Which card is better for airline transfers? Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture go head-to-head

Jul 31, 2020

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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. 

In This Post

The points (and miles) programs 

First things first. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards points, whereas the Capital One Venture earns Capital One miles. There is no distinction between points and miles in this case.  

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.

You can transfer to Singapore with both Chase and Capital One (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
You can transfer points and miles to Singapore Airlines with both Chase and Capital One (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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

Aircraft departing Boston
(Photo by Getty Images)

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. 

Between both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture card, you can redeem for major domestic and international loyalty programs, including airlines from all three major global alliances. 

Related reading: Full review of the Capital One Venture

Number of airline transfer partners

Chase

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has 10 airline transfer partners as part of Ultimate Rewards. Those airlines include: 

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Flying Blue (loyalty program of Air France and KLM)
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)
Redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for Delta One (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Capital One

Meanwhile, the Capital One Venture has 13 airline programs that you can transfer to. Those airlines include: 

  • 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. 

Capital One

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.) 

Fly ANA First Class with Avianca LifeMiles (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)
Fly ANA First Class with Avianca LifeMiles (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

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. 

Chase

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. 

(Photo by Cassiohabib / Shutterstock)
(Photo by Cassiohabib / Shutterstock)

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. 

The overlap

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 cardPersonally, I find there’s value in both programs since each has several unique offerings and programs that overlap.

Winner: Tie 

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

Chase:

Program Transfer Time Transfer Ratio 
Aer Lingus Instantaneous 1:1
British Airways Instantaneous 1:1
Emirates Instantaneous 1:1
Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) Instantaneous 1:1
Hyatt Instantaneous 1:1
Iberia Instantaneous 1:1
IHG Instantaneous 1:1
JetBlue Instantaneous 1:1
Marriott 39 Hours 1:1
Singapore Airlines Same Day 1:1
Southwest Instantaneous 1:1
United Instantaneous 1:1
Virgin Atlantic Instantaneous 1:1

 

Capital One:

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
Alitalia MilleMiglia 2:1.5 Instant
Avianca LifeMiles 2:1.5 Instant
ALL Accor Live Limitless 2:1 Varies; one business day
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 2:1.5 Five business days
Emirates Skywards 2:1 Instant
Etihad Guest 2:1.5 24-hour turnaround
EVA Infinity MileageLands 2:1.5 36-hour turnaround
Finnair Plus 2:1.5 Instant
JetBlue TrueBlue 2:1.5 Instant
Qantas Frequent Flyer 2:1.5 24-hour turnaround
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 2:1 36-hour turnaround
Wyndham Rewards 2:1.5 Instant

 

Tiebreaker: What else can you redeem for?

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture card allow you to redeem points for a variety of travel and non-travel options. 

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)

Bottom line 

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel 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
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.