Travel Card Showdown: Capital One Venture Rewards vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
Capital One Venture Rewards vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture Rewards are both high-profile travel rewards cards for people with excellent credit. We recommend both of them frequently because they’re similar in many ways. Each has its own merits: Historically, the Chase Sapphire’s bonus put it ahead in the short term, but the Capital One Venture won out in the long run. With its rewards rate and low annual fee, this card is a standout for the frequent flier. Nevertheless, the Sapphire Preferred has its own redeeming qualities.

The basics

The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives 2 Ultimate Rewards Points per $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else. It has no foreign transaction fee, and it has an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95. It has a great bonus: earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening And then, 5,000 when you add an authorized user in the first 3 months and they make a purchase. If you use your Ultimate Rewards Points for travel booked through Chase, they’re worth 25% more.

The Capital One Venture Rewards gives 2 No Hassle Miles on all purchases – yes, all of them. That’s like bonus rewards on everything. Like all Capital One credit cards, it has no foreign transaction fee, and its $59 annual fee is also waived in the first year. It offers a similar bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel, but No Hassle Miles are actually pretty good: They don’t expire, and you can use them to offset any travel expense.

Chase Sapphire signup bonus has competition

The Sapphire’s signup bonus is impressive: earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That can be worth upwards of $500 if you play your cards right. But also impressive is the Capital One Venture’s signup bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel.

Capital One’s killer rewards rate

In the rewards department, the Capital One Venture Rewards card reigns supreme. It lets you earn a flat 2% back on all your purchases, which is pretty much the best out there. In terms of long-term value, the CapOne Venture can’t be surpassed: The Sapphire’s best rewards rate is just the Venture’s baseline. The lower annual fee, too, helps it defeat the Sapphire in terms of ongoing value.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now

on Capital One's
secure website

Signing Promo
earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account openingEnjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel
Intro APR Promo
Bal Trans:None
Bal Trans:None
Annual fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security and wider acceptance
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value – that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
  • Premium Travel and Purchase Protection Benefits, including Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Purchase Protection and more
  • 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles don't expire and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • 100% free Capital One® Credit Tracker - see your monthly credit score anytime and get automatic alerts

No Hassle Miles vs. Ultimate Rewards Points

How do the cards’ rewards programs stack up? The Ultimate Rewards Points are much more flexible: You can redeem for cash or gift cards at full value. Plus, with the Sapphire, you can make your points worth 25% more if you use them to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Tool. That’s what ups the rewards rate from a base of 1% to potentially 1.25%. You also get access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, which earns you an additional 1-20% cash back with preferred vendors.

No Hassle Miles are more restrictive. As far as travel rewards go, they’re near the top: Instead of being limited to miles on a specific airline or redeeming in 25,000-point blocks, you can redeem any number of points as a statement credit offsetting any travel expense. So if you rack up $522.98 on hotel rooms, airfare, checked bag fees and minibar food, you can trade in 52,298 miles to make the expenses disappear. Still, you can’t beat the simplicity of Ultimate Rewards’ cash back.

Image via iStock.

  • payingattention

    I just got a mailing for the Capital One Venture card that says it only offers 1.25 miles per $1 spent. That’s a reduction in the 1.5 miles I had seen in another article, and a lot less than the 2x that you cite here.

    • NerdWallet

      Hi @trues24:disqus – The Capital One Venture is currently offering 2x miles per $1 spent. You may have received a mailing for a similar card, the Capital One VentureOne (confusing, I know!), which offers 1.25x miles per $1 spent. The VentureOne has a lower rewards rate and sign-up bonus than the Venture, but also has no annual fee and an introductory 0% APR rate. I hope this helps answer your question!

      • payingattention

        Yes – I realized that after I posted – they call their cards very similar things. (I guess I need to re-think my screen name.) Unfortunately, I was away from my computer and couldn’t get back to my posting. Thanks!

    • Kaustav Mukherjee

      I just got the Venture card and i am accruing 2x miles per $ spent. Prior to applying i was reading across websites on Chase Sapphire v Venture, and i agreed based on those articles that the lower annual fee and better rewards conversion rates were the better bet towards Venture. However, i now observe that the redemption rate is not 100 miles to $1 but $200 miles to $1 and hence the 40,000 bonus miles will translate to $200 and not $400. this is based on the NoHassles Reward page currently showing me 1126 miles = $5.63!! not sure what is going on

      • payingattention

        So, I was having trouble finding info on the redemption/awards side, and I will redouble my efforts. If you get double points, it doesn’t help at all if they are worth half . . .. Thank you for alerting me. We haven’t applied for either card yet, but those are the two we are looking at.

  • Tanner Chung

    Cool! Thanks for all the info – when you booked the Delta flight it was through the Chase portal? If so then I probably want to switch over. I fly Delta most of the time.

    Right now I only use the Bank of America Cash Rewards for everything and Amazon Chase for Restaurants (2%) and Amazon purchases (3%)

    • acb550

      I did book Delta through the portal. If you sign up now, you can still get 3% for travel. Starting in 2016, you lose the extra point through Ultimate Rewards. I think it’s still going (we signed up in April), but if you pay $4000 in the first 3 months you get 40,000 pts, and if you have a spouse or someone you trust, if you add an authorized user you get 5000 more points on their first purchase. And you don’t need to earn the 40,000 to get it. We are still working towards our 40,000, but we already earned the 5000. And I booked a Delta flight and got my 3x. And if you use Amazon Chase for Restaurants (I did) you can do Sapphire and get the same 2% (but your 2% is worth more because each point is 1.25 points when redeemed through the Chase portal) which is what I will be doing. However, as I’ve said we have the Freedom and they have 5% rotating categories. Right now dining is 5% so we’ve used that. We also had my inlaws over and ate out a lot, so we racked up a lot of points with the 5%. We’ll be transferring those over for travel. And thanks to booking through the portal and getting the 20% off the price, the 5cents saved on the dollar was really over 6 cents. I can’t complain yet. Just the juggling act is complicated :)

      What I can tell looking at Capital One Venture, while you get 2pts on all purchases, they don’t have a discount for booking. That may change because of Chase’s 20% and Barclay’s 10% back.