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The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is among the credit card industry's most versatile and valuable rewards programs. If you're strategic about which Chase cards you use for specific purchases, you can rack up more points and maximize the rewards you can earn. Here's what you need to know about how the Chase trifecta works and how to make it work for you.

What Is the Chase Trifecta?

The Chase trifecta is a set of three Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards that complement each others' rewards structures and redemption options, making it possible to get as much value as possible from your Ultimate Rewards points. 

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for travel perks and redemptions.
  • Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for maximizing rewards on quarterly rotating categories.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best for a high rewards rate on non-bonus spending.

The Chase trifecta for consumers comprises a set of three Chase credit cards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. If you're a business owner, you could swap out the Freedom Unlimited for the Chase Ink Business Preferred®, but we'll focus on the set of personal credit cards.

Pros and Cons of the Chase Trifecta

As you consider whether to go all in with one credit card issuer, here are some benefits and drawbacks to keep in mind.

Pros

  • Wide range of bonus reward categories across three cards
  • Pool points together to maximize rewards redemption
  • Sapphire Reserve card comes with a suite of luxury travel perks
  • Two of the three credit cards don't charge an annual fee

Cons

  • Sapphire Reserve charges a high annual fee
  • Going all in on one rewards program could limit your opportunities to diversify your credit card rewards
  • It can require a lot of research to maximize your rewards

The three credit cards in the Chase trifecta allow you to earn bonus rewards on various spending categories, letting you rack up as many points as possible. While the two Freedom credit cards don't offer travel-specific perks or special travel redemption rates, the Sapphire Reserve provides those features in spades, helping you maximize the value of the points you earn.

Who Should (and Shouldn't) Get the Chase Trifecta?

The Chase trifecta isn't for everyone, but depending on your credit situation and preferences, it can be an excellent fit. In particular, here are some scenarios where it might make sense.

The Chase trifecta can be a good fit if:

  • You have good or excellent credit.
  • You're primarily interested in travel rewards.
  • You don't mind carrying multiple credit cards at once.
  • You're organized and can keep track of the various rewards rates and categories on each card.
  • You want the flexibility to transfer your rewards to other travel loyalty programs.
  • You travel often enough to make the most of the Chase Sapphire Reserve's benefits, and you can afford its steep annual fee.

On the other hand, here are some situations where the Chase trifecta may not be a good fit:

  • You have fair or poor credit. 
  • Your top priority with credit card rewards is simplicity.
  • You prefer another rewards program.
  • You can't afford a high annual fee.
  • Your travel habits don't align with the Sapphire Reserve's luxury perks or features.

Before you move forward with the Chase trifecta, consider your spending, travel, organizational habits and budget. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for Travel Perks and Redemptions

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best travel credit cards available. The card offers 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. With the 50% bonus on travel redemptions, that's worth $900 in travel booked through Chase Travel℠.

The card also offers 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase and on Chase Dining purchases, 5 points per dollar on flights booked through Chase, and 3 points per dollar on all other travel purchases and other dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

Rates & Fees
  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR22.49% - 29.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$550
  • Sign-Up Bonus 60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after using your card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

This card features an annual credit for travel purchases, which can offset the annual fee, plus bonus points when you sign up. You'll also get free access to tons of Priority Pass lounges and restaurant options around the world, along with access to the upcoming Chase Sapphire Lounge network.

Overview

If you’re looking to elevate your travel experience, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you first get approved, you’ll earn a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months—that’s worth at least $900 in travel-related spending booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and potentially more if you transfer your rewards to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners.

Read the review

Pros

  • An array of premium travel perks including access to Priority Pass lounges
  • Easy-to-use $300 travel credit that helps offset card's annual fee
  • Generous rewards rates for spending

Cons

  • High annual fee may be a deterrent for some
  • Perks are starting to get stale relative to newer competition

Card Benefits

The card charges a $550 annual fee but provides enough value through its travel perks to make up for that yearly cost. Card benefits include:

  • Up to $300 in annual travel credits (bonus rewards on travel will kick in after this has been exhausted).
  • Complimentary airport lounge access with the Priority Pass Select network (more than 1,300 lounges worldwide).
  • $100 application fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.
  • Trip cancellation or interruption insurance, primary auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, and emergency evacuation and transportation.
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription for a minimum of one year if you activate by Dec. 31, 2024. You'll also get $5 in DoorDash credits each month.
  • Complimentary one-year Instacart+ membership, plus $15 in monthly Instacart statement credits for Instacart+ members through July 2024 when you make your purchases with your card.
  • $10 monthly statement credit on Gopuff purchases through Dec. 31, 2023.
  • Complimentary two-year Lyft Pink membership when you activate by Dec. 31, 2024, plus 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides.

