The Bank of America card, which has no annual fee, is better for casual travelers, while the Capital One card, which carries an annual fee, would be better suited to frequent travelers. Both cards have no foreign transaction fee, however, so no need to worry if you have plans to travel outside the U.S.
Overall these two cards can be rewarding choices, so the deciding factor will come down to your travel habits, how much you’ll get from the benefits they offer, and how complex of a redemption system you’d prefer.
How Do They Look, Side by Side?
What stands out right away when you compare these two cards is the difference in their annual fees. The Capital One card has an annual fee ($95), while the Bank of America card doesn’t. However, along with an annual fee, the Capital One card has a higher base reward rate.
So on the face of it, it would seem Capital One is the more rewarding option. But the Bank of America card offers a bonus rate when booking through the Bank of America Travel Center. Not only that, the Bank of America card features a 0% APR for purchases too. 0% APRs let you carry a balance and pay it down over time while it accrues no interest, making it easier to finance expensive purchases.
These nuances make for two strong cards, so how do you figure out which one is best for you?
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Travel Rewards earns a modest rate for a card that doesn’t require an annual fee. But those rewards are doubled if you can book your travel through the Bank of America Travel Center.
And it doesn’t end there — Bank of America customers can earn even more with this card by becoming Bank of America Preferred Rewards members. There are three tiers in the Preferred Rewards program, and each one provides a greater point bonus. To qualify, you must have enough money in Bank of America bank accounts and/or Merrill investment accounts. The three tiers are:
- Gold: 25% point bonus, requires at least $20,000
- Platinum: 50% point bonus, requires at least $50,000
- Platinum Honors: 75% point bonus, requires at least $100,000
Once you’ve earned your rewards, make sure to redeem them for past travel and dining purchases. In doing so, you’ll ensure a per-point value of 1 cent. You can also redeem for statement credits or gift cards, but doing so would provide less value.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Not only does the Venture Rewards have a higher base reward rate than the Bank of America card, but it also features more flexibility in its redemption options.
The Capital One card allows for mile transfers, and you could potentially find a higher value by transferring your miles to hotel or airline loyalty programs. Most of the transfer rates are 2:1.5 (2 Capital One miles to 1.5 partner miles). If you’re able to find a value of 2 cents or more when you eventually cash in for rooms or flights, you’d see a cash back equivalent of 4% for everything you buy, an excellent rate for any card.
What Are Capital One’s Travel Partners?
|Capital One Airline Partners|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||JetBlue TrueBlue|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Emirates Skywards||Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||Etihad Guest||Qatar Airways|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||EVA Infinity MileageLands||Qantas Frequent Flyer|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Finnair Plus|
|Capital One Hotel Partners|
|Accor Live Limitless||Wyndham Rewards|
There’s not a huge selection of hotels to choose from, but if either of those options is your favorite hotel chain, this card could be even more of a boon for you.
Keep in mind, even if you don’t see your favorite airline here, you might still be able to use your miles with it as long as it’s in an airline alliance with one of the airlines above.
Which Card Has the Best Benefits?
The Capital One card has the better benefits, which makes sense considering it carries an annual fee. It has more travel protections and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit to help expedite your airport experience. It also potentially carries the same Visa Signature benefits the Bank of America card offers, so you wouldn’t be missing out there.
But that’s not to say you wouldn’t find value from the Bank of America card’s benefits. It offers a Visa Signature concierge to aid you with making reservations and other non-emergency tasks, as well as the Luxury Hotel Collection which provides discounts at a variety of hotels. But if you travel frequently, the protections and airport security credit that come with the Capital One card would likely be worth the fee.
Take a Look At Each Card’s Full Benefits
Below, you’ll find all of the benefits Capital One cardholders can expect:
- Luxury Hotel Collection: The Luxury Hotel Collection by Visa Signature provides special perks at select hotels around the world.
- TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credit: If you pay for the application for Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✓ ($85) with your card you’ll receive a statement credit for the fee, once every four years. These programs provide expedited screening at certain airports.
- Shopping discounts: Use your Visa Signature card to get discounts at certain retailers. There are usually a few dozen offers available here, for both online and physical stores.
- Fine Wine & Food: This benefit is similar to the shopping discounts above but it’s focused on food, with a bit of wine thrown in too. It includes benefits at over 50 wineries in Sonoma Wine County, California, and some discounts at common merchants.
- Sports and Entertainment Offers: Get exclusive discounts and offers at sports events and a variety of other experiences.
