People who are new to points and miles often ask me what credit card they should sign up for when starting out. The Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred have historically been in the conversation. Last June, I did a comparison between the two cards. The landscape has shifted since then and my answer to which of these two cards is better has changed as well.
I’ve had both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture cards and so has my wife. The Preferred was the first annual fee card we signed up for back in 2011. We were on our honeymoon which was a 13 month round the world trip and the foreign transaction fees on my Chase Freedom card were eating us alive.
After some 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. In 2019, Capital One made some enhancements to the Venture card offering that gave the CSP a run for its money. As things have changed since my last review, I realized it was time to reassess these two mid-range cards to see if one is better. Let’s revisit the details.
Sapphire Preferred vs. Venture
- The Capital One Venture is $95 for the first year.
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred is $95 for the first year.
Winner: This is a tie obviously. The Venture card used to waive the annual fee for the first year but that stopped a few months ago.
Comparing the Welcome Offers
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. It was possible to be targeted for a 60k miles sign-up bonus after $3,000 but I have not heard of those offers since last year. The extra 10,000 miles was a nice bonus if you received the mailer. I jumped on this offer when it came.
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: Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Venture miles are worth once cent per mile when redeemed for travel. This makes the welcome offer worth $500 or $600 in depending on the offer. Keep in mind that most people will likely only find the 50,000 miles offer with the Venture. The Chase Sapphire Preferred provides a slight advantage with 60k points. However, these are redeemable for $750 in travel credit on the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal or through the new Pay Yourself Back feature. While the spend requirement is 33% higher, the value is 50% higher than the standard Venture offer.
The Venture card earns 2 miles per dollar spent. It did provide a massive 10 miles per dollar on bookings at Hotels.com but the partnership ended January 2020. Once that went away the lead the Venture held in the hotel space went away as well.
The CSP card earns 2 points for travel and dining and 1 point on all other spend. On top of that, through March 2022 the CSP earns 5x points on Lyft. Also, through the end of June 2020, cardmembers can earn 3x points on grocery purchases up to $1,500.
Winner: Edge to Preferred. If you use your card for dining or travel, then the earnings on the CSP will better as the redemptions could be more favorable. The new bonus categories are also a nice addition by Chase. The Venture provides 2x miles on all purchase and is great for those who want to simplify their award earnings. The Hotels.com partnership was lucrative for those who stayed in hotels frequently but that benefit ended and Capital One has not added anything to make up for that offer.
Redemptions and Transfers
The 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. Most types of travel will qualify. You can also transfer to 17 travel partners, though it is not always at 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. Last year we 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 13 travel partners. Chase has also rolled out a new “Pay Yourself Back” feature which allows cardmembers to cash out points at 1.25 cents per point in select categories. At the current time these include grocery, dining and home improvement. If you decide to redeem for cash the value is 1 cent each.
Winner: CSP. With the addition of travel partners and the simplicity of erasing the travel purchases, the Venture card gives the CSP run for its money. However, more experienced travel hackers are generally going to find better opportunities for transfers or redemptions with the CSP. In addition, the flexibility of the Pay Yourself Back option provides a lot of value for redemptions. The change makes them easier for less frequent travelers to benefit as well.
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 pretty compelling here. If you are looking for top tier ongoing benefits at the $95 annual fee charge, the Preferred has a leg up.
And the winner is…
It is pretty clear that the CSP is a far better option than the Venture at this point. Until last year, I universally recommended the CSP card due to its great benefits and low annual fee. Last year Capital One made some moves that led to the Venture card offering a great value. However, the end of the $95 annual fee waiver for the first year, difficulty of finding the 60k sign up bonus, and removal of the 10x points at Hotels.com eroded the advantage that the Venture held over the CSP during my last review. Since then, Chase has strengthened the Preferred card’s offerings and has taken back its place as my top choice for a mid-range travel card.
The Preferred certainly offers superior value upfront with the stronger sign-up bonus and. It also is a great card to hold over the long run due to the better benefits. It could make sense to get both cards if you utilize the Global Entry/ TSA Precheck benefit of the Venture. However, the caveat is that you need to get approved for both, hit both bonuses, and make sure to avoid carrying a balance. This will give you the maximum flexibility when it comes to redemptions, transfer partners, and earning options. My opinion is that if you only sign up for one then the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the easy choice.
Which card would you pick between the Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred? Is there another card that is better than both of these? Leave a comment below and let us know why!
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