Your ultimate guide to Capital One transfer partners
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Editor’s note: This post makes reference to a number of flights that are not currently operating due to COVID-19 but are expected to resume once this crisis subsides.
As the travel rewards credit card space continues to heat up, card issuers need to find new ways to differentiate themselves and attract customers. For some that means launching entirely new credit cards or revamping existing ones to make them more competitive, but Capital One provided the best possible value add back in 2018 when it decided to add transfer partners to its Venture and Spark card families. The list has continued to grow since that initial launch, and now sits at 10+ transfer partners:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- ALL Accor Live Limitless
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- Wyndham Rewards
Today we’re going to walk through each of your transfer options — the good, the bad and the truly aspirational — and help you figure out which ones to use on your next trip.
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How to earn Capital One miles
While Capital One made its name by offering some of the best fixed value/cash back cards on the market, there are now four cards that let you earn transferable Capital One miles, including a primary personal and business card as well as no-annual-fee versions of each:
- Current bonus: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Benefits: 2x miles on all purchases, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application free credit (up to $100)
- Annual fee: $95
- Current bonus: 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Benefits: 1.25x miles on all purchases
- Annual fee: $0
The information for the Capital One VentureOne has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
- Current bonus: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Benefits: 5x miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One travel, 2x miles on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)
The information for the Capital One Spark Miles has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
- Current bonus: 20,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- Benefits: 5x miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One travel; 1.5x miles on all purchases; free employee cards
- Annual fee: $0
The information for the Capital One Spark Miles Select has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: The best Capital One credit cards
Capital One transfer partner overview
Before we start diving into each individual program, let’s start with a quick summary of Capital One’s different transfer partners, as well as the transfer ratios and estimated transfer times. Make sure to pay close attention to the transfer ratios, as they vary from program to program and can often make or break the math here.
|Transfer partner||Transfer ratio||Transfer time|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||2:1.5||Instant|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||2:1.5||Instant|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||2:1.5||Instant|
|ALL Accor Live Limitless||2:1||Varies; one business day|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||2:1.5||Five business days|
|Etihad Guest||2:1.5||24-hour turnaround|
|EVA Infinity MileageLands||2:1.5||36-hour turnaround|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||2:1.5||24-hour turnaround|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||2:1||36-hour turnaround|
Best Capital One transfer partners
When Capital One first launched its transfer partner program a few years back, a few points and miles experts on the TPG team sat down to figure out how much these newly transferable miles would be worth. We ultimately landed on a valuation of 1.4 cents per mile, though that value comes primarily from just a handful of exceptional transfer partners.
Air Canada Aeroplan
Air Canada’s Aeroplan loyalty program offers some of the best Star Alliance award rates out there; you just need to be careful as some partners pass on massive fuel surcharges. Take this Lufthansa first-class flight between the U.S. and Frankfurt (FRA). While 70,000 Aeroplan miles is one of the cheapest rates out there to book this ticket, the $770 + in taxes means your “free” trip will end up costing you quite a bit of cash.
A better option would be to pick a partner like EVA Air which doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges. Just 75,000 miles from the U.S. to Asia in business class is a great deal, and EVA’s 777s offer a very comfortable ride.
You can also score some solid deals on domestic United flights within the U.S., or on specially designated short-haul awards for as little as 7,500 miles each way.
Related: How to maximize Aeroplan miles
Avianca LifeMiles‘ biggest selling point, besides also offering very cheap rates on Star Alliance tickets, is that it doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on any partner awards. This means that same Lufthansa first-class ticket would cost you 87,000 miles, but only $5.60 in taxes.
You might be able to drop that price even further thanks to a very generous pricing structure for mixed-cabin awards. If you’re flying in long-haul first class and connecting on to another destination, it’s almost a guarantee that your connection will be in a lower class of service. Avianca refunds you for this difference, meaning that adding a connection can actually make your flight cheaper. A one-way first-class award from the U.S. to Asia should cost 90,000 miles, but if you add in a connection to Okinawa (OKA) in economy like in the example shown below, your cost drops to only 83,200 miles, a significant savings.
In terms of domestic travel on United, Avianca uses a confusing pricing scheme that doesn’t match its published award chart but often still works out quite favorably. You can book plenty of short-haul routes for as little as 6,500 miles each way in economy, and on the whole most domestic trips cost 10,000 miles or less, slightly below the industry average.
Despite not being a member of any of the major alliances, Etihad has a close partnership with American Airlines that gives the Etihad Guest program a considerable amount of value. This partnership lets you book flights on American Airlines at prices that roughly match what AA used to charge before its mega devaluation several years back. In other words, if you can find the elusive premium-cabin award space, you’re in for quite a deal.
Flying business class to Europe for just 50,000 miles or 62,500 miles to Australia is great, but American is also the last of the U.S. airlines to still offer a true international first class cabin, available only on 777-300ER aircraft. You’ll find these planes flying to London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and occasionally Sydney. Award space is admittedly quite tough to come by, but if you can find it you’ll enjoy an elevated experience onboard and access to the carrier’s exclusive Flagship First dining facilities on the ground.
Average Capital One transfer partners
A number of Capital One’s transfer partners fall into the average group. These programs can offer a solid value in the right context, but it’s by no means a guarantee so you’ll need to run the numbers on your own situation before transferring your miles over.
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
Flying Blue, the joint loyalty program of Air France-KLM, was one of the first major frequent flyer programs outside of the U.S. to adopt dynamic award pricing. This makes it very difficult to talk about good redemption values in general terms as prices fluctuate from day to day, but if you’re looking to redeem Flying Blue miles you should focus on the program’s rotating monthly Promo Rewards.
