Two of the most popular travel rewards cards that offer points that can be redeemed as cash towards a travel purchase are The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® (see terms). These cards have a lot of overlap, so which card is more lucrative? Let’s compare the various aspects of the cards.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 90 days. I value those points at one cent each, so that welcome bonus is worth $600 to me.
The Capital One Venture has a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. I value those points at one cent each, so that welcome bonus is worth $500.
Winner: While the spend requirement is a bit higher, the welcome bonus on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is better.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has an $89 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.
The Capital One Venture has a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.
Winner: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has the slight edge, by $6 per year, after the first year.
Both cards are marketed as offering “miles,” though in reality these miles can’t be transferred to any airlines. Instead these miles can be redeemed as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase. In the case of both currencies, miles can be redeemed for one cent each towards the cost of a travel purchase.
There are some subtle but important differences, though.
Value of Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles
In the case of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus:
- Miles can be redeemed either to wipe out the cost of a travel purchase within 120 days from the date of the purchase, should you want to book directly with your favorite travel website, travel agent, etc.; alternatively, you can book travel through the Barclaycard Rewards & Benefits Center (though generally I’d recommend just booking direct and using miles to wipe out the cost of a travel purchase)
- You can only redeem for travel purchases of a minimum of $100, and you have to redeem a minimum of 2,500 miles for a $25 credit
- Purchases with the following types of merchants are generally eligible for redemptions (though it all comes down to them having the correct merchant category code): airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, purchase and travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries
Value of Capital One Venture miles
In the case of the Capital One Venture:
- Miles can be redeemed either to wipe out the cost of a travel purchase within 90 days from the date of the purchase, should you want to book directly with your favorite travel website, travel agent, etc.; alternatively, you can book travel through the Capital One Rewards center (though generally I’d recommend just booking direct and using miles to wipe out the cost of a travel purchase)
- There’s no minimum redemption amount, so you could redeem even 100 points for a $1 credit towards a travel purchase
- Purchases with the following types of merchants are generally eligible for redemptions (though it all comes down to them having the correct merchant category code): airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents
Winner: The Capital One Venture wins, since there are no minimums to redeem, while Barclaycard has both a minimum purchase amount and a minimum redemption amount.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers 2x miles per dollar spent, plus offers 5% of your miles back when you redeem. The way I view it, the card offers a return roughly equivalent to 2.1% on your spend.
The Capital One Venture offers 2x miles per dollar spent, so I value the return at roughly 2%.
Winner: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus wins, it offers a return of roughly 2.1% rather than 2%.
Other card perks
Both cards have some unique perks that some may get value out of.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers Chip & PIN technology, which is great for purchases in Europe.
The Capital One Venture offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check statement credit once every four years, worth up to $100. The card also offers 10x miles on bookings with hotels.com.
While I don’t personally use hotels.com since I value hotel elite status (and you don’t typically earn points or receive elite benefits for third party bookings), for those who don’t have hotel loyalty, I think this is a great option. You can earn 10x miles with this card, and then you can combine that with hotels.com’s solid rewards program.
Winner: The Capital One Venture wins for offering a couple of extra useful perks.
Which card is better?
As you can see, there are perks to both cards. At the moment I’d say:
- The Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers a better welcome bonus, slightly lower annual fee, and a slightly better return per dollar spent, when you factor in the 5% refund on redeemed points
- The Capital One Venture offers lower thresholds for redeeming, and the hotels.com 10x points category and Global Entry fee credit can tip the scale in favor of this card, if those are things you value
So I really don’t think you can go wrong with either card. The differences are fairly minor, and which card makes more sense for you will depend on which of the above features you value most. Hopefully this is at least a useful basis for deciding.
Don’t forget there are other options out there
For a lot of people I think a simple, straightforward travel rewards card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or Capital One Venture makes sense. The cards have great welcome bonuses, annual fees waived for the first year, and offer solid returns on spend. These cards are especially good for those mostly looking to travel domestically, or in international economy.
For those looking for aspirational redemptions, be it a ticket in first class or a five star hotel, a card that earns transferable points can be more valuable. So keep in mind there are other great cards with reasonable annual fees that can give you a lot of flexibility.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, a big welcome bonus of up to 50K points, 2x points on dining and travel, and much more. You can learn more here.
Which card you prefer — the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or Capital One Venture?