- Visa Signature Concierge: You can call your Visa Signature concierge service any time at 1-800-953-7392. They’re ready to help with a wide variety of non-emergency tasks, very much like a personal assistant.
- CreditWise credit monitoring: Keep tabs on your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report, and see data from your TransUnion report.
- Capital One Second Look Fraud Coverage: Automatically monitors your account 24/7 for fraudulent activity
- Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: A variety of services like medical and legal referrals, emergency transportation or ticket replacement, and pre-trip assistance
- Travel Accident Insurance: You, your spouse, and unmarried dependent children are insured up to $250,000 against loss of life, limb, sight, speech, or hearing when traveling by common carrier.
- Roadside Dispatch: Call 1-800-847-2869 for help while driving, for services like towing, tire changing, and fuel delivery.
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage for collision damage and theft of eligible rented vehicles, when you decline the rental company’s own insurance
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Provides up to $3,000 in reimbursement to cover the cost of lost or damaged luggage
- Purchase Security: If an eligible item you buy is lost or damaged, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per claim.
- Extended Warranty: Double an eligible manufacturer’s warranty up to one additional year, for warranties of three years or less.
And here are the benefits the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card offers:
- Free FICO Score: Check up on one of your FICO credit scores, based on your TransUnion credit report.
- Visa Signature Concierge: Need help locating tickets, making dinner reservations, or finding a certain item? Call 1-800-953-7392 to access your Visa Signature Concierge and get the help you need.
- Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection: Gain access to room upgrades when they’re available, receive the best rate, access complimentary WiFi, and gain other amenities at 900 luxury hotels across the globe.
- Fraud protection: You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges made with your card. Contact the bank immediately if you suspect fraud.
- Contactless payment: Just tap your card wherever you see the symbol, no physical contact necessary.
- Overdraft protection: Link your Bank of America bank account to the card to benefit from overdraft protection.
How Do You Book Travel?
If you typically book your trips via Google, Expedia, TripAdvisor, or other booking services, the Capital One card would be the better choice because it has higher rewards for those kinds of purchases. However, if you’re able to book through the Bank of America Travel Center, you could earn more rewards with the Bank of America card.
The Bank of America Travel Center is competitive with other booking services (it’s powered by Expedia), meaning the rates will usually be pretty similar to other top travel booking services.
Take note, however, that you might not be able to use your airline or hotel membership status if you book through the Bank of America Travel Center (or other services) instead of directly with the airline or hotel. Take note of this whenever you’re considering a travel credit card.
However, it could still be worth getting the Bank of America card if you’re able to book even part of your trip through the Travel Center. If you have to book your flight with the airline or another service, and can still book your car rental or hotel through the Travel Center, you might earn more rewards with the Bank of America card.
If you’ll be spending with a variety of travel services and plan on making other non-travel purchases too, the Capital One card would be the better option. Capital One also offers a way to book travel, along with the point transfer options, but it doesn’t offer any bonus for using it.
Which Card Provides More Value?
The Bank of America card features a 0% intro APR offer for purchases. You’ll have 0% interest for 12 billing cycles before the regular rate of 13.99%–23.99% Variable applies.
0% APRs can bolster your personal finances by helping you avoid interest charges on large purchases. If you’ve got a trip planned, you can charge the plane tickets and hotel to your card and then pay them off while the balance accrues no interest.
The Capital One card doesn’t have any APR offers, but it does have a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. That means every four years you could save on your application fee for either service (Global Entry is $100, PreCheck is $85). There’s also a nice selection of travel protections that the Bank of America card doesn’t offer. These protections could be worth a lot in the appropriate situation. Just remember to subtract this card’s annual fee when determining its overall value.
The Bottom Line
If you travel often and book through Google or other travel networks, the Capital One Venture Rewards card would likely be the better choice. It does carry an annual fee, but it provides better benefits, a higher base reward rate, and allows for point transfers when it comes time to redeem your rewards.
If one of Capital One’s travel partners is your preferred airline or hotel, you could transfer your miles to it where they might be worth more (if you have several favorites, all the better).
However, if you’re not interested in point transfers and can book some or most of your travel through the Bank of America Travel Center, you could actually earn more with the Bank of America Travel Rewards card. And while the benefits aren’t as impressive, they are still useful.
In the end, you’ll have to look at your travel habits. Both of these cards are good choices, but you should choose the one that more closely aligns with the way you spend and travel.