How to Decide Between the Amex and Chase Trifectas, or Create Your Own Card Combination to Maximize Rewards

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When it comes to credit card rewards, American Express and Chase offer two of the most robust programs available today. Both card issuers have a suite of rewards cards and wide-ranging redemption options that can help you maximize your rewards from everyday purchases and travel. Plus, you’ll earn high-value welcome offers, benefits, and credits along the way.

And for the savviest rewards seekers, there are specific three-card combinations that can help you take your rewards to the next level: the American Express trifecta and the Chase trifecta.

The Amex trifecta costs a steep total of $945 in annual fees, but offers several benefits and annual credits to offset the cost. On the other hand, the Chase trifecta has a much lower $645 annual fee total with fewer added benefits. While Amex can get you luxury access to lounges, elite hotel status, and several annual credits while traveling, the Chase trifecta lets you redeem rewards at a higher rate to help you save more money when you book flights and hotels. 

Choosing between the two may depend on your preferred travel brands, top spending categories, and how often you plan to travel. Here’s everything you need to know to help decide which trifecta is best for you — or create your own winning card combination: 

The Amex Trifecta 

The Amex Trifecta is made up of the Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card, and the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. 

Together, these cards offer complementary rewards you can combine to maximize nearly every purchase. We recommend using the Platinum card for travel purchases, the Gold card for purchases at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and the Blue Cash Preferred for any other expenses. Here’s a breakdown of each card: 

Editorial Independence

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
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The Platinum Card® from American Express
Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site. See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Earn 100,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $695
  • Regular APR:
    See Pay Over Time APR
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Valuable welcome offer
  • Tiered rewards structure
  • No foreign transaction fee (See Rates & Fees)
  • Travel perks including lounge access and airline fee credits
Cons
  • Very high annual fee
  • Relatively high APR
  • Not great for rewards outside travel categories
The Bottom Line
From high-earning travel rewards categories to cash credits that can offset the cost of your next vacation, the Platinum Card from American Express has a long list of benefits. Just make sure you can take advantage of them to make the high $695 annual fee worth your while.

Additional Card Details

  • Up to $200 annual airline fee credit
  • Up to $240 in digital entertainment credits (up to $20 per month) on eligible purchases and subscriptions with: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required
  • Up to $155 annual Walmart+ membership credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • Up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card
  • $189 annual statement credit for a Clear® membership
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash to use on rides or Uber Eats in the U.S. annually ($15 per month and a bonus $20 in December), plus Uber VIP access
  • $300 in annual statement credits (up to $25 per month) on eligible Equinox memberships or a digital subscriptions to Equinox+, an on-demand fitness app
  • Up to $100 in annual statement credits toward purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue or saks.com (up to $50 every 6 months, per calendar year)
  • Access to American Express Global Lounge Collection including Centurion Lounges and Delta SkyClubs (when flying same-day Delta Air Lines flights)
  • Access to Fine Hotels & Resorts program, plus credits and benefits during your stay, including $100 credit towards eligible onsite activities
  • Hilton Honors Gold elite status enrollment
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status enrollment
  • Travel and purchase protections
  • American Express preferred seating and presale access

American Express Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card
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American Express® Gold Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
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American Express® Gold Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $250
  • Regular APR:
    See Pay Over Time APR
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Tiered points system
  • Welcome bonus offer
  • Annual credits
Cons
  • Annual fee
  • Value of points dependent on how you redeem
The Bottom Line
The American Express Gold Card offers a great rewards structure that lets you rack up points when you make everyday purchases on groceries and dining out. You’ll get the most value from your American Express Gold if you use your points to save on travel — especially if you transfer your points to airline or hotel partners. The Amex Gold is one of our favorite travel rewards credit cards, and frequent travelers can get a lot of value from it, even in spite of its $250 annual fee.

Additional Card Details

  • Up to $120 annual dining credit
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides
  • Up to $100 credit on qualifying activities when booking through the American Express Hotel Collection
  • $250 annual fee
  • Amex Offers
  • Car rental insurance
  • Global travel assistance hotline
  • Baggage insurance
  • Extended warranty on covered purchases
  • Purchase protection
  • Dispute resolution

Blue Business Plus from American Express

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
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The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Editor’s Score: (N/A)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site. See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Editor’s Score: (N/A)
  • Intro offer:
    15,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    No annual fee
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% – 21.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.

The Chase Trifecta 

Like Amex, the Chase trifecta lets you earn points and cash back on a wide range of categories — including travel, dining, everyday spending, and business purchases. When you combine the cards, you can redeem your rewards towards travel at a boosted redemption value.

To maximize your rewards, we recommend using the Sapphire Reserve to pay for travel, the Ink Business Preferred for business expenses and services like your internet and phone, and the Freedom Unlimited for all other spending.

