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

Sept. 11, 2018
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card are a pair of titans in the travel credit card market, and it can be tough to choose which one is right for you. The Nerds are here to help.

What’s the same on both cards

Rewards rate

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you 2 points per dollar on travel and dining out and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. In general, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 1 cent each. But if you redeem them for travel booked through Chase, their value rises to 1.25 cents apiece. That effectively makes your rewards rate 2.5% on travel and dining and 1.25% on everything else.
  • The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card gives you 2 miles per dollar on all spending. Miles are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel, giving you a flat rewards rate of 2% on everything.

Which is better?

It depends on your lifestyle. The more you spend on travel and at restaurants, the more value you’ll get out of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It’s also the choice if you’re the type who strives to squeeze maximum value out of your rewards. If your spending is more broad-based, or if you prize simplicity in a rewards program, the flat rewards rate on the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card probably makes it a better fit.

 

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Rewards redemption

Both of these cards are flexible in their own ways.

  • The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card allows you to redeem your miles for a credit against any travel purchase at a rate of a penny per point. Say you buy a $200 plane ticket with your card. You could then use your miles to “erase” the charge. Redeem 20,000 miles and wipe out the whole thing, or redeem a lesser amount for partial credit. This gives you a great deal of flexibility, as you’re not limited to any single airline, hotel chain or other travel provider, nor are you required to book travel through the issuer. Book however you want, then use miles to pay for it.
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you a number of way to use your points:
    • Redeem them for travel booked through Chase at a value of 1.25 cents per point.
    • Redeem them for statement credit or cash back at a value of 1 cent per point.
    • Transfer them to about a dozen airline or hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio, which could give you substantially more value per point. (Airline partners: Aer Lingus, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic. Hotel partners: Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, RitzCarlton.)

Which is better?

With multiple options that can bring you more value than the industry standard of 1 cent per point, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gets the nod here. Look to that card as well if transferring points to other loyalty program is high on your list of wants. But again, if you’re all about simplicity, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card deserves your consideration.

Sign-up bonus

These cards’ standard sign-up bonuses give you the same number of points or miles. As discussed, the value of Capital One miles is a flat 1 cent, while Chase Ultimate Rewards® points vary in value according to how you redeem them. That’s why 50,000 points could be worth $500 on one card and $625 on another. The bonuses:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.

WHICH IS BETTER?

The bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be considerably more valuable if you redeem your points wisely.

Which card is right for you?

The choice between the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is mostly a question of how you want to redeem your rewards. If the idea of booking through a portal or transferring points to travel partners excites you, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is probably a better fit.

If frequent flyer programs intimidate you, or you’d simply prefer the flexibility to book however you want and pay with rewards later, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is probably more your speed. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card may also be better for consumers with rigid work or school schedules. Award seat availability during peak travel times (winter holidays and summer) tends to be scarce, so having the ability to use rewards with any airline or hotel chain is key.

Rewards booking preferences should drive your decision, but rest assured that both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card get two thumbs up.