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.
Maximizing credit card rewards by having multiple credit cards, often times with annual fees can be rewarding, but time consuming.
It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.
If you’re looking for one simple card, the Bank of America Travel Rewards and Capital One Venture are two worth considering with good reward rates and attractive offers.
We’re going to get into more detail below on how to figure out which is best for your spending, but the short answer is:
Get the Bank of America Travel Rewards card if you want good no annual fee rewards (though check out a bunch of other no fee options here), or if you have significant amounts of money ($20,000+) in qualifying Bank of America bank accounts and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts, which make you eligible to earn more points on your spending via the Preferred Rewards program (up to 2.6x points per dollar).
Get the Capital One Venture if you are looking for a simple credit card to spend on for most or all of your credit card purchases and you intend to spend $12,000 or more per calendar year on the credit card, which helps offset the annual fee.
Here’s a rundown the the main features of each card:
BankAmericard Travel Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar you spend on all purchases (up to 2.6x for Preferred Rewards customers), points don’t expire, no foreign transaction fees, 20,000 bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening, 10% bonus points if you have an active Bank of America checking or savings account, no annual fee.
Capital One Venture: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, everyday, miles can be redeemed as a statement credit toward travel purchases, 40,000 bonus miles after you make at least $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening, $59 annual fee that is waived the first year.
Now we will look at the pros and cons of each card and help you decide which card makes the most sense for you.
20,000 bonus point signup after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. These bonus points can be redeemed for a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases. This is a pretty good signup bonus for a credit card that doesn’t have an annual fee.
Simple points earning. You don’t have to worry about keeping track of different categories that earn different numbers of points. Every single purchase earns the same 1.5 Travel Rewards points per dollar spent, everyday.
No foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad. This is becoming a pretty standard benefit on credit cards that have an annual fee, but is far less common on credit cards without an annual fee. Not paying foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad is a must as it would otherwise add an additional 3-5% to the cost of your trip. There’s no reason at all to be paying these fees when you can have a no annual fee card that won’t charge you foreign transaction fees.
10% bonus points on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America checking or savings account. This is an easy way to earn extra points because you can have an account with no fees even if you don’t use it very often. This means that you’ll earn an additional 0.15 points on each purchase, effectively making this a 1.65 point per dollar spent credit card.
You can earn a bonus if you qualify for Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards Program. In order to qualify, you’ll have to have a Bank of America personal checking account and have your 3-month average combined balances of $20,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America bank accounts and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts. At the base level you will earn a 25% rewards boost (1.9x points per dollar), but if you qualify for upper tiers you can earn up to a 75% rewards boost, which means the card earns over 2.6x travel rewards on your spending, a great deal.
Points never expire. You don’t have to worry about keeping your account active as long as you have your credit card account open. Since there’s no annual fee on this credit card, simply leave the account open until you are ready to use your points. If you do decide to close your account make sure you redeem your points before closing.
Easy redemptions. One point is always worth one cent as long as you redeem towards travel. You can either redeem for travel directly by booking a flight, and if you don’t have enough points you can cover the rest with cash, or you can redeem your points for a statement credit toward travel. You can make a partial redemption for a statement credit, you don’t have to cover the full cost of the travel booking. You will usually need at least 2,500 points ($25 toward travel) for a redemption.
No annual fee. This is a solid credit card offering for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.
Non-travel points redemptions. You really will only want to redeem your Travel Rewards for travel even though there are other options. You can redeem for gift cards and cash in addition to travel. Cash redemptions are at a value of 0.6 cents per point and gift card redemptions are usually between 0.7 and 0.85 cents per point. If you redeem for a higher denomination gift card, you may be able to get the full one cent per point of value, but make sure you double check this on the specific redemption you are looking to make. Travel redemptions are always at a rate of one cent per point.
Simple redemptions. You don’t have to worry about finding airline availability when using your Capital One Venture miles. As long as a flight is available for purchase, you can redeem your miles toward that flight. Miles can also be used on other travel purchases. To use your miles, all you need to do is purchase your travel with your Capital One Venture credit card and redeem your points as a statement credit against the purchase. The minimum redemption is only $25 (2,500 miles).
Same earning on everything. All of your purchases will earn 2 Venture Miles per dollar spent. You don’t need to worry about keeping track of category bonuses or quarterly rotating categories.
No foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad. Again, this has become a pretty standard feature on credit cards that have an annual fee, and nothing is different here. Nonetheless, if you travel abroad you need to make sure you are using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees or you’ll be hit with an extra 3%-5% on the cost of your trip.
Rewards don’t expire. As long as your account is open, don’t worry about your rewards points expiring. Of course, if you do choose to close your account, you will forfeit any unused rewards – so make sure to use them before closing your account!
$59 annual fee. The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card does not have an annual fee while the Capital One Venture does. Of course, earning structure is slightly different between the two cards, so it might make sense for you to pay this annual fee anyway. We will look at the break even point below.
No real airline miles. You’re earning cash rewards you can use to pay for travel, but you can’t mix and match these points with real airline miles.
Probably not, since they’re both cash for travel cards, but the Bank of America Travel Rewards card has no annual fee to think about.
Consider your travel goals, spending patterns, and what other credit cards you have before determining if one, both, or neither of these credit cards make sense for you to get.
The card that is right for you in this case is going to primarily depend on how much you spend. The Capital One Venture card earns 2 points per dollar spent on all purchases while the Bank of America Travel Rewards card earns 1.5 points per dollar spent.
In order to break even on the $59 annual fee from the Capital One Venture’s 0.5% higher cash back, you would need to spend $11,800 per calendar year.
If you plan to spend at least this much on your credit card, you are better off getting the Capital One Venture.
If you spend less than this amount, you should get the Bank of America Travel Rewards card instead, and if you are eligible for rewards boost with Bank of America, this threshold would be higher, making the Bank of America Travel Rewards card more compelling. If you want no annual fee rewards that can earn you real airline miles, consider the Amex Everyday card. It earns real Membership Rewards points you can convert into Delta SkyMiles anytime.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?
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