Here’s a rundown of the most common cards included the Chase trifecta: 

Editorial Independence

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
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Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    50,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $550
  • Regular APR:
    17.24% – 24.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    740-850 (Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Valuable welcome bonus
  • $300 travel credit and other added benefits
  • 50% points value boost when redeemed for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Metal card
Cons
  • $550 annual fee
  • High APR
  • Not a great choice if you travel infrequently
The Bottom Line
Luxe benefits and valuable points redemptions draw many people to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, despite its steep $550 annual fee. But if you travel often and your spending aligns with high-value rewards categories, the Reserve’s benefits can outweigh even the high cost of ownership.

Additional Card Details

  • 50% redemption boost on points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or eligible statement credits via Pay Yourself Back
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Up to $100 credit every four years toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee
  • Complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select membership
  • 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • Complimentary DashPass from DoorDash subscription through 12/31/24
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections

Chase Freedom Unlimited 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
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Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.24% to 23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service. 1.5% on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Flexible, hybrid rewards structure made up of tiered categories and flat cash back
  • No annual fee
  • Valuable first-year bonus
  • Competitive intro APR period can be useful for paying off large purchases over time
Cons
  • Not a great choice for international travelers — you’ll incur a 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Travel bonus rewards only apply to travel booked through Chase
The Bottom Line
Chase Freedom Unlimited is NextAdvisor’s pick for the best cash back credit card for its impressive rewards and flexibility for everyday spenders. But the card’s value goes beyond its primary rewards structure. A standout first-year bonus, introductory interest offer, and boosted redemption options make this card one of the best available on the market today.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% introductory interest offer on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after account opening, variable 15.24% – 23.99% interest thereafter; intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • Complimentary 3-month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass, followed by 50% off DashPass for 9 months (activate by 12/31/24)
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections

Chase Ink Business Preferred 

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
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Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (4.1/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site.
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (4.1/5)
  • Intro offer:
    100,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    16.24% to 21.24% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Great welcome offer
  • Tiered rewards structure with diverse category options
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • $150,000 annual spending cap in combined purchases on 3x rewards rate
The Bottom Line
The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card has great perks for business owners. With rewards earning potential across four categories of business expenses, and a valuable sign-up bonus, this card can grab a lot of value.

Additional Card Details

  • 25% more points value when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 1:1 point value when you transfer to a Chase transfer partner
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Cell phone protection

Amex vs. Chase Trifecta: Side-by-Side Comparison

Amex Trifecta Chase Trifecta
Cards Included• Platinum Card from American Express

• American Express Gold Card 

• Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express 
• Chase Sapphire Reserve 

• Chase Freedom Unlimited 

• Chase Ink Business Preferred 
Total Annual Fees $945$645
Travel Partners 2013
Rewards Categories • The Platinum Card from American Express: 5x points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, up to $500,000 in spending per calendar year; 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel; 1x points on all other purchases

• American Express Gold Card: 4x points at restaurants; 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x); 3X [oints on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; 1x points on all other purchases

• Blue Business Plus Card from Amex: 2x points on the first $50,000 in spending each year, then 1x points per dollar
• Chase Sapphire Reserve: 10x points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 5x points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3x points on other travel and dining;1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

• Chase Freedom Unlimited: 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants; 1.5% on all other purchases

• Chase Ink Business Preferred: 3x points on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each year; 1 point per $1 on all other purchases

Credits and Benefits 

In addition to rewards, the additional benefits and credits you’ll get with these card combinations can go a long way to add value to your spending. If benefits are the main thing you’re seeking, you’ll get a much broader offering from Amex over Chase. 

Here’s all the benefits you’ll get between the Amex trifecta, which mostly come from the $695 Platinum Card:

Platinum Card from American Express

  • $200 airline fee credit toward incidental charges on your chosen airline
  • $200 hotel credit for prepaid bookings through the Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection properties through American Express Travel
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • $189 credit toward annual Clear® membership
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash annually ($15 each month and $20 in December)
  • Up to $100 annual credit to Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Up to $240 credit for select digital entertainment services (up to $20 per month toward Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times subscriptions)
  • Up to $300 on Equinox+ digital app or eligible Equinox club memberships
  • $155 annually for Walmart+ membership (statement credit to cover the full monthly cost)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Access to American Express Global Lounge Collection

American Express Gold Card

  • Up to $120 in annual dining credits ($10 per month at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, or participating Shake Shack locations)
  • Up to $120 annual Uber Cash ($10 per month)
  • Access to the Hotel Collection and $100 credit to use during your stay

Chase on the other hand, doesn’t offer as many credits under its trifecta. But you’ll still get some valuable benefits (primarily from the Sapphire Reserve) including: 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership 
  • DashPass subscription when activated
  • Fee credit toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry or NEXUS
  • 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2025

Fees

Both trifectas are costly, so you should make sure you get enough value from the rewards and benefits to make up the cost before you apply.

