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The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® and the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card have more than a few things in common. Both travel cards advertise no annual fees, almost identical sign-up bonuses and no foreign transaction fees. And they’re constantly overshadowed by their annual-fee siblings, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
But these no-fee cards aren’t quite equal. Between the two, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is generally the more valuable option. But the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® could be a smarter choice if you’re planning on traveling abroad.
How the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is a (slightly) better choice
Here’s how the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® and the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card stack up.
|Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®||Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card|
|Foreign transaction fees||None||None|
|Sign-up bonus||Earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit||Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel|
|APR||0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.24%, 20.24% or 24.24% Variable APR||0% on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.24% - 24.24% Variable APR|
|Rewards||2 miles per dollar spent on travel and dining; 1 mile per dollar spent elsewhere.||1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases.|
|Minimum miles needed to redeem||2,500 miles||No minimum when you redeem for full or partial travel statement credit|
|How the issuer defines "travel purchases"||"Airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, and ferries," according to Barclaycard's website.||"Airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and timeshares," according to Capital One's website.|
When comparing rewards alone, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card wins by a nose. Both cards allow you to redeem miles for “travel statement credit.” That means that for every mile you earn, you can get 1 cent off just about any travel purchase you’ve made on your card. Essentially, this lets you pay for parts of your credit card bill in miles. But the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card offers a flat-rate 1.25 miles on each dollar spent, while the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® offers 2 miles per dollar spent on travel and dining, and 1 mile on everything else.
For most, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card’s flat-rate rewards are slightly more valuable. NerdWallet calculates that the average household would earn roughly $30 more in annual rewards with this card, compared with the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®, based on the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure data and what could reasonably be charged to a credit card. The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card doesn’t beat all comers among no-fee travel cards — you’d earn more with the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card’s 1.5% flat rate — but it’s a step up from the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®.
The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® would come out ahead of the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card in rewards only if more than a quarter of your total spending was on travel and dining. For many, this isn’t the case. “Food away from home” represents only 11% of the total expenses that could be reasonably charged to a credit card, according to the BLS data. And most households didn’t report big travel expenditures at all. For example, only one-tenth of households report spending money on airline fares in any given quarter, the BLS reports.
The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card’s 0% APR is also superior. For the cost-conscious traveler, a good 0% APR offer can make it much more affordable to pay for a big trip over the course of a few months, interest-free. The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is one of the few travel credit cards that offer this feature. While the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® comes with a balance transfer promotion, it doesn’t offer a promotion on purchase APR, which makes it less useful for those trying to spread out payments on a large purchase.
The exception: Why you might go for the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® instead
The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® has one big thing going for it: It’s chip-and-PIN enabled. Most cards in the U.S. are chip-and-signature, which means the card reader will ask you to sign for your purchase. But certain payment terminals found in kiosks, parking meters and toll roads overseas, especially in the United Kingdom, won’t accept these cards. They take only chip-and-PIN cards, which require you to authenticate your purchase with a 4-digit PIN.
For some, having a chip-and-PIN card may come in handy. Currently, about 39% of the U.S. population has a valid passport, according to data from the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Census, suggesting that many have plans to travel abroad.
Sometimes, the annual fee is worth it
For frugal travelers, a low-maintenance, no-fee travel card just makes sense. It delivers valuable rewards at a minimal cost. But before ruling out annual-fee cards completely, consider how much you plan to use your card.
Sign-up bonus aside, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is a more valuable option than the no-fee version of the card if you charge more than about $8,800 a year, assuming average household spending. And the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card can be a better choice than its no-fee counterpart. If you plan on spending a lot, paying the annual fee is worth it.
But if you don’t think you’ll spend that much, a fee-free travel card might be the way to go. And the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is probably the more cost-effective choice.