A reader can't figure out which of her two cards offers the best rewards, but I can.
A Money Talks News reader recently wrote in with this question:
I just read your review of the Marriott Chase card I currently have. I also have the Venture Rewards card from Capital One. Presently, I am trying to decide which card to keep. I like CapOne’s straight-forward and flexible travel rewards.
I found it is hard to “track” the points accrued on the Marriott card because they break it into SO many categories, that it is difficult to tell if you are REALLY getting all the points they say you are in their advertisements.
Does the Marriott Chase card offer any advantages I should consider before I switch over all my charges to the CapOne card?
Thanks in advance,
Diane raises a great point here. With many reward cards, like the Marriott card from Chase, it can be difficult to figure out if all of the points you are getting are worth it, especially when different purchases earn different amounts of points.
With cards like the Venture Rewards card from Capital One, you earn 2 “miles” per dollar spent on all purchases. Since each mile is worth 1 cent each as a statement credit toward any travel-related expense, you are guaranteed to earn the equivalent of 2 percent cash back on all purchases.
On the other hand, with the Marriott card you would have to average out the amount of points you received per dollar spent, and then figure out how much the award nights you received were worth to you. Only then would you be able to determine the percentage of value received for what you spent. That’s a lot of math to do just to figure out if your reward was worth it.
But I have seen calculations that put the value of each Marriott point at around a penny each. Therefore, you are probably better off using the Venture Rewards card for most purchases, although the two cards might be tied for purchases from airlines, hotels, and rental cars, which earn 2 points per dollar on the Marriott card. Of course, it is always better to use your Marriott card at Marriott properties, where you earn 5 points per dollar.
As far as I am concerned, cardholders should take their rewards from spending as seriously as they take their income from investing. So by calculating the return received per dollar spent, credit card users can figure out which card is the best one for their needs.