How to Use The Chase Trifecta to Score Free Travel

By juggling multiple Chase credit cards, you can earn more rewards and redeem them at a higher rate through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Last updated May 29, 2020 | By Kat Tretina
Man with several credit cards in his wallet

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Chase’s 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 cards, the most commonly used cards in the trifecta are the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom, and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards.

Sapphire Reserve Freedom Freedom Unlimited
Annual fee $550      $0 $0
Sign-up bonus Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months Earn a $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
Earnings rate 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter) and 1% cash back on all other purchases unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Perks
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit
  • Complimentary airport lounge access
  • Complimentary year of Lyft Pink
  • $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 and balance transfers
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases

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 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else.
  • Chase Freedom: The Chase Freedom Card has no annual fee. You’ll earn 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter) 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 unlimited 1.5% cash back on all 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:

  • Use the Chase Freedom card to get 5% cash back on the first $1,500 you spent at grocery stores during the quarter, giving you $75 in rewards.
  • Use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card to get 1.5% cash back on the remaining $500 spent on groceries. That would give you a total of $7.50 in rewards.
  • 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 juggling three cards, you could get $97.50 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 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 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.

Maximizing your rewards

If you have good-to-excellent credit and are looking 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.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Benefits

  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 10X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 5X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 3X points on travel and at restaurants
  • $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2020 and 2021
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access