The Power of a Credit Card Trifecta

The Power of a Credit Card Trifecta

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When you hear the phrase “power couple,” who or what do you think of? Maybe Brad and Angelina (ahem, Brangelina) or Beyoncé and Jay-Z?

What about the slightly more awkward power throuple? Or rather… a power trifecta 😉 Joey, Chandler, and Ross personally come to mind.

But… you’re here to learn about travel hacking (and not what Beyoncé’s latest outfit was or what Friend’s episode had Chandler stuck in a box for six hours).

I’m here to talk to you about what a credit card trifecta or duo is, why having one can be so powerful in the miles and points game, and what cards you should consider matching up in order to get the most out of your credit card power couple (or throuple) pairing 💕

If you’d like to see a comprehensive chart with a ton of different cards and their spending categories laid out, we’ve made a super handy resource that you can access here 👇

But to learn how to best utilize these card pairings and get some suggestions for the best card combos, keep reading 😊

What is a Credit Card Trifecta or Power Duo?

The idea of having a credit card trifecta or duo in your wallet comes from the concept of using a combination of cards from the same card issuer in order to maximize earnings and rewards. 

Because different cards will have different perks, benefits, and earning rates per category, etc., it makes sense to combine certain cards based on these individual perks in order to work towards bigger, better, overall rewards.

You’re basically assembling the best of the Avengers (with their individual superpowers) to ultimately turbocharge your own benefit-earning potential.

It’s also like why have one cat when you can have three? Serious question. 😸

The more the merrier… credit cards, that is (but also cats).

💡Pro Tip: There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to two or three-card combinations. It takes a little work to determine which cards would bring you the best value based on things like spending categories, travel preferences, and perks/benefits usages, etc.

We’ll go through some examples of different card pairings for three of our big-hitter card issuers: Chase, American Express, and Capital One.

I also have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of sublime match-maker jokes in this one. So let’s get to it.

Which Credit Card Couple or Throuple Should You Create?

If you feel like playing match-maker today, we’ve got some eligible single cards that are looking to find their better half… or better two-thirds 🤔

Before this gets any weirder, let’s start with our first contender: Chase.

The Chase Trifecta

Back in the day, when there weren’t so many cards to choose from, there may have been one golden combo that created the Chase trifecta.

Today, that’s certainly not the case because there are so many freaking cards out there.

It’s essentially like a “choose your own adventure” situation. But as an example, I’m going to use the trifecta combo that includes having the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Freedom FlexSM , and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card.

I can already hear all of you gasping at the fact that I didn’t list the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card here.

The truth is you can ABSOLUTELY have the Chase Sapphire Preferred as part of your credit card love triangle. It’s a stellar card.

In fact, if you’re new to this and are weary of that big $550 annual fee for the Reserve, you could easily swap it for the Preferred. This is especially doable if you aren’t traveling frequently and wouldn’t mind giving up some of the bigger travel-specific perks that the Reserve has.

It all comes down to how much you want to be spending in annual fees, what benefits are spread out across different categories, and what perks are important to you (and to what extent they offset the annual fees).

Your first step is to appropriately apply for three specific cards and then strategically choose when and how you will use those different cards on varying purchases (e.g. spending categories) to rack up as many Chase Ultimate Rewards points as possible.

When you’re ready to trade in your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel, you can then combine your three separate stashes into one MEGA stash and redeem at the maximum level for the biggest and best rewards.

Here’s an overview of this particular Chase trifecta:

You can see how having three different cards would help your points, rewards, and perks multiply.

If you travel often, using the Chase Sapphire Reserve for lounge access and insurance coverage are huge wins (not to mention the big multipliers when booking travel through the Chase portal). You’ll also get 3x points per dollar on dining with this card.

The Freedom Flex can be maximized for its 5% cash back perk depending on its rotating quarterly categories. These categories can range from grocery stores, to Walmart, and even Amazon.

You can then use the Freedom Unlimited for purchases that won’t earn bonus rewards with your other cards. Its 1.5% cash back will typically get you more than the standard 1x points per dollar for “all other purchases” that the Sapphire Reserve has, for example.

And again, there’s no one single answer for what card combination is the best. It comes down to your preferences and spending habits.

As another scenario, not only could you throw the Chase Sapphire Preferred into this trio (like I mentioned earlier), but you could also consider getting rid of the Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited and swapping it with the Ink Business Preferred® card.

Just keep in mind that this would add another $95 to your total annual fees.

However, the Ink Business card would prove especially helpful to have in your Chase trifecta if you have a business (makes sense, right? 😄). You could then put all business expenses on your Ink Business Preferred in order to maximize and multiply your point-earning potential in that earning category.

This is an essential step. The whole reason we’re talking about this trifecta concept is to maximize your earnings and rewards.

If you keep all your points separate from one another, well, they’ll get lonely. We’re trying to play matchmaker remember?? 🤭

So you’re going to need (and want) to pool your points. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

I think you’d agree that 150,000 points together are better than 60,000 in one place, another 30,000 somewhere else, and on and on. Right? Right.

So move ‘em on over to one of your card’s accounts to get them all in the same place.

With your lump sum of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can either redeem them through the Chase travel portal or transfer them to one of Chase’s travel partners.

