Two new credit cards entered the travel hacking sphere this week. It’s too early to tell how gameable they’ll be, but it’s not too early to get an opinion on how useful they seem from a site that has no financial interest whatsoever vested in whether or not you apply for a credit card.
To that end, today I’ve tried to summarize what’s unique about these cards and leave out crap that won’t matter to most of you, because usually that stuff is just chaff to make you think you’re getting a bigger value then you’ll probably end up with (see the $120 annual Equinox credit).
Captial One Venture X
Affiliate-free information page: Capital One Venture X
|Sign-up Bonus||100,000 Capital One points after spending $10,000 in six months|
|Annual Fee||$395, not waived for the first year|
|Bonus Categories||– 10x Hotels and Rental cards only when booked through the Capital One travel portal
– 5x on Flights only when booked through the Capital One Travel Portal
|Major benefits||– Primary rental car protection
– Trip delay protection (for delays six hours or longer, or overnight)
– Cell phone protection
– 10,000 bonus points every card renewal
– $300 travel credit
|Issuer quirks||– Capital One pulls from all three major credit bureaus
– If your credit score is too high (say, above 800), they probably won’t approve you
– You may have better odds of approval if you note that you often carry balances during the application
Is this card worth it the first year? I think so. The points you earn from $10,000 in spending for the sign up bonus and the $300 travel credit will cover the annual fee, and you’ll still have the bonus to use to pay for travel directly or to transfer partners.
Is this card worth it for year two and beyond? No, probably not. Capital One’s transfer partners certainly lag the offerings of Chase and American Express, and likely lag those of Citi too. They also lack a good hotel transfer partner. After year one, I’d rather keep:
- A Citi Double Cash and a Citi Premier which will have a total annual fee of $95 with stronger earning potential and the same to better transfer partners.
- An American Express Personal Gold which has a total annual fee of $295, stronger earning potential, and better transfer partners
- A Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Preferred which has a total annual fee of $95, stronger earning potential, and much better transfer partners
American Express Morgan Stanley Blue Cash Preferred
Affiliate-free information page: AmEx Morgan Stanley Blue Cash Preferred
|Sign-up Bonus||$300 after spending $3,000 in three months|
|Annual Fee||$95, waived for the first year|
|Bonus Categories||– 6% at grocery stores and supermarkets, but only up to $6,000 per year
– 3% on gas stations and transit (but not airfare or car rentals)
|Major benefits||– $100 annual credit after spending $15,000
– 0% interest for all purchases within the first year
|Issuer quirks||– American Express probably won’t do a hard pull of your credit if you already have another American Express
– You have to have a Morgan Stanley brokerage account to qualify ($5,000 in Access will do)
– You won’t be able to use a referral link for this card, it’s only available by head-on application
Is this card worth it the first year? Well, if you don’t have another good manufactured spend card for gas stations, probably yes. If you do though, the real benefit is the $300 sign-up bonus — and that’s pretty weak compared to $750+ offers seen elsewhere.
Is this card worth it for year two and beyond? If you don’t have another card that bonuses at gas stations and you’re good at manufactured spend, definitely. $15,000 worth of manufactured gas station spend to offset the annual fee is child’s play with Speedway.
That said, I’d rather just have a Citi Double Cash and a Citi Premier which earns transferrable miles, has better earning potential for the long term and also earns 3x at gas stations, and it can still be cashed out at the same rate. That combo also has a $95 annual fee, but doesn’t offer a published benefit for offsetting that with spend (of course a retention call to Citi will typically yield the same end-result).
What I Did
Morgan Stanley Blue Cash Preferred: I have better options for gas stations than the Morgan Stanley Blue Cash Preferred, so I wrote this card off.
Capital One Venture X: I applied with the intent of holding it for one year, and I was denied (likely my credit score is too high).
Good luck out there, and have a drink for me at the Venture X party if you make the cut!