Welcome to Round 4 of the credit card showdown. This series is due to a session that was presented at the Frequent Traveler University conference a month or so ago.
The previous debates with the pros/cons of each card include:
- Debate 1: United Explorer vs. British Airways Visa (currently the United Explorer card is winning – prior blog post)
- Debate 2: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Starwood American Express (currently the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is winning by a lot! – prior blog post)
- Debate 3: Chase Ink Bold vs. Alaska Airlines Visa (currently the Chase Ink Bold card is winning – prior blog post)
The forth debate at the FTU conference was between the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card (represented by blogger Million Mile Secrets) and the Capital One Venture card (represented by Tommy777). At the end of the debate, the American Express PRG card won primarily due to the 3x points bonus on all airfare purchases.
- Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 during your first three months of Card membership
- Earn triple points on airfare – no other card offers this amount of bonus points for airfare specifically!
- Earn double points at U.S. stand-alone gas stations and U.S. stand-alone supermarkets
- Earn single points on all other purchases
- Earn 15,000 Membership Reward bonus points when you spend $30,000 within one calendar year
- Membership Reward points are very flexible and can be transferred to many partner airlines, although airline loyalty programs are the best transfer option (airlines include: Air Canada, Singapore, ANA, British Airways, Iberia, Delta, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Alitalia, Aeromexico, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, El Al, Frontier, JetBlue, Hawaiian)
- Membership Rewards often has great promotions where you can receive a bonus by transferring your points to a loyalty program (i.e., current 50% promotion when transferring your points to British Airways; and Delta quite often runs promotions as well, for example 40% bonus + MQMs) – these points become extremely valuable during these promotions
- You can also redeem your points with the “Pay with Points” feature where your points can be redeemed 1 for 1 through the American Express Travel site to fly any airline with no blackout dates
- Access to the Membership Rewards shopping portal where you can earn bonus points just by making your online purchase through their portal (for example, currently with Apple you can earn 5x points on all online purchases)
- American Express cards have partnered with Twitter and Facebook and are offering some unbelievable discounts when syncing your card to these social media sites – I’ve made close to $1,000 with all my American Express’s combined!
- No annual fee for the first year, however, then $175/year which can be steep
- While 25,000 bonus points isn’t the best offer out there, it is not bad – the typical promotion is 15,000 points, although we’ve seen as high as 75,000 points last summer (you can also keep an eye out for a targeted offer in the mail)
- The bonus points on travel purchases is just limited to airfare, unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred card where you get 2x points on all travel (airfare, hotel, car, etc.)
- Transferring to hotels has a pretty poor transfer rate (i.e., Amex to Starwood transfers at 3:1) – thus making airlines your #1 transfer opportunity and limiting for some
- The Membership Rewards program has been losing some partners recently, i.e., United, Southwest, etc.
- Not a card to use internationally as there are foreign transaction fees
- $175 annual fee is pretty high (although waived for the first year) so the benefits might not outweigh the high fee
- No need to worry about blackout dates, seat restrictions, capacity control, etc.!
- Book your reservation as you normally would and afterwards call CapitalOne (or you can do this online) and ask them to apply your points to your travel charge on your current statement
- You earn at a 2:1 rate, so this card provides a cut and dry 2% return on all purchases
- It is a CapitalOne card, which means you aren’t competing with another Chase application
- You earn miles/points when redeeming your points – this one is huge as there is no opportunity cost you need to take into consideration like you need to when redeeming from other programs
- No foreign transaction fees
- Annual fee of $59/year is very low (and waived for the first year)
- Current bonus offer is only 10,000 points (worth $100) which is pretty low compared to other offers out there – must spend $1,000 in the first three months
- Points are fixed thus not really allowing the aspirational awards of business class or a really expensive hotel which you could get by using a lower number of airline/hotel loyalty points – there is no strategy to get the biggest bang for your buck
- Not to use for business class travel – a business ticket could cost you anywhere between 400,000 points – 700,000 points (more or less depending on the dollar value) – this is a lot of points to redeem for “free” travel!
- There are no additional travel perks by having the card
I personally have the Capital One Venture card but only due to the 100,000 point bonus from last years “Match My Miles” promotion. This card reallydepends on the person and how they like to redeem and their ultimate goal. If you want to fly business class or stay at a $700 hotel in Paris, this definitely is not the card for you. However, if your ultimate goal is a free flight that would have otherwise cost $250, then this card is perfect. Unlike other programs, there is no strategy attached with using your Capital One card – with other programs you must fully understand the cost per mile and work the system properly to reap the full “bang for your buck” benefits.
You can learn about the various credit cards that earn you points and miles towards free travel here.
So which card do you think is better?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I will, however, only post the best offers available as my ultimate goal is for you to travel for FREE (or close to)!