Starter card showdown: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture

Mar 21, 2020

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Shelling out hundreds of dollars in annual fees for premium credit cards is not for everyone, especially when you’re new to the points and miles world. But there are plenty of travel credit cards that will set you back less than $100 a year — and still earn you lucrative travel rewards.

Among the top cards in this category are the TPG Award-winning Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Both come with annual fees of $95, although only Capital One waives the fee for the first year. Today we’ll take a look at how these two cards stack up in a head-to-head comparison.

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In This Post

Photo by The Points Guy.

Here are the basics of each of these two cards in the major categories:

Comparing Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred Capital One Venture Rewards
Welcome bonus 60,000 miles 50,000 points
Minimum spending requirement $4,000 in the first three months $3,000 in the first three months
Everyday spend earning rate 1x 2x
Bonus categories 2x on Travel and Dining N/A
Value of points/miles 1.25-2 cents each 1-1.4 cents each
Transfer partners 13 17
Annual fee $95 $95 (waived the first year)
Foreign transaction fees None None
Other benefits Primary auto rental coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services, extended warranty protection, purchase protection, lost-luggage insurance Secondary auto rental coverage, extended warranty protection, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, 24-hour travel assistance services, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years

Sign-up bonus

Both cards offer generous sign-up bonuses and flexibility when it comes to redeeming rewards:

Capital One Venture: 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening. At the very least, this bonus gets you $500 in free travel if you redeem at a fixed value directly through Capital One. However by transferring miles to airline transfer partners, you should get about 1.4 cents of value per Capital One mile. This would make the welcome bonus worth $700.

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here. 

Official Application Link: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card with a 50,000-mile bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Since points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, the bonus is guaranteed to be worth at least $750 in travel. But like the Venture card, you can get an even greater return by leveraging Chase’s transfer partners.

If you do decide to transfer, our Chase points value is currently 2 cents, making this bonus can be worth $1200. Keep in mind that if you’ve opened five or more personal cards with any issuer in the past 24 months, you won’t be eligible to get the Sapphire Preferred because of Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Official Application Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 60,000-point bonus

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred. The card requires an additional $1,000 of spending within the same time frame as the Venture Card, but there are plenty of ways to easily meet the higher minimum spending requirement even if you have low monthly expenses, such as picking up the tab when dining out with friends or purchasing gift cards.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
The sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred is more valuable, even when you consider the Venture’s waived annual fee the first year. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Earning

Capital One Venture: 2x miles (2.8% return) on all purchases with no annual cap. There are no bonus categories to keep track of — very straightforward.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 2x points (4% return) on all restaurant and travel purchases and 1x point per dollar (2% return) on all other purchases. The card’s definition of travel is quite broad and includes expenses like tolls, parking and subway tickets.

Winner: Tie. The Capital One Venture comes out ahead on everyday spending, but falls behind on travel and dining spending. If dining is a substantial spending category for you, then you’ll be better served by the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

When it comes to hotel stays,
The Capital One Venture is best for everyday, non-bonus category spending. (Photo by The Points Guy)

Redeeming rewards

Both cards allow you to redeem rewards toward travel, gift cards and cash back — but travel redemptions always provide the best value.

Capital One Venture: If its simplicity you’re after and don’t want to worry about blackout dates or finding award space, you could redeem your Venture miles at a locked value of 1 cent each towards travel bookings made through Capital One or erasing a previous travel purchase within the last 90 days. If, on the other hand, you enjoy the thrill of booking high-value premium cabin awards, you could squeeze more value from your miles by transferring them to Capital One’s airline transfer partners at a 2:1.5 or 2:1 rate, depending on the partner.

Since the card earns 2x miles on everyday spending, you’re basically getting 1-1.5 miles or points with an airline transfer partner for every dollar you spend. Some highlights of Capital One’s transfer partners include Lufthansa business class with no fuel surcharges through Avianca LifeMiles for 63,000 miles one-way, American Airlines business class to Europe through Etihad Guest for 50,000 miles one-way and Alitalia business to Italy through the carrier’s MilleMiglia program for 48,000 miles one-way. Capital One also routinely offers transfer bonuses like a 25% bonus when transferring to Avianca LifeMiles and a 100% bonus when transferring to Emirates Skywards.

