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There are many travel credit cards to choose from, but two of the most popular ones are the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Both credit cards have been around for a while, and they have been heavily marketed to consumers so many people are familiar with them.
You may have seen one of Capital One’s celebrity spokespeople on its TV commercials like Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Garner pitching the benefits of earning double miles on everything, booking airline seats with no blackout dates, and then asking viewers, “What’s in your wallet?”
The two cards are very similar in many ways. The Venture and Sapphire Preferred are both mid-tier cards that carry an annual fee of $95. And they both earn flexible points, which can be redeemed for travel or transferred to airline and hotel partners.
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|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Capital One Venture|
|Welcome Bonus||80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.||60,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.|
|Credits||$50 annual hotel credit when booked through UR||N/A|
|Bonus Points||5x on travel booked through Chase and 2x on other travel, 3x for online grocery purchases, dining and select streaming services||All purchases earn 2x|
|Anniversary Bonus||10% of your total purchases||N/A|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None||None|
|Global Entry/TSA Precheck||None||Up to $100 credit|
In this post you'll learn:
How the Programs Work
The Chase Sapphire card earns points in the bank’s Ultimate Rewards program. Capital One calls their rewards “miles,” but they are not affiliated with an airline program, so they work more like reward points. You use the miles to “erase” travel purchases on your card.
They are both popular with people that are new to miles and points because of their simple redemption options, as well as with experienced miles and points collectors, because of the many travel partners they each have that points can be transferred to.
Where they are different is how you earn points, how you redeem your points for travel and which travel partners they allow you to transfer points to.
Whether you’ve seen ads about these credit cards or a friend recommended one of them, the thing that probably caught your eye was a huge sign-up bonus. Welcome bonuses give you a big stash of miles and points that are often enough to book a pair of round-trip domestic airline tickets. That can easily offset the annual fee of the card and save you money on airfare, which can be $500 or more for a domestic roundtrip, depending on where you are flying.
Before we go into the points-earning potential of these two cards, let’s compare their sign-up bonuses so you can see how many you will earn on each card after meeting minimum spend. Then we’ll go into bonus categories to see how they fit your lifestyle and travel habits.
The Capital One Venture card comes with 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 in the first three months. That’s worth $600 in travel, because the miles are redeemed for statement credits against travel expenses charged on the card at the rate of one mile per penny.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred also now comes with 80,000 bonus points worth $1,000 in travel after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
How Much the Sign-up Bonus is Worth
Even though the bonuses are the same, the Ultimate Reward points earned by making purchases on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card are more valuable if you are using them to book travel in the Chase portal because the card comes with a 25% bonus for those kind of redemptions.The sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred is worth $1,000 compared to $600 worth of travel using the Capital One card. That’s a good reason to apply for the Sapphire Preferred card and strive to meet the extra $1,000 in minimum spend.
Another big consideration when choosing between these two cards is how you earn points. The Capital One Venture card is simple. Every purchase earns 2x miles, so you don’t have to worry about bonus categories. If you spend $1,000 a month on your card, you will earn 2,000 points which can be redeemed for $20 worth of travel.
Chase Bonus Point Categories
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card on the other hand, has several bonus categories. You earn 5x bonus points on travel purchased through its portal and 2x on all other travel including hotels, airfare, trains and taxis. You’ll also earn 3x on online grocery purchases excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs, 3x on dining out or ordering food through eligible delivery services, and 3x on select streaming services. You earn one point on everything else.
Limited Time Bonuses
Other perks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred include a complimentary DoorPass subscription, which gives you unlimited DoorDash deliveries with no delivery fee and reduced service fees. You need to activate this benefit by December 31, 2024.
Another benefit of the Sapphire Preferred card for a limited time is 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2025. That’s 3 extra points per dollar in addition to the 2x you would normally earn using this card. And one more limited-time bonus earning opportunity is 5x points on each Peloton Bike, Tread and Guide purchase over $450. You can earn up to 25,000 bonus points this way through June 30, 2022.
And another nice perk of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a 10% anniversary bonus on all purchases made the previous year. If you spend $10,000 on the card during the year, you’ll earn an additional 1,000 points when the annual fee is due.
Which Card is Best for Earning Points?
To determine which card has the most earning power, you should review your traditional purchase history and see how these bonus categories mesh with your lifestyle. For example if you travel, dine out, get takeout or shop for your groceries online, you will earn double or triple points on all those purchases. If you book your travel through the Chase portal, which is powered by Expedia, then those points will add up quickly at 5x points per dollar.
Redeeming Points and Miles
In addition to using either rewards currency to pay for travel by getting a statement credit on Capital One travel purchases or using the Chase portal to purchase travel at a 25% bonus, Chase also has a Pay Yourself Back feature where you can use your points and get a 25% bonus on them to pay yourself back in rotating categories.
The payback benefit was introduced during the pandemic when many people were not traveling, and there is no current expiration date, though this perk will likely be canceled at some point. There are also other redemption options like gift cards, but you can also choose to cash your Chase Ultimate Rewards points in at the rate of one penny a point. An easy way to calculate the value is to remove the comma in your points, and add a decimal point before the last two zeros. For example, 20,000 points = $200.00.
But if you like to keep things simple or use several credit cards for your purchases and don’t want to keep track of which one to use for bonus points, then you’ll find the Capital One Venture card more attractive as everything earns double points.
Airline and Hotel Partners
Another great way to redeem your points or miles in either the Chase or Capital One program is to transfer your rewards to a travel partner. If you travel often and belong to several loyalty programs, this is a good way to get outsized value for your points or miles.
You should consider the travel partners that each card issuer works with if this is your goal or something you are considering. This is a great option if you want to top off an airline or hotel program to get an award seat or free night.
