Shelling out hundreds of dollars in annual fees for premium credit cards is not for everyone, especially when you’re new to the points and miles world. Fortunately, there are plenty of travel credit cards that will set you back less than $100 a year and still earn you lucrative rewards to help you book that epic trip of your dreams.
Related: The best starter travel credit cards
Among the top cards in this category are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Both come with manageable annual fees for beginners and experts alike, at $95 per year. Additionally, the Capital One rewards program underwent some major changes in 2021 to become even more valuable, and both cards are currently offering similar welcome bonuses.
Let’s take a look at how these two cards stack up in a head-to-head comparison.
Comparing Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Here are the basics of each of these two cards in the major categories:
|Card details||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Capital One Venture Rewards|
|Sign-up bonus||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.||Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.|
|Everyday spend earning rate||1 point per dollar.||2 miles per dollar.|
|Bonus categories||5 points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
5 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025.
3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
2 points per dollar on all other travel.
1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
|5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
2 miles per dollar on all other purchases.
|Value of points/miles||1.25–2 cents each.||1–1.85 cents each.|
|Foreign transaction fees||None.||None.|
|Travel protections||Primary auto rental coverage, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services, lost luggage insurance.||Secondary auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, 24-hour travel assistance services.*|
|Other benefits||$50 annual hotel credit, 10% annual points bonus, extended warranty protection and purchase protection.||Two complimentary visits to Capital One’s airport lounges annually, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years, extended warranty protection.*|
* Benefits only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.
Both cards are currently offering solid sign-up bonuses that can provide a ton of value to new cardholders.
Capital One Venture: The Venture Rewards card is offering 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months of account opening. At the very least, the bonus gets you $750 in travel if you redeem at a fixed value directly through Capital One. However, the value of the sign-up bonus rises to $1,388* if you transfer your miles to Capital One’s airline or three hotel transfer partners, based on TPG’s valuations of 1.85 cents per Capital One mile.
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
Sign up for our daily newsletter
Chase Sapphire Preferred: The Sapphire Preferred offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Since points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, the bonus is guaranteed to be worth at least $750 in travel (before factoring in the statement credits). But you can get an even greater return by leveraging Chase’s airline or hotel transfer partners.
If you decide to transfer, TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this bonus worth $1,200. Although, keep in mind that if you’ve opened five or more personal cards with any issuer in the past 24 months, you won’t be eligible to get the Sapphire Preferred because of Chase’s 5/24 rule.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred.
It’s a close call, but given the array of valuable transfer partners with Chase, the Sapphire Preferred gets the nod. However, if you’re not interested in transferring your points, the Venture comes out on top. Even though the cards’ bonuses have identical redemption value when used directly for travel, the $750 in Venture miles doesn’t require booking through Capital One Travel, whereas Chase does.
Related: How (and why) you should earn transferable points in 2023
Capital One Venture: 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: 5 points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3 points per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out; 3 points per dollar on select streaming services; 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 2 points per dollar on all other travel; 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Travel is defined quite broadly with the Sapphire Preferred and includes some everyday expenses, such as tolls, parking and subway tickets. Dining includes standard restaurants, bars and coffee shops, food delivery services, and even most vending machines.
The Capital One Venture comes out ahead on everyday spending, but it falls behind when it comes to specific categories.
Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review
Both cards allow you to redeem rewards toward many purchases — but travel redemptions always provide the best value.
Capital One Venture: Capital One miles have become much more valuable over the last few years. If it’s simplicity you’re after and you don’t want to worry about blackout dates or finding award space, you could redeem your Venture miles at a fixed value of 1 cent each toward travel bookings made through Capital One Travel. You can also use them for statement credits to offset any travel purchase within the last 90 days (again, at a rate of 1 cent per mile).
If, on the other hand, you enjoy the thrill of booking high-value premium cabin awards, you could squeeze more value from your miles by transferring them to Capital One’s 17 airline and hotel transfer partners. Most transfers are now at a 1:1 ratio, and since the card earns 2 Capital One miles per dollar on everyday spending, you’re basically earning up to 2 airline miles or hotel points per dollar spent on every purchase — depending on the specific program to which you transfer your miles.
