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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: The Best General Travel Card?

Credit Cards
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With sudden devaluations, scarce award seat availability and confusing restrictions, frequent flier programs aren’t for everyone. Luckily, the rewards credit card market has expanded to include “general” travel cards, which provide points or miles that aren’t tied to a particular airline or hotel chain. Users can cash in their rewards to pay for nearly any travel purchase.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a popular general travel card. But is it the best? Let’s find out.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: The basics

With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend. Each mile is worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel, which means that the rewards rate on this card is 2% — much higher than the industry standard of 1%.

Miles can be used to book a trip directly through Capital One’s online travel portal, or you can use the Purchase Eraser function to get a statement credit for a recent travel expenditure of your choice (airfare, hotel stay, car rental, etc.). There’s no minimum number of miles needed to redeem for travel, unless you’re using Purchase Eraser to pay for part of a travel purchase. In this case, you’ll need at least 2,500 miles.

For overseas vacations, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card will come in handy. It charges no foreign transaction fees and comes chip-enabled, so you won’t have to worry about paying extra or dealing with a hassle when you swipe it internationally.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card comes with a sign-up bonus: 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. Its annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card vs. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® offers 2 miles for every dollar you spend. However, its rewards rate is effectively higher. Here’s why: When you redeem for travel credit or for something else, you get 5% of your redeemed miles back. This gives it a slight edge over the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card on this metric.

Another advantage that comes with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is that it’s chip-and-PIN capable. For globetrotters heading to Europe, this could provide some added convenience over the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which offers only chip-and-signature technology. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® also charges no foreign transaction fees.

For a sign-up bonus, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® provides this: Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase. Its annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $89.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card vs. Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card earns 1.5 points for every dollar you spend. Each mile is worth 1 cent, so although the card beats the industry standard on rewards rate, its return still comes in 25% below the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

However, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card charges an annual fee of $0. It carries no foreign transaction fees, either, and comes chip-enabled for international travel. For consumers who hate the nuisance of credit card costs, this one might be for you.

As few as 2,500 points can be redeemed for a statement credit against travel purchases made within the past 12 months. This is more time than you get with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which only gives you 90 days to make your redemption. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® gives cardholders 120 days.

Finally, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card comes with a sign-up bonus: 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases.

The verdict

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card both offer strong value, and each has certain advantages over the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

But if you’re looking for a card that combines the best of all worlds — high rewards rate, high sign-up bonus, an average annual fee and flexible redemptions — the Nerds think the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a great choice. Chances are you’ll be happy if you add this card to your wallet, so consider applying today.

Learn more about the different types of travel credit cards.

Updated Aug. 2, 2017.

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


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