How you choose to use your stash really depends on the situation. If you’re wanting to book travel at hotels or other vendors that aren’t listed as Chase transfer partners, you’re better off utilizing the redemption bonuses in the Chase travel portal.

However, if you’re trying to score an award flight or hotel stay with one of Chase’s partners, you’ll want to transfer your points accordingly.

For reference, you can check out our guide to credit card transfer partners to see detailed lists.

The Amex Trifecta

If you were to pick the three best secret agents to have on your team, who would they be?

I’d probably go with Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt, and James Bond 💁🏻‍♀️

But wait… would these agents feed you free food, supply you with fast wifi, and upgrade you to nicer hotel rooms? Maybe.

But also maybe not.

Do you know how you could get the best chances at guaranteeing these perks (among others!)? By building a boss Amex trifecta. That’s how 💪

Seriously, so many good things just come in three’s: Harry, Ron, and Hermione; the Back to the Future trilogy; and once again, cats.

Fortunately, Amex has stepped up their game in recent years to stay competitive with the more widely known Chase trifecta concept.

And once again, this isn’t the one and only Amex trifecta. Feel free to mix and match.

I just personally believe this group holds a ton of value, and it also seems to be the most popular among other users.

We’re rinsing and repeating here. If you truly want the advantages of the trifecta, apply for each of the aforementioned Amex cards appropriately.

Fortunately, all of these cards are incredible on their own (with my personal fav being the Amex platinum), but maximum earning and redemptions will happen by using the trio.

Here’s an overview of this Amex trifecta:

*Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay for $200 Hotel Credit.

I can guess that many of you are hesitant to move forward with this trifecta because of the large total annual fee among these three cards (especially compared to the Chase trifecta).

But keep in mind the number and value of annual credits—over $1,600 worth in this particular case 😮 

In my mind, this COMPLETELY offsets the total fees… and then some. Seriously, I hate math with a passion, but even I can see the obvious value here.

Plus, the high points per dollar in different categories among these cards with the complimentary lounge access (to both the Priority Pass and Centurion lounges) AND the Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status… is a no-brainer in my book.

And because we all like options, here’s a couple of other low or no annual fee cards to consider that offer cash-back rewards: the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees) and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).

However, we’d always recommend turning your cash-back rewards into transferrable points, when able, to maximize your travel opportunities!

And even though the Blue Business Amex card also doesn’t have an annual fee, it may not be the right fit for you, especially if you don’t have business purchases to make.

So you might consider swapping it out for another one… and that’s the beauty of this whole thing ☺️

As with Chase, you can combine your American Express Membership Rewards points across cards in order to use them collectively.

Most of the time, you’ll find the best value for your points by transferring them to one of American Express’s airline partners.

Amex also regularly offers transfer bonuses to select partners, so you could have additional opportunities to score more value beyond the accelerated earning process itself!

THE Capital One Power Couple

I’m going to pull some of this info from a shorter resource that our trusty travel-hacking pro, Mike, wrote a while back.

This is truly where the “Brangelina power couple” vibes shine the brightest.

This is a REAL love story… a match made in travel-hacking heaven. It’s the unbreakable bond of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

We all likely know of the Venture X card by now… tall, dark, and handsome. But if you want a refresher of how cool this card is, read our deep dive newsletter on it.

It’s definitely one to consider having in your wallet, and if you already do… then the SavorOne card is literally the BFF-turned-diehard-romantic who doesn’t want anyone else in their life other than the Venture X.

And I’ll tell you why.

The SavorOne has NO (zero, zilch) annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and super good earning rates across different categories.

And if the “cash rewards” name of the card initially put you off to it, let me explain.

IF you also have the Venture X (or even the Capital One Venture Rewards card), you are able to convert your SavorOne cash back into Capital One miles 🎉 This is HUGE.

These cards will complement each other perfectly since:

  1. The Venture X has its own travel perks and varied higher spending categories.

  2. The SavorOne also has different, higher spending categories than the Venture X.

Here’s a look at this power duo:

Don’t be afraid of the $395 annual fee for the Venture X because the annual credits you get by having the card completely cancel that out (and then some!).

But looking at the chart, you can see how you’d maximize earning miles by booking travel (through Capital One) with the Venture X, but would earn more on entertainment, dining, groceries, and ride share/food delivery (via Uber) with the SavorOne.

Anything else that didn’t fall into those particular categories should go onto the Venture X since you’ll earn 2x miles on all other purchases.

At a MINIMUM, you’ll be earning double the miles per dollar you spend on EVERYTHING (and obviously even higher ratios depending on the category).

It’s crazy how much earning potential you’ll have just with two cards, especially with one of those cards being a $0 annual fee card.

And again, converting your SavorOne cash-back rewards into Capital One Miles (by pooling them with your earnings from the Venture X) will open up so many more awesome travel opportunities, especially with Capital One’s extensive list of transfer partners.

Bottom Line

If I haven’t convinced you yet of the power of credit card trifectas or duos… then stop right here and go re-read this article!

But I think for (hopefully) all of us, it’s clear to see how much more you could be maximizing your miles and points earning potential by strategically utilizing different card in different ways.

You’re essentially taking these cards and playing to their individual strengths!

So tell me… do you have a favorite card couple or throuple? 😊

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