The Power of Chase Trifecta: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred and Freedom Unlimited

Ever since we started reporting on the points and miles game here at The Points Guy, there’s been a trend: Airlines and hotels have been reducing the value of their programs and increasing the number of points and miles required for a flight or award stay.

However, the one product line that credit card experts remain loyal to year after year is Chase. There are two main reasons: Chase Ultimate Rewards points are very flexible and valuable, and Chase offers a very matchable lineup that allows you to maximize your earning and redemption strategies.

While all credit cards have independent value, combining three complementary Chase credit cards can unlock significant value across every spending category: Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Let’s take a look at these cards and how they work together to create a great credit card strategy.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

annual fee: $550

Point master

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Reward rate: When purchasing flights through Chase Travel℠, you can earn 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2025), 10 points per dollar on restaurants and car rentals, and 5 points per dollar on flights. Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1 point for every $1 spent on other purchases.

The card’s whopping $550 annual fee is offset by a $300 annual travel credit, effectively costing $250 per year. You’ll also receive Priority Pass Select membership, up to $100 in Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus application fee reimbursement*, and other benefits like major rental car insurance, trip cancellation and delay insurance, lost baggage reimbursement, concierge service, access to Chase Luxury hotel series and more.

To further incentivize cardholders to keep the card, Chase has been adding (or expanding) Sapphire Reserve offers in recent years. This includes:

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  • Free DashPass (now through December 31) plus $10 in monthly credits through DoorDash.
  • Earn 10 points for every $1 you spend on Lyft purchases (now through March 2025).
  • Purchase items from Instacart and get up to $15 in bill credits each month, plus a year of free Instacart+ (ends July 31).

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem your points through the Chase travel portal for 50% more value (the redemption price is 1.5 cents per point instead of the standard 1 cent per point).

Of course, you can also transfer your points to one of 12 airline and 3 hotel partners to get even more value from your points. With its flexibility and profitability, the Sapphire Reserve stars in Chase’s select credit cards and is a great addition to any points chaser’s wallet.

For more details, check out our full review of Chase Sapphire Reserve.

*When global entry fees increase in October, reimbursement will increase to a maximum of $120.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve

The first choice for ink business

annual fee: $95

Point master

Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $8,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Reward rate: Earn 3 points per $1 on travel, transportation, Internet services, cable services, phone services, and ad purchases made through social media sites and search engines (up to a maximum total spend per account anniversary year Earn 1 point per dollar on $150,000) and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Ink Preferred offers cell phone protection benefits in addition to primary rental car insurance for commercial-use car rentals. As long as you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card, the card will cover the cost of replacing a damaged phone up to three times a year with a deductible of just $100. You can even protect employees’ cell phones if their service lines are covered by the same bill. Please note that the limit is $600 per claim and $1,800 or three claims within a 12-month period.

For more details, check out our full review of our top picks for the ink business.

Apply here: Top choice for ink business

Chasing unlimited freedom

annual fee: $0

Point master

Welcome offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent in the first year), worth up to $300 in cash back.

Reward rate: Earn 5% on travel bookings through the Chase travel portal, 3% on dining (including takeout and delivery) and pharmacy bookings, and unlimited 1.5% on all other purchases.

Chase Freedom Unlimited is the last of this trio. This card is always an excellent choice for those who want a versatile card for purchases that don’t fall into the bonus-earning categories of other credit cards. And, because you can transfer points into your Ultimate Rewards account, if you link your Chase Freedom Unlimited card to a regular Ultimate Rewards earning card (such as Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred, or Chase Sapphire), you’ll be able to earn points through Chase Freedom Points earned on Unlimited are worth 2.05 cents each on Preferred Cards.

For more details, check out our full review of Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Apply here: Chasing Freedom Unlimited

How these cards work together

Each card covers different spending areas and offers its own unique benefits as part of a comprehensive credit card strategy.

Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve for travel and dining, Ink Business Preferred for any business expenses, and Freedom Unlimited for purchases that don’t earn extra rewards with other cards.

Eric Rosen/Point Guard

All the points you earn with these three cards can be combined so you can transfer them to one of Chase’s travel partners or redeem them through the Chase travel portal for 1.5 cents each. When booking an economy award flight or award night at a hotel that isn’t listed as a Chase transfer partner, you’ll likely get the most value by redeeming your award in a travel portal.

However, you may need to transfer points if you book a premium cabin award flight or redeem a stay at one of Chase’s hotel partners. Just make sure you compare both options so you get the best value from your Ultimate Rewards points and don’t miss out on any exclusive transfer bonuses.

Related: When to book with Chase Travel and when to transfer points

Other triple card options

Chase has a flexible lineup of credit cards, and depending on your spending habits, it might make sense to swap one of the cards listed above for another Chase card.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

For example, if you already have Capital One Entrepreneurship Rewards Credit Card or Citi Double Cash® Card (See Rates & Fees) – Both have higher non-bonus payout earnings – it might make more sense for you to have the Chase Freedom Flex℠ rather than the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

The Chase Freedom Flex is another card with no annual fee and offers 5% cash back on rotating spending categories each quarter (activation required). You’re capped at $1,500 in bonus payouts each quarter, in categories ranging from gas stations to grocery stores and even Amazon and Walmart, making it easy to maximize your card’s bonus earnings. Like Freedom Unlimited, you can earn 5% back on travel bookings through the Chase travel portal, and 3% back on bookings at restaurants and pharmacies.

Related: Credit Card Showdown: Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Newbies wary of the Sapphire Reserve’s $550 annual fee can try the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card instead. In addition to a low annual fee of just $95, Sapphire Preferred comes with a stable revenue structure:

  • Earn 5 points per $1 on all travel purchased through the Chase travel portal
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on select streaming services
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on online grocery shopping (excluding Target, Walmart and Wholesale Club)
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on all other travel
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Point master

Sapphire Preferred only offers a 25% redemption bonus and no lounge access. However, Preferred membership does have the same sign-up bonus as Reserved membership (75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening), and you also get a $50 annual statement credit on hotel bookings through Chase Travel purchases and receive 10% bonus points on your anniversary based on your previous year’s spending.

If you don’t travel enough to take advantage of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Sapphire Preferred is a solid alternative.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

bottom line

The ultimate goal is to maximize every dollar you spend by using the right credit card for your purchases. Getting value from the points-and-miles game is not just for non-travelers. You just have to spend your money wisely.

Remember, all of these cards adhere to Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you don’t currently have these cards in your wallet, you’ll need to be strategic when applying for them compared to other cards to ensure you don’t get turned down for opening too many accounts in the past two years. For more details on how to improve your chances of approval, check out our guide to credit card application rules and restrictions.

Related: The ultimate guide to the best credit card combinations

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