How to Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards with a Credit Card “Trifecta”

by joeheg

Whenever you hear someone mention a credit card “Trifecta,” they’re referring to a combination of cards that earn the same points currency which, when combined, earns the maximum number of points.

You can have a “trifecta” with all the major banks, as American Express, Citi, and Chase allow you to hold multiple cards that earn each bank’s transferrable currency.

In addition, there’s no set “trifecta’ for any of the banks. While one card combination will be the best for one person, someone else might not want to pay the same annual fees or might not have a business (and be eligible for a business credit card.)

This post will focus on earning the most Chase Ultimate Rewards for your expenses. There’s some strategy involved in getting multiple Chase cards, as all of these are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. It’s taken many years for me to tweak our Chase cards to where we are.

So while I have my Trifecta (or actually a Quadfecta) of Chase cards, there are several variants that might earn you more points. Here’s what I do and how you can tweak the combo for your needs.

Travel and Dining

a close-up of a credit cardIf I want to earn the most points on our travel and dining expenses, I will use my Sapphire Reserve. The card earns 3x points for these charges and for our travels, the Sapphire Reserve offers the best travel coverages of any of our cards.

Not everyone wants to pay the Sapphire Reserve’s $550 annual fee, so a suitable alternative would be to get a Sapphire Preferred card.

a blue credit card with a silver chip It also earns 3x on dining expenses and 2x on travel expenses for a $95 annual fee. The travel coverages provided are almost as good as the Sapphire Reserve and will cover all but the most extreme travel disruptions.

Internet/Phone/Cable and Office Supply Stores

The second card in our trifecta is the Chase Ink Cash business card.

a credit card with blue text

The no-annual-fee card earns 5% back on these expenses.

  • At office supply stores
  • On internet, cable and phone services

In addition, it earns 2% back at:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants

Each category is capped at $25,000 per year, which is reasonable for most small businesses.

If I wanted to maximize my Ultimate Rewards, I could buy gift cards at Office Depot for Starbucks, Amazon and Outback to earn 5x on those purchases. I’m too lazy to do that all the time, so I settle for 3x back on dining and look for other chances to maximize our purchases.

The Ink Cash card earns cashback, but if you hold another premium Chase card, such as the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer points from the Ink Cash to those cards. When doing so, you’ve multiplied the value of the points by anywhere from 50% to over 200%. By booking through the Chase travel portal, you can get 1.25 to 1.5 cents per point, depending on your card. If you transfer the points to one of Chase’s partners, there’s no limit to the value you can get for the points. That’s how we got to stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai

All Other Expenses

For (mostly) everything else, we use Sharon’s Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

a credit card with a green ribbon

The Freedom Unlimited card earns 3% back at drugstores and restaurants and 1.5% back everywhere else. Just like the Ink Cash card, you can transfer points earned with the Freedom Unlimited to the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred and then transfer points to one of Chase’s partners.

Cell Phone

While this would be a suitable Trifecta, I use a Quadfecta and add the Ink Business Preferred.

a close-up of a credit card

While some categories overlap the other Chase cards, it earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points for:

  • Travel
  • Shipping Purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines

I use this card for shipping expenses and to pay our cell phone bill. While I could use the Ink Cash and earn 5%, I’d rather earn 3x points and get the insurance coverage the Ink Preferred provides.

Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

As long as you have a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred, you’re able to transfer the points earned to any of Chase’s partners.

  • AerLingus AerClub (Avios)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club (Avios)
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Emirates Skywards
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Iberia Plus (Avios)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG One Rewards
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

We’ve used many partners in the past, getting value from United MileagePlus, Singapore KrisFlyer, Air Canada Aeroplan and World of Hyatt.

Other options

Some people prefer the Freedom Flex to the Freedom Unlimited to max out the 5% categories every quarter. Other people get the Ink Cash Unlimited card instead of Freedom Unlimited to minimize their 5/24 exposure.

There’s no right way to do this. If you’re going to max out the $25K on the Ink Cash bonus categories, figure out how to make the bonuses work for you.

Whatever form of the trifecta, or quadfecta, you use, good for you. As long as you’re able to maximize the number of Ultimate Rewards you earn for the money you put on your Chase cards.

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