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What’s in your wallet, and should it be?
If you asked me about a showdown between Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred two years ago, I would’ve said, “What showdown?” That’s because Venture seemed like a straight forward cash back credit card, and Chase Sapphire Preferred was the most accessible travel credit card on the market. Two years later, the evolution of the Capital One Venture card has transformed it into a definitively competitive, instantly lucrative travel credit card. Here’s a side by side comparison of these two workhorses in the travel credit card game…
Both cards waive the annual fee for the first year. Each card charges a $95 annual fee for each year thereafter. Without weighing in card benefits, points benefits or earning rates, this is basically a dead heat – and is too close to call.
The Capital One Venture Card offers a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® applications, and if you already have either or both, you can gift the application to someone else. Today, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card does not offer any fee credits for these programs. These programs allow for expedited airport security and immigration lanes at available U.S. airports, where you can leave your shoes on and your electronics in your bags! Both cards offer Visa Signature benefits for cardholders approved with a credit limit of $5,000 or more. These benefits can help save on hotels, car rentals and score VIP perks around the world. We’ll take the statement credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry any day!
Both cards offer a standard sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after completing a set amount of spending within the first three months of card membership. You’ll need to spend $3,000 on Capital One Venture, versus $4,000 on Chase Sapphire Preferred to unlock your 50,000 sign up bonus points. Your ability to spend $3,000 or $4,000 in the first three months responsibly is an important factor in choosing. When it comes to the value of the sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes out slightly ahead, with the ability to transfer points to airline or hotels to unlock more aspirational travel experience and also a higher redemption rate.
Earning Points On Spending
The Capital One Venture card earns 2X miles on all purchases and a whopping 10X miles at Hotels.com/venture, whereas the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 1X Points on all purchases except dining and travel purchases where it earns 2X. Even though Capital One Venture miles are generally worth 1 cent a piece for any travel purchase and Chase Sapphire Preferred Points are more valuable, at 1.25 cents apiece for any travel purchase made through Chase, earning 2 miles instead of 1 for every transaction means you still come ahead on earnings from every day non travel or dining spending with Capital One Venture. Let’s break it down.
Even as a travel blogger, I don’t quite spend all my money on travel. If, let’s say, I spend $20,000 a year on Venture, I’ll earn at least 40,000 points worth $400 in travel because everything is 2X. If I spend $20,000 a year on Chase Sapphire Preferred, and spend $5,000 of that on travel and dining – I’ll earn 25,000 points – 10,000 from Travel and Dining, and 15,000 for all your other purchases. These Chase Ultimate Rewards Points would tally up to be worth $312.50 of value toward any travel purchase when you factor in the 1.25 cents per point of value when redeemed through Chase. I’d need to spend more than $12,000 in travel and dining on Chase Sapphire Preferred to come out ahead. If I happened to spend 20,000 on travel and dining alone, I’d come out ahead with Chase Sapphire Preferred on earnings, but sadly, I have other expenses as well and with 20,000 in total spend broken like above, Venture wins. Do the math for your personal needs, based on your spending habits.
Chase has a major added benefit to their points earning, with the ability to convert Ultimate Rewards Points into airline miles or hotel points. But restrictive airline seat availability and hefty airline surcharges levied by some airlines may make it hard for travelers who are constrained by tight travel dates or budgets to transfer their points for great value. Plus, for travelers who still wish to earn elite status points and frequent flyer miles to take full advantage, it’s great to use Capital One Venture Miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly with the credit card company, so that you can still earn perks for your points bookings.
And not to be forgotten, in addition to the 10X Capital One Venture Miles you get for using the Hotels.com/Venture partnership, you still earn rewards from Hotels.com via their own loyalty program, where you get a free night – minus taxes and fees – for every 10 total nights you stay. Yep, stay 10 total nights, regardless of hotel or chain, or even vacation rental, and after you do – free night! That’s effectively 10% savings. The free night is an average of what you paid for your 10 nights, and can be used at any eligible property around the world, on any date that it’s not sold out!
Both cards offer simple interfaces for booking any flight, hotel or other travel purchase via their travel websites. At the end of the year, you’ll have a nice stack of points or miles with either credit card and can spend them without blackout dates on any flight, hotel or car rental. These points are safer than collecting a single airline or hotels loyalty points, since they are free from devaluation. The Chase Travel site is slightly newer than Capital One and is improving quickly. With that in mind Capital One’s ability to go back in time and “erase” previous travel purchases with miles, or book new hotels, car rentals or flights with miles outright is slightly more flexible. You honestly really can’t go wrong with either, and either way – you don’t have to stress about finding availability, or multiple seats or rooms on peak dates.
The Final Verdict
In my opinion, there’s no question you’re getting more for your annual fee with Capital One Venture than with Chase Sapphire Preferred, thanks to the TSA Pre✓®/Global Entry application credit and up to 20% back on Hotels.com bookings made via Hotels.com/Venture. The best decision ultimately comes down to your travel style and flexibility, but whichever card you choose, you’re getting one of the best returns on your spend in the travel rewards card game.
If you can fly on any given date, where there may only be one available seat per month, you can almost definitely unlock more aspirational “luxury” travel experiences by transferring points into miles with Chase Sapphire Preferred. But, for those who are stuck with school schedules, limited vacation time or must travel during national holidays, the earning rate on Venture makes it a (semi) surprising winner here.