The cash back vs. travel card decision is a tough one to make. On the one hand, cash rewards are much more flexible and can be used to purchase travel, merchandise or anything else you can imagine. But travel points often have a higher value or can be redeemed strategically to get more out of a smaller balance.
While Americans tend to prefer cash back, there are a couple reasons many travel enthusiasts still choose a travel card instead: They have larger introductory bonuses, and smart redemptions can stretch points a long way.
However, new competitive offers on cash back cards mean there are better sign-up bonuses, rewards rates and values in the category. If you choose strategically based on your spending, many cash back cards can compete with even the top travel cards for potential value.
Here’s a few of our most popular travel and cash back cards and how they compare.
Capital One Savor card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are pretty similar – offering competitive rewards on dining and charging a $95 annual fee (although it’s waived the first year on the Savor).
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card’s bonus is worth quite a bit more than the Savor card’s bonus. Points are worth 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal. That means 60,000 points can be worth up to $750 in travel purchases.
After the first year (and earning a sign-up bonus), the higher dining rewards rate on the Savor card actually outpaces the rewards potential of the Sapphire Preferred – even if you are redeeming all of your points for a 1.25 cent per point value.
If you spend $15,900 in a year, the average spender can earn more from the Savor card. We’ve calculated the average rewards rate of the Sapphire Preferred at 1.22 points for every dollar spent. The Savor card earns an average of 1.8 percent cash back.
While you might be able to stretch Sapphire Preferred points a bit further with a good deal on a flight or hotel, the Savor card has more face value after the first year.
Citi Double Cash card vs. Capital One Venture
Both the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card turn heads thanks to their high rewards rates on general purchases. The Venture offers 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and the Citi Double Cash card offers 1 percent cash back on every purchase, plus another 1 percent cash back when you pay for those purchases.