If you’ve been on the hunt for a travel rewards credit card that offers flexible redemption options and a higher-than-average rewards points redemption rate, two credit cards to consider are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture. These cards with generous sign-up bonuses are reserved for those with excellent credit.
Here’s a look at what both cards have to offer, and the pros and cons of each.
Fees and interest rates
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, which is waived in the first year. The card has a variable annual percentage rate (APR) of 16.49% to 23.49%. There’s no foreign transaction fee. Cash advances have a variable APR of 25.49%.
The Capital One Venture card has a $59 annual fee, which is waived in the first year. It has a variable APR that ranges from 13.49% to 23.49%. There’s no foreign transaction fee. The cash advance fee is 3% or $10, whichever is higher. The cash advance fee has a variable APR of 24.9%.
The takeaway: Each of these cards have an annual fee after the first year, so if avoiding such a fee is a priority of yours, you may want to instead consider Chase’s Freedom Unlimited card, which offers 1.5% cash back.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: If you’re a bit of a jetsetter or gourmand, you could quickly accrue points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. You earn two points for every dollar you spend on dining, airfare and hotels, which is equal to two cents for every dollar. For all other purchases, you earn one point for every dollar.
There’s a 50,000-point bonus if you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. If you redeem the points through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, that’s equal to $625 you can use toward travel. An added bonus: if you tack on an authorized user to your card in the first three months, you score an additional 5,000 points.
Capital One Venture: With the Capital One Venture card, you earn an unlimited two miles per dollar on every purchase. You earn 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 on your card in the first three months. That’s equal to $400 in travel.
The takeaway: While you do have to spend $1,000 more to get the bonus points sign-up, you get a slightly higher redemption value for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. You get $625 you can use toward travel for spending $4,000 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which is 1.55 cents earned for every dollar spent. You get $400 for travel if you spend $3,000 with the Venture card, which is 1.33 cents for every dollar.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions. Your points never expire, and there’s no cap as to how many points you can earn.
Capital One Venture: No blackout dates or travel restrictions. Your points never expire. There is no limit as to how many points you can earn.
The takeaway: Both cards offer quite a bit of flexibility, and with no expiration dates on points or caps on how many points you can earn, it’s easy to see why these cards are for the elite.
For the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get 25% more value (1.25 cents per mile) when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you redeem your points toward gift cards or cash back, it’s 1 cent per point.
The redemption rate for the Capital One Venture card is 1 cent per mile across the board.
The takeaway: When it comes to everyday purchases, the redemption rate for both cards are roughly the same. However, if you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards with your Sapphire Preferred, you’ll get more bang for your bonus points.
Tips on earning the most points
For the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, if you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® site, you earn three points for every dollar you spend. And if you shop through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards bonus mall, you can net more points per dollar. There’s more than 200 online retailers, and while most offer two times to five times points per dollar spent, there are a few in which you can get up to 25 times points per dollar spent.
With the Capital One Venture card, your best bet for earning more points is to make more transactions. Of course, you’ll want to stick to your budget and pay off the balance in full every month. Otherwise, the interest you pay cancels out what you earn in rewards.
The takeaway: For the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, shopping through Chase Ultimate Rewards® site helps you earn more points per dollar. Because there’s no rotating bonus categories for both cards, making as many purchases as your budget allows helps you net the most reward points.
Tips on redeeming your points
For the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get the highest value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, which is 1.25 cents per dollar.
You can redeem accrued points from the Capital One Venture card using Capital One’s Purchase Eraser® tool. You can redeem your points toward statement credit against travel-related purchases. For instance, if you booked a hotel last month using your card, you can use your points to “erase” all or part of the expense.
You have to use up your points through the Purchase Eraser® within 90 days. There’s also a 2,500-point minimum for partial travel redemptions, and no minimum for full travel redemptions. So if you want to apply a partial credit to a night in a hotel that costs $200, you only need to apply a minimum of $25 (or 2,500 points) toward the purchase.
The bottom line
While both cards offer an attractive cents per point value, generous sign-up bonuses and flexibility in redemption, you’ll want to come up with a game plan on exactly how you’ll use those points, and how you’ll use them to make the most of rewards points. And as both cards have annual fees, you’ll want to figure out how to accrue enough points so those fees are worth it. To learn more and compare travel reward cards, check our list of personal credit cards here and filter by “travel.”