Capital One Venture Card: The King of 2% Rewards Cards(5/5 - 232 Votes)
The Capital One® VentureSM Rewards Credit Card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market today. It’s one of the very few that give a full 2% rewards on all purchases, and comes with a host of traveler-friendly perks. Most importantly, the Venture, like all Capital One cards, has no foreign transaction fee. In addition, it gives concierge service and travel accident insurance. Relative to the other rewards cards out there, which dole out restrictive airline miles or points, charge for overseas purchases or give lower rewards rates, the Venture stands out as the best choice for the most people.
|Capital One® VentureSM Rewards Credit Card|
|Annual Fee||Signup Bonus||APR , Variable*||APR Promotions|
|$0 intro for first year; $59 after that||Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $100 in travel||13.9% - 20.9% (V)||Purchase: None
- The Capital One® VentureSM Rewards Credit Card is a Visa card that earns you the equivalent of 2% or more in rewards on all purchases, from the first dollar you spend to the last. The Discover Escape and Starwood American Express have lower acceptance rates.
- There are no minimum spending requirements and no caps on rewards. The Sam’s Club Discover card eventually earns 2% rewards on all purchases, but you need to spend upwards of $10k before you get there. Similarly, other cards like the Citi Dividend cap rewards at a certain amount per year.
- The Venture has no foreign transaction fee.This is a charge levied on all transactions made overseas, and usually runs about 3%. If you spend, say, $2,000 abroad in a year, you’ve just saved $60, and wiped out the annual fee based on the F/X savings alone.
- No Hassle Miles are among the easiest to redeem for 1 cent per 1 mile. Miles show up electronically in your account soon after you make a purchase (no need to wait until the end of the month). You can then redeem them as a credit against travel expenses, whether that’s plane tickets, hotel rooms, gas or rental cars. Capital One is even nice enough to make suggestions as to which statement travel expenses you can offset with your miles. This makes it unlikely that you will end up with un-usuable miles.
- You can also redeem miles for more expenses than most other travel cards. If you have, say, an airline credit card and trade 15,000 miles for a domestic ticket, you’re still on your own for taxes and fees. Others will require you to fly certain airlines on certain dates, or avoid booking through discount sites like Hotels.com or Kayak. NHM have no blackout dates.
- No Hassle Miles also don’t expire, as long as your account is active.
- Based off of our internal card approval data, we believe the Venture Rewards is easier to qualify for than other 2% cards.
- The Venture is the rare 2% card that has a concierge service.
While we believe the Venture Rewards card is an excellent all-around card, we should also do our due diligence and take a look at the other 2%+ rewards credit cards out there. The Competition: The Fidelity American Express comes in three forms: the 529, Retirement Account, and Investment Account. It earns a straight-up 2% on all purchases, which is deposited back into your Fidelity account. The main advantage over the Venture is that it has no annual fee, making it a great choice for lower spenders who don’t travel often and therefore won’t get value out of statement credits against travel expenses or a waived F/X fee. The main disadvantages are that you need a Fidelity account and that, as an American Express, it isn’t accepted everywhere. The Discover Escape earns 2 Discover Miles per $1 spent at a flat rate. It has a 25k-mile signup bonus (1,000 miles a month for 25 months) but doesn’t waive the $60 annual fee in the first year. This really doesn’t measure up to the Venture, since Discover has a poor acceptance rate, the card’s bonus is spread out over two years, and you pay extra both for the first-year fee and for foreign transaction fees. The Starwood American Express earns 1 Starpoint per $1 and up to 5 Starpoints when you spend on Starwood Preferred Guest hotels. We value Starpoints to be worth, on average, 2.3 cents apiece (though they range in value from 1 cent to a whopping 5 cents), so the effective rewards rate is 2.3% on all purchases and up to 11.5% at SPG hotels. The annual fee of $65 is waived the first year. The rewards rate is clearly better than the Venture’s, but you get full value only if you redeem for Starwood hotel stays. If you don’t stay often, you’re out of luck. Plus, it charges a foreign transaction fee. It’s an American Express, so you run into the same coverage problems as the Fidelity credit card. The BankAmericard Privileges probably comes closest to edging out the Venture. Like its counterpart, it pays 2 points per $1 and allows you to redeem for a statement credit against travel expenses. It even has an EMV chip. However, its annual fee is higher, so it’s a tradeoff you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Fidelity AmEx vs. Venture. Winner: Venture
The Fidelity AmEx’s main advantage is that it has no annual fee.
