of Lyft Pink All Access (activate by Dec. 31, 2024)
  • $60 of annual DoorDash credits in both 2020 and 2021
  • Primary auto rental damage collision waiver
  • Travel cancellation insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Purchase protection
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases, then 20.49%-29.24% Variable
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases, then 20.49% - 29.24% Variable

How the Chase trifecta works together

While it may sound complicated, the Chase trifecta is a pretty simple strategy. You use your three cards to maximize their respective rewards:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: While it has a large annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to earn big on some key categories. You’ll earn 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Chase Freedom Flex: The Chase Freedom Flex Card has no annual fee. You’ll earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service); and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Bonus categories can include gas stations, grocery stores, and home improvement stores.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: With no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers great rewards. You’ll earn 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. 

Potential earnings with $2,500 quarterly spend: Chase Sapphire Reserve

To see the real value of the trifecta, let’s say you spend $2,000 during a quarter on groceries and $500 per quarter eating at restaurants.

If you used only your Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for those charges, you’d earn 3,500 points:

  • 3X points per $1 spent on the $500 you spent at restaurants, giving you 1,500 points
  • 1X point per $1 spent on the $2,000 you spent at grocery stores, giving you 2,000 points

Your points are generally worth about one cent each — though if you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the value of your points goes up to 1.5 cents apiece. At a one-cent valuation, your 3,500 points would be worth about $35.

Potential earnings with $2,500 quarterly spend: Chase trifecta

But let’s say you used the Chase trifecta instead. To maximize your rewards, you’d use the following approach:

  • When groceries are a quarterly bonus category for the Chase Freedom Flex, use your card to earn 5% on your $2,000 in groceries, for a total of $100 cash back.
  • Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve card to pay for your $500 worth of meals at restaurants to get 3X points per $1 spent, giving you 1,500 points, worth up to an additional $15 in rewards.

By using both cards, you could get $115 in rewards rather than the $35 you’d earn using only one card — and that’s just for one quarter’s worth of spending.

Redeeming your points

While you can use your cards to earn more rewards, there’s another way to use the Chase trifecta to make them even more valuable. If you have more than one Chase credit card, you can transfer your points or cashback rewards between them.

That means if you earn points on your Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited, you can transfer them to your Chase Sapphire Reserve. Why is that important? The Chase Sapphire Reserve rewards have a higher redemption rate, and you can reap the benefits while paying just one annual fee.

When you redeem your Chase Sapphire Reserve points for travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, your points are worth 50% more.

For example, if you had 60,000 points, your points would be worth $900 rather than just $600. To put that in perspective, that extra $300 is about enough to cover a night’s stay at the Crowne Plaza in Midtown Manhattan; if you were on vacation, you could extend your trip by another day.

You can even complete point transfers to airline or hotel loyalty programs through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, possibly giving you even more value for your points.

Things to keep in mind about the Chase trifecta

The Chase trifecta can be an effective strategy, but it’s not for everyone. First, to qualify for the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards, you’ll need to have good-to-excellent credit, which typically means having a credit score of 670 or higher. And to qualify for the Sapphire Reserve on top of those, you’ll need excellent credit — so you’ll likely need a score even higher than that.

Chase may also be strict about the unofficial 5/24 rule. If you’ve applied for more than five credit cards — regardless of what company they’re from — within 24 months, you might not get approved for a Chase credit card.

Finally, juggling multiple credit cards requires you to be extremely organized in order to take advantage of the benefits. You’ll need to keep track of bonus spending categories and category spending limits to ensure you get the most value.

To further understand how the Chase trifecta stacks up, see it side-by-side with similar cards from American Express in our Amex trifecta vs. Chase trifecta comparison.  

Maximizing your rewards

If you have good-to-excellent credit and are looking for the best rewards credit cards to save money on travel, learning how to utilize the Chase trifecta may be a good idea. You could earn more rewards and be able to redeem them at a higher rate, so you can enjoy get discounts on airfare, hotel arrangements, and destination activities.

Premium Travel Benefits

Current Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$550

Rewards Rate

5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Kat Tretina Kat Tretina is a personal finance expert focusing on practical financial matters, including student loans, debt repayment, side hustles, insurance, and healthcare. Drawing from her personal experience, she aims to simplify complex financial topics and provide individuals with the information they need to make informed decisions.