The Amex trifecta charges a total $945 in annual fees, while the Chase trifecta totals $645 for its annual charges. All the annual credits that come with the Amex cards can far offset the price, but they’re only really valuable if you would have spent money on the benefits anyway. 

For instance, if you’re already a Walmart+ subscriber and Clear® member, the prices you’re already paying will go toward your Platinum Card’s overall value. But if not, you could just be adding unnecessary cost to your budget.

Both trifectas also have other fees to take into account depending on how you use them — like foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees, or late payment charges. Remember to pay your balance in full and on time each month to establish good credit habits, avoid high interest, and penalty APRs. 

Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemptions 

Both rewards programs offer redemptions in the form of gift cards, purchases from retailers, and statement credits — but you’ll get the best value from either when you redeem for travel. 

For Amex Membership Rewards, you can redeem your points for travel by booking directly via  Amex Travel or transferring points to travel partners. Amex has 20 travel partners that you can transfer points between — typically at a 1:1 ratio, so you’ll earn 1 Membership Reward point for each point you redeem with a transfer partner, but this may vary. You can also check Amex’s rewards calculator to see your rewards ratio before transferring or redeeming points.

In general, though, you’ll get the best redemption values from Chase. In addition to transferring your points to Chase’s 13 travel partners (generally also at a 1:1 ratio), you can also pool the points you earn across all three cards to your Chase Sapphire Reserve and redeem them at a 50% boosted value when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That makes each point worth 1.5 cents. 

How to Create Your Own Trifecta 

The trifectas above are some of the most popular card combinations to maximize rewards, but they’re not the only options for pairing cards for added value. 

In fact, if you don’t have a side gig or business, you may not be able to get the business card to complete the Amex or Chase trifectas. Instead, you can develop your own card combination to maximize your spending and rewards the way you want. 

Though choosing cards under a single rewards program may help you maximize redemptions, you may find combining cards from different issuers is more lucrative. What’s more, a trifecta may be more than you need, and a card duo may be a better fit.

“I actually don’t really subscribe to the trifecta mentality,” says Chris Dong, a travel reporter. “I think the [Sapphire] Preferred makes sense for my rental car insurance and my dining. But my Venture X makes sense for everyday spending. So there’s a mix and match. You don’t have to really go all in on one.” 

Pro Tip

Don’t apply for multiple credit cards at once. Not only can several credit inquiries lead to a temporary credit score hit, but you’ll want to give yourself time in between applications. That way, you’ll be more likely to reach the spending thresholds required to qualify for the cards’ welcome offers, which can go a long way in maximizing rewards.

American Express

If you do want to stick with Amex, Dong recommends a duo made up of the Platinum and Gold cards. If you can swing the annual fees, you’ll still get a lot of value on travel and everyday spending with this pair. 

Another option is pairing your general travel rewards cards with a co-branded travel card, depending on your travel brand preferences and help you earn more rewards to use towards travel. For instance, Dong says he uses the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to take advantage of the Hilton perks and to transfer Hilton Honors points between it and his Platinum and Gold cards.

Chase

If you’re new to trifectas, Dong says the Chase option can make a good choice for its simplicity and stellar rewards program. But if you’re not sold on each of the cards that make up the trifecta, there are many other Chase combinations.

For a more accessible duo, for instance, you could combine the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited. Then, you’d get the Freedom card’s everyday rewards and redeem them for a boosted value when you book travel with the Sapphire Preferred. cards, you can redeem points at a boosted value, even if you only pair it with a Freedom card. 

If you want to build a trifecta with lower annual fees, and you don’t own a business you can try another common Chase trifecta: The Chase Freedom Flex℠, Freedom Unlimited, and the Sapphire Reserve. Even though the two Freedom cards have some overlap in categories and rewards, they make a good no annual fee pair for everyday spending — and you’ll still earn boosted rewards and annual credits with your premium travel card. 

More Ways to Combine Cards

When pairing your cards, make sure you choose cards with a range of rewards categories, to maximize as much of your regular spending as possible. For instance, if you already have a card that earns rewards on travel and dining, consider your other frequent spending for the next card — like groceries, streaming services, or even flat rewards on all spending. 

Also remember, a rewards strategy like this only works if you pay your balances down each month. If you carry debt on any credit card, high interest payments can offset any rewards value you’ll get — and if you’re already paying annual fees, you’ll end up paying much more over time. Always make sure to spend only what you can afford and pay your statement balances in full and on time. 

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