Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
The Capital One Venture and Barclaycard Arrival Plus cards are two that are very popular for easy travel rewards. Neither card is overly complex, and both earn rewards that are most valuable when redeemed toward travel.
Let’s take a look at where the strengths and weaknesses of each card lie so you can determine which card is the best for you.
We’re going to go into a full explanation below, but the short answer is:
Get the Capital One Venture if you plan to travel domestically most frequently and don’t think you’ll spend more than $30,000 per year on the card.
Get the Barclaycard Arrival Plus if you travel internationally frequently, especially within Europe, or think that you will spend more than $30,000 per year on the card.
Here’s a rundown of the features of each card:
Capital One Venture: This card earns 2X miles on all purchases, everyday. The miles earned are Capital One Venture Miles, not airline miles, and cannot be transferred to airlines. Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit toward travel purchases. The Capital One Venture card does not have foreign transaction fees. This card has an annual fee of $59, waived the first year.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus: This card earns 2X miles on all purchases, everyday. The miles earned are Barclaycard Arrival Miles, not airline miles, and cannot be transferred to airlines. Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit toward travel purchases, and when redemptions are made you will get 5% of your miles back for future redemptions. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus does not charge a foreign transaction fee. This card has an annual fee of $89, waived the first year.
Both of these cards have some similar pros and cons as well as pros and cons that are specific to each card. First, let’s take a look at the general pros and cons that are shared between the two cards.
There’s no need to figure out if airlines have availability when using your Capital One Venture or Barclaycard Arrival Miles. Simply purchase a flight, hotel, car rental, or other travel purchase on your credit card, and redeem the points against that purchase for a statement credit.
Same Earning on Everything
Maximizing the rewards you get back for you spending is definitely rewarding but can take up a lot of time depending on how complex you decide to make it. With either the Capital One Venture or Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you can greatly simplify your finances and still earn reasonable rewards back for all of your spending. Both cards earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, everyday.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Neither card charges foreign transaction fees which can range from 1-4% depending on which card you use. Avoiding foreign transaction fees is a must if you plan to travel internationally as they will increase the cost of your trip by 1-4%.
Both of these cards have fixed value miles. Each mile is worth one cent when redeemed toward travel purchases, and you earn two miles per dollar spent on purchases. That makes both of these cards effectively a 2% cash back card when the miles are redeemed for travel. Definitely not a bad cash back rate, but you’ll never be able to beat it. With other, more complex, combinations of cards it is definitely possible to earn a higher percentage back than this.
Here are more specifics about each card individually.
Rewards Don’t Expire as Long as Your Account is Open
You don’t have to worry about your rewards expiring – as long as you keep your account open your rewards will be there too. If you do choose to close your account, you will forfeit any unused rewards.
Small Minimum Redemption
You only need 2,500 miles to make a redemption against a travel purchase for a statement credit. 2,500 miles can be earned after spending only $1,250 which is a pretty low redemption requirement. There have been reports that as long as you have at least one travel purchase that you are redeeming your points for that you can actually redeem additional points against non-travel purchases as well, but your mileage may vary.
Though the annual fee is pretty low, the Capital One Venture card will still set you back $59 per year after the first year when it’s waived. If you spend $6,000 per year or more on your credit card, you will come out ahead versus having a 1% cash back card with no annual fee.
Chip and PIN Compatibility
Most cards within the US are now being issued with Chip and Signature technology, but Chip and PIN is one step up. At this time, within the US it doesn’t make much of a difference, but if you travel within Europe, having a card with Chip and PIN technology could benefit you as many train ticket and gas station kiosks are un-manned with no way for you to sign, and the only way to complete a purchase is with a Chip and PIN credit card.
5% Bonus On Redeemed Miles
When you redeem your miles you will receive 5% back to use toward future redemptions. For example, if you redeem 10,000 miles, you will receive 500 back into your account for a future redemption. This equates to an addition 0.1% cash back in comparison with the Capital One Venture card.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus, at $89, and waived the first year, has a higher fee than the Capital One Venture card by $30. Not considering the other benefits of the Barclaycard Arrival, you would need to spend $30,000 to break even with the Capital One Venture card considering the extra 0.1% that the Barclaycard Arrival earns (in the form of the 5% bonus that is returned).
High Minimum Redemption
The minimum redemption is 10,000 points, equivalent to $100. To earn this many points, you will need to spend $5,000 on your Arrival Plus credit card, which is quite a bit more than the Venture card.
In short: whichever card makes the most sense for you. If you travel internationally, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is probably a better choice. If you don’t travel internationally it mainly depends on how much you expect to spend on your card each year.
If you plan to spend more than $30,000 per year on this credit card, you will come out ahead with the Barclay Arrival Plus card, even though the annual fee is higher. If you don’t plan to travel internationally or spend significant amounts on your card, the Capital One Venture is probably a better bet.
If neither the Capital One Venture or Barclaycard Arrival Plus seem like good options for you, PNC also offers a similar credit card that offers 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, no foreign transaction fees, and no annual fee the first year. The annual fee increases to $85 after the first year. The minimum redemption is 5,000 miles.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
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