Condé Nast Traveler has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Condé Nast Traveler and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. We don't review or include all companies, or all available products. Moreover, the editorial content on this page was not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are entirely those of Condé Nast Traveler's editorial team.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture are two of the most popular travel rewards credit cards—and both are currently posting their best-ever welcome offers for a limited time.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering up to 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. With the Capital One Venture, you can earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months, and an additional 50,000 miles after spending $20,000 in the first year for a total potential haul of 100,000 miles. Aside from their initial bonuses, though, each card extends an impressive array of travel and other benefits, and both allow cardholders to redeem their points in a variety of useful ways.
If you’ve been considering an application for either card during this extraordinary moment, here are the things to think about and how you can choose between them.
This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.
Which offer is better?
To start, let’s get those big numbers out of the way. At first glance, two cards with 100,000-point and -mile welcome bonuses might seem equivalent, but you’ve got to consider how much spending and time it takes to earn each card’s bonus, and then the potential value and uses for those rewards once you’ve earned them.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you only have to spend $4,000 within three months to earn its entire offer. With the Capital One Venture, not only do you have to spend $3,000 within the first three months to earn 50,000 miles, but then you’ve got to make sure you hit $20,000 in purchases within the first 12 months to attain the other 50,000 miles. On one hand, you’ve got tons of time to complete all that spending. On the other, though, $20,000 is a lot more to lay out than just $4,000, so it might be a while before you earn the Venture’s full offer.
To put the relative value of these offers in the clearest context, let’s look at how much each would be worth when redeemed for travel. Sapphire Preferred cardholders who redeem their points for travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal—including hotel stays, flights, cruises, and more—get a value of 1.25 cents per point. So the 100,000 points are worth $1,250. You can also redeem these points for cash back toward other purchases, including travel booked through other channels, at just one cent apiece. While that makes them easy to use, you’re cutting your value significantly by doing so.
Capital One Venture miles can be redeemed for travel at a rate of one cent apiece. Cardholders can do so either by redeeming miles directly for reservations made through Capital One Travel, or for statement credits toward travel purchases made with their card within 90 days of the transaction. For travel, then, this card’s offer is also worth $1,000.
The one major facet that sets them apart in this regard is that you’ve got a bit more flexibility when redeeming your Capital One Venture miles for travel since you can just use your card to make bookings as usual, and in a wider variety of travel-related categories, and then redeem points for the charge later. With the Sapphire Preferred, though, you have to book directly through Chase to get the most value, which means you’re limited to things like airline tickets, hotel rooms, cruises, vacation rentals, and some activities.
There’s not much competition here; both cards charge annual fees of $95, and neither waives them for the first year. So prepare to pay that with either option. As with any credit card’s annual fee, though, just be sure you’re getting as much value out of its benefits as it costs to carry every year.
The two cards differ dramatically in terms of how many points or miles they earn on various purchases, and this is likely to be another deciding factor between them.
The Capital One Venture earns a clear-cut two miles per dollar on every purchase.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns one point per dollar on most purchases. However, it earns two points per dollar on dining, including many delivery services, as well as on a wide variety of travel purchases—things you might not have even thought about, like parking meters, tolls, and subway tickets even count. Thanks to Chase’s partnership with Lyft, cardholders can enroll to earn five points per dollar on rides through March 2022, too.
If you would prefer just to use one rewards card for everything without having to worry about bonus categories, the Capital One Venture keeps things simple. However, if travel and dining are two of your major expense areas, the Chase Sapphire Preferred might pull ahead.
Redeeming points for travel
Now we get to the fun part: How exactly do you want to use your rewards? The good news is, both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One Venture miles are extremely versatile since you can redeem them toward travel at fixed rates as noted above, but also transfer them to various partner airlines and hotels.
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners
Chase points transfer to the following 13 partner programs at a ratio of one Ultimate Reward point to one airline mile or hotel point.
Chase Ultimate Rewards airline partners:
Aer Lingus AerClub
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
British Airways Executive Club
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel partners:
World of Hyatt
IHG Rewards Club
Chase also recently introduced a new feature called, “Pay Yourself Back.” Now through September 30, 2021, folks with the Sapphire Preferred can redeem their points for 1.25 cents apiece for statement credits on purchases from supermarkets, home improvement stores, and donations to about a dozen partner charities.
Capital One transfer partners
Capital One miles can be transferred to the following travel partners at the ratios listed next to each one.
Capital One airline partners:
Aeromexico Club Premier (2 Capital One miles:1.5 airline miles)
Air Canada Aeroplan (2:1.5)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue (2:1.5)
Alitalia MilleMiglia (2:1.5)
Avianca LifeMiles (2:1.5)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (2:1.5)
Emirates Skywards (2:1)
Etihad Airways Guest Program (2:1.5)
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands (2:1.5)
Finnair Plus (2:1.5)
JetBlue TrueBlue (2:1.5)
Qantas Frequent Flyer (2:1.5)
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (2:1)
Capital One hotel partners:
ALL Accor Live Limitless (2:1)
Wyndham Rewards (2:1.5)
JetBlue is the only U.S. airline on this transfer list, which might make some folks hesitant, though you can definitely find some great redemption possibilities with the other partners. The major drawback is that miles do not transfer on a one-to-one basis to any of these programs, meaning you’ll burn through a lot more of them to end up with the same amount of miles as you would using Chase Ultimate Rewards with the airline partners they have in common, like JetBlue, Air France/KLM, and Singapore Airlines. Some folks might also find both the larger footprint and breadth of budget-to-luxury options of Chase’s hotel partners superior to those offered by Capital One.
Neither card charges foreign transaction fees, so if and when you’re ready to travel internationally again, either should have a place in your wallet. Both cards offer purchase protection of up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account against covered losses, damages, or theft, which can come in handy if you have issues with something you buy.
The Capital One Venture card has an ace up its sleeve. Cardholders are eligible for a statement credit worth up to $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck once every four years, which is pretty great for a card with just a $95 annual fee. So if you’re a road warrior who’s always at the airport, this one benefit might make the card worth it.
For its part, the Chase Sapphire Preferred allows cardholders who register by December 31, 2021, to receive at least a year of DoorDash DashPass, which normally costs $9.99 per month and saves an average of $4 to $5 per order thanks to the fact that delivery fees are waived, and service fees on orders of $12 or more are reduced. If you order out frequently, this perk can save you a lot in the end.
In terms of travel protections, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the clear winner. Not only does it offer primary collision and theft insurance on car rentals (a rarity among travel credit cards), but its travel accident and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, and lost and delayed baggage coverage are much more comprehensive than what’s offered by the Venture.
So which card should I choose?
If you prefer to keep it simple in terms of earning and redeeming, specifically for travel, and can take advantage of its Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit benefit, the Capital One Venture is the card for you. That said, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering a truly incredible sign-up bonus, both ongoing and limited-time perks that make Ultimate Rewards points even easier to earn and more dynamic than usual, and some excellent travel protections that can save you money and hassles on the road. Think about which card will allow you to accumulate points faster, and which issuer’s transfer partners you are more likely to use—those should be the final considerations as you narrow down your choice.
Learn more about signing up for the Capital One Venture card here.
Learn more about signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card here.
Condé Nast Traveler has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Condé Nast Traveler and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler