The Chase Trifecta (2021)

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So you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or a Chase Sapphire Reserve and you're really excited to continue the award travel journey. But what is your next move? How do you maximize earning Chase Ultimate Rewards? That's easy. Obtain the Chase Trifecta. CSP/CSR, the Freedom Flex and the Freedom Unlimited (or Ink Unlimited) make an almost perfect trio of cards for bonus and non-bonus spending! Let's dig deeper, shall we?

Part One: CSP/CSR

As we have discussed over and over again, everyone should have a CSP or a CSR. These cards are incredibly versatile, earning 2x or 3x for food and travel, offering industry-leading insurance, and offering 60,000 and 50,000 point sign-up bonuses, respectively, for $4,000 spend in the first 3 months. The CSP comes with a $95 annual fee and the CSR has a $550 annual fee, but includes a $300 travel credit per anniversary year. The first step in the Chase Trifecta is always a CSP or a CSR. If you're still on the fence, ask us questions to figure out which direction to go. There really isn't a wrong choice, other than not making one of these cards your first award travel card!

Part Two: CFF

The second piece of the Chase Trifecta is the Chase Freedom Flex. Arguably the 2nd best card in the Trifecta, the CFF currently offers a 20,000 UR sign-up bonus for a $500 spend in the first 3 months as well as 5x on the first $12,000 spent on groceries in the first twelve months, 5%/5x for travel booked in the Chase travel portal, 3%/3x at restaurants and pharmacies, and 5%/5x on up to $1,500 per quarter in rotating categories. Like the CFU, the CFF is a $0 AF card. Remember that CFU and CFF each state that they are a cash-back card. However, if you hold a CSP, CSR or Chase Ink Business Preferred, the “cash-back” earned is UR points that you can use in the Chase portal or by transferring to Chase's 13 travel partners.

If you hit the $1,500 quarterly maximum, you'll earn $75/7,500 UR per quarter, for a total of $300/30,000 UR per year. While it is mildly annoying to track (and remember!) the various bonus categories each quarter, trust me when I say it is worth your time and effort to do so. I value UR at over 2 cents each, so you can earn over $150 in UR per quarter ($600/year) by tracking the quarterly bonus categories and hitting the $1,500 quarterly maximum. Once you hit the maximum of $1,500 per quarter, or for all non-bonus spend, the CFF earns 1x on all other spend.

Part Three: CFU/CIU

The last step in the Chase Trifecta is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. This card offers a $200/20,000 UR sign-up bonus for $500 in 3 months as well as 5x on the first $12,000 spent on groceries in the first twelve months, 5%/5x for travel booked in the Chase travel portal, 3%/3x at restaurants and pharmacies,  earns 1.5%/1.5x UR on all other purchases, and has no annual fee! Remember that CFU and CFF each state that they are a cash-back card. However, if you hold a CSP, CSR or CIBP, the “cash-back” earned is UR points that you can use in the Chase portal or by transferring to Chase's 13 partners. If you are eligible for business cards, the Chase Ink Business Unlimited earns an identical 1.5x UR on all purchases and comes with a 75,000 UR sign-up bonus after $3,000 spend in 3 months. The CIU is the better option here, as it does not add to your 5/24 count and offers 55,000 UR more on the annual fee over the CFU.

Sign-up bonus aside, the CFU (or Ink Unlimited) deserves a spot in your wallet. The CFU earns 1.5%/1.5x UR per dollar on all purchases. No restrictions or limitations whatsoever. If you swipe it for a purchase, you will earn 1.5%/1.5x URs or more. This card is a great option for all non-bonus spend in the short-term and long-term. With a $0 AF, this card should never leave your wallet!

Conclusion

So there you have it: the Chase Trifecta. While many argue that neither the CFF nor the CFU are worthy of a 5/24 spot (and you should only downgrade another UR-earning card to one or the other), I disagree with this logic. I think that rationale made sense when you could sign-up for both a CSP and a CSR and then downgrade one of them to a CFF or CFU, but that is no longer possible. Therefore, I believe that signing up for one or both definitely makes sense.  All three cards deserve a place in most wallets! As always, please leave your comments or questions below or in our Facebook group!  

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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