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

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Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: The basics

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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Let’s start with a rundown of the basic features of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. First up, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With this card, you’ll get:

  • A sign-up bonus: 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®
  • Earn Ultimate Rewards points with every purchase, with extra points earned on travel and dining
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $0 for the first year, then $95

» MORE: Check out our tool to prequalify for Chase credit cards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
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Now for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. With it, you’ll get:

  • A sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn miles per dollar with every purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $59

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Rewards

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining out and 1 Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases. In general, Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each. But if you choose to redeem rewards through Chase’s travel tool, their value goes up to 1.25 cents apiece.

And don’t forget about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s generous sign-up bonus (see above). That’s worth $625 in travel if you choose to book a trip through Ultimate Rewards.

Not to be outdone, card members will earn 2 miles for every dollar spent with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Each mile is worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel, giving this card one of the highest rewards rates on the market.

With the  Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll be eligible for a sign-up bonus worth $400 in travel purchases (see above). This isn’t quite as high a value as you could get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, but it’s still a big rewards windfall.

To learn more about or apply for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, read more here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: How to redeem

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card are heavy hitters, as far as ongoing rewards and sign-up bonuses go. What differentiates them is the way that rewards can be redeemed.

Let’s start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You can redeem your points by making travel-related purchases, such as flights and hotel stays, through Chase’s online booking tool. Remember, your points will be worth 1.25 cents apiece if you take this route. There’s no minimum requirement to redeem points for travel, and it’s possible to redeem for a portion the cost if you don’t have enough rewards to pay for a booking outright.

Alternatively, you can also transfer your rewards at a 1:1 ratio, in 1,000-point increments, to participating frequent traveler programs. These include:

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • Marriott Rewards
  • IHG Rewards Club

For consumers who are savvy about booking award seats and stays, the ability to transfer to partners may give the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card an edge over the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

But the beauty of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is that it makes redeeming rewards easy and flexible. When you’re ready to book a trip, you have two options: Purchase travel directly through Capital One using your miles, or book on your own and use Purchase Eraser to pay yourself back with your rewards in the form of a statement credit. You must request the statement credit within 90 days of your travel purchase.

In most cases, there’s no minimum number of miles needed to redeem for travel with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. The only exception is if you use Purchase Eraser to pay for part of a booking; in this case, you’ll need at least 2,500 miles.

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offer non-travel ways to redeem rewards, but this option won’t give you the maximum value per point or mile. To learn more about cash-back credit card options, check out our handy tool.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Fees

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card charge no foreign transaction fees, so both are a good choice if you’re planning to travel internationally.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges an $0 for the first year, then $95. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card charges $0 for the first year, then $59, making it less expensive on an annual basis.

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 through the site of your choice 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.

Last updated Nov. 23, 2016

Lindsay Konsko is a staff writer covering credit cards and consumer credit for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @lkonsko and on Google+.


Image via iStock.