When you balance these two factors out, purely mathematically, the Capital One card is better if you hold the card less than 3 years, and is worse if you hold it for longer. However, the American Express card poses some other disadvantages. First of all, you need a Fidelity Retirement, 529 College Savings, brokerage, or checking account in order to qualify for the card. Second of all, American Express is only accepted at about 5 million merchants in the United States, while Visa is accepted at roughly 9 million merchants. As we mentioned already, the Capital One card also comes with the advantage of having a concierge service, which AmEx does not, and no foreign transaction fee, compared to a 1% fee with the American Express. Other fringe benefits are roughly equal between the two, such as rental car insurance, warranty extension and purchase protection.
Discover Escape vs Venture. Winner: Venture.
The Discover Escape is very similar to the Venture, and the rewards program works exactly the same way.
The Discover fringe benefits are also pretty shoddy. American Express really blazed the path here, and arguably has the best fringe benefits out of any credit card network. Discover inarguably has the worst. In terms of credit card rental insurance, Discover offers paltry coverage compared to the other three networks, a trend that generally pervades the fringe benefits. And let’s not forget it’s a Discover card, not a Visa, so you may run into acceptance issues. And because the Venture waives the annual fee in the first year while the Escape doesn’t, you’re losing out on an extra $60.
Starwood AmEx vs Venture. Winner: Depends
The Starwood American Express is potentially the best rewards card, so long as you frequent Starwood hotels such as the W, Sheraton, Four Points, Westin, and the St. Regis. However, the points lose their abnormally high value if you don’t redeem them for hotel nights, because the only 2+ cent redemption options are hotels. When you exchange Starpoints for airline miles, the best you can expect is 1.25 cents per 1 Starpoint, because you can exchange 20,000 Starpoints for 25,000 miles on many domestic airlines. You can also redeem Starpoints for hotel points at many chains, again generally at a lower value than you’d get if you redeem for Starwood. The rewards rate of 2.3% holds if you frequent SPG hotels. However, we’d much rather have the convenience of being able to use No Hassle Miles to buy the cheapest possible tickets or hotel rooms, and not worry about having to redeem Starpoints at expensive hotels just to get our money’s worth. There is also quite a large difference between a 2.7% foreign transaction fee with the Starwood card, versus a 0% foreign transaction fee with the Venture Rewards. This equals $100 in savings for every $3,704 you spend overseas (and you’ll spend that much in no time if you’re staying at Starwood hotels)! Finally, the Starwood card has a slightly higher annual fee than Venture, though $6 per year isn’t really much of a consideration relative to the other factors. To conclude, yes, Starwood has a mathematically higher rewards rate, at 2.3% rather than 2% if you redeem for the Starpoints’ average value. But No Hassle Miles are a heck of a lot easier to redeem. Therefore, we’d much rather take our 2% that we can use on any travel expense, and in odd denominations, rather than rack up points that are worth 2.3 cents each, but are difficult to use. Your personal favorite, though, will depend on how often you stay at Starwood.
BankAmericard Privileges vs. the Venture: Tie
The BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards has one big leg up over the venture: it has EMV chip-and-sign compatibility, so you’re less likely to be turned down by merchants who no longer accept mag stripe technology. On the other hand, the Venture has a lower annual fee and better perks. In everything else, they’re pretty evenly matched: same 2% rewards rate, same method of redemption, same (nonexistent) foreign transaction fee.
Other Heavy-Hitting Rewards Cards vs Venture. Winner: ??
There are numerous “5%” specialist cards to consider, none of which have an annual fee. If you spend enough in these 5% categories, you might actually end up earning more than 2% overall with these cards. Of course, you can get crazy and match up a few of these cards for use in several different bonus categories, along with a 2% card for other purchases, to earn way in excess of 2%. First, if you eat out every day, the Citi Forward card can earn you 5% on dining, movies, and books. The caveat is that Citi ThankYou points are annoying to redeem. You have to hoard 10,000 of them before you can get a $100 gift certificate to stores like Bloomingdale’s or Walmart, while you can redeem No Hassle Miles starting at only 15k and still get full value. Also beware that point earnings are capped at 75,000 per year. Second, the somewhat obscure and very-difficult-to-qualify-for Pentagon Federal Platinum CashBackcard earns 5% on gas stations, and 1% elsewhere. You’ll also need to join the PenFed Credit Union, either by being a member of the DoD/military or donating to the Red Cross, Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association. But no other card offers 5% rewards on gas, with no strings attached. Note that neither card offers a concierge service, or a 0% foreign transaction fee.
The best way to maximize your rewards: mix and match
I personally combine the Citi Forward (which I use when I go out to eat) with the CapOne Venture. I was lured by the signup bonus (which the Fidelity AmEx doesn’t have) and the ability to earn 2% rewards on all purchases without worrying about rewards caps like the Citi Forward’s. This total package has an annual fee of $59, and effectively earns me over 3% each year. But f I had to pick just one card to use every day, it’s got to be the Capital One® VentureSM Rewards Credit Card, just due to acceptance and the high base rewards rate.