While the Promo Rewards have been temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, normally Flying Blue publishes a list of eligible destinations each month. Flights to/from Europe and those listed cities are available at a fixed discount, usually either 25% or 50% off the miles needed for an award. Flying Blue will also specify what classes of service are eligible, so some cities might have discounted business-class awards while others will only have economy. This is one time you can use dynamic pricing to your favor: If you find cheap awards to a secondary European city during less busy times, the percentage discount will drop your out of pocket cost even further.
ALL Accor Live Limitless
Accor uses a fixed-value redemption scheme in its Accor Live Limitless program, meaning that transferring miles from Capital One will always represent a solid though by no means aspirational value. ALL allows you to redeem 2,000 points for 40 euros off a stay (~$44 based on current exchange rates).
Given the 2:1 transfer ratio, you’d need to transfer 4,000 Capital One miles to get $44 off your stay, as opposed to $40 if you redeemed them directly as a purchase eraser against eligible travel charges. While it’s only a $4 difference, this means you’re guaranteed to get a slightly better value by transferring your miles to Accor if you want to stay at an Accor related property.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Because Asia Miles uses a distance-based award chart, this program can be expensive if you’re looking to fly Cathay Pacific to or from the U.S. You might decide that it’s worth it to pay up for one of the world’s best first-class products, especially since Asia Miles tends to have access to more Cathay Pacific award space than partners like Alaska and American. You’ll also find some decent values on shorter domestic flights operated by AA and some Oneworld flights from the east coast to Europe.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qantas also uses a distance-based chart, which means long-haul flights from the U.S. to Australia are prohibitively expensive in most cases. Like Asia Miles, one advantage of booking directly with Qantas is that you might have access to some elusive premium-cabin award space that other programs can’t see. One of the best uses of Qantas miles falls entirely outside the Oneworld alliance, with partner and Israeli flag carrier El Al.
El Al is in the process of updating an ancient fleet and replacing its 747 and 777 aircraft with modern and comfortable Dreamliners, and you can get a good value redeeming Qantas points for business-class awards between Newark (EWR) and Tel Aviv (TLV).
TPG only values Wyndham Rewards points at 1.1 cents each, meaning it can be challenging to come out ahead when factoring in the 2:1.5 transfer ratio (1.5 Wyndham points are worth ~1.65 cents whereas the 2 Capital One miles are worth 2 to 2.8 cents). Still, Wyndham has a large global portfolio and you may be able to find individual redemptions that make this transfer worth it, especially if you’re just short on the points you need for a specific award.
Worst Capital One transfer partners
Between expensive award charts, bad transfer ratios, hidden fees and programs that are just difficult to navigate, many of Capital One’s partners should not be on your radar at all. While you may be able to find a single redemption within these programs that constitutes a good value, more often than not you should avoid transferring to these partners at all costs.
Aeromexico Club Premier
Aeromexico Club Premier is actually a decent and underrated program, but not if you’re transferring from Capital One. Club Premier prices its awards in “kilometers” instead of miles, so prices are inflated about 1.6x above normal. American Express Membership Rewards compensates for this by offering a 1:1.6 transfer ratio, making a number of awards including round-the-world awards quite attractively priced, but you should stay away from Capital One’s 2:1.5 transfer ratio here.
There are several good reasons to be wary of using Alitalia MilleMiglia, including the carrier’s perpetually troubled financial situation, a buggy website, and award prices that don’t match the carrier’s published award chart. Add in the fact that you’re required to book round-trip awards with partner airlines, and there are simply better ways to redeem Capital One miles on SkyTeam airlines.
Emirates Skywards can be a valuable program for those looking to fly in the Gulf carrier’s jealousy-inducing premium cabins, but the 2:1 transfer ratio from Capital One makes these awards much more expensive than they already were. You’d be better off transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio if you want to fly with Emirates, or looking into other partners like JAL or Alaska.
EVA Infinity MileageLands
Capital One already partners with two of the best Star Alliance loyalty programs in the form of Avianca LifeMiles and Aeroplan, so there’s really no reason to bother with EVA. EVA’s award chart is more expensive and the program is harder to navigate as a whole.
Finnair’s sky-high award rates are reason enough to avoid the program, with a one-way economy award between New York-JFK and Helsinki (HEL) costing 55,000 miles. That’s double what many other airlines would charge on that route, or about as much as they’d charge for a business-class award instead. If you’re flying from the U.S. to Europe, you may have better luck with Oneworld award pricing by looking at Asia Miles instead.
JetBlue TrueBlue uses a fixed-value redemption scheme like Southwest Rapid Rewards, where award rates are tied directly to the cash price of the flight. You’ll get an average of about 1.3 cents for every TrueBlue point you redeem, meaning that when you transfer 2 Capital One miles (worth 2 cents) you’ll get 1.5 TrueBlue points worth 1.95 cents. Since this is basically a wash from a value perspective, you should instead book your JetBlue flights with cash and use your Capital One miles to erase the charge. That way you’ll continue to earn more miles on your revenue ticket.
Like Emirates, Singapore KrisFlyer is a solid program that’s undercut here by a paltry 2:1 transfer ratio. KrisFlyer awards have gotten more expensive over the years after a number of devaluations, and while it’s worth paying up for the carrier’s Suites class, this low transfer ratio will make it unreasonably expensive. You should instead consider transferring points from Chase or American Express at a 1:1 ratio.
With 15 airlines and two hotels in its rank of transfer partners, Capital One has something for everyone. Not every transfer partner is a winner, but some programs like Avianca LifeMiles offer such an incredible return that they can almost singlehandedly carry the value of Capital One miles.
Just remember that you should always compare the cash price of your ticket before transferring points and see if you’d be better off using the purchase eraser redemption option instead of transferring.
Featured photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.
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