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Battle of the big 100,000 sign-up bonuses: Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

June 21, 2021
12 min read
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I'm actively planning and booking a lot of trips right now. And now that I'm fully vaccinated, I've started to fly a bit once again. That has included not only domestic trips but also Italy, with more to come. If you're also looking to get back to travel this year, now could be an excellent time to sign up for a new card. After all, several of the best rewards credit cards are currently offering higher-than-usual sign-up bonuses.

Related: 11 cards currently offering sign-up bonuses of 100,000 points or more

In particular, two of the best starter travel rewards cards -- the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card -- are now offering elevated sign-up bonuses. I've had the Capital One Venture for many years and I added the Chase Sapphire Preferred to my wallet last year. I can personally attest that both of these cards are excellent options if you're looking for a new travel rewards card -- especially while the bonuses are at 100,000 points/miles.

Since both cards currently offer increased sign-up bonuses, there are strong arguments for choosing each card as the next addition to your wallet. Today I'll compare the increased sign-up bonuses currently offered by both cards. I'll also compare the value that you can get from each bonus and highlight some differences in each card's redemption options. This way, you can choose the card and sign-up bonus that provides the most value to you.

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Capital One Venture

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a popular beginner card, primarily due to its straightforward earning and simple redemption options. In particular, the card's structure is why TPG's Brian Kelly picked the Capital One Venture as the card he'd keep if he could only keep one.

The Capital One Venture was initially popular because it allowed consumers to redeem rewards to offset recent travel purchases. But, in 2018, Capital One added the option to transfer your miles to select airline and hotel partners. The program has recently added even more transfer partners and improved some of the transfer ratios.

And, through June 30, 2021, you can also redeem miles at a rate of 1 cent per point toward select non-travel purchases.

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Related: 7 types of purchases you should make with your Capital One Venture card

100,000-mile sign-up bonus

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card currently offers an elevated sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening. Or, if this is a bit more than you can spend in 12 months, you can still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. If you can earn the full 100,000 miles, that's the highest we have ever seen this offer.

If you redeem Capital One miles at a fixed value of 1 cent per mile, the full 100,000-mile bonus will be worth $1,000. But, if you transfer Capital One miles to airline and hotel partners, TPG's valuations estimate that the 100,000-mile bonus will be worth $1,700 (not provided by the issuer). In particular, two of the best Capital One transfer partners are Avianca Lifemiles and Etihad Guest.

However, you may not be eligible for this bonus if you are an existing or previous Venture cardholder.

Related: To transfer or not to transfer: What to do with Capital One miles

Who should get the Capital One Venture?

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is an excellent everyday spending card. You'll earn:

  • 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases (3.4% return based on TPG valuations and not the issuer)

However, the Capital One Venture does have a $95 annual fee. The card's sizeable sign-up bonus and the up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credit every four years can initially justify this annual fee. But, in subsequent years, you should consider how much value the card's earning rates and transfer partners are providing.

You may be able to justify paying the annual fee for many years to come if you frequently use your Capital One Venture for non-bonus category spending for items including insurance bills, exercise and home improvement expenses. But, if the card mainly sits unused in your wallet or sock drawer, you likely won't be able to justify the annual fee year after year.

To learn more, read the Capital One Venture card review.

Related: 5 reasons to apply for the Capital One Venture Card right now

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the cards I most often recommend to friends looking for a new travel rewards card. After all, there are many reasons to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred. TPG's Summer Hull strongly believes the Sapphire Preferred should be the first rewards card in your wallet.

Related: What credit score do you need to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card?

100,000-point sign-up bonus

Now is a perfect time to add the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to your wallet. After all, the card is currently offering a best-ever sign-up bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Like with the Venture card, we've never seen the public bonus for the card go higher than this.

If you redeem the 100,000-point bonus for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you'll receive a 25% points bonus meaning that you'll get $1,250 in travel. But, if you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to airline or hotel partners, TPG's valuations estimate the bonus is worth $2,000. And the Chase Ultimate Rewards program has some valuable transfer partners, including United, World of Hyatt and Virgin Atlantic.

