Which card is better for airline transfers? Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture go head-to-head
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Transferable credit card points are one of the most valuable currencies you can earn, especially in the COVID-19 era.
These programs give you maximum flexibility to redeem for what you want — from using points to offset everyday charges to employing them for travel options. And for when you’re ready to fly again, transferring to airlines is often the most lucrative way to use your points.
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Two of the most popular mid-tier travel cards — Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card — are both TPG fan favorites for good reason. You can use both cards to redeem or transfer points to a variety of airline partners.
Let’s take a closer look at the airlines for each of their respective programs to see which one comes out on top.
The points (and miles) programs
The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on all travel and dining purchases and the Capital One Venture earns 2x miles on every purchase. Keep in mind that Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents each while Capital One miles are worth 1.4 cents each, according to TPG valuations.
Both the Chase and Capital One cards offer access to some of the best hotel and airline transfer partners in the industry, as well as easy-to-use travel portals that allow you to cover a wide variety of different travel costs, including car rentals, hotels, flights, tours and activities.
For the sake of this comparison, we’ll focus on the airlines that you can transfer to for each of these cards.
Related reading: Full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred
Airline transfer partners
If you don’t yet have a loyalty account with a transfer partner, then create one. That’s the first step in getting miles to your intended airline of choice. Then, you can link that account to either Ultimate Rewards or Capital One miles and go from there.
Related reading: Full review of the Capital One Venture
Number of airline transfer partners
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Flying Blue (loyalty program of Air France and KLM)
- Singapore Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Flying Blue (loyalty program of Air France and KLM)
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- JetBlue TrueBlue
As you can see, there is some overlap between airlines, but each card also has unique transfer programs.
If we’re just talking in terms of the sheer number of airlines, the Capital One Venture card would clearly win out there. However, that’s obviously not the only criteria that should be considered.
Winner: Capital One Venture card
Quality of transfer partners
The quantity of airline partners only paints a small picture when comparing Chase and Capital One. What are the redemption rates and partner airlines of each transfer program?
You’ll want to look beyond that one airline that is associated with the loyalty program. Why? It’s simple — the true value of miles can often be unlocked by utilizing an airline’s partners.
Let’s dive into a Capital One transfer partner as an example. Bogota, Colombia-based airline Avianca might not seem useful to you at first glance. However, because of the carrier’s participation in Star Alliance, the entire world suddenly becomes your oyster thanks to LifeMiles. (Note the current bankruptcy status of Avianca, which should be monitored for any impacts to LifeMiles.)
In fact, Avianca LifeMiles offer one of the cheapest rates for Star Alliance tickets (think: first-class tickets to Asia, cheap economy tickets in the U.S. on United, etc.). In addition, the program doesn’t pass on expensive fuel and tax surcharges for award tickets.
LifeMiles, along with Air Canada Aeroplan and Etihad Guest, are actually our favorite Capital One transfer partners — and all are unique to Venture. These three programs helped TPG land on an estimated valuation of 1.4 cents per Capital One mile.
Meanwhile, Chase Ultimate Rewards has incredible airline transfer partners of its own. My personal favorites are British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, two airlines that can provide tremendous value for airline tickets all around the world.
Oneworld alliance member British Airways has a distance-based award chart. The Avios program is fantastic for short, but typically expensive flights when you pay in cash. In North America, short-haul flights start from just 7,500 Avios and are a great alternative for booking American Airlines itineraries.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club provides superb value for booking Delta and ANA flights, especially in their premium cabins. For instance, Delta One flights to Europe are a flat 50,000 miles and 60,000 miles to Asia. That’s an excellent value considering Delta’s own SkyMiles program may easily charge double that amount.
Both Ultimate Rewards and Capital One have several overlapping airline transfer partners, such as Singapore Airlines and its KrisFlyer program.
Singapore is one of the best airlines in the sky. And its airline program offers reasonable award charts, low fuel surcharges, routing rules that allow stopovers and the ability to combine multiple partners in one award.
Of course, all of this just scratches the surface when it comes to all of the redemption possibilities and sweet spots for both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture card. Personally, I find there’s value in both programs since each has several unique offerings and programs that overlap.
Ease of transferring to partners
Transferring to airlines is a fairly straightforward process for both cards, but what sets Chase apart from Capital One is an easy-to-follow transfer ratio. All Ultimate Rewards travel partners (both airline and hotel) transfer at a 1:1 ratio. That is, 1 Ultimate Reward points earn 1 airline mile.
Meanwhile, Capital One miles transfer at either a 2:1 or 2.5:1 ratio, depending on the partner. That is, 2 or 2.5 Capital One miles earns 1 airline mile. That isn’t the easiest ratio to wrap your head around and neither is the lack of consistency.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Transfer times and ratio chart
|Program||Transfer Time||Transfer Ratio|
|Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Instantaneous||1:1|
|Singapore Airlines||Same Day||1:1|
|Transfer partner||Transfer ratio||Transfer time|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||2:1.5||Instant|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||2:1.5||Instant|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||2:1.5||Instant|
|ALL Accor Live Limitless||2:1||Varies; one business day|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||2:1.5||Five business days|
|Etihad Guest||2:1.5||24-hour turnaround|
|EVA Infinity MileageLands||2:1.5||36-hour turnaround|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||2:1.5||24-hour turnaround|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||2:1||36-hour turnaround|
Tiebreaker: What else can you redeem for?
Besides transferring to airlines, there is a choice of hotels as well. Chase’s hotel options include Hyatt, IHG and Marriott. Meanwhile, Capital One’s hotel partners are Accor and Wyndham.
You can also redeem directly through each respective card issuer’s travel portal. For the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll get 1.25 cents per point in value. With the new Pay Yourself Back feature, you can also offset grocery, home improvement and dining purchases at the same rate (through at least Sept. 30, 2020).
For the Venture card, you can redeem Capital One 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. Through the end of September 2020, you can also use the purchase eraser feature to redeem for streaming, takeout and delivery.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred (because of the flexibility and elevated rate of Pay Yourself Back)
The Chase Sapphire Preferred gets the slight edge over the Capital One Venture card when it comes to being the better card for airline transfers. While both cards have strong programs that allow you to transfer to a variety of unique airline partners, the Chase gets the win for ease of use.
In addition, Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you more options when it comes to redeeming points at an elevated rate (in case you don’t want to transfer to airlines). In any case, your needs may be different so it pays to investigate each airline transfer partner thoroughly before deciding which card is a fit for you.
Featured photo by The Points Guy
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