Chase Travel Partners
Chase has 14 travel partners. Airline programs that you can transfer points to include:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United Mileage Plus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
🏨 Hotel partners include:
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
Capital One Transfer Partners
Capital One has 17 travel partners. Airline programs you can transfer your miles to include:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go
- Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
🏨 Hotel partners include:
- ALL – Accor Live Limitless
- Choice Privileges
- Wyndham Rewards
As you can see, the two banks have a few overlapping travel partners, but not many. You should have a destination in mind before you transfer points, and make sure award space or that the hotel you want to book with points is available, as the points cannot be transferred back to your Capital One or Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
Keep in mind that most of these airlines belong to one of the three big airline alliances including Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, so you can use miles to book travel nearly anywhere in the world.
You can transfer points to most programs in increments of 1,000 points or miles at a 1:1 ratio, but that varies so be sure to check on how many points you will receive before you hit the transfer button.
Also, be sure to check the price of a ticket or hotel room night online for the route or hotel you are interested in booking as some cash rates may be better than miles or points redemptions in a hotel or airline loyalty program because discounted fares and room rates may be cheaper than the redemption offered by the airline or hotel chain through their rewards program.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you need to keep the card open to redeem or transfer points. If you hold the card for a year and plan to close it when the annual fee is due, be sure to redeem or transfer your points to a travel program before you close it. And use the points or miles before they expire in the program you transferred them to. Most airline miles and hotel points are good for at least a year even with no activity. The points in the Capital One and Chase Ultimate Rewards programs don’t expire as long as you hold the card.
Premium Cards and No-Annual-Fee Cards in the Same Family
Both of these cards also have other cards in the same family that earn the same rewards. There are no-fee versions of both cards if you want to downgrade and earn points or miles without paying an annual fee.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards
Chase has the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex cards that earn 1 or 1.5 Ultimate Reward points, and also have bonus categories. These points earn Ultimate Rewards points, but they are considered cash back cards.
If you have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card though, you can transfer the points earned on your Freedom cards to either of the Sapphire cards and from there to travel partners. Or you can use them in the Chase portal and get a 25% discount with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or a 50% discount using the Chase Sapphire Reserve for your redemption.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium card that costs $550 a year to hold. It has a new sign-up bonus of 60,000 points vs 80,000 for the Sapphire Preferred, but it comes with a $300 travel credit, which helps offset the fee. You also earn more rewards with this premium card as you get 5x on flights booked through Chase and 10x on hotels and car rentals booked through the portal.
The Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points on all other travel and dining. It also comes with Priority Pass, which gives you access to 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, and a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or Nexus every four years, as well as a host of other benefits. But not everyone wants to pay a big annual fee to hold a card, and if you don’t travel often, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred is probably a better fit.
Capital One Cards
Capital One has the VentureOne card with no annual fee, but it only earns 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases vs the 2x earning power of the Capital One Venture. This is a good card to downgrade to if you want to keep your miles and your line of credit, but don’t want to pay the annual fee on the Capital One Venture card for another year.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Capital One recently entered the premium travel credit card market with its launch of its Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card late last year.
It comes with a $395 fee, which is much less than the Sapphire Reserve at $550, but it comes with a huge sign-up bonus of 75,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This card earns 10 miles per dollar spent on hotels rental cars through Capital One Travel, and 5x on flights booked through the portal. Everything else earns two miles per dollar spent.
With the Venture X premium card you get an annual $300 credit for bookings through Capital One, and 10,000 miles on your anniversary. It also includes access to Capital One Lounges and more than 1,300 Priority Pass lounges internationally, and a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
If you like earning rewards and you want more travel perks, consider upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the VentureX. These cards carry a much bigger annual fee, but come with a lot more earning potential and premium travel perks.
Credit Score and Bank Rules
Both Chase and Capital One require a good-to-excellent credit score to be approved for a card. Your score should be at least 700 if you are thinking of applying for either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Capital One Venture. If you have a great credit history and high income, you might be approved if your score is in the high 600s, but most of the good travel card issuers like to see a score of 720 or more.
Neither Chase or Capital One like to approve applications for people who open too many credit cards. How many is too many? Well, for Chase, it’s five cards over a two-year period. The bank has a 5/24 rule so if you have applied for more than five cards in 24 months your application will be denied.
Chase also has a rule that states you can only earn the sign-up bonus for a Chase Sapphire card once every 48 months. And you can’t have two Chase Sapphire cards at the same time. So if you already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, then you need to close that or downgrade it.
Capital One Guidelines
Capital One has a reputation for declining applications from people with too many open lines of credit or recent applications. It’s not a formal rule, but there are some other guidelines that may block your application. The bank won’t approve you for a card if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy or defaulted on a loan, been more than 60 days late on a credit card, loan payment or medical bill. And in order to get approved, you need to have had a loan or credit card for three years with a limit of more than $5,000.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture cards are both great credit cards for people who like to travel or who travel for business. Both cards have flexible redemption options, and both card programs are easy to understand and use to both earn and redeem points, even for beginners.
And if you’re an experienced miles and points collector, then both of these cards are also great because they have many travel partners. Either card is a good option to transfer your rewards, but be sure the program you are looking to top off or transfer enough for an award is one of the transfer partners.
To make the best choice, review your spending patterns, and the hotel and airline programs you use, to see which of the two cards will help you earn the most points and get you to your next vacation destination sooner. And if you travel often and will use the credits on the premium cards from Chase or Capital One, consider getting one of them.
About the Author:
Rosemarie Clancy is a freelance writer and editor focused on travel and rewards programs. She most recently served as VP of Content and Marketing for RewardExpert, a site about travel loyalty programs. She has also worked as a reporter and editor at several travel trade publications including Travel Weekly. Her work can be found on sites like The Points Guy and Nerdwallet.