Has the Capital One Venture card finally earned a spot in our wallet?
Prior to 2018, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card was a non-starter for us. A few years ago I warmed up to it, but never decided to open it. In this post, I’ll explain why all of a sudden it’s living in my head rent free and I think I may open one for Ryan or me, or maybe even both of us.
Before you open ANY credit card, I encourage you to learn about the reward currency said card earns. The Capital One Venture card earns Capital One Venture miles. In the past, Venture “miles” weren’t actually miles. They were rewards points that could be redeemed at a fixed value of one cent per point towards travel. So, $25,000 in spend earns 50,000 miles. 50,000 Venture miles=$500. Your net return is 2%. For a cash back card, this isn’t terrible. But a major problem I had with the Venture card was in the way it was marketed.
Let’s do a brief history lesson on the Capital One Venture card’s journey:
- A few years ago, it was nothing more than a cash back card, and you weren’t actually earning airline miles.
- In 2018, transfer partners were added which was a step in the right direction. You could redeem your points as cash like before, but you could also transfer the Venture miles to airline partners. Once transferred, those Venture miles became airline miles in whichever program you transferred to. But instead of a 1:1 transfer ratio, most partners were 2:1.5 and some were 2:1. This means that you still were not actually earning 2 miles per dollar.
- As of today, Capital One has added a few new partners, plus they’ve improved on the transfer ratio with some partners. There are now 7 airline partners that have 1:1 transfer ratios, so the 2 miles per dollar thing is finally accurate!
Unless you’re brand new here, you probably know that cash back cards are not our favorite. In fact, they’re at the bottom of the list. The reason why is because cash back rewards are typically redeemable at a fixed value. The fixed value is often low and depending on the specific cash back card, will likely result in a return of 1-2% on most of your spending. Of course that’s better than nothing, but we are often able to redeem at much better values with a different type of reward currency.
If you want to maximize your earning and redeeming potential to get the best return on your spending, cards that earn transferable bank points such as American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points have long been our recommendations. Each of these currencies have multiple airline and hotel transfer partners, most of which have a 1:1 transfer ratio. It’s how we’re able to redeem points at higher values. Our strategy is to leverage these partnerships to make sure we’re getting the lowest possible redemption cost, and thus stretch our points.
Airline and hotel co-branded cards also have their place when it come to award travel, but we prioritize cards that earn transferable bank points. I’ll explain that more in a bit but first let me get to the point of this post…
Capital One has once again made improvements to the Capital One Venture card
Ever since transfer partners were added, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card could also be categorized as a card that earns transferable bank points. We never felt the need to earn COV miles because the bonus categories, benefits, and redemption options on our Chase and Amex cards have been sufficient enough. Now that some COV partners have a 1:1 transfer ratio, I’m going to have to reconsider.
Earn up to 60,000 miles when you open a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Click here for more information.
The annual fee is $95. You earn 2 miles per dollar on ALL purchases. You will also receive up to $100 in reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
If you’re new, I generally recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred for your very first card for a few different reasons. You can read more here: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture. But COV is a great card once you’ve opened the Chase cards you want (or at least a transferable Ultimate Rewards earning card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred).
Capital One Venture miles now transfer to some partners at a 1:1 ratio.
- Aeromexico Club Premier 1:1
- Air Canada Aeroplan 2:1.5
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue 2:1.5
- Alitalia MilleMiglia 2:1.5
- Avianca LifeMiles 1:1
- British Airways Avios 2:1.5
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 1:1
- Emirates Skywards 2:1
- Etihad Guest 1:1
- EVA Infinity MileageLands 2:1.5
- Finnair Plus 1:1
- JetBlue True Blue 2:1.5
- Qantas Frequent Flyer 1:1
- Singapore KrisFlyer 2:1
- TAP Air Portugal Miles & Go 1:1
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles 2:1.5
- Accor Live Limitless 2:1
- Choice Privileges 1:1
- Wyndham Rewards 1:1
Are the transfer partners useful?
Some people may look at the airline partners and immediately write off this card based on the fact that none are the programs of US common carriers (with the exception of JetBlue).
That is where indirect partners come into play, though! For example, we booked business class flights to Japan on a flight operated by American Airlines by using Etihad miles. Our redemption price was less than what AAdvantage would have required. Etihad miles are also great for booking other American Airlines routes such as US-Europe.
