Capital One Venture X vs Amex Gold: Which Travel Credit Card Wins?

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Venture X vs Amex Gold

Capital One Venture X vs Amex Gold: Which Travel Credit Card Wins?

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There are countless travel credit cards in the market, but some are better than others. Here at Thrifty Traveler, we've got two clear favorites: The American Express® Gold Card and the brand new Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. It's time to put them head to head.

For years, the Amex Gold Card has been one of the strongest travel cards on the market thanks to a reasonable annual fee and some unbeatable bonuses on groceries and dining that make it a go-to card to earn more points for everyday expenses. But the new Venture X Card has taken the premium travel credit card landscape by storm, offering perks like lounge access, annual travel credits, and a massive welcome bonus all at cheaper annual cost than what its competitors charge.

While they're both strong options, these cards have some key differences that could make one a clear winner over the other. So keep reading for a full breakdown of the Capital One Venture X vs Amex Gold Card.

 

 

Comparing Annual Fees

Neither of these cards is cheap, exactly. But that doesn't mean they're not worth that money.

The annual fee on the new Capital One Venture X card is $395. Compare that to the $250 annual fee on the Amex Gold Card (see rates & fees).

That means each and every year, you're saving $145 with the Amex Gold Card as opposed to the Venture X. But the story certainly doesn't end there. As you will find with most travel rewards credit cards in the middle or top of the market, bigger annual fees often mean bigger benefits – and that is certainly the case with both of these cards. Depending on how you use the benefits, even a card with a higher annual fee can make more financial sense.

But if we are simply looking at out-of-pocket costs each and every year, the Amex Gold card is the clear winner in this category.

Winner: American Express® Gold Card

 

american express gold card

 

Capital One Venture X vs Amex Gold Lounge Access

This category alone could sway travelers one way or the other.

The Capital One Venture X card provides access to the brand new Capital One Lounges. Cardholders will also get a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that opens the doors to another 1,200+ airport lounges (and restaurants) around the globe.

Additionally, in June 2022, Capital One also added access to Plaza Premium Lounges, opening the doors to dozens more lounges abroad and at home. The Plaza Premium name also includes Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounges in four U.S. airports like New York City (JFK) and Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD); several lounges at the Cancún (CUN) airport; and Avianca lounges throughout Colombia. Here’s the full list of new lounges.

Capital One opened its very first lounge in Dallas last fall, giving Venture X cardholders exclusive free access. It's a truly incredible space, with great design, fun amenities, and outstanding complimentary food and drinks. Venture X cardholders and two guests can get in for free. More lounges are on the way in Denver (DEN) and Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) later this year, with goals to build more in the future.

 

capital one lounge in Dallas

 

Take a look inside the Capital One DFW Lounge!

One area where Capital One shines is with guest access. Not only can primary Venture X cardholders bring in two guests for free, but they can also add up to authorized users to their accounts at no additional cost. Those Venture X authorized users will also get the same lounge memberships – with the ability to bring in up to two of their own guests on each and every visit.

On the flip side, the American Express Gold Card doesn't offer any sort of lounge access. For lounge access in the American Express card portfolio, you'd have to opt for the much more expensive Platinum Card® from American Express which has an annual fee of $695 each year (see rates and fees).

Winner: Capital One Venture X Card

 

capital one venture x card

 

Welcome Bonuses

When you first sign up for a travel credit card, it's all about the welcome bonus. Comparing the Capital One Venture X and Amex Gold, you really can't go wrong. But there is a clear winner.

With the Capital One Venture X Card, you'll earn 75,000 Capital One Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. Considering you earn 2x on every dollar you spend, that bumps your total earnings to 83,000 – worth at least $830 toward travel.

 

capital one venture x

 

With the American Express Gold card, you'll earn 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending only $4,000 in the first six months of card membership. Those points are worth a minimum of $600 – and potentially much more if you leverage Amex transfer partners.

But it gets better: You might be able to snag a 75,000-point offer if you're targeted by CardMatch. Some travelers may also see a similar offer by opening up a page to the Amex Gold Card in an incognito browser.

No matter how you slice it, spending $4,000 is no small matter. Credit cards are serious business: You should never open a credit card and spend money you can't pay off immediately just to earn some points or miles. If you can't do so responsibly, it's not worth it.

That said, there's no question that earning the bonus on the Gold Card is a bit easier with only $4,000 in spending required over a six-month span. Earning the 75,000-mile bonus on the Venture X requires spending $4,000 in half the amount of time.

We have to give the edge to Venture X. The welcome offer bonus is worth more than what you'll get from the Amex Gold.

Winner: Capital One Venture X Card

 

capital one venture x card

 

Earning More Points

Both these cards give you a reason to keep swiping your cards after earning the bonus. But just which one is better depends on where you're spending money.

On the Capital One Venture X, you'll earn 2x miles on each and every purchase. That's tough to beat. Beyond that, you'll earn 5x points on flights and 10x on hotels and car rentals – but only when booking through the new Capital One Travel Portal.

