Update: Barclay has since reduced its SCRA benefits to the minimum legal requirements.
There are two credit cards that take a very different approach on the points and miles game: the Capital One Venture and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. Both cards accumulate “miles” that can be applied to a wide variety of travel related expenses. The difference with these cards is that you make the purchase with the card, and then redeem miles for a statement credit. While the miles earned aren’t very valuable, this system allows for very flexible redemption options: That $300 first class TGV (France’s high speed rail system) ride, check; Camping trips, check; Airline lounge access, check. The list goes on and both cards are World Elite MasterCards, and therefore come with terrific benefits. Barclay and Capital One also happen to be very generous with SCRA benefits, making these premium cards fee free to active duty military personnel.
Capital One Venture
The Capital One Venture card offers Chip and Signature technology, 2x miles on all purchases with absolutely no limit on miles earned and no foreign transaction fee. There is currently a 40,000 mile sign up bonus, worth $400, when you spend $3,000 on purchases with the card in the first 3 months. This surely provides a nice mileage boost to make that next vacation happen. There is also a fee free version, the Capital One Venture One card, which comes with fewer benefits. But as stated above, Capital One’s generous SCRA benefits take care of the usual $59 annual fee the Venture card carries.
Additionally, Capital One offers an extended warranty, travel accident insurance, 24-Hour Travel Assistance Services, and more on all Capital One credit cards.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus
This card usually carries a, slightly higher, $89 annual fee, also waived for military personnel. The benefits and features are very similar to those of the Capital One Venture card: You also earn 2x miles on all purchases with no mileage cap and enjoy no foreign transaction fees as well. Travel accident benefits are also on par with those of Capital One. But there are a few notable distinctions that make the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card stand out a bit more. When you redeem miles as a statement credit towards your travel related expenses, you receive 5% of those miles back into your account to be used on your next redemption. At 1.05 cent per mile, this actually makes the miles earned with the Arrival Plus card slightly more valuable than those earned with the Venture card. Another difference worth mentioning is that the Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers Chip and PIN technology, rather than the Chip and Signature technology that most other U.S. credit cards, including the Capital One Venture card, are limited to. Chip and PIN has been the global credit and debit card standard for over a decade, one to which the U.S. is slowly adapting to, and may now end up skipping entirely due to the advent of mobile pay options like Apple Pay and Android Pay. The Arrival Plus card uses the PIN feature as an alternate method, unfortunately, but it’ll still all but guarantee acceptance at self-serve terminals in Europe, Asia and Africa. Last, but not least, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card currently offers a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus when you spend at least $3,000 with the card on purchases in the first 90 days. That’s 10,000 miles more than the Venture card offers.
I hope this article helps clarify some of the features these two truly great travel cards bring to the table. In my opinion, both of these cards make for a great non bonus category spending option, due to their double mile earning feature, though the Barclaycard clearly holds an edge over the Capital One Venture card in terms of sign-up bonus and overall features. In all, if your travel expenses are a little more “unorthodox”, like camping, train travel or staying at Bed and Breakfasts rather than at traditional hotels, these cards are definitely something for you to consider.
Do you have one of these cards, or maybe both? What would you use them on if you did? Let me know what you think about my review in the comments below or on social media. Also, always stay up to date by subscribing to our free weekly newsletter.
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