Actually, this Japan route is a great example of why having the ability to transfer to airline partners is so important. With the COV, you still have the ability to use the miles as a “purchase eraser” for flights, hotels, and other travel expenses (also known as a cash back redemption but I’ll explain more in a moment). The value is always going to be 1 cent per point when you redeem COV miles as cash back. When fares and hotel rates are low, it’s nice to have the ability to redeem this way. Cheap flight=low points required. But for more expensive airfare, particularly premium cabin tickets, you’re going to want to be able to transfer to Venture miles to airline partners.
Depending on how you redeem Capital One Venture miles, the exact same flight would require either 450,000 Capital One Venture miles or just 82,500 Capital One Venture miles.
Here are two different ways to redeem Capital One Venture miles to book the exact same American Airlines flight
It’s always nice to sit in business class on long haul flights, but what we often do is fly to the destination in business and then fly home in economy. There are a couple reasons for this:
- The way we book (transfer partners) is only possible if an award seat is available. Award seats may not be available for premium cabins both ways, but economy is often much easier to find.
- Booking one-way in economy saves miles/points.
So that’s how I’m going show the two ways to book this one. I’ll give redemption pricing on a nonstop AA itinerary between DFW and Tokyo. The flight to Japan is in business class and the return flight is in economy.
I actually cut some of the material from this section because I’m going to use it for another post that will be out within the next week. Learning how to utilize transfer partners, especially if your goal is premium cabin travel, is such an important topic that it deserves a whole post with more details. For now, I’ll give a brief overview of the 2 different ways to redeem Capital One Venture miles/rewards.
1. Transfer Partners
Capital One Venture miles do not transfer to American Airlines AAdvantage. But there are 5 COV airline partners that you can use to book flights operated by American Airlines. Again, I’ll go through how to figure out the best partner later this week, but for now I’m just going to get straight to it. Etihad is the partner you’re going to want to use for this route.
- Etihad is not in any of the 3 major airline alliances in the world, but the frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest, partners with several airlines for which you can redeem Etihad miles. American Airlines is one of these partners.
- So after finding award seats available for the dates I’m using in this example, I could transfer Capital One Venture miles to my Etihad Guest account. Award tickets are always subject to availability. I am totally glossing over this step but I cannot stress enough how important it is to search for availability before transferring any points. Click here for instructions on searching for AA partner award space.
- Once the Capital One Venture miles are moved to my Etihad account, they become Etihad miles. I can redeem the Etihad miles to book the DFW-Japan AA itinerary.
- When you redeem this way, the partner with which you book (Etihad) determines the redemption price, not the airline operating the flight (American Airlines)
- The amount of miles required with Etihad’s frequent flyer program for this route is less than what AAdvantage requires for the exact same flight.
Here is the Etihad redemption table for flights operated by American Airlines. These are for one way and Japan is considered Asia 1. “EO” is economy off peak and the dates I’m using happen to be off-peak, so I think this itinerary will actually price out less than I thought.
North America to Japan (Asia 1) in business class is going to be 50,000 miles. In economy, it will be either 32,500 or 25,000 (Peak/Off-peak). So the total for roundtrip would be 75,000 or 82,500 miles. This is a great deal… just wait until you see the cash price of this itinerary. To compare, AAdvantage requires 60,000 for business and 32,500 for economy, so 92,500 total. Even if I could transfer Capital One Venture miles to AAdvantage, I still would want to use Etihad because it results in a better redemption cost.
Assuming you can find award availability (which is available for this route at the time of publishing) you would transfer 75,000 or 82,500 Capital One Venture miles to your Etihad account. Then you would complete the booking with Etihad. Here are instructions. That post is about transferring Amex to Etihad, but now that COV miles transfer at 1:1, the steps also apply to COV.
Etihad allows one-way bookings, so you could use Etihad for one way and a different Capital One airline partner for the other way if award availability is an issue. In fact, I know in the past Etihad was weird about mixed cabin itineraries, so you may have to book an itinerary like this one as two separate one ways.
There’s one little catch here. Unlike Amex Membership Rewards which usually transfer immediately to Etihad, COV miles can take 24-48 hours to reach your Etihad account. You run the risk of the award space not being there once you do have the miles. With economy seats, this usually isn’t too much of a problem as more are available, but with premium cabins, award space gets booked quickly. Etihad may hold award tickets if you call and ask, but I cannot find any official information about holds, which makes me think they do not place award tickets on hold. Doesn’t hurt to ask.
Total COV miles required: 75,000 or 82,500
Prior to today, to get 75k miles, you would have needed to transfer 100k Capital One Venture miles to Etihad. Even at the 2:1.5 ratio, this was a better way to book several routes with COV miles (as opposed to redeeming with the COV purchase eraser method).