With the Amex Gold Card, you won't find a better option for your restaurant and U.S. supermarket spending, period. You'll earn 4x Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent at restaurants. You'll also earn 4x points for every dollar you spend at U.S. supermarkets (including delivery platforms like Instacart) on up to $25,000 spent each year (then 1x point per dollar spent).

On top of that, you'll earn 3x points per dollar spent directly with airlines or at amextravel.com, the bank's travel booking platform.

So here's what it comes down to: Which is better? 2x on every single purchase with the Venture X? Or earning 4x at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and 3x on flights and amextravel.com bookings? We'd call this one a draw, but your own spending habits could sway you one way or the other.

In fact, we think these cards work well together. Use the Gold for your restaurant and supermarket spending, and the Venture X card for everything else.

Winner: Tie

 

Annual Credits

Both the Capital One Venture X and Amex Gold Card offer credits that can drastically offset your annual fees. But none of them are exactly straightforward.

Let's start with the Venture X Card, which is much simpler. Each and every year you've got the card starting right from the time you open it, you'll receive a $300 annual credit. Right off the bat, that essentially brings your cost for holding the card from $395 a year down to $95 a year.

Read more: Why the Capital One Venture X Annual Fee Shouldn't Scare You

However, that credit is only valid for purchases you make within the new Capital One Travel Portal. But Capital One has improved its travel portal with a handful of new features that could incentivize you to use their portal to book your travel.

They partnered with Hopper to give cardholders price freeze options, refunds if your flights drop in price after booking, and other predictive and powerful analytics. Plus, you earn up to 10x on travel on those purchases – even when using your $300 annual credit. Just charge your travel purchase to your Venture X Card and voila – it kicks in automatically.

 

capital one travel portal home

 

The Amex Gold essentially comes with two annual credits, totaling up to $240 in value each year. But they're much more convoluted.

For starters, there's an up to $120 annual dining credit for charges at GrubHub, The Cheesecake Factory, Wine.com, Milk Bar, Gold Belly, & participating Shake Shack locations. But you won't get the $120 in one lump sum each year. The credit is dolled out in $10 incriments each month. Simply spend at any of the locations above and you'll receive an automatic statement credit of up to $10 per month. But the credit doesn't roll over from month to month. Any unused balance at the end of each month will be forfeited.

Further, there is another credit of up to $120 each year to use on Uber rides or with their food delivery platform Uber Eats. Again, you will get $10 each month to use with Uber, and any unused balance at the end of the month will be forfeited.

Add it all up and you can get up to $240 in credits each year on the Amex Gold Card. That can take a big bite out of the card's $250 annual fee.

This is close. But from our perspective, putting the $300 credit on the Venture X to use is much easier. And that gives it the edge here.

Winner: Capital One Venture X Card

 

capital one venture x card

 

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit

There are some other perks that aren't earth-shattering. And this is one of them – though it's still a nice perk.

The Capital One Venture X card gives you up to a $100 credit to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. That's fairly common these days among premium travel cards. Even the cheaper Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers it.

Just pay your application fee with your card and poof – the credit kicks in to automatically cover the cost. You get this credit once every four years, and membership in either program lasts for five years. That means you're set.

Can't decide? Go for Global Entry, as that comes with TSA PreCheck benefits but also gets you into a designated customs and immigration line when returning to the U.S. from abroad.

The Amex Gold Card doesn't offer any reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. That makes the winner in this category an easy pick.

Winner: Capital One Venture X Card

 

capital one venture x card

 

Using Points to Book Travel

When it comes to booking travel, let's compare what you get with both Capital One and Amex. And we'll start at the easiest level.

Both Amex and Capital One run their own travel portals that allow you to book flights, hotels, and rental cars using your points and miles. The value is the same: With each card, you'll get 1 cent toward travel for each point or mile you use.

But the Venture X has an ace-in-the-hole: Capital One Purchase Eraser, the easiest and most straightforward way to book travel using points and miles. Rather than searching through portals, you can simply book a flight, hotel, or other travel expense with your card, then go back and erase the purchase using your miles. Once again, every 1 Venture Mile = 1 cent toward your travel purchase.

The ease of redeeming Venture Miles gives the Venture X Card a win here.

Read More: 9 Unique Ways to Use the Capital One Purchase Eraser for Travel

Winner: Capital One Venture X Card

 

capital one venture x card

 

Transfer Partners

You can go beyond travel portals or purchase erasers and get even more value out of your points and miles by leveraging transfer partners. For years, American Express and Chase had reigned supreme when it comes to transfer partners. But Capital One is closing the gap, and fast.

A few years ago, Capital One launched its own stable of airline transfer partners. But it wasn't a great deal: In most cases, you'd have to transfer 2 Venture Miles to get 1.5 airline miles in return. That meant 50,000 Venture Miles would get you just 37,500 miles with your airline of choice. All Chase and most American Express transfers meanwhile are on a 1:1 basis.

But Capital One has improved drastically, adding more options, a few hotel chains, and making almost all of them 1:1 transfer partners. This puts their transfer partner network on a more level playing field with both Amex and Chase.

