Capital One vs. Chase: Which cards are right for you?

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When it comes to travel credit cards, Capital One credit cards and Chase credit cards offer cards that compete in different rewards categories and fulfill separate needs.

The only exception is in the premium credit-card category. Chase offers the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which comes with airport lounge access, up to $300 in annual travel credits and other top-tier benefits to offset its $550 annual fee. None of the Capital One cards can compare to this.

Let’s take at both banks’ other card offerings in our Capital One versus Chase showdown.

In the race for the best card offers, which bank comes out on top? (Photo by Vasilyev Alexandr/Shutterstock.)

Capital One vs. Chase: Which cards are right for you?

Before you apply for any card, check the bank’s application rules. Chase has the 5/24 rule, which excludes you from being approved for any Chase card if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank in the past 24 months.

Capital One is known for limiting individuals to two Capital One personal cards at a time. Typically, Capital One business credit cards and cobranded credit cards don’t count toward your limit of two.

Best entry-level travel card

Two of the best rewards credit cards for beginners are the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Let’s take a look at the bonuses, benefits and annual fees of these cards, to see which card comes out on top.

Chase Sapphire Preferred card

Bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred has an intro bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening the account.

Annual fee: $95

Benefits: The Sapphire Preferred’s benefits include excellent travel insurance, like primary rental car insurance and trip delay reimbursement. This card also earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer to 10 partner airlines and three hotels. You’ll earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining, 5x points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and 1x point per dollar everywhere else.

Chase recently added DoorDash benefits to several of its cards. Sapphire Preferred cardholders are eligible for a up to two free years of DashPass, the membership must be activated by Dec. 31, 2021. A DashPass subscription usually costs $9.99/month. With the pass, you get free delivery on orders of $12+ with DashPass restaurants.

Capital One Venture Rewards card

Bonus: The Capital One Venture offers a bonus of 50,000 Capital One miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening the account.

Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Benefits: The Venture card, one of the few cards with a waived annual fee during the first year, offers a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application-fee credit. You’ll also earn unlimited 2x miles on every purchase and you can transfer Capital One miles to 15 airline travel partners.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred

On the surface, these two cards seem to compare favorably. But once you understand how much more valuable Ultimate Rewards points are, the Sapphire Preferred comes out ahead. Although Capital One miles transfer to more airlines, they don’t transfer to hotels and the transfer ratio is poor at only 2:1.5 for most partners (2:1 for three of them). Chase points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to all of its partners, including Hyatt, which has the most generous award chart for free nights of any of the major hotel-loyalty programs.

The Sapphire Preferred also has a bigger welcome bonus, so when you add it all up, the Sapphire Preferred overshadows the Venture’s strengths — even with the waived first-year annual fee, better everyday earning rate and the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit.

Best business card

If you qualify for a small-business credit card, consider the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business.

Chase Ink Business Preferred card

Bonus: The Chase Ink Business Preferred card has a welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months of opening the account.

Annual fee: $95

Benefits: The Ink Business Preferred earns 5x Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and 3x points on the first $150,000 in combined annual purchases in the following categories:

  • Travel
  • Shipping
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Advertising on social media sites and with search engines

All other purchases earn 1x point per dollar.

The Ink Preferred provides cellphone insurance when you pay your bill with the card. You’ll get $600 in coverage per claim with a $100 deductible for damage or theft.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business card

Bonus:

The Capital One Spark Miles card currently has a welcome offer of up to 200,000 miles. You’ll earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months from opening the account and an additional 150,000 miles after spending $50,000 in total ($45,000 more) in the first six months.

Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Benefits: The Spark Miles card earns 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked with Capital One Travel and unlimited 2x miles on all other purchases. The card also comes with a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (worth up to $100).

Winner: Chase Ink Business Preferred (for most)

This one comes down to the wire. You’re not going to find a bigger bonus than the up to 200,000 miles you can earn with the Spark Miles card. However, you’ll also have a tough time finding a bigger minimum-spending requirement. Many people who qualify for business cards with part-time side hustles for freelance gigs won’t be able to put that kind of spending on the card. Unless you can easily meet the Spark Miles minimum spending requirement, you should pass on that offer.

The Ink Preferred has a spending requirement of $5,000 in the first three months, so isn’t hard to meet that requirement and the card earns triple points on a variety of common business- spending categories. Plus, there are just so many great ways to use Chase points.

Best cash-back card

These cash-back cards are trying to give you money. (Photo by Malochka Mikalai/Shutterstock.)

Miles and points junkies make it a point of pride to squeeze every last drop of value from their credit card rewards. But the time needed to invest in doing that makes it impractical for some people. That’s where cash back comes in. No credit card reward is easier to use than cash back and the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card are two excellent cash-back credit cards.

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase Freedom Unlimited card

Bonus: The Freedom Unlimited comes with a $150 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months from opening the account.

Annual fee: $0

Benefits: This card earns 5% cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and 1.5% cash back everywhere else. Cardholders can also get three months of free DashPass and the next nine months of DashPass for 50% off. DashPass normally costs $9.99/month and gets you waived delivery fees at participating DashPass restaurants when your order is $12 or more.

Capital One Savor card

Bonus: The Capital One Savor card comes with a $300 bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Annual fee: $95

Benefits: The Savor card is one of the best credit cards for restaurants, it earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back everywhere else. Through May 2020, you’ll also get 8% cash back with Vivid Seats.

Winner: Capital One Savor

There isn’t a better cash-back card to use for a night on the town than the Capital One Savor card and its bonus is double what you could earn with the Freedom Unlimited. Even though the Freedom Unlimited earns 50% more in cash back in categories without an extra bonus, it still doesn’t beat the Savor card.

However, the Freedom Unlimited can be a better card to hold long-term because it has no annual fee. This is doubly true if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card that allows transfers to travel partners (Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred) because you can pool the points you earn with the Freedom Unlimited onto that card and they’ll instantly be more valuable.

Bottom line

Whether you go with a Capital One card offer or a Chase card offer, you should be happy with your choice. Both banks issue travel cards, cash-back cards and business cards that compete with the top cards in each category. And a lot of the factors we weighed in our decision will vary from person to person.

But if you’re looking for valuable flexible rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the way to go. But if cash back is what floats your boat, take a look at the Capital One Savor card.

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Jason Stauffer is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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