Here’s why the Venture X and Amex Gold are the only 2 cards in my wallet

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Like many TPGers, I’ve been sucked into credit cards with annual fees, but when I’m out and about, I use just two credit cards in my daily life.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and the American Express® Gold Card are my top picks. So what about these credit cards keeps me loyal to them? Let’s dive into the reasons.

Farewell to 1 point per dollar

Capital One made waves when it launched the Venture X in late 2021. The issuer fused many of the premium travel benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve all in a card with a much lower annual fee of $395 per year.

The Venture X earns a straightforward 2 Capital One miles per dollar spent on most qualifying purchases. That’s a return of 3.7% in Capital One miles at TPG’s latest valuations. You’ll also earn 5 Capital One miles per dollar on flights and 10 miles per dollar on rental cars and hotels — but you must book through the Capital One Travel portal to earn these bonuses.

The Capital One Lounge at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

I often use my Venture X on everyday categories that historically don’t earn more than 1 mile per dollar. Examples include at the pharmacy and home improvement stores as well as car maintenance expenses.

Outside of these purchases, most of my out-and-about spending comes from grocery stores and restaurants. The Amex Gold earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 annually) and restaurants worldwide — an impressive 8% return in Amex points at TPG’s valuations.

By using the Amex Gold for grocery and restaurant purchases and the Venture X for everything else on the go, the days of 1 point per dollar spent are behind me.

Related: The best travel credit cards

Justifiable annual fees

The Capital One Venture X comes with a $395 annual fee. I know what you’re thinking — ouch.

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While no one likes paying annual fees, in my case, the perks of the Venture X more than justify the annual fee. You can refer to the full list of benefits, but here are my favorites (and a dollar figure for how much I value each one):

  • Statement credit: Up to $300 back in statement credit annually for bookings made through Capital One Travel ($300).
  • Anniversary bonus: 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary, starting on your first anniversary ($185).
  • Lounge access: Complimentary access to Priority Pass and Capital One lounges ($150).
  • Authorized users: Up to four authorized users can be added at no charge; same guest access as the cardholder for the Capital One Lounge and Priority Pass ($100).

I value these four perks at over $700, which unambiguously offsets the annual fee. Other notable perks of the card include cellphone and travel protections in addition to a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit (every four years).

The Capital One Venture X also comes with primary rental car insurance. STEFANIE LOOS/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES

The Amex Gold has a $250 annual fee, with the following being my top benefits:

  • Up-to-$120 annual dining statement credit: Earn up to $10 in monthly statement credits when you pay with the Amex Gold Card at participating dining partners, including Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly,, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment is required.
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash: Earn up to $10 in Uber Cash monthly for Uber Eats and Uber rides in the U.S. You must add the card to the Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit. Enrollment is required.

I value these benefits at $240, so while I don’t come out in the “green” as I do with the Venture X, the annual fee is effectively $10 with the $240 in credits.

Related: Complete guide to credit card annual fees

No foreign transaction fees

This is an easy one, but it’s worth pointing out. Neither of these cards has foreign transaction fees, which is important to me. Many merchants don’t accept Amex overseas, but Visa issues the Venture X — a more reliable bet.


Compared to the Venture X, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns an extra point on dining and travel. However, if you’re willing to forgo that, the Venture X is a solid go-to when traveling out of the country.

Related: The best cards with no foreign transaction fees

Valuable transfer partners

Now for the fun part: redeeming your credit card points.

A few months ago, I transferred 63,000 Capital One miles to Etihad Guest to travel to Australia in American Airlines Flagship First. The cash rate for this fare routinely sells for over $10,000, representing excellent value for my miles.

But the fun didn’t stop there. In November, American Express offered a 25% transfer bonus with Air France-KLM Flying Blue. By transferring just 52,000 Amex points, I booked a one-way flight from Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in business class on Air France.

An Air France Boeing 777-300ER business-class cabin. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

After those recent redemptions, I’m now working to build up my Amex point balance. I’m aiming to redeem 55,000 points for a one-way flight in ANA’s new first class to Japan. To book this award, I’ll look for and confirm award space and then transfer points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which offers this popular sweet spot redemption.

For more inspiration, refer to our guides on maximizing Capital One miles and American Express Membership Rewards.

Related: How (and why) you should earn transferable points

Bottom line

As two of the top rewards credit cards out there, the Venture X and Amex Gold are fantastic cards to carry in your wallet. I use my Amex Gold at restaurants and grocery stores and my Venture X practically everywhere else. (I use a hotel cobranded card for hotel stays, but I’ll only carry one when I know I’ll need it.)

You might earn an extra point or two at gas stations or on Uber rides with other cards. However, the simplicity and generous earning rates that come with these two cards make for a perfect combination in my wallet.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

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