Check out the full list of Capital One transfer partners.

ProgramTypeRatioTransfer Time
AeromexicoAirline1:1Instant
Air Canada Aeroplan Airline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
Avianca LifeMilesAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Cathay Pacific AsiaMilesAirline1:1Up to five business days
Emirates Airline1:1Instant
EtihadAirline1:1Up to 1 day
EVA AirAirline2:1.5Up to five business days
FinnairAirline1:1Instant
QantasAirline1:1Up to 1 day
SingaporeAirline1:1Instant
TAP Air PortugalAirline1:1Same day
Turkish AirlinesAirline1:1Same day
Virgin RedOther1:1Same day
AccorHotel2:1Up to two business days
WyndhamHotel1:1Same day
Choice HotelsHotel1:1Same day

Read up on Capital One transfer partners, how transferring works, and your best options!

As mentioned, Amex has been among the gold standard for transferring points for years, with more than two dozen options and counting. There's a lot of overlap between which airlines you can send your points to between Amex and Capital One, but Amex still stands out in a few ways.

Here's the full list of Amex transfer partners.

 

ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1N/A
AeroMexicoAirline1:1.62-12 days
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
ANAAirline1:11-2 days
AviancaAirline1:1Instant
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Cathay PacificAirline1:11-7 days
DeltaAirline1:1Instant
EmiratesAirline1:1Instant
EtihadAirline1:1Instant
HawaiianAirline1:1Instant
IberiaAirline1:11-3 days
JetBlueAirline1.25:1Instant
QantasAirline1:1Instant
SingaporeAirline1:112-48 hours
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant
Choice PrivilegesHotel1:1Instant
Hilton HonorsHotel1:2Instant
Marriott BonvoyHotel1:1Instant

 

No bank does a better job of offering frequent transfer bonuses than Amex. By giving travelers a bonus of 10% to 40% or more when sending their points to a specific airline or hotel, it's a relatively easy pathway to earn some additional points and miles. For example, you can get a 30% bonus when transferring points to Virgin Atlantic through March 31, 2022.

 

delta one suite

 

Capital One has offered these bonuses, including a current 20% bonus to LifeMiles through the end of the month. But they seem to be less frequent.

Plus, Amex has the ability to transfer points to Delta SkyMiles. Capital One doesn't have a U.S. airline transfer partner, which is a weakness. And while Capital One has hotel transfer partners, Amex's are stronger.

With that in mind, Amex wins when it comes to transfer partners. But Capital One is closing in fast – especially with valuable niche options like Turkish Airlines. Which card is better for transferring points will ultimately depend on how you want use them.

Winner: American Express® Gold Card

 

american express gold card

 

Travel & Rental Car Insurance

The best travel credit cards help protect you when things go wrong – and help you avoid paying for add-on coverage.

The Venture X Card offers strong travel insurance coverage when booking flights like trip interruption and delay insurance. But where it really shines is with rental car insurance – an area where the Gold Card doesn't offer coverage.

 

capital one venture x car insurance

 

Read more about the Capital One Venture X rental car insurance benefits!

Charge your rental car to your Venture X, and you get the strongest rental car insurance you'll find. Decline the rental car agency’s policy and you’ll have a strong insurance policy that will cover most damages or even the theft of the vehicle. It applies to rentals in the U.S. as long as 15 days and in most foreign countries for up to 31 days.

Winner: Capital One Venture X Card

 

capital one venture x card

 

Venture X vs Amex Gold: Which Wins?

By the numbers, the Venture X card wins six categories, Amex Gold wins two, and one ends in a tie. But at the end of the day, every traveler should weigh each category differently.

While the annual fee is certainly higher on the Venture X card, you are simply getting more travel benefits that can help you offset that fee. With the Amex Gold, you simply won't find a better card in terms of your return on restaurant and U.S. supermarket spending.

If you're after lounge access, the Venture X is a great choice. And with the $300 annual travel credit plus the 10,000-mile anniversary bonus that starts in year two, it's possible to come out ahead on the card's $395 annual fee from those two benefits alone. It's why we always encourage readers to do the math before ruling out credit cards with larger annual fees.

 

capital one venture x with passport

 

Bottom Line

The Capital One Venture X Card has shaken up the premium travel card market. But with a $395 annual fee, it's directly competing with cards in the middle of the market as well.

In the end, when comparing Venture X vs Amex Gold, which of these cards is best depends on which perks and benefits you value most – and how much you're willing to pay for them.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

4 Responses

  • You mention it briefly in the article, but I wonder if these two cards would make good complements to each other? My primary card setup has been Amex Gold (groceries, restaurants, flights) + Chase Freedom Unlimited (Costco and non-multiplier spend) + Sapphire Preferred (general travel expenses and international for Visa). Recently got my Venture X and have been thinking about how my setup my evolve.

    Gold + Venture X seems to meet or exceed Gold + CFU + CSP unless I’m missing something.

    • Sorry about that. It was pulling the Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. This has now been corrected for Amex. United is not a transfer partner. You can only transfer to United from Chase.

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