If you’re not seeking travel rewards, you can redeem your miles for gift cards and cash back, but at subpar redemption rates of 1 cent and 0.5 cents per mile, respectively. Or, if you’re feeling generous, you can transfer your points to someone else without any fees.

Transfer your miles to Avianca to fly in Lufthansa business class. (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

Chase Sapphire Preferred: As with the Venture card, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed toward travel at a fixed value or transferred. As previously mentioned, if you book travel reservations through the Chase travel portal, points have a fixed value of 1.25 cents each. However, the way to get top value from your points is by transferring them to one of Chase’s airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio.

We’ve written in depth before about maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but some highlights include booking top-tier Category 7 Hyatt hotels such as the Park Hyatt New York for 30,000 points per night, round-trip United economy flights from mainland U.S. to Hawaii for 35,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles and one-way domestic first class awards starting at 16,500 British Airways Avios.

You can also redeem points for gift cards and cash back, but you’ll only get 1 cent per point.

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)
Stay at Category 7 Hyatt properties like the Park Hyatt New York for 30,000 Hyatt points per nights. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

 

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred. The card offers better transfer partners at a more favorable ratio. Plus, you can redeem points for cash rewards or statement credits at a rate of one cent per point. With so many people concerned about the pandemic rather than future travel plans, redeeming points for cash back may be preferable. The favorable redemption rate for cash back on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a definite advantage.

Other benefits

Capital One Venture: Among the features of this card are no foreign transaction fees, extended warranty protection, purchase security and Visa Signature travel benefits such as travel-accident insurance, lost-luggage reimbursement and secondary auto rental coverage. The card also offers a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit — this is a perk generally seen on cards with higher annual fees and it can make a huge difference in speeding up your journey through the airport when the program is reinstated.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Since this is also a Visa Signature card, it offers practically the same benefits, but kicked up a notch. Most notably, it includes primary rental car coverage rather than secondary, which means that you can submit claims directly to your card without needing to involve your own personal insurance policy at all. Plus, the Sapphire Preferred’s travel benefits are also superior — up to $500 in trip delay reimbursement if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or overnight, up to $10,000 in trip cancellation and interruption insurance per person ($20,000 per trip) and up to $100 per day for up to five days in baggage delay reimbursement if your bag is delayed more than six hours.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred. The card offers more extensive travel protections, including trip delay and baggage delay reimbursement. Most importantly, the Sapphire Preferred offers primary rental coverage while the Venture Card’s benefit is secondary. If you’re ever involved in a fender bender while in a rental car, the protection offered by the Sapphire Preferred can save you a lot of hassle and money.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
If storms cancel your flight and leave you stranded overnight in transit, you’ll be glad you booked using your Sapphire Preferred. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Which one should you choose?

In the battle of the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. the Capital One Venture Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred came out ahead of the Capital One Venture Rewards. It offers a bigger welcome bonus, better travel protections and superior redemption options.

At the end of the day, the best option for you depends on your personal spending patterns and redemption goals. For example, the Venture card earns more points on everyday spend, but it can be easier to find value through Chase’s transfer partners than with the selection of Capital One partners. The Preferred offers more extensive travel protections, but the Venture’s Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit could also be quite valuable down the line.

However, you don’t necessarily need to consider the two cards as mutually exclusive. After all, the Capital One Venture Card is one of the best Capital One credit cards and the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best Chase credit cards on the market today. They two actually complement each other if you got both: Use the Venture card for everyday purchases and the Preferred for dining and other travel spending. Plus, between the two sign-up bonuses, you’ll be getting between $1,250 and $1,900 worth of travel while paying just one $95 annual fee in the first year.

For more on the Capital One Venture Rewards card:

For more on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:

Featured image by The Points Guy.

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