The “best” credit card for you really comes down to your budget and spending habits. And travel cards in particular can offer very different benefits depending on your preferences.
With that in mind, we’re evaluating two of the best examples of the latter on the market today: The American Express® Gold Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Both are travel rewards credit cards that come with various travel perks and can help you earn bonus points or miles that you can later redeem for free or discounted travel. But they differ greatly in terms of annual fees and how you redeem your rewards.
These beginner- to mid-level credit cards are geared toward people looking to earn rewards for future travel. And unlike many other travel cards, their highest-earning rewards categories aren’t travel spending. Instead, these cards are great for earning rewards on everyday purchases that can unlock travel savings in the future.
Here’s how the Amex Gold and Capital One Venture cards measure up against each other.
Amex Gold and Capital One Venture at a Glance
While the Amex Gold and Capital One Venture cards can both help you unlock free travel, they differ greatly in terms of annual fees, bonus points, and other benefits that can help you save money.
|Capital One Venture||Amex Gold|
|Annual Fee||$95||$250 (See Rates & Fees)|
|Welcome Offer||75,000 miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.||60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first 6 months|
|Rewards||Unlimited 2x miles on everything you spend||• 4x at restaurants|
• 4x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)
• 3x on flights booked directly from airlines or via Amex Travel
• 1x on other purchases
|Other Benefits||Up to a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership every four years||• Up to $120 in Uber Cash annually ($10 per month) for U.S. Eats orders and rides; Gold Card must be added to the Uber app to receive the benefit|
• Up to $120 in dining statement credits annually ($10 per month)
• Up to a $100 annual credit when you book hotel stays through the American Express Hotel Collection
While both cards offer the same minimum spending requirement to score the welcome bonus, there are big differences in the amount you’ll earn.
With the Gold card, you’ll have more time (six months from account opening) to spend $4,000 and reach the 60,000-point welcome offer. That’s equal to at least $667 per month. These 60,000 points are worth up to $600 when redeemed for travel, according to Amex.
The Venture card offers a higher 75,000-mile bonus, but you’ll need to spend the same $4,000 within three months of account opening. That requires an average $1,333 in spending over the first three months. You can redeem these miles toward travel purchases you make with your card at a rate of 1 cent per mile, making the Venture card’s bonus worth $750 in total.
Overall, the Capital One Venture welcome offer is more valuable, but you should make sure the amount of spending required fits into your budget before you apply.
If your budget allows, you can earn the card’s sign up bonus by hitting the minimum spending requirements in your first few months of card membership.
It’s important to remember that you should only charge what you can afford with any credit card, and never spend more than your budget allows just to obtain a welcome bonus. Many travel rewards credit cards, including both the Amex Gold card and Capital One Venture card, come with a high APR rate. Taking on high interest on a balance can negate the value of any of the rewards you’ll earn, so it’s important to pay your bills on time and in full every month.
While the Gold card offers bonus rewards in specific categories, the Venture has a flat mile rewards rate on every purchase.
The Amex Gold card earns:
- 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
- Dining at restaurants (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.)
- U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)
- 3 points per dollar on:
- Airfare booked directly with airlines
- Airfare booked through AmexTravel.com
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
On the other hand, the Capital One Venture card earns 2 miles on every purchase.
In this case, the Amex Gold card has a higher earning rate at supermarkets and on both dining and airfare. The Capital One Venture is more straightforward, since it earns at least 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, regardless of the spending category.
That said, the Amex Gold card has a $250 annual fee — more than double that of the $95 Capital One Venture. Although it earns more points in specific categories and has added benefits to offset the cost, it may not be enough to outweigh the additional fee price. Make sure you compare your budget and the categories you shop most to help you decide which rewards structure can offer you the most value.
With your Amex Gold card, you’ll earn Membership Rewards points, which are most valuable when you redeem through the Amex Travel portal or transfer to partners such as Delta Air Lines, Hilton Hotels, and Marriott Bonvoy. According to Amex, you can redeem points for 0.5 to 1 cents per point through the portal and transfer at a 1:1 – 1:2 point ratio to partners. While it’s not always an exact science or guarantee, you’ll typically get more value out of your miles by transferring to partners, but we recommend checking both before redeeming any points.
You have a handful of options to redeem your Capital One Venture miles. You can either book travel through the issuer’s portal or to partners such as Air France and British Airways. Through the portal, your miles are worth a fixed rate of 1 cent each, but just like with the Gold card, you’ll typically get more value out of your points by transferring them to partners.
For non-travel redemptions, both cards also have the option for cash back toward your statement balance, gift cards, and more, but they’re worth much less redemption value than travel options.
We strongly recommend paying your bills on time and in full to avoid any interest charges on all travel rewards credit cards, including the Amex Gold and Capital One Venture.
The Capital One Venture card has a variable APR rate between 16.24% and 24.24%, while the Amex Gold is a little less straightforward with interest charges. Each billing period, your minimum payment due is greater than on typical credit cards — it includes all charges throughout the billing period not added to Pay Over Time. That means you’ll have to pay your balance in full every month unless you use the Pay Over Time feature, which allows you to pay off eligible purchases (up to your Pay Over Time limit) with interest — if you opt to do so, your APR will be 16.24%-23.24% variable.
The Amex Gold has a $250 annual fee, and the Capital One Venture has a $95 annual fee. Neither charges foreign transaction fees, so they are both great picks to carry abroad.
Both cards charge up to a $40 fee for any late payments.
American Express® Gold Card
Deciding Between the Amex Gold Card and Capital One Venture Card
Both the Amex Gold and Capital One Venture can be a valuable addition to your wallet, especially if you’re looking to earn bonus points or miles on regular spending, which you can later redeem for free or discounted travel.
If the minimum spending requirement fits within your budget, the Capital One Venture’s welcome bonus is worth about $150 more toward travel. You’ll earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 within the first three months, compared to the Amex Gold’s offer of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within a more lengthy six month period.
The Capital One Venture card is a straightforward card that earns an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, while the Amex Gold earns 4 points per dollar on dining and at U.S. supermarkets, plus 3 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with airlines or through the Amex Travel portal. It earns 1 point per dollar on everything else.
And while the $95 Venture card’s main added benefit is a credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, the Amex Gold offers much more to offset its more costly $250 price tag. You’ll get the following added benefits:
- Up to $120 in annual dining statement credits, spread out to $10 per month, for restaurants like Shake Shack or delivery services like GrubHub/Seamless
- Up to $120 in Uber credits annually (up to $10 per month), which can apply to both rides and Eats orders
- Up to a $100 annual credit when you book hotel stays through the American Express Hotel Collection
If you typically spend money on delivery and rideshares monthly anyway, these credits alone can nearly make up for the annual cost of the card. It’s no wonder that with all of these perks combined, the Amex Gold can end up paying for itself.
Though the Amex Gold is more costly, it also offers the most value between these two cards — especially if your most frequent spending is at restaurants and supermarkets. Still, the more straightforward Capital One may be a better choice for travel rewards beginners or those who don’t travel often, but want to earn rewards on everyday purchases to put toward a future trip. Before you apply for either, make sure you’re able to pay your balances in full, and consider your budget, spending habits, and the benefits or perks that are important to you.
For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, click here.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for some American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.