If you’ve ever listened to the Pursuing Points podcast, then you will have heard me reference the Chase trifecta at one point of another. In horse racing a trifecta bet is one where you bet the order of the top three horses in a race. In the points world, the Chase trifecta is the combination of three credit cards for maximum value. Individually each of these cards is good, if not great. Together however, they make up a formidable trio which will allow you to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points hand over fist. The three cards in question are the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and the Sapphire Reserve. Technically you could use a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or any other premium Chase product in lieu of the Reserve, but the Reserve is used to maximize value as it earns a 50% bonus, whereas the other cards max out at 25%.
Freedom and Freedom Unlimited Redemption Options
As a quick refresher, the Chase Freedom card earns 1pt/$1 spent on all purchases and 5pt/$1 spent on bonus categories which rotate throughout the year. The Freedom Unlimited on the other hand earns a flat 1.5pt/$1 on all purchases. Neither card has an annual fee. As with any Chase branded product the points you’re earning with these cards are actually Ultimate Rewards points.
These are the same UR points that you earn with the Sapphire Reserve, the difference is in what you’re able to redeem those points for. With a “non-premium” product such as the Freedom or Freedom unlimited you’ll be able to redeem your UR points for:
- Travel – Through the Chase portal, points are worth $0.01 each.
- Gift cards – 1 pt = $0.01
- Cash Back – 1 pt = $0.01
- Amazon.com Shop with Points – 1 pt = $0.008 – Avoid this redemption
Save for the Amazon.com option, these are pretty good redemption options for cards that do not have an annual fee. It would be nice though if we could get more value than just $0.01 per point for our points.
Enter the Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the card we’ve probably spent the most time talking about here on PursuingPoints.com, and for good reason. It earns 3x per $1 spent on dining and travel, has an incredible $300 a year travel credit, lounge access, and more. For our money it is one of, if not the best premium travel product around. For the purposes of this article though we want to dive into the redemption options for the Sapphire Reserve.
- Travel – Through the Chase portal, points are worth 50% more when redeemed here. Example: 200,000 points is equal to $3,000 in travel spend.
- Gift Cards & Cash Back – Same as Freedom / Freedom Unlimited – 1 pt = $0.01
- Amazon.com Shop with Points – 1 pt = $0.008
- Transfer to Travel Partners – 1:1 point transfer value – Transfer partners include:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Flying Blue Air France KLM
- Iberia Plus
- Korean Air SkyPass
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Rewards
- The Ritz-Carlton Rewards
- World of Hyatt
Wow! While the Sapphire Reserve has the same gift card, cash back, and Amazon.com redemption options, it also has these travel redemption options. For one you can use your UR points at a 50% bonus when booking through the chase travel portal. This means that a $300 flight would only cost you 20,000 points, not the 30,000 that it would cost if you were using your Freedom points. With transfer partners the math isn’t as clean, though its commonly accepted that you’ll be able to earn greater than $0.01 per 1pt when you transfer. As an example of great value, I went to the Korean Air website and searched for a first class ticket to Hong Kong leaving out of JFK and the ticket cost 160,000 miles or $16,000! Thats effectively $0.10 per 1 pt or a 10x return on your investment!
Combining Point Balances
Okay – so hopefully you’re convinced that with the Sapphire Reserve you can net some pretty great redemptions. But you may still be wondering what the point is of the Freedom and the Freedom Unlimited. The point is that you can take the points earned from those cards and transfer or combine them with your Reserve’s point balance. Once that happens all of your UR points are able to be used for the premium redemption options that we detailed above. In order to combine points you’ll first want to login to your Chase.com account, then head over to Ultimate Rewards.
You can choose any card to go to Ultimate Rewards with, though I would go with the Reserve just to make it easier. Then in the top right where you see your point balance, hover over the balance. At the bottom you’ll see an option to “Combine Points”, click that.
The next screen will show you all of your different products and allow you to select a card to “Move my points from” and another one to “Move my points to”. In our case we want to always be transferring points from our non premium products like the Freedom & Freedom Unlimited, to our premium products such as the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve. Remember, with the Sapphire Reserve you’ll get a 50% bonus when redeeming through the travel portal. The Preferred and other premium cards only offer a 25% points bonus through the travel portal.
Once you’ve got it all worked out you’ll be taken to a confirmation screen, hit “Confirm & Submit” once everything looks correct. Assuming no issues your points will be moved instantaneously.
What this really means
To put it simply, this means that you’re able to earn uber valuable Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of no less than 1.5 points per dollar. Throw in the 5 points per $1 on bonus categories, and the 3 pts per $1 on dining and travel, and you can start to see how quickly your point balance can swell.
I personally use the trifecta on a daily basis and have all three of these products in my wallet. Someday I may open up an Ink Plus business card to further bolster my UR earning potential but this is good enough for now.
What is your experience with the trifecta? Do you have any or all of these cards? Let us know!