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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 one that I recommend to families). But now in 2019, Chase and Amex have some very stiff competition from two cards offering a different flavor of miles and points.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard may not be as flashy as some of the other cards on the market, but for some types of travelers, they are at least as good both for the bonus and long-term earning potential. Since they have many similarities, let’s breakdown the value proposition of the two cards and decide which one has the edge over the other.

Sign-Up Bonus

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card currently offers 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months. These miles are worth 1 cent each if redeemed directly for the cost of travel, making your bonus worth at least $500. The card also allows the transfer of miles to partner airlines. If you go that route, the 50,000-mile bonus could be worth more, especially if you learned some of the top redemptions and award chart sweet spots. If redeemed via airline partner transfers, TPG values Venture miles at 1.4 cents apiece. You can think of this sign-up bonus as being worth $500 or more, depending on your redemption patterns.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard bests Capital One’s bonus by offering a best-ever sign-up bonus of 70,000 miles after $5,000 in spending in the first 90 days. 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: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

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. My family has been using this more and more in recent months to rack up the miles.

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 Rewards 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 December 2018. That’s when Capital One launched the ability for those with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (and some of its other products) to transfer points to miles to most programs at a ratio of 2 Capital One miles to 1.5 airline miles (though two airlines transfer at a 2:1 ratio). You can transfer Capital One points to the following airline programs:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Emirates Skywards (2:1)
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Infinity MileageLands
  • Finnair Plus
  • Hainan Fortune Wings Club
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore KrisFlyer (2:1)

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. With the addition of these partners, this category goes to Capital One.

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 up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.

Winner: Tie

Using Abroad

Neither of these two cards charge 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

Learn By Watching

Still confused as to which card is best for your situation? We have videos on both options to help you out.

Bottom Line

With the 50,000 to 70,000 mile bonuses worth at least $500 in travel, 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 Barclaycard Arrival Plus is best by a hair if you don’t think you will use the Venture Card’s transfer partners and don’t plan to make use of the 10x Hotels.com opportunity. If transferring miles and 10x miles on some hotel stays sounds quite nice, then the pendulum shifts back toward Capital One being your next move.

If you are still debating the choice, here are some other articles to help you decide.

Know before you go.

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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.