2. Purchase eraser (Cash back)
When you redeem Venture miles using the purchase eraser, it’s the same thing as cash back. You would buy your flights with the card then redeem the Venture miles at a value of 1 cent per point. You have 90 days to log in to your Capital One account and use your miles to ‘erase’ all or part of any travel purchases. Since we need to determine the fare in order to determine the redemption price, I’m searching the exact dates I found above with the award availability to book with Etihad miles.
Roundtrip DFW to Tokyo with one way in business and the other in economy is ~$4500. This is typical for this route/these cabins.
To use Capital One Venture miles to erase the purchase, you’re going to need a lot more than 75,000 or 82,500. COV points can be redeemed this way at a fixed value of 1 cent per point.
To fully cover a $4500 ticket with COV miles using the purchase eraser redemption method, you would need ~450,000 Venture miles. That is 6 times the amount of miles needed when you use Etihad to book (75,000 miles).
Even if you book this roundtrip route in economy, you would need over 103,900 Capital One Venture miles because the ticket is $1,039. If you transfer Capital One Venture miles to Etihad and then use Etihad to book roundtrip economy, you would only need 50,000 miles roundtrip (off peak dates) or 65,000 miles roundtrip (peak dates).
With that example, I’m guessing foreign airline partners are probably more useful than you thought
A really important takeaway here is that even though bank points such as Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and now Capital One Venture miles have few partnerships with airlines you’re probably more familiar with, partnerships with foreign airline programs can be extremely valuable.
But most of the Capital One Venture partners I would actually use are also transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards and/or American Express Membership Rewards.
When Capital One Venture first stepped up its game by adding transfer partners, my concern was not the partners, but rather the transfer ratio. The ratio was previously 2:1.5 for most partners, but 2:1 on a few which is even worse. To compare, all Chase Ultimate Rewards partners and most Amex partners have a 1:1 ratio.
The improved transfer rate is what is making me give the Capital One Venture card more consideration.
It is important to look at both the earning and redeeming side
This post that compares the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to the Capital One Venture card has a lot of math to show your earning and redeeming potential.
On the earning side, you earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase with the Capital One Venture. So even at the 2:1.5 and 2:1 ratios, your return is still 1 or 1.5 miles/points per dollar spent. The Capital One Venture card does not have bonus categories.
Chase and Amex do have bonus categories on most UR and MR earning cards, so there is opportunity to earn more points if your spending habits often match those categories. For example, one of my Amex cards, the American Express Gold Card , earns 4 points per dollar at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year). Terms apply, click here for more details. Then those 4 points per dollar could be transferred at a ratio of 1:1 to Amex’s partners. So that’s a net of 4 miles per dollar spent, which is obviously better than 1,1.5, or 2.
The non category bonus rate on most transferable Amex MR and Chase UR earning cards is 1 point per dollar, so if your everyday spending doesn’t fall into a bonus category, the Capital One Venture may result in a better overall return now that some airlines now have a 1:1 ratio.
There is another way to earn more within the Chase Ultimate Rewards system and you can read more about that here.
With the improved transfer ratio of 1:1 on 7 airlines, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card card has really stepped up its game. Transferring bank points such as Capital One Venture miles to airline partners is how you can potentially get more value out of your points.
A lot of people don’t want to bother with this, but it’s how Ryan and I have stretched our points to make all of our travels happen over the past 8 years! Using transfer partners can make your points significantly more valuable than if you redeem them as cash.
Is the Capital One Venture card worth opening?
If you already have a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card (and maybe some other Chase 5/24 cards that you want), the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card card is certainly not a bad move. We are definitely considering opening one given the improved transfer partner situation. Etihad isn’t the only partner that interests us, but it’s one of our favorite ways to book AA flights. I’ll discuss the great potential with other partners in the coming weeks.
If you’re brand new, I would wait, but mainly because of a Chase policy known as the 5/24 rule. Click here for more info on the Chase 5/24 rule.
My suggestion is to open Chase 5/24 cards first, particularly the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It currently has a welcome bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Those points are worth at least $1,250 but in this post I have 36 ways to redeem for even more with transfer partners.
This post has a detailed comparison between your earning and redeeming potential on both the Capital One Venture and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. But you actually can have both! It’s just that you’re going to want to focus on Chase first.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Value: $1250 or 100,000 airline miles or hotel points.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Value: $600 or 30,000-60,000 airline miles or hotel points.
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