For eager travelers, finding the right credit card that offers the best benefits requires a bit of homework. There are many options that are suited to different needs. For example, major US airlines have their own credit cards, but they work best if you frequently fly that same airline.
Banks like Chase and Capital One have some great options for beginner points travelers with enticing perks that will work on many different airlines around the world. Here we’ll compare the sign-up offers, benefits, and rewards from the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and Capital One Venture — two cards that frequently compete for having the best rewards and bonuses, but one will likely come out ahead depending on what you’re looking for.
First things first, there are the signup bonuses. Both credit cards offer a pretty lucrative deal. Capital One Venture offers 50,000 Venture Miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. That’s worth about $500 toward travel at a rate of 1 cent per point.
On the other hand, you get 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points with Chase Sapphire Preferred if you spend at least $4,000 in the first three months. Chase offers a higher point value, meaning your sign-up bonus will be worth at least $750 at 1.25 cents per point.
Both cards also allow transfers to a number of airline and hotel partners, but the rate for transfers from the Chase Sapphire Preferred is generally more favorable.
Both cards have a low annual fee of $95, but Capital One waives the first year for new customers. Chase recently changed its sign-up so that you must pay the $95 fee as soon as you sign up.
Rewards for Everyday Spending
In terms of spending rewards, Capital One Venture seems like the surface-level winner, but keep in mind your points have less cash value than with Chase. With the Capital One Venture, you can earn 2 Venture miles for every $1 spent on any purchase, and 10 Venture miles for every $1 for hotel bookings made with Hotels.com. If you frequently book hotels using this site, that could be a huge perk for you. But remember, since your points are generally worth one cent each, this means that you’re getting 2% back on most purchases, with a bonus only on your Hotels.com purchases.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2 Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 spent on travel and dining-related purchases and 1 Ultimate Reward for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Chase has a broad definition of what a “travel” purchase can be, including taxi rides, parking fees, hotels, cruises, and more. You’ll likely earn double points on many purchases made while traveling and while at home. This means you are earning at least 2.5% back on your travel and dining purchases and 1.25% back on all other purchases, as long as you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Overall, the spending rewards are comparable depending on your needs.
Besides the spending rewards for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can also get points even faster if you pair the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with other Chase cards. For example, any points you earn with the Chase Freedom card, which offers 5 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on categories that rotate every quarter, you can transfer to your Sapphire Preferred account to add to your total Ultimate Rewards.
Best Options for Using Rewards
Chase has a travel portal where you can spend your points on nearly any flight, hotel, or rental car at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. Capital One allows you to redeem your Venture Miles for travel purchases already made using your Venture card. After you make a travel purchase, you log in to your account within 90 days and redeem your miles as payment for the purchase. Each Venture Mile is worth 1 cent. Capital One also has a travel portal that you can use to book flights or hotel stays, but you get more bang for your buck if you book with your card using a travel website in order to earn more points, then redeem the purchase using the points you already have.
Arguably the best way to spend your Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to one of nine different airline mileage programs. Your points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and you’ll find that transferable points can be worth MUCH more than flights booked through Chase’s travel portal.
Recently, Capital One introduced its own partner program similar to Chase. Now you can do a 2:1.5 miles transfer to partner airlines, and when paired with miles or points from other cards, it can work pretty well, but you generally won’t get quite as much value out of your Venture miles compared to Chase Ultimate Rewards due to the less favorable transfer rate.
When it comes to general perks, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture are in the same league. You won’t be charged foreign transaction fees with either card when you travel abroad.
Another perk they both offer is travel insurance, but Chase’s coverage is far better. Capital One offers Secondary Rental Car Insurance, Travel Accident Insurance, and Lost Luggage Insurance. Chase members get Primary Car Rental Insurance, Trip Interruption & Cancellation Protection for up to $10,000, Trip Delay Protection for up to $500, Baggage Delay Insurance & Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Purchase Protection, and an Extended Warranty Protection on select purchases. There’s no doubt you are more protected if you book your travel using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
Capital One also offers a $100 credit every four years to cover the application fee for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck, which is great if you need faster access through customs or gate security.
Both Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture are solid travel cards that are a great way to introduce yourself to the world of miles and points. Ultimately, the winner out of this comparison depends entirely on your spending habits, and how you plan to use your points to travel. Consider all the options and your lifestyle to make the best decision.
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