If you are in the market for a travel rewards credit card, you’ve probably heard of the Capital One Venture Rewards Card and the Chase Sapphire® Preferred Card. Each has plenty of strong benefits to offer. However, as you probably don’t want to overload your wallet with plastic, you probably want to know which is better? Let’s find out!
Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Visa offer the opportunity to earn 40,000 bonus miles. With the Venture Rewards card, however, you only need to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months for this perk. With the Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll receive 40,000 bonus points only if you spend at least $4,000 within the first three months.
The initial advantage seems to be with CapitalOne because of the lower spending requirement.
However, Chase offers the opportunity to earn an additional 5,000 bonus miles if you add an authorized user within the first 3 months of card ownership. And you get a 25% bonus for all miles redeemed through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards® program. By spending $4,000 in 3 months with the Sapphire Preferred card you can earn a bonus actually worth 50,000 miles (the equivalent of $500) and a second bonus for an authorized user worth another 6,250 miles when redeeming through Chase.
With the Sapphire Preferred travel rewards card, the initial bonus points can be worth up to the equivalent of 56,250 point.
The advantage goes to Chase. But it was close.
Earning Regular Rewards Points
After the exhilaration of having all those bonus points (or miles) subsides, it is important to have a card that offers rewards for each purchase that you make. Each of these cards does so, so you won’t lose any sleep in this regard.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn two points per dollar spent on travel and dining. All other purchases qualify for one point per dollar spent, so you’ll always walk away with something.
And, as noted above, your points will be worth 25 percent more when redeeming them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards program. For example, a flight that typically costs $500 will cost $400 when booked in this fashion.
With the Capital One Venture Rewards card, all other purchases are good for two miles per dollar spent.
So, in terms of purchase rewards, most people will do better with Capital One’s offer, as they’ll get at least two miles per dollar spent (versus 2.5 points for travel and dining and 1.25 points elsewhere with Chase’s offer).
Don't take our word for ... check out the "Travel Rewards Compared" section for a real life example of how you earn more total points with the Venture Rewards card.
Both cards offer introductory annual fees of $0 to get you hooked. But after that, the annual fee for the Venture Rewards Visa card is $59, versus $95.
The difference in annual fees erases 36,000 points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and more than offsets the initial signup bonus opportunities.
The advantage here goes to the Capital One® Venture Rewards card, which has now taken the lead.
Other Card Benefits
While points or miles are the face of most rewards programs, there are other benefits that can add significant value to a credit card.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll be able to transfer your points at a 1-to-1 ratio to various frequent flyer programs. Effectively, this card doubles as a miles card for such programs. This is a benefit that is not found on most other cards, so you’ll have this advantage while using this card.
As of the writing of this article, Chase's travel partners include several leading airlines and hotel chains, namely: United, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Hyatt, and Marriott). You can click here to see the complete least of Chase travel partners.
The Capital One Venture Rewards card offers many of the same benefits that you’ll find on plenty of other cards. These include fraud protection, auto rental insurance, roadside assistance and other common perks. And, of course, the ability to use your travel rewards on other travel expenses, not just airline flights.
In a nutshell, Chase wins out in terms of other benefits because of the ability to transfer your points at a 1-to-1 ratio to frequent flyer programs. Yes, this is technically a points benefit, but it is more of a side-perk that is not offered with most other cards, not a way to earn points.
This round is a slight advantage to Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card, but it still leaves Capital One’s Venture Rewards card in the lead and the winner.
Potential Travel Rewards Compared
Let’s take a closer look comparing how many travel rewards points you can earn with each card.
Suppose that you will spend $50,000 in your first year with either card using the following breakdown:
- $5,000 on travel
- $5,000 on dining
- $5,000 on other purchases through the issuer’s network (at the middle of the possible points rewards – ex: 5 points per dollar spent with Chase, which offers 1 to 10 through the Ultimate Rewards Mall)
- $35,000 on all other purchases
And let’s give 2.25 points per dollar spent on travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, as that’s the effective value when booking it through the Ultimate Rewards program. We know that to take full advantage of this "bonus" from Chase, you need to book with one of their partners (which include United Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt and Marriott hotels). But for the sake of comparison, we are giving every possible advantage to Chase. And, even then, you will see that Capital One Venture Rewards provides a better value.
Note that the total values below takes the annual fee into consideration for the second year, as you will not incur that fee until then.
Year 1 Card Value Comparison
Signup Bonus Points/Miles
Year 2 Card Value Comparison
Now, let’s see how this would play out during the second year, using the same assumptions, but including the annual fees (which were only waived for the first year).
So, given this example, you can expect to earn more rewards benefits from the Capital One Venture Rewards Card both the first year and on an on-going basis.
- Earn $350 more rewards with the Venture Rewards Card in Year 1 (or $343,75 more if an authorized user is added to the Chase card).
- Acquire $486 more in rewards with the Capital One Venture Rewards per annum after the first year.
Anyway you slice it, in the battle of Capital One Venture Rewards card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the Venture Rewards Visa card offers significantly more money/miles/points for your troubles.
From year two (and on), the gap widens. In this example, you would receive an additional $486 in rewards by choosing the Capital One Venture Rewards card over the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. That’s a month or more worth of groceries for some households – not a bad deal at all.
So, while you’ll be able to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card as a frequent flyer card in many cases, the Capital One Venture Rewards card offers more value to the average person. By using it, you’ll likely receive hundreds of dollars in extra rewards that you wouldn’t get with the Sapphire Preferred card.
In a comparison of top travel rewards credit cards, our analysis shows that the Capital One Venture Rewards card is the one that deserves to be in your wallet.
Last Update: August 18, 2015