Redeeming Rewards

When it comes to redeeming your points, the standard options include cash back, paying yourself back through statement credits, gift cards and online shopping.

However, your best bet is to take advantage of the 50% travel redemption bonus or to transfer your points to one of the many Chase travel partners. Partners include:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Flying Blue Air France/KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

Depending on how you redeem your rewards with one of these partners, you may be able to get more than the 1.5 cents per point you can get on travel redemptions through Chase.

Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for Maximizing Rewards on Quarterly Rotating Categories

The Chase Freedom Flex is a cash back credit card that offers a rare approach to rewards. The card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter in different spending categories that rotate every three months when you activate. Popular categories include grocery stores, gas stations and select online merchants.

2024 Freedom Flex Bonus Categories

Quarter Bonus Categories

January to March

Grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Target)
Fitness clubs and gym memberships
Self-care and spa services

April to June

Hotels
Restaurants
Amazon.com
Some exclusions may apply

July to September

Coming soon

October to December

Coming soon

You'll also get 5% back on travel purchases with Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services and drugstore purchases, and 1% back on all other purchases.

The card also offers a $200 bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months from account opening. Instead of getting straight cash back, though, you're technically earning Ultimate Rewards Points.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work
  • APR20.49%-29.24% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Sign-Up Bonus $200Cash Bonus More Info

    Receive a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months.

The Chase Freedom Flex card expands on the already lucrative Chase Freedom card. The Freedom Flex also gives cardholders access to Chase Ultimate Rewards, which is arguably the most versatile rewards platform, and you’ll get plenty of redemption options at good rates. Plus, if you have one of the program’s travel cards, you can transfer points from your Freedom Flex to your travel card account and get even more value and flexibility with how you redeem.

Overview

Getting more in cash back is a clear win for anyone who is considering the Freedom Flex card. This card is ideal for anyone who want to maximize cash-back rewards with the option to get more value with travel redemptions.

Pros

  • Generous earnings on select rotating categories each quarter
  • Cellphone and trip insurance coverage
  • No annual fee
  • Ability to convert rewards to transferable Ultimate Rewards points

Cons

  • Can't transfer Chase points to travel partners unless paired with select products

Card Benefits

The Freedom Flex card doesn't charge an annual fee, so don't expect a lot of premium perks. That said, some solid benefits to help you save money include:

  • Introductory APR of 0% for first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, after which a 20.49%-29.24% (Variable) APR applies.
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025, plus a $5 Lyft credit when you take three rides in one calendar month and pay with your card.
  • Complimentary three-month DoorDash DashPass membership, plus a 50% discount off your DashPass membership for the following nine months.
  • Complimentary three-month Instacart+ membership when you activate by July 31, 2024, plus up to $10 in statement credits on Instacart purchases made with your card.
  • $5 Fandango Reward when you spend $20 at Fandango or on Fandango's streaming service.
  • Complimentary one-year ShopRunner membership, which includes free two-day shipping with dozens of online retailers.

Redeeming Rewards

The card issuer allows you to redeem your rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel, statement credits and more. However, the most value you can get is 1 cent per point, so it's best to pool your points with your Sapphire Reserve card to maximize the value of your rewards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best for a High Rewards Rate on Non-Bonus Spending

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is similar to the Chase Freedom Flex in many ways, but you'll want to use this card for all of your spending that doesn't earn bonus rewards with the Freedom Flex or Sapphire Reserve.

The card offers 5% back on travel booked through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services and on drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on everything else.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR20.49% - 29.24% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Sign Up Bonus 1.5%Extra Cash Back More Info

    Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

We like that the card offers a high flat rewards rate but also provides accelerated rewards on some common everyday spending categories. You’ll also get access to the Chase Travel portal, which allows you to use your cash-back earnings for travel rewards, gift cards and more. If you make this your primary card for most purchases you can quickly rack up a lot of rewards.

