Capital One Venture Rewards vs. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

June 9, 2015, Written By Jason Steele
Capital One Venture Rewards vs. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Airlines started their frequent flier programs as way of rewarding their best customers and encouraging loyalty. In addition, airlines began offering credit cards that earn frequent flier miles to extend these programs beyond travel.

Yet in the past decade, the airlines have changed the nature of these programs to the point where many travelers are extremely frustrated. Award seats are now very difficult to come by at the lowest mileage levels, and travelers feel deceived when they are unable to book award flights at the mileage levels that appear in the airline’s award charts.

In response, credit card issuers have begun to introduce a new type of reward “miles.” Both the Capital One Venture Rewards card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus offer two miles per dollar spent, and those miles are worth one cent each as statement credits toward travel expenses. In this way, cardholder are no longer at the mercy of any airline’s frequent flier program with its intricate rules and infinitesimal award availability of low mileage awards. Let’s see how these two close competitors compare.

Capital One Venture Rewards

The Capital One Venture Rewards card was the first of these two products to reach the market, and it remains the most heavily marketed. Capital One offers new applicants 40,000 miles, worth $400 after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of account opening.

Miles can be redeemed for any travel expense, including airfare, hotels, car rental, and cruises, at a rate of one cent per point. Cardholders simply purchase travel services the way they normally would, and then claim their miles toward the transactions they choose, and a statement credit will instantly be applied to their account. You can book travel through any travel provider with no blackout dates or capacity controls. And since travel is booked normally, not as a special type of award, airline passengers can also receive frequent flier miles for their journey, credit towards elite status, and all the other benefits offered to revenue passengers.

Other benefits include access to Capital One’s Credit Tracker app, which offers you not just a credit score, but a way to estimate the effects to your credit of various possible actions, such as paying down debt. There is a $59 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Like the Venture Rewards card, the Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard offers double miles on all purchases with no limitations. Miles can be redeemed for travel statement credits in much the same way, and Barclaycard offers a 5% rebate on miles redeemed. Barclaycard also offers the same terms for its sign-up bonus, 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 90 days of account opening.

Another feature of this card is its Chip and PIN compatibility. Most new credit cards issued in the United States now have an EMV smart chip embedded in the front of the card, to ensure compatibility with the next generation of secure credit card readers already in use around the world, and rapidly being deployed in the United States this year. Yet in Europe and elsewhere, many unattended kiosks require compatibility with the Chip and PIN system, and this card is one of the few cards issued in America that complies with that standard. There is an $89 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

How these cards compare

These two cards are incredibly similar, but they do have some significant differences. First, the annual fee on the Capital One Venture Rewards card is $30 lower, although both cards will waive the customer’s annual fee during the first year. Capital One also offers cardholders a free credit score, which is very useful for people who want to keep track of it every month, but don’t want to have to pay for a credit monitoring service. In addition, the Capital One card is also part of the Visa Signature program, which does offer some desirable benefits such as discounts and access to exclusive events.

The Arrival Plus card is also very compelling, as it does offer a 5% rebate on miles redeemed. Furthermore, the ability to have full Chip and PIN compatibility, as well as no foreign transaction fees, makes this card a favorite among Americans who travel abroad. Once your credit card is rejected by a kiosk selling train tickets, and you are forced to wait in a long line for your purchase, you gain a new appreciation of this feature. This card is also part of the World Elite MasterCard, which is similar to the Visa Signature program, but offers different benefits. Nevertheless, applicants will have to ask themselves if these features are worth the additional $30 annual fee, albeit from the second year on.

Final word

These two cards have more in common their differences, but there are some key features that are exclusive to each. The lower annual fee of the Capital One Venture Rewards card should appeal to more frugal cardholders while the slightly higher rate of return and Chip and PIN compatibility of the Arrival Plus can make the difference for those who are bigger spenders and world travelers.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of June 9, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.