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For years, the rewards credit card market was relatively dominated by cards that earned either Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards points. In fact, if you didn’t have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card back in 2012 you were likely to be the first voted off the miles and points island. The Sapphire Preferred is still a very solid card (and the TPG mid-tier card of the year for 2018), but as we round the bend to 2019, Chase and Amex have some very stiff competition from two cards that are both offering temporarily increased bonuses.

Sign-Up Bonus

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is temporarily offering 75,000 miles after spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months. These miles are worth a minimum of 1 cent each if redeemed directly for the cost of travel, making your bonus worth at least $750. However, this card will soon be updated to allow the transfer of miles to partner airlines. If you go that route, the 75,000-mile bonus will be worth about 56,000 miles, or closer to 64,000 miles if you factor in the $5,000 spent to trigger bonus. If redeemed via airline transfers, TPG values Venture miles at 1.4 cents apiece. You can think of this sign-up bonus as being worth $750 to $1,050, depending on your redemption patterns.

Not to be (too) outdone, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is offering a best-ever sign-up bonus of 70,000 miles after $5,000 in spending in the first 90 days (for a limited time). The miles can be redeemed for 1 cent each toward travel, meaning this sign-up bonus is worth $700 in travel expenses. In fact, it is slightly better than that as the card offers a 5% rebate on redeemed miles, which translates to a 2.1% return on purchases and makes 70k miles worth $735.

Winner: Capital One Venture Rewards

Earning

One of the enticing aspects of both the Arrival Plus and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for busy families is their simplicity. Both cards award 2 miles per dollar on purchases across categories. However, the Capital One Venture Rewards does have one special category — awarding 10x miles on purchases booked and paid via Hotels.com/Venture.

Winner: Capital One Venture Rewards

Redemption 

Both cards allow travelers simple redemption options by making it possible to use the points at a fixed value to wipe out travel charges made to the card, but there are nuances that vary a bit by card. With the Capital One Venture Card you can use miles at a value of 1 cent per mile for travel purchases made in the last 90 days.

The term “travel” with Capital One is pretty broad and includes everything from flight and hotel bookings to Uber and Airbnb purchases. There’s no minimum redemption amount, unless you’re redeeming for a partial credit, in which case you’ll need to use at least 2,500 miles.

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, miles can be used for travel purchases of at least $100 made within the last 120 days. You can also use your miles to cover the card’s annual fee. Barclays defines travel as purchases made with airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines and ferries.

From camping to airfare, use points for all sorts of travel
From camping to airfare, use points for all sorts of travel.

The cards were both pretty similar on the redemption side until recently. But, later this month, Capital One is launching the ability for those with the Capital One Venture Card (and some of its other products) to transfer points to miles at a ratio of 2 Capital One miles to 1.5 airline miles with the following programs:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Infinity MileageLands
  • Finnair Plus
  • Hainan Fortune Wings Club
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club

You may notice there are no US-based redemption partners in the line-up just yet, but there are some hidden gems on the list. Here is a roundup of some of our favorite redemptions from that line-up of transfer partners.

Winner: Capital One Venture Rewards

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is $89 and waived for the first year. The annual fee for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 in subsequent years.

I would give this category to the Arrival Plus by a slight margin, but I’ll call it a tie because the Venture Rewards Card also throws in a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every five years.

Winner: Tie

Using Abroad

Neither of these two cards charges foreign transaction fees, but the Arrival Plus takes things a step further for those looking to travel abroad.

The Arrival Plus is one of very few US-issued credit cards to have chip-and-PIN capability, making it an excellent choice to use overseas where chip-and-PIN cards are the standard. This is especially useful at unmanned kiosks in train stations.

Antwerp Central Train Station. (Photo by @caitsteph /Twenty20)
Antwerp Central Train Station (Photo by @caitsteph / Twenty20)

Winner: Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Bottom Line

With the 70,000 to 75,000 mile increased bonuses, both the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card would be great additions to your wallet and points arsenal. You could certainly theoretically get both cards, but if you are deciding between the two, the edge by my calculations currently goes to the Capital One Venture Rewards Card.

If you still aren’t sure which card is right for you, here are some other articles to help you decide.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.