Two of the top “statement credit” travel cards are the Capital One Venture and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. These cards are very similar and offer many of the same benefits, such as identical sign-up bonuses. There are some key differences between the cards, however, and some of those differences may make you prefer one card over the other. Here’s a comparison of the Capital One Venture Card vs the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.
How these card work
Both of these cards earn “miles” that come in the form of redeemable points worth 1 cent per point. So, for example, if you earn 40,000 miles with a sign-up bonus, that equates to $400 worth of redeemable points. You then use your earned miles to redeem statement credits after you make qualifying travel purchases, effectively canceling out your travel purchase. It’s one of the easiest ways to earn and redeem points and the simplicity of these type of rewards credit cards, attracts a lot of consumers.
Both cards have offered the same sign-up bonus for 40,000 miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months. However, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus recently upped its bonus to 50,000 miles!
Bonus earning potential
Both cards earn 2X on all purchases when those miles are redeemed towards travel.
While they both earn “double the miles” remember that they are not true 2X cards, since you only get that much value when you redeem your miles toward travel expenses. Other cards like the Citi Double Cash give you 2X on everything and don’t limit your redemptions to travel (more on that card below).
The Barclaycard has the Barclaycard RewardsBoost. This is a web portal where you can log-in and make purchases with your Barclaycard and earn additional miles on items from a host of different retailers. There’s also the Barclaycard Travel Community, which allows you to earn miles by sharing notes and photos about your travels. You can learn more about these earning opportunities here.
Capitol One does not currently offer a shopping portal so there’s no way (aside from promotions) to earn additional miles with shopping.
How is travel defined?
Here are the terms taken straight from Capital One’s website:
Purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and time shares are generally considered to be travel purchases and availability for redemption is based on the merchant category code assigned to them by the merchant.
Here are the terms taken straight from the Barclaycard:
Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, and ferries.
Barclay’s definition of travel appears to be a little bit more expansive because it lists more examples, but I’m not sure that it actually is. Whether or not something qualifies as “travel” usually just comes down to how the merchant codes the purchase and I’d be surprised if there was a major difference between the cards. In any event, you can rest assured that the major and most common travel purchases (airlines, hotels, trains, etc.) will likely be covered by both cards. Thus, I don’t think there’s a clear winner here.
Rules on redeeming
Both cards differ pretty significantly when it comes to the rules for redeeming.
- You have to redeem your statement credit within 90 days from the date of purchase. (You may not be aware but you can actually call and request an extension for up to 6 months on this time restriction.)
- You have to redeem your statement credit within 120 days from the date of purchase. Unfortnately, there is no option for getting an extension but 4 months should be plenty of time for you to redeem your miles.
Minimum redemption amount
- There is no minimum requirement for redemptions.
- For partial redemptions, the minimum requirement is $25 (or 2,500 points).
- $100 minimum for all redemptions.
This is where the Venture card wins huge.
There are so many miscellaneous travel purchases like taxi rides that fall under $100 that Barclaycard has made it terribly inconvenient to use its card with its $100 minimum. However, with no minimum redemption requirement, the Venture is a perfect card to cover these expenses.
- No rebate
- 5% rebate
When you redeem your points with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you automatically get 5% of your points put back into your account. So if you were to redeem all 46,000 of your points earned from your sign-up bonus with your first redemption, you’d get 2,300 points put back into your account for $23 worth of travel.
That rebate (which used to be 10%) is decent but keep in mind you’ve still got to spend $3,850 on your card to meet the 10,000 points threshold to redeem your miles for a purchase. And that’s $3,850 worth of spend that could’ve gone on another card to likely earn a much more valuable amount of travel.
For that reason, I personally don’t put too much value in the 5% rebate benefit.
- $59, waived the first year
- $89, waived the first year
Some people cite to the additional $23 gained from the 5% rebate on the Arrival Plus as a reason for why these annual fees are roughly equal. As already stated, I don’t value the 5% rebate because of the need to spend so much extra on the card. But more than that, both of these cards are “earn and burn” in my book, meaning that I would downgrade them after the first year in order to avoid the annual fee.
If you’re thinking about keeping either of these cards for the long term and paying the annual fee, I’d recommend you to reconsider your decision.
For most people, I’d venture (no pun intended) to guess that you’d be better served with a no annual fee cash back card like the Citi Double Cash if you’re wanting to just earn straight 2X back on spending. While the Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers a higher effective earning rate of 2.11 (with the 5% rebate factored in), you’d still have to spend $87,000 in order to offset the annual fee that you don’t have to pay with the Citi Double Cash ($87,000 x 2 = 174,000 miles and 174,000 x .05 = 8,700 miles or $87).
And for many others, cards like the Amex EveryDay and Chase Freedom cards (when paired with the Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Plus) will provide superior value in travel redemptions with so much spend put on them, especially if you’re interested in redeeming for premium airfare. $87,000 worth of spend on the Chase Trifecta, could go a long way and net you thousands of dollars more in travel value.
Therefore, the only way that I’d even think about using the Arrival Plus in the long-term is if I earned over 174,000 Barclay miles a year and was very adverse to rewards programs that require points to be transferred to travel partners.
Credit bureaus pulled
One great thing about the Arrival Plus is that Barclaycard will often pull Transunion (although sometimes they will pull from an additional bureau as well). Transunion is the bureau that seems to get pulled the least from the major banks, so applying for the Arrival Plus is a great way to give your credit report a rest.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Capital One will often pull from all three bureaus! The good news is that you can freeze one of your credit reports like Experian (and still get approved). It will cost you about $22 total, but if you’re really trying to preserve your credit inquiries it might be worth it to you.
Redeeming for non-travel items
You can redeem your miles for cash in the form of a check or account credit, gift cards and more. The redemption rate remains at 1 cent per point for gift cards and charitable redemptions but if you’re trying to redeem for a check or statement credit, it drops down to .5 cents per point (not worth it in my opinion).
You can also redeem your miles for statement credits and gift cards but for these redemptions you’ll be redeeming at .5 cent per point, making the Capital One Venture a bit more versatile and valuable.
Although one card is a Visa Signature and the other one is a Mastercard World Elite, both cards have the standard benefits you’d expect from travel rewards credit cards, including:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Purchase protection
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Auto rental insurance
- Fraud coverage
One benefit of the Arrival Plus is that it offers EMV chip technology, making it a great card to bring around in places like Europe where it’s often necessary to have a “true” chip and pin to go through with a purchase.
Overall, these cards are very closely matched, but I’d give the edge to the Capital One Venture since it has no minimum for redemptions and is thus more practical to use to cover the array of travel expenses you might incur. However, in the end, I view both cards as “earn and burn” options and not as options for long-term use, so it’s really all about utilizing the sign-up bonuses for me.