Starter Card Showdown: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture

Aug 29, 2019

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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 starter credit cards that will set you back less than $100 a year and still earn lucrative travel rewards.

Among the top cards in this category are the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred 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.

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

Comparing Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Capital One Venture Rewards Chase Sapphire Preferred
Sign-Up Bonus 50,000 miles 60,000 points
Minimum Spending Requirement $3,000 in the first three months $4,000 in the first three months
Everyday Spend Earning Rate 2x 1x
Bonus Categories 10x at Hotels.com/Venture (through January 2020) 2x on Travel and Dining
Value of Points/Miles 1-1.4 cents each 1.25-2 cents each
Transfer Partners 14 13
Annual Fee $95 (waived the first year) $95
Foreign Transaction Fees None None
Other Benefits Secondary auto-rental coverage, extended warranty protection, purchase security, travel-accident insurance and lost-luggage reimbursement and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years Primary auto-rental coverage, extended-warranty protection, purchase protection, trip-delay reimbursement, baggage-delay reimbursement, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel-accident insurance and lost-luggage insurance

Sign-Up Bonus

Both cards offer generous sign-up bonuses — and with the Capital One Venture, you can try out the card for a year without paying a fee.

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, with airline transfer partners available, you should get about 1.4 cents of value per Capital One mile (per TPG valuations and the issuer), making this bonus worth $700.

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 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. The one exception to this rule is for Hotels.com bookings. Thanks to a partnership that runs through January 2020, you’ll earn 10 miles for every dollar spent when you use the card to book hotels at Hotels.com/Venture (14% return). That’s by far the highest spending bonus of any credit card for hotel spend in the market today.

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 subways.

Winner: Capital One Venture. Putting aside the value you’ll get for these points on redemption, the everyday earning rate is better with the Venture than the Sapphire Preferred. Plus, if you stack the Venture’s Hotels.com bonus with the Hotels.com Rewards program, you’ll essentially be getting a 24% return on hotel bookings, which can provide amazing savings even if you’re not a road warrior.

When it comes to hotel stays,
When it comes to hotel stays, the Capital One Venture and Hotels.com partnership is unbeatable with a 24% return.

Redeeming

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

Capital One Venture: If it’s 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 apiece toward booking new travel through Capital One or erasing a previous travel purchase made within the last 90 days. If, on the other hand, you enjoy the thrill of finding and 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 and 10x on Hotels.com, you’re basically getting 1-1.5 or 5-7.5 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 offers frequent 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, 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 flights from mainland US to Hawaii on United in economy for 35,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles and one-way domestic US first class awards on flights less than 1,151 miles for 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 more favorable transfer partners and they aren’t limited to airlines, plus it has a better transfer ratio. But depending on your own travel plans, there may be scenarios where the Venture card and Capital One miles would be more valuable.

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 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 card is also a Visa Signature, 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 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. However, the Venture card offers a fee credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application every four years, so this could tip the scales toward Venture for some travelers.

(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. However, 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 a greater return on travel purchases, but the 24% return on Hotels.com bookings with the Capital One Venture is also huge.

However, you don’t necessarily need to consider the two cards as mutually exclusive. They’d actually complement each other if you got both: Use the Venture card for everyday and Hotels.com 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:

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

SIGN-UP BONUS: 50,000 Miles

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $700

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 10X miles on stays booked and paid for through Hotels.com/Venture + 2x miles on everything else. Miles are now transferrable to over a dozen airline partners

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

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More Things to Know
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Balance Transfer Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

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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