Overview

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is unique for a couple of reasons. First, it comes with purchase protection and extended warranty protection you don’t see with some other cash-back cards. Second, you earn cash back in the form of points (Chase Ultimate Rewards) and when paired with another annual-fee earning Chase product, you can get even more value if you love to travel by transferring to partners.

That’s because while the Freedom cards are marketed as cash-back credit cards, they actually offer points. You can use those points to book travel through Chase at a rate of 1 cent per point. But if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll get 25% and 50% more value on those travel redemptions, respectively. (Plus, the ability to transfer your points, too.)

Read the review

Pros

  • No category bonuses to remember; earn at least 1.5% back on everything
  • No annual fee
  • Generous travel and purchase protection benefits

Cons

  • Can't transfer Chase points unless paired with another annual-fee Chase product

Card Benefits

This card also charges no annual fee, and it offers a few perks on top of its rewards program:

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, after which a 20.49% - 29.24% (Variable) APR applies.
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025, when you pay with your card.
  • Complimentary three-month DoorDash DashPass membership, plus a 50% discount off your DashPass membership for the following nine months.
  • Complimentary three-month Instacart+ membership when you activate by July 31, 2024, plus up to $10 in statement credits on Instacart purchases made with your card.

Redeeming Rewards

The Freedom Unlimited offers the same redemption options as the Freedom Flex through cash back, gift cards, travel, statement credits and more. But again, it's best to maximize your rewards by transferring them to your Sapphire Reserve and using them to book travel or transferring them to airline or hotel partners.

Tips to Maximize Rewards With the Chase Trifecta

The Chase trifecta offers many opportunities to rack up rewards and maximize the value of your points. Here are some tips to keep in mind when earning and redeeming Chase trifecta rewards:

  • Use each card for its respective rewards categories: Whether you are spending on travel, a quarterly rotating category or something else, use the right card for each spending category. In cases of overlap, use the Sapphire Reserve card first so you don't have to transfer the points you earn later.
  • Activate quarterly bonus categories: Each quarter, make sure you activate the Freedom Flex's 5% bonus categories and try to max out your spending in those areas, if possible. 
  • Redeem for travel: You'll get the most value with travel redemptions. Because you're getting a 50% redemption rate on Chase travel redemptions with the Sapphire Reserve, you can multiply all your rewards rates by 1.5 to get your effective earning rate. 
  • Transfer points to Sapphire Reserve: With the 5% bonus categories on the Freedom Flex, for instance, you're technically getting 7.5% back after you transfer your points to your Sapphire Reserve and redeem them for travel through Chase.
  • Leverage Chase travel partners: If you want to go the extra step, you can research redemption rates with each of Chase's travel partners to see if you can get an even higher rewards rate. 

Is the Chase Trifecta Right for You?

Again, the Chase trifecta can be a great option if your spending patterns and travel habits align with the cards' rewards structures and benefits. You'll also need good or excellent credit, and you'll need to be willing to do a little extra legwork to squeeze as much value out of your rewards as possible.

However, if you want some alternatives, consider the American Express trifecta, which includes the Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card and the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. 

You may also consider getting multiple credit cards across various rewards programs to diversify your rewards and rewards card benefits. Take your time to research all your options to find the right fit for you.

FAQs

  • Ultimately, it depends on your preferences. Both sets of cards offer excellent rewards and perks, and both card issuers have a strong set of airline and hotel loyalty programs to which you can transfer your rewards.

    Depending on your spending habits and other preferences, compare each trifecta to determine which is better for you.

  • If you can afford it, focus on the Sapphire Reserve card first. Because this card makes it possible to unlock more value with the other two, it's a great way to maximize your rewards from the start. However, if you're unsure about such a high annual fee, consider one of the Freedom cards to start.

  • The Chase trifecta offers an excellent mix of rewards and benefits, allowing you to get more value out of your spending than many other rewards card options.

  • With the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited, focus on your spending by using each card when necessary—whether for bonus or non-bonus spending—to earn as many points as possible. Then, transfer those rewards to the Sapphire Reserve, where you can get more value through travel redemptions or transfer partners.

BL

Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer and credit card expert. He has a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and worked in financial planning, banking and auto finance before writing full-time for NerdWallet and Student Loan Hero. Ben is now a full-time freelance writer and enjoys traveling and spending time with his two kids. His work has appeared in several publications, including U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Money, Success and Slickdeals.