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Finding the best airline credit card can be tough. So today we’re going to compare two of the most popular rewards card; the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. On the surface, these cards look very similar, but there are a few differences that are important to be aware of if you’re trying to decide between the two. First, let’s start with the similarities that the cards have.
Same Great Features
Both cards earn rewards in the form of miles that can be redeemed for a statement credit. When you redeem for travel, one mile essentially equals one cent. This means if you have 50,000 miles, you can buy a $500 plane ticket with your card, and then after the transaction has posted to your account, you can go back and redeem your 50,000 miles to wipe the purchase off of your statement. So it’s like you got the ticket for free! These types of travel rewards cards have become very popular because of the flexibility they offer in how miles can be redeemed.
Unlike common frequent flyer miles through an airline credit card, with the Capital One Venture Rewards card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite card, you can shop around for the best plane ticket or hotel and don’t have to worry about availability! You can also redeem your miles for a number of other travel expenses like cruises, trains, rental cars, taxis, and much more.
With both of these cards, you have the option to redeem your miles for “cash back,” but we don’t recommend this method because you will only get half the value for your miles. This means that 20,000 miles would be worth $100 in cash back, but $200 if you redeem towards travel purchases. Obviously, it’s better to redeem for travel. Both cards earn two miles on every dollar you spend with no limits to how much you can earn. There are also no specific spending categories or rotating categories, and as long as your account is open and in good standing, your miles won’t expire.
So if you spend $1,000, you’ll earn 2,000 miles which is equal to $20 when you redeem towards travel. For the sign up bonus, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite card offers a whopping limited time bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership. The Capital One Venture offers a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $400 in travel. Those are both pretty sweet deals.
What Makes Them Different
Now for some of the differences… The most obvious difference between the two cards is the annual fee. Both cards waive the annual fee for the first year, but after that the Venture Rewards card charges $59 and the Arrival Plus World Elite card is $89 per year. While this may make you lean towards the Venture Rewards card, there are still a few more differences to consider.
Both cards have no foreign transaction fees and come with EMV chip technology for added security, but the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite card is a chip-and-PIN card while the Capital One Venture Rewards card is chip-and-signature card. This could be an important factor if you’re traveling to Europe where many merchants only accept chip-and-PIN credit cards. Read about America's transition to chip credit cards.
Another added benefit of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite card is that when you redeem your miles for travel, they give you 5% of your miles back. So if you’re a big spender this could be pretty valuable because it technically makes Barclaycard Arrival miles worth 1.05 cents a piece, which is slightly higher than Venture Reward miles. So if you spend $30,000 or more per year on your card, the 5% rebate with the Arrival Plus World Elite will cancel out the $30 difference from the annual fee and actually make it the more profitable rewards card. Here’s the logic behind it: if you spend $30,000, you will earn 60,000 miles, and if you redeemed those for travel, you’ll get back 3,000 miles, the equivalent of $30.
There are also some slight differences between the cards with how you can redeem the miles. With the Capital One credit card you can redeem miles to erase travel purchases made within the last 90 days, whereas with the Arrival Plus World Elite card, you have 120 days to redeem. The Venture Rewards card also allows you to redeem miles for any amount, even as little as redeeming 300 miles for a $3 Uber charge as seen in the picture below.
The Arrival Plus World Elite card only allows you to redeem for purchases that are $100 or greater. Along those lines, if you only want to redeem for part of a transaction, it has to be in $25 increments. The Venture Rewards card allows you to choose any amount of miles to redeem if you only want to cover part of a purchase. These are small differences, but it’s important to know all the details when it comes to credit card rewards.
If you think you’ll spend more than $30,000 per year on the card, then we recommend you go with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite card since the 5% mile rebate will outweigh the more expensive annual fee and make it the more profitable rewards card. I’d also suggest applying for the Arrival Plus World Elite card if you’ll be travelling to Europe or other countries accepting chip-and-PIN credit cards, because chances are you’ll need a card with that kind of technology. But if you think you’ll spend less than $30,000 per year on the card, and will mostly be traveling within the states, go with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card because you’ll save a little bit of money with the lower annual fee and have more flexibility when redeeming rewards.
* Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.