TPG’s Editors’ Choice award for simplicity and value in credit cards
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The world of credit cards can be exceedingly complicated. While few travelers can (or want) to manage a wallet with more than a dozen cards, there’s nonetheless a huge learning curve for truly maximizing your rewards — especially when it comes to transferable point currencies.
For some, that’s simply too big of an ask.
That’s why, as part of the 2020 TPG Awards, our credit cards team wanted to give out an Editors’ Choice award that recognizes the one card that offers the best combination of simplicity and value for cardholders.
Read on for more details on what we looked at … and which card came out on top.
First, let’s highlight exactly how we approached this award. Here, it’s critical to point out that, in the world of travel rewards, simplicity and value tend to have an inverse relationship to one another. The simpler a credit card or loyalty program is, the less value you tend to get from using it (and vice versa). That doesn’t mean a simple rewards scheme is worthless; it just means that — comparatively speaking — you’re trading value for simplicity.
For example, a credit card that offers 1% cash back on every, single purchase is about the simplest you can get. However, you’re giving up value for that simplicity.
On the other hand, a card that offers things like rotating bonus categories, transfer bonuses and other more complicated elements can provide out-sized value for your rewards. In exchange for additional complexity, you’re unlocking the potential for more value — though it requires additional investment of time and energy to realize that potential.
This award comes where those two intersect.
Our editorial team considered dozens of cards as we sought to recognize the one that offers the best of both worlds. Simple yet valuable earning rates. Easy-to-understand rewards yet the potential for more. And lucrative, value-added perks that don’t require a Ph.D. to utilize.
Note that we excluded welcome offers from this analysis, since these can change from time to time, and this award is focused on long-term simplicity and value.
And when all these factors were combined, one card rose to the top.
The winner is …
Our editors’ choice award-winner for simplicity and value in credit cards at the 2020 TPG Awards is … the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. The team felt that this card provided the best combination of a simple rewards structure while simultaneously offering above-average value for the everyday cardholder. If you don’t want to manage multiple cards but still want points or miles that can unlock free travel, this card could be a great fit for you.
The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Read on for our take on why the Venture card took home this honor.
For starters, the Capital One Venture card is among the simplest cards out there — from both an earning and redemption perspective. You’ll earn 2x miles for every dollar you spend on every purchase, every day.
With this card, you don’t need to worry about bonus categories or other complicated offers. Whether it’s a grocery store, gas station or restaurant — you’re taking home 2x miles per dollar spent.
Then, when it comes time to redeem your Venture miles, you’ll encounter similar simplicity. Whenever you swipe your card for a travel purchase — be it a flight, hotel, rental car or virtually any other travel expense — you can use your miles to “pay” for that purchase at a rate of 1 mile = 1 cent. A $200 flight would require 20,000 miles, while a $500 hotel stay would take 50,000 miles.
The best part? There’s no searching for award availability and no deciphering award charts. You make the purchase on your card, then use your miles to cover it. This simple redemption scheme gives you a 2% return on every, single purchase you make.
Note that the card also added new, temporary categories for this redemption option in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Through April 30, 2021, you can use your Venture miles to cover purchases made on food delivery and streaming services at the same rate you would for travel — a nice alternative when many of us aren’t traveling.
Of course, other cards offer a similar return on purchases, but what sets the Venture card apart is the additional value it provides. There are a few key ways it accomplishes this:
- Transfer partners: Back in Nov. 2018, Capital One added airline transfer partners to its program, and this expanded to hotels in early 2020. This provides the potential for more valuable rewards, one that’s notable absent from virtually all other fixed-value cards.
- Rewards sharing: Capital One allows you to share your miles with other cardholders — and not just members of your household. This valuable flexibility allows you to pool your rewards for pricier redemptions.
- Additional perks: Beyond the earning and redemption options, the Venture card also offers a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and benefits such as extended warranty coverage and travel accident insurance.
- No foreign transaction fees: Finally, the card is ideal for use both in the U.S. and abroad, as you’ll pay no foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the country.
This all comes with a relatively-low annual fee of just $95 — a far cry from the hundreds of dollars you’d fork over for popular premium travel cards.
For some travelers, simplicity rules the game when it comes to picking a credit card. That said, you don’t want to sacrifice too much value in pursuit of a simpler wallet.
This is where the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card truly shines. By combining an easy-to-understand structure for both earning and redeeming miles with the potential for more lucrative, valuable perks, the Venture card can be a potent tool in your wallet — especially for those that want just a single card to use for every purchase, every day.
For this reason, it’s the winner of the 2020 TPG Award for Simplicity and Value in Credit Cards.
Featured photo by Poike / Getty Images
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