However, you'll only be eligible for the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you don't currently have any Sapphire card, you haven't received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months and you are under Chase's 5/24 rule. You can always check in your Chase account to see if Chase has targeted you for a card offer that may bypass some of these restrictions.

Related: 6 sweet spots that get you more value for your Ultimate Rewards

Who should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a solid mid-tier card for dining and travel purchases. Specifically, the card earns:

  • 5x total points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out
  • 3x points on select streaming services
  • 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022 (10% return based on TPG's valuations)
  • 5 points per dollar on Peloton Bike, Tread and accessory purchase over $1,800, with a max earn of 25,000 points.
  • 2 points per dollar on travel (4% return)
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else (2% return)

But beyond the point earnings, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers various travel and purchase protection benefits.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred's primary auto rental collision damage waiver protects most rentals made with the card. And, if a common carrier delays your trip for more than 12 hours (or you're stranded overnight), Chase may reimburse up to $500 per ticket for reasonable additional expenses.

To learn more, read the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review.

Related: Should the Chase Sapphire Preferred be your next card?

Which sign-up bonus is better?

It's difficult to say which sign-up bonus is better for you without knowing how you'll use the bonus. Plus, there's a lot more to a card besides its sign-up bonus. But, this guide does focus on sign-up bonuses. So, let's look at a few reasons why each sign-up bonus might be better for you.

Related: Mid-tier travel card showdown: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture

Sign-up bonus value

First off, let's look at the pure value of the bonuses. The Capital One Venture's bonus is worth $1,000 if you redeem at a fixed rate. And, TPG's valuations estimate the value of 100,000 Capital One miles at $1,700 if you transfer your miles to hotel or airline partners.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred's bonus is worth more at $1,250 if you redeem for travel through the Chase Travel portal. But, based on TPG's valuations, 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth about $2,000 when transferred to hotel and airline partners.

If you plan to transfer your sign-up bonus to airline and hotel partners, on average, the Sapphire Preferred's bonus likely has the edge.

But, it gets more complicated if you don't plan to transfer your bonus to partners. The Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus can be used for $1,250 in travel booked via Chase or via the Chase Pay Yourself Back program for $1,250 in value against eligible charges.

Through Sept. 30, 2021, those with a Sapphire Preferred card can redeem points at 1.25 cents each towards eligible dining, grocery store and home improvement charges made to the card. When used that way, the 100,000 point bonus gets you $1,250 in value.

However, the advantage of the Capital One Venture is that while the minimum spending requirement to earn the bonus is much higher, you also have a very long time to do it, which could help if you have large expenses further down the road. Additionally, you can use those points at a fixed value to any travel charge made to the card, making it a bit more flexible than the ways you can use the Chase bonus.

Related: Which card is better for airline transfers? Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture go head-to-head

Sign-up bonus and product eligibility

Your eligibility for each bonus is also an essential factor to consider.

So, before applying for either card, read the ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions as well as the guide to Chase's 5/24 rule. After all, there's no point in applying if you have zero chance of being approved.

If you're currently under Chase's 5/24 rule but expect to go over 5/24, it's likely best to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred now. Then, you can focus on building a Chase Trifecta or Chase Quartet to maximize your earnings.

However, Capital One can be skittish when it comes to recent inquiries. So, there's an argument for snagging the Capital One Venture now if you don't have any recent inquiries on your credit report.

Related: 8 ways to maximize your chances of being approved for a credit card

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card both offer impressive sign-up bonuses currently. Getting 100,000 points or miles from either card is a fantastic opportunity, so you can't really go wrong.

Assuming you are eligible for the bonus on both cards and only want to get one, I'd recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. After all, the Sapphire Preferred's bonus is more valuable based on TPG's valuations. And, it's generally best to snag a Chase credit card when you have an open Chase 5/24 slot.

However, especially if you find the fixed-value redemption structure of the Capital One Venture appealing, there are certainly arguments for snagging the Capital One Venture now. But, since both cards currently offer elevated sign-up bonuses, I wouldn't let the sign-up bonus dictate my card choice between the cards as both bonuses are excellent so you almost can't make a mistake. Instead, I'd choose the card that best fits my spending habits, redemption preferences and lifestyle.

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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