Mid-tier travel card showdown: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, updated with new card details and information.
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 or not traveling much these days. Fortunately, there are plenty of mid-tier credit cards that will set you back less than $100 a year and still earn you lucrative travel rewards.
Related: The best starter travel credit cards
Among the top cards in this category are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Both come with annual fees of $95, which is very manageable for beginners and experts alike. Today we’ll take a look at how these two cards stack up in a head-to-head comparison.
Here are the basics of each of these two cards in the major categories:
Comparing Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
|Card details||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Capital One Venture Rewards|
|Sign-up bonus||80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
Up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year from account opening
|100,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 on the card within the first 12 months of account opening or 50,000 miles if you spent $3,000 on purchases in the first three months|
|Everyday spend earning rate||1x||2x|
|Bonus categories||5x on Lyft through March 2022
2x on travel and dining
|Value of points/miles||1.25–2 cents each||1–1.4 cents each|
|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||Transfer rewards miles to 13 airline and two hotel partners, 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, redeem rewards with PayPal, pay for Amazon.com purchases|
Both cards are currently offering solid sign-up bonuses that can provide a ton of value to new cardholders.
Capital One Venture: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers 100,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 on the card within the first 12 months of account opening. If the minimum spending requirement is a tough pill to swallow for you, you can still earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. At the very least, the bonus gets you $500 in free travel if you redeem at a fixed value directly through Capital One.
However, if you decide on going for the 100k bonus, the value of the sign-up bonus rises to $1,400 if transferring miles to airline or hotel transfer partners, based on TPG’s valuations of 1.4 cents of value per Capital One mile.
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Plus, you’ll get up to $50 in statement credits toward grocery store purchases within your first year from 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 $1,000 in travel (before factoring in the statement credits). But like the Venture card, you can get an even greater return by leveraging Chase’s airline or hotel transfer partners.
If you do decide to transfer, TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this bonus worth $1,600. Although, 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.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Even if you don’t transfer your points, you’ll get more value from this card’s sign-up bonus. The card also goes one step further by offering up to a $50 statement credit toward grocery store purchases within your first year from account opening.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: 5x points (10% return based on TPG valuations) on Lyft, 2x points (4% return) on all restaurant and travel purchases and 1x point per dollar (2% return) on all other purchases. Travel is defined quite broadly and includes some everyday expenses, including tolls, parking and subway tickets. Dining includes standard restaurants, bars and coffee shops, food delivery services and even vending machines.
The Capital One Venture comes out ahead on everyday spending, but it falls behind when it comes to specific categories.
Both cards allow you to redeem rewards toward many purchases — but travel redemptions always provide the best value.
Capital One Venture: If it’s simplicity you’re after and you 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 toward travel bookings made through Capital One Travel or redeem them for 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 13 airline or two hotel transfer partners at a 2:1.5 or 2:1 rate, depending on the airline or hotel.
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, cash back or on Amazon and PayPal purchases — but know it will be at subpar redemption rates. Or if you’re feeling generous, you can transfer your points to someone else without any fees.
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 Ultimate Rewards portal, points have a fixed value of 1.25 cents each. Through the end of April 2021, you can also use Chase’s new Pay Yourself Back feature to get the same 25% bonus on some non-travel purchases.
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. Partners include familiar programs such as United MileagePlus, British Airways Executive Club and World of Hyatt, giving you lots of options to book domestic and international award trips.
You can also redeem points for gift cards and cash back, but you’ll only get 1 cent per point.
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 1 cent per point. While the addition of flat-rate redemption options on the Capital One Venture is nice in the short term, the Chase Sapphire Preferred still offers the best long-term value when it comes to redemption choices.
Understandably, you aren’t going to get as many perks with a $95-a-year card as you will with a premium card that costs a couple of hundred dollars each year. Still, both cards offer an array of benefits that add even more value.
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 an up to $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.
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 involving 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. As part of temporary benefit additions in light of the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll also get up to $50 in statement credits toward an Instacart Express membership (annual or monthly) through the end of September.
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.
Bottom line: Which one should you choose?
In the Chase Sapphire Preferred battle versus the Capital One Venture Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred came out ahead of Capital One Venture Rewards. On paper, it offers a bigger sign-up bonus, better travel protections and superior redemption options.
However, the best option for you depends on your personal spending patterns and redemption goals at the end of the day. For example, the Venture card earns more points on everyday spending, but it can be easier to find value through Chase’s transfer partners than with Capital One partners’ selection. The Sapphire 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.
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 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 could get $3,000 worth of travel in the first year for less than $200 in annual fees. So it’s a win-win if you decide to sign up for both cards.
Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.
Featured image by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
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