The Best Credit Card System for Maximizing Ultimate Reward Points and Free Flights: The Chase Trifecta (2017)

The Chase Trifecta is a 3-card system that helps you maximize the number of points you can earn with everyday spend. If your goal is to optimize points for travel, then this is the card system for you.

The 3-card system consists of the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Transfer all the UR points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve (1.5x) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred (1.25x) when you're ready to redeem for travel. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Earn 1.5x points on all purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. For all non-category spend where you don't earn more than 2-3x points, the Freedom Unlimited should be your default card. 

The basics:

  • Welcome offer: $150 after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months

  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase

What we like:  

  • Redeem points for 1.25x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • Redeem points for 1.5x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (making 1.5% really 2.25%)

What we hate:

  • If you don't have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you're only getting 1.5% back


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Chase Freedom

Activate each quarter to earn 5x cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in that quarter's bonus categories. Important: Don't spend more than you usually would just to maximize each quarter. It doesn't make sense to incur more expenses for 5x cash back. 

The basics:

  • Welcome offer: $150 after $500 in spend within 3 months

  • 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter, up to $1,500 in combined purchases

What we like:

  • Redeem points for 1.25x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred (making 5% really 6.25%)

  • Redeem points for 1.5x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (making 5% really 7.5%)

What we hate:

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Secondary collision damage waiver


Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve

You should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve based on your spending habits and goals. Watch the video below for a guide on CSP vs. CSR. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The basics:

  • Welcome offer: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points ($750 in travel), after $4,000 in spend within the first 3 months

  • $300 annual travel credit per membership year — includes transit, ride share, hotels, and airline tickets

  • $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit

  • Earn 3% on travel and dining

What we like:

  • Flexible travel credit

  • Priority Pass Select membership (airport lounge access), with unlimited guests

  • Redeem points for 1.5x in travel through Ultimate Rewards

  • Transfer points to travel partners for even more redemption value

  • Primary collision damage waiver when you rent a car

  • No foreign transaction fees

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The basics:

  • Welcome offer: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points ($625 in travel), after $4,000 in spend within the first 3 months

  • Earn 2% on travel and dining

What we like:

  • Redeem points for 1.25x in travel through Ultimate Rewards

  • Primary collision damage waiver when you rent a car

  • No foreign transaction fees

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Benefits


Not a traveler? 

Stick with a 2-card system to earn maximum cash back on everyday spending with the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Freedom. 


Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 

UGC disclosure: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.