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

2d ago

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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. 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.

Related: The best starter travel credit cards of 2020

Among the top cards in this category are the TPG Award-winning Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, the one card The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, must have in his wallet. 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.

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In This Post

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
Sign-up bonus 80,000 points Up to 100,000 miles
Minimum spending requirement $4,000 in the first three months $3,000 in the first three months for 50,000 miles; $20,000 in the first 12 months for a total of 100,000 miles
Everyday spend earning rate 1x 2x
Bonus categories 5x on Lyft through March 2022

2x on Travel and Dining

See temporary bonus categories

5x on car rentals and hotels booked through Capital One Travel

See temporary bonus categories

Value of points/miles 1.25–2 cents each 1–1.4 cents each
Annual fee $95 $95
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 are currently offering elevated sign-up bonuses that can provide a ton of value to new cardholders.

Capital One Venture: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is offering up to 100,000 miles in the first year — 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of account opening, but you can earn a total of 100,000 miles by spending $20,000 in the first 12 months. At the very least, the first tier of 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 and based on TPG valuations, you should get about 1.4 cents of value per Capital One mile. This would make the sign-up bonus worth $700* at the lower tier to $1,400* if you hit the $20,000 spending threshold.

*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. 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. But like the Venture card, you can get an even greater return by leveraging Chase’s 10 airline and three 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. The card’s current sign-up bonus is incredibly lucrative. And even though it’s technically 20,000 fewer points, the spending requirement for those points is lower and you can potentially get more value out of the bonus, based on TPG valuations.

Related: 9 cards currently offering sign-up bonuses of 100,000 points or more

(Photo by Riley Arthur for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Riley Arthur for The Points Guy)

Earning

Capital One Venture: 5x miles (7% return based on TPG valuations) on car rentals and hotels booked through Capital One Travel and 2x miles (2.8% return based on TPG valuations) on all purchases with no annual cap. Capital One is also offering 5x on Uber Eats purchases through Jan. 31, 2021.

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. The card’s definition of travel is quite broad and includes expenses including tolls, parking and subway tickets.

Winner: Tie. The Capital One Venture comes out ahead on everyday spending, but it falls behind when it comes to specific categories and COVID-19 temporary earning benefits.

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

Related: Now offering a 80k sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review

Redeeming rewards

Both cards allow you to redeem rewards toward a number of 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 transfer partners at a 2:1.5 or 2:1 rate, depending on the carrier.

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 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.

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 Ultimate Rewards portal, points have a fixed value of 1.25 cents each. Through the end of September, 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.

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, such as the Park Hyatt New York, for 30,000 Hyatt points per night. (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 1 cent per point. While the addition of flat-rate redemption options on the Cap 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.

Related: Earn up to a 100k sign-up bonus: Review of the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card

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 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 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. 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 up 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 battle of the Chase Sapphire Preferred versus the Capital One Venture Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred came out ahead of the Capital One Venture Rewards. It offers a bigger sign-up bonus (if you only plan to hit the first spending/bonus tier on the Capital One card), 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.

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’ll be getting between $1,250 and $1,900 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 The Points Guy.

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.

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