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KEY LINKS:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 60,000 Ultimate Rewards when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months – Read more and apply here
  • Capital One Venture – 50,000 Venture miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months – Read more and apply here.

People who are new to points and miles often ask me what credit card they should sign up for.  The Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred are nearly always in the conversation.  However, my answer between these two choices is a little different than it was few years ago.

I’ve had both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture cards and so has my wife.  The Preferred was actually the first annual fee card we signed up for back in 2011.  We were on our honeymoon which we used as an excuse for a 13 month round the world trip and the foreign transaction fees on my Chase Freedom card were eating us alive.  After a little research I settled on the Chase Sapphire Preferred which had no foreign transaction fees and a 50k sign-up bonus.  You always remember your first and since the Preferred was the one that introduced me to award travel it has always held a special place in my heart.  However, given the recent enhancements that Capital One has made to the Venture card offering, I thought it was time to reassess these two mid-range cards and see if one is better than the other.  Let’s dive into the details.

Sapphire Preferred vs. Venture: Annual Fee

  • The Capital One Venture is $0 for the first year and then $95 per year thereafter.
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred is $95 for the first year.

Winner: Venture as you can “test” the product for a year without any financial obligation.

Comparing the welcome offer

The current Capital One Venture offers 50,000 Venture miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.  You could be targeted for a 60,000 mile sign-up bonus after $3,000 as my wife and I did by mail.  The extra 10,000 miles are a nice cherry on top if you receive the mailer.  We both jumped on this offer when it came. Read more about the current Capital One Venture offer here.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred provides 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Winner: Tie.  While the Venture miles are worth $500 to $600 in travel credit depending on the offer, Chase provides a slight advantage with 60k points being redeemable for $750 in travel credit on the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.  However, the spend requirement is 33% higher and if you receive the Venture mailer for a 60k sign up bonus the gap is bridged to a large degree once you take the annual fees into account as it is not waived on the Preferred for the first year while for the Venture it does not apply in year one.

Rewards

The Venture card earns 2 miles per dollar spent and a massive 10 miles per dollar on hotels booked at Hotels.com through a partnership that is due to continue through January 2020.  If you pair this with the Hotels.com rewards program you can effectively earn 20% back on hotels which is pretty remarkable.

The CSP card earns 2 points for travel and dining and 1 point on all other spend.

Winner: Slight edge to Venture.  The 2x earning on everything is great for those who want to simplify their award earnings.  The Hotels.com partnership is lucrative for those who stay in hotels frequently since you can earn 10x points on hotel purchases.  If you use your card for eating out a lot or your travel doesn’t involve many hotel stays then the earnings on the CSP may be slightly better as the redemptions could be favorable.  However, if the Hotels.com 10x points deal is not extended after January 2020 then the Preferred could retake the lead.

Redemptions and Transfers

Venture allows you to use miles to “erase” travel purchases from your activity at a 1 cent per mile ratio.  There is a lot of flexibility for redemptions as you can them for most types of travel.  You can also transfer to 15 airline partners although it is not always a 1:1 ratio.  The simplicity of the program when redeeming for travel purchases is good for newbies and also for those who are in the miles game already but need a card that has added flexibility.  We recently used AA miles to book flights to Europe and used the Venture card to absorb the taxes and fees.  If you redeem for cash the miles are worth 0.5 cents each…don’t do this.

CSP gives you a redemption value of 1.25 cents per point when booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.  This is now run by Expedia.  You can also transfer UR points to 12 travel partners.  If you decide to redeem for cash the value is 1 cent each.

Winner:  CSP by a hair.  With the addition of travel partners and the simplicity of erasing the travel purchases, the Venture card gives the CSP run for its money, but for more experienced travel hackers Chase points are generally going to provide a better opportunity for transfers or redemptions.

Other Benefits

My favorite ancillary benefit to the Venture card is the statement credit of up to $100 for a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application.  Besides this, it offers benefits such as a “Credit Wise” credit score tracker, secondary auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and extended warranty protection.  One downside is that Capital One pulls credit reports from all 3 bureaus.

The Preferred has a ton of travel benefits for its $95 annual fee.  These include primary CDW on car rentals, $10,000 in trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel accident insurance, lost luggage insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and extended warranty protection among others.

Winner: Depends.  If you need Global Entry or TSA Precheck the Venture is the easy winner.  If you are looking for top tier ongoing benefits at the $95 annual fee charge, the Preferred has a slight leg up.

Conclusion

I used to universally recommend the CSP card due to its great benefits and low annual fee.  However, I have recently found myself directing more people to the Venture (Dan keeps recommending the Preferred).  For those new to the points and miles hobby, the zero upfront cost, relatively lucrative bonus and easy to understand earning parameters are big draws.  The Venture also has an easy to understand redemption process.  The addition of transfer availability only strengthens the redemption options.  Most travelers just getting started with points and miles do not have the Global Entry or TSA Precheck either and the Venture provides a rebate on this cost.  The Preferred has slightly better ongoing benefits and is a great card for those who are a little more well versed at redemptions as you can maximize the UR points when transferring to travel partners.

Overall, I think both cards provide a ton of value.  It is beneficial to sign up for either, but I believe the best strategy is to sign up for both cards if you can get approved, can hit both bonuses and will pay them off without carrying a balance.  This will give you the maximum flexibility when it comes to redemptions, transfer partners and earning options.  While I would prefer to hold the Preferred (see what I did there) on an ongoing basis due to the slightly better benefits, I think that the 1st year value of the Venture is higher if you utilize the Global Entry/ TSA Precheck benefit.

KEY LINKS:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 60,000 Ultimate Rewards when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months – Read more and apply here
  • Capital One Venture – 50,000 Venture miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months – Read more and apply here.

Which card would you pick between the Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred?  Leave a comment and let me know why!


Points With a Crew has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points With a Crew and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Other links on this page may also pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them

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