Some highlights of Capital One’s transfer partners include United flights to Hawaii for 7,500 miles one-way in economy or 12,500 miles in business class through Turkish Miles & Smiles, Lufthansa business class with no fuel surcharges through Avianca LifeMiles for 63,000 miles one-way and American Airlines business class to Europe through Etihad Guest for 50,000 miles one-way.
If you’re not seeking travel rewards, you can redeem your miles for gift cards, cash back or on Amazon and PayPal purchases — but know it will be at subpar redemption rates.
Related: How to use your Capital One miles for maximum value
Chase Sapphire Preferred: As with the Venture card, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed toward travel at a fixed value or transferred. As previously mentioned, if you book travel reservations through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, points have a fixed value of 1.25 cents each.
However, the way to get top value from your points is by transferring them to one of Chase’s 11 airline and three hotel partners, all at a 1:1 ratio. Partners include familiar programs such as United MileagePlus, British Airways Executive Club and World of Hyatt, giving you many options to book domestic and international award trips.
You can also redeem points for gift cards and cash back, but you’ll only get 1 cent per point in value.
Related: The best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Although the Capital One Venture card now offers more transfer partners, Chase Ultimate Rewards gets the edge for offering a greater number of lucrative transfer options (namely United and Hyatt, which are not Capital One partners). Plus, you’ll get a more favorable 1.25 cents per point when redeeming for travel at a fixed rate, while you can also get a rate of 1 cent per point when redeeming for cash rewards or statement credits.
While the ability to redeem Capital One miles to cover any travel purchase you make is nice, the Chase Sapphire Preferred still offers the best long-term value when it comes to redemption choices.
Related: Review of the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card
Understandably, you aren’t going to get as many perks with a $95-a-year card as you will with a premium card that costs hundreds of dollars each year. Still, both cards offer an array of benefits that add even more value.
Capital One Venture: Among the features of this card are no foreign transaction fees, extended warranty protection, purchase security and Visa Signature travel benefits, such as travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and secondary auto rental coverage. The card also offers two complimentary visits to Capital One’s airport lounges annually and an up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit. This is a perk generally seen on cards with higher annual fees, and it can make a huge difference in speeding up your journey through the airport. (Benefits only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.)
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Since this is also a Visa Signature card, it offers practically the same benefits but kicked up a notch. Most notably, it includes primary rental car coverage rather than secondary, which means that you can submit claims directly to your card’s benefits provider without involving your own personal insurance policy at all. Plus, the Sapphire Preferred’s travel benefits are also superior — up to $500 in trip delay reimbursement if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or overnight, up to $10,000 in trip cancellation and interruption insurance per person ($20,000 per trip) and up to $100 per day for up to five days in baggage delay reimbursement if your bag is delayed more than six hours.
On top of that, the card offers an annual $50 statement credit on hotel stays purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal and a 10% anniversary points bonus.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The card offers an annual hotel credit and more extensive travel protections, including trip delay and baggage delay reimbursement. Most importantly, the Sapphire Preferred offers primary rental coverage, while the Venture Card’s benefit is secondary. If you’re ever involved in a fender bender while in a rental car, the protection offered by the Sapphire Preferred can save you a lot of hassle and money.
While it’s nice that the Venture Card offers the two airport lounge visits and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, there are a number of other cards that offer this as well.
Bottom line: Which one should you choose?
In the Chase Sapphire Preferred versus the Capital One Venture Card battle, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes out ahead of the Capital One Venture Rewards. On paper, it offers a more valuable sign-up bonus, better travel protections and superior redemption options.
However, the best option for you depends on your personal spending patterns and redemption goals at the end of the day. For example, the Venture card earns more points on everyday spending, but it can be easier to find value through Chase’s transfer partners than with Capital One partners’ selection. The Sapphire Preferred offers more extensive travel protections, but the Venture’s Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit could also be quite valuable down the line.
You don’t necessarily need to consider the two cards as mutually exclusive. After all, the Capital One Venture Card is one of the best Capital One credit cards, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best Chase credit cards on the market today. They actually complement each other if you got both. Use the Venture card for everyday purchases and the Preferred for dining and other travel spending.
Plus, between the two sign-up bonuses, you could get nearly $3,000 worth of travel in the first year for less than $200 in annual fees — a win-win if you decide to sign up for both cards.
Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card with 75,000 bonus miles after meeting minimum spend requirements.
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred with 60,000 bonus points after meeting minimum spend requirements.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox.