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TPG reader Anna-Lena emailed me with a question about the Venture Rewards program:
“Is the Capital One Venture Rewards card worth it? It sounds good (thanks to no blackout dates) — what’s the catch?”
Not all travel rewards are created equal; some programs (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest) offer incredible value for premium redemptions like first class flights and hotel suites. You can often get over three cents apiece (or much more) in value from these points, which is why I rate them so highly in my monthly valuations.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has two major advantages: simplicity and flexibility. You can use Venture Miles to pay for flights, hotels, rental cars and a wide array of other eligible expenses. Miles are redeemed as statement credits toward travel purchases made with your card, so you can book the airfare or hotel room you want without having to search for award availability (hence, no blackout dates). Best of all, you can actually earn rewards and elite status with your airline or hotel in the process.
This comes in handy if you need to redeem for travel that normally wouldn’t be covered by other loyalty programs (like a rail ticket through Europe or a bed and breakfast in a sleepy beach town), or if you’re new to award travel and are having trouble learning the ropes. However, there is a catch — while Venture Rewards may be easy to use, ultimately they just aren’t worth much. You can redeem miles for a flat rate of 1 cent apiece toward eligible travel expenses. While that consistency is nice, the low redemption rate puts pricier “aspirational” awards practically out of reach.
For example, a first class flight from the US to Asia could easily go for $10,000 or more if you paid cash. You would need 1,000,000 (yep, one million) Venture Miles to redeem for that same flight, which would require spending a whopping $500,000 on your Venture Rewards card (since it earns 2 miles per dollar). By comparison, earlier this year I booked a first class award to Tokyo for just 62,500 AAdvantage miles, which you could earn from a single credit card sign-up bonus. The moral of the story is that, pound for pound, Venture miles just can’t match the firepower of most other travel rewards.
While Capital One might overstate the virtues of its own program, fixed-value options like the Venture Rewards card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard can be very useful, and should have a place in your portfolio. I always preach the importance of diversifying your points and miles, and these work great alongside other more valuable rewards. Just spend some time learning the best ways to use different programs so you can maximize each one.
Feature photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy