TRUFFLE pouch (c/o)
It’s been a little since I’ve done a travel-related post but I have a few ideas brewing and wanted to start with one of my favorite post-college discoveries: travel credit cards. It’s been nearly four years since I entered the “real world,” and it took me until just over a year ago to fully discover the beauty of these guys. I’ve mentioned them before but wanted to talk a little more about my card of choice, the Capital One Venture Card.
*I’ll preface this by saying that I’m obviously not a financial expert and this is merely from my own experience. Also, pay off your credit card every month! Don’t get tempted by the sign up bonus if you don’t plan on doing this.
A lot of people ask why I’m partial to the Venture vs. the Chase Sapphire Preferred. They’re both great and have their own advantages, so you really can’t go totally wrong either way. This post turned into a sort of comparison between the two because it seems like a lot of people consider both when opening a travel card. Here are some thoughts + why I went with the Venture:
- How to accrue points. The Venture gives you 2 miles on every dollar, no matter how you spend money, and 100 miles=$1 in travel rewards. I like this because the value doesn’t change for different spending categories–for instance, the Sapphire gives you 2x points per dollar spent on travel and dining, but 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. With the Venture, you’re earning “double miles” across the board. Jennifer Garner sums it up!
- The sign up bonus. The sign up bonus for the Venture is 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. That equates to $400 in travel rewards! I think a lot of people who are torn between the Venture and Sapphire end up going with the Sapphire because the bonus is higher–50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months (equating to $625 in travel rewards when redeemed through Chase’s rewards program, and sometimes more depending on cases where you may transfer points directly to a partner. It’s a little complicated and since I don’t have the card, I can’t give you a firsthand experience).
- How to use your points. This may be my favorite Venture feature…using the rewards is SO EASY. You basically purchase travel as you would with any credit card (so find a great flight deal and pay for it with your Venture.) Once it shows up as a transaction on your account, log in and apply the points to the purchase. You can choose how many points you want to use–so you can use some and pay for the rest out of pocket, if you choose. For instance, my ticket to Zurich last year was $465 and I chose to use 40,000 points (from my sign up bonus!) and pay the balance of $65 rather than use more points. This model also means you don’t have to worry about reward travel time restrictions–booking mileage tickets means blackout dates and seats selling out quickly–so there’s a lot of flexibility there. I also like this because I’m decent at finding cheap flights so like to have full control over booking + the ability to move quickly when a deal pops up.
- All travel counts. “Travel” is taken quite literally by most travel card companies, which is great. That means trains, taxis, Lyfts, etc. all count. So if you wanted to, you could “cancel out” your late night cab ride the next morning…I personally don’t think that’s a great use of your rewards (save them for large purchases!) but the option is there if you want it. Amtrak ‘aint cheap.
- No foreign transaction fees. This is becoming increasingly common among major cards, but not having to pay foreign transaction fees is a huge plus. They’re often around 3% per transaction so the savings can add up when you’re abroad.
- The low annual fee. Both cards waive the annual fee for the first year, but after that the Venture is $59/year and the Sapphire is $95/year.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I obviously love this credit card, but as with anything, there are some downsides. The Points Guy has a great point in acknowledging that Venture points actually aren’t worth that much compared to airline loyalty programs. The biggest draw to me is not having to feel tied to one brand or airline, the ease of using rewards, and being able to apply points to literally any kind of travel–they mention a quaint B&B with no loyalty program as an example. It’s a really great first travel card option with a low annual fee!
I’m going to share some more thoughts on the best ways to use your travel points in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions about the Venture card I’ll do my best to answer them!
Photo by Monica Dutia for Cake & Lilies