When it comes to travel rewards cards, there are two major names in the game – the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Both are giants when it comes to getting hefty rewards that you can cash in when buying airfare, to the extent that it can be hard to decide which one to get.
However, when you dive a little deeper into the details of each card, the differences between them become much clearer. While the Capital One Venture allows you to be more flexible with how (or where) you redeem your rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred gets you more for your money, provided you want to go through the complicated rewards system.
Quick Overview of the Capital One Venture
Why It’s Good
Between the gigantic 50,000 mile signup bonus and the nifty 2 miles per dollar rewards rate, the Capital One Venture card is an extremely solid resource for building up travel rewards. With no travel blackout dates, or a limit on the miles you earn, the card allows you to be flexible with the way you redeem your rewards.
Quick Overview of the Chase Sapphire Preferred
Why It’s Good
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best travel rewards cards out there, and for good reason. As an everyday points-earning rewards card, it has a decent amount of flexibility with its ability to earn double points on travel and dining purchases. Plus, while its signup bonus takes a bit of spending to earn, the number of points you earn is staggering.
What’s more, the Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you the capability of stretching your rewards points even further through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. If you own other Chase cards, you can use the rewards earned on those cards for travel through the Sapphire as well (and you get even more value on those points through this card than most others in the roster).
Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred: Showdown
The main difference between the Venture Card and the Sapphire Preferred lies in the way they earn points – the Venture Card gives you 2 miles for every dollar you spend in purchases, while the Sapphire Preferred gives you 1 point (2 points for travel and dining).
You also redeem your points differently with each card: the Sapphire Preferred lets you redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, while you can just get statement credits on travel purchases made through the Venture card, using it to directly purchase tickets.
Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire: Who Has the Best Fees?
With the Capital One Venture Card, new cardholders get their annual fee waived for the first year; after that, it’s $95 a year. That’s pretty pricey, especially considering that there are many other cards that don’t even charge an annual fee. Therefore, it’s best to make sure you’ll be getting enough in rewards to justify shelling out for nearly a hundred bucks each year.
There’s also no introductory APR period, which is a shame; instead, you’re stuck with the 14.49% – 24.49% variable APR you get from the beginning.
That being said, the card does offer a few other perks, like not charging any foreign transaction fees. That’s a very good sign for a travel-heavy rewards card; you don’t want to feel obligated to spend a bunch to pay for your flight, only to pay that much more for stuff once you’ve traveled.
The Sapphire charges a $95 annual fee, but forgives it for the first year of card membership. In both cases, it’s still a fairly expensive maintenance fee to pay, though there are higher annual fees out there.
The Sapphire also has no introductory APR to offer; also, its variable APR range is slightly higher than the Venture, charging anywhere from 17.49% to 26.49%.
As with the Venture Card, there’s no foreign transaction fees to speak of – a very good sign when you’re traveling. Whichever card you go with, you can rest easy that you won’t be paying anything extra when you’re overseas.
Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire: Rewards
Purchases made on the Capital One Venture Card earn you miles, instead of points; every dollar you spend earns you two miles. Capital One values these miles at 1 cent apiece, which is a fantastic rate of return compared to a lot of other rewards rates.
What’s more, unlike the Sapphire Preferred, the Venture Card earns you unlimited 2 miles for every dollar you spend on any purchase. Even if you spend a lot on dining and travel, if you’re just focused on earning travel rewards it’s hard to beat that level of rewards earnings.
The Chase Sapphire preferred gives you 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar each time you make dining or travel purchases – in essence, spending on airfare, restaurants and the like earn you extra points. For every other purchase, you get 1 Ultimate Rewards Point per dollar, which is a decent baseline to work from.
Once you earn your Ultimate Rewards points, they never expire, and you can pool them as much as you like and spend them in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. If you use Chase’s travel tool in that program, points get 25% greater value, essentially becoming worth 1.25 points.
Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire: Signup Bonuses
The Capital One Venture Card offers a robust 50,000 mile signup bonus, provided you spend $3,000 in the first three months of owning the card. This is roughly equivalent to $500 in travel rewards, which is pretty nice (but isn’t quite as high as Chase Sapphire’s bonus).
When you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you have the chance to earn a 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points signup bonus if you spend $4,000 within the first three months. If you use the Chase Ultimate Rewards program (which gives you 25% more value for your points), that’s about $625 in travel rewards – much better than the Capital One Venture’s bonus.
Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire: Drawbacks
The annual fee is a minor problem for both cards – while the fee is waived for the first year, $95 is still a lot to spend unless you’re going to work hard to earn enough rewards to justify it. Furthermore, there’s not much use in having this card except for travel expenses, since that’s the only way you can redeem your miles.
As with the Venture Card, the annual fee’s not great for the Sapphire, and the lack of an introductory APR period is a little dispiriting. What’s more, the signup bonus is a little out of reach for people who aren’t willing to shell out four grand in the first three months of ownership (especially when you have to pay interest right away).
If you’re not up for learning a new, complicated points redemption system, then it might not be worth having to navigate the Chase Ultimate Rewards interface.
Who should get these cards?
Which card should you get? While both cards have very similar perks, the Capital One Venture Card has a great rate of return for its basic rewards program. Earning 2 miles for every dollar allows you to rack up far more rewards for your purchases than the Chase Sapphire Preferred on all your purchases, especially since it’s not restricted to just dining or other travel expenses.
Furthermore, the Capital One Venture card gives you far more flexibility when it comes to redeeming your points. All you have to do is buy directly through Capital One’s website with miles, or book through normal websites and get an equivalent statement credit through the card. If you don’t want to mess around with a special spending portal to use travel points, go with this.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s biggest boon is its Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which stretches your rewards points for travel far more than any other card in the Chase arsenal. This is the card to get if you already have other Chase cards, and want to get the most out of those rewards points for travel as well.
If you don’t mind using the Ultimate Rewards booking tool provided by Chase, the Sapphire Preferred is a great option. (Fun fact: you can even use it to just pay for part of your booking; you don’t have to have enough to pay for the whole thing.)
Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire: Which card wins?
The winner: Capital One Venture Card
Both cards have their merits, and it’s a close race to be sure. The difference comes down to how you want to redeem your rewards – the Venture Card is just more accommodating, since you can purchase tickets however you want and still redeem those points.
Not only that, the ability to earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend is just impossible to beat, even with the Sapphire Preferred’s tiered points system and the added value you get through Ultimate Rewards. You can go out to eat all you want for the double points, but it still won’t top the Venture Card’s omnipresent rewards tier.
That being said, both cards have their benefits; if you already have other Chase cards, the Sapphire Preferred is a fantastic travel option. The differences are slim enough that you could get away with either card and still come away with a beautiful way to make travel cheaper.