Which Card is Best to Avoid Travel Blackout Dates?
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TPG reader Christina tweeted me to ask about how to avoid blackout dates with travel rewards:
@thepointsguy — "Your thoughts please: I want a card that lets me use points anytime with no blackouts. Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture?"
Flexibility is key these days; with airlines and hotels changing the rules, you need to have points that you can use for the travel you want, when you want it. When it comes to airline purchases, both of the cards Christina mentioned can be used to make pretty much any airline purchase.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you'll earn 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. Those points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents apiece toward travel. However, you have to book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, and some airlines won't show up there, such as Southwest and a number of smaller airlines around the world.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and you can redeem those miles for 1 cent apiece toward travel purchases. Basically, the card earns 2 percent back across the board.
The beauty of Capital One Venture is that you can actually wipe away regular charges that you've already made, so you don't need to book through any specific portal. You can use your card on a random little airline in the Maldives and then wipe that charge off your statement with miles, whereas you may not have been able to book that flight at all through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
It's still possible to book most flights with Chase, and technically you could be earning 2.5 percent back if you're maximizing the travel and dining bonuses on Sapphire Preferred. But I think for flexibility, the Capital One Venture card is pretty hard to beat.