How long do Capital One miles transfers take?

Oct 15, 2021

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Editor’s note: This guide is regularly refreshed with updated information.

In 2018, Capital One announced big changes to its rewards program by offering cardholders the option to transfer their miles to airline and hotel partners. This announcement had the positive effect of catapulting TPG’s valuations for Capital One Rewards miles from 1 cent to 1.4 cents apiece due to the newfound ability to use Capital One miles toward booking award travel of outsized value.

In early October, Capital One announced that 15 of its travel partners — both airlines and hotels — are now eligible for transfers on a 1:1 basis. In turn, this shot the value of Capital One miles up to 1.85 cents apiece in TPG’s most recent valuations.

We were eager to test out the new transfer ratios and the speed at which transfers occurred to various partners. After all, this impacts just how useful Capital One miles are. Here are our findings.

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In This Post

How long Capital One miles take to transfer

Besides the transfer ratio, one important aspect to consider when transferring your Capital One miles to airline and hotel partners is “How quickly can you expect to see your Capital One miles in your loyalty program account?”

To answer this question, the TPG team ran some tests. For each of the program’s transfer partners, TPG staffers transferred 1,000 miles from our Capital One accounts to see how long it would take for them to show up in our loyalty program accounts.

Here’s what we found:

Program Transfer time Transfer ratio
Aeromexico Club Premier Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Club Premier points)
Air Canada Aeroplan Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Aeroplan points)
Air France-KLM Flying Blue Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Flying Blue miles)
Avianca LifeMiles Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Lifemiles)
ALL Accor Live Limitless 2 business days 2:1 (1,000 miles = 500 ALL Rewards points)
British Airways Avios Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Avios)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 24-hour turnaround 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Asia Miles)
Choice Hotels (Launches later this year) TBD 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Choice Privileges points)
Emirates Skywards Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Emirates Skywards miles)
Etihad Guest Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Etihad Guest miles)
EVA Infinity MileageLands 36-hour turnaround (based on previous attempts) 2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Infinity MileageLands Miles)
Finnair Plus Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Finnair Plus miles — though there appeared to be a glitch that was processing transfers on a 1:2 basis)
Qantas Frequent Flyer Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer miles)
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles)
TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles= 1,000 TAP Miles&Go miles)
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Instant 1 (1,000 miles= 1,000 Turkish Miles&Smiles miles)
Wyndham Rewards Instant 1:1 (1,000 miles = 1,000 Wyndham Rewards Points)

While the above transfer times are based on data from TPG staff collected in October 2021, it is possible that transfer times can take longer in some instances. If you have an award to book within five days of departure, we recommend putting it on hold first and having a backup plan in case the transfer takes longer than stated.

Note that the times listed above represent my personal experience and shouldn’t be taken as hard and fast rules. Your transfer experience may be faster or slower, but these times can serve as guidelines for planning your own trip.

Related: How to maximize Capital One miles

Tips for transferring Capital One miles

Unfortunately, Capital One doesn’t store your frequent flyer number for any of its transfer partners. So, you’ll have to pull up your account info each time you transfer points to an airline. This is just a slight inconvenience. But, for those of us used to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which saves that information, it’s still an extra step to take.

(Image courtesy of Capital One)
(Image courtesy of Capital One)

If you do find yourself in a scenario where you’re scrambling for some last-minute points to top up your frequent-flyer or hotel account, here are a few tips.

Put your award reservation on hold before transferring

Not all airline programs allow you to do this, but it’s worth checking whether you can put your award reservation on hold before transferring Capital One miles. This is especially useful if you’re transferring to a program that doesn’t offer instant transfers — although we had luck with most of these this time around. After all, it’s frustrating to transfer points only to find that another traveler has scooped up the award space you wanted.

Determine the best options for transferring

Regardless of your destination and alliance of choice, there are several options for redeeming your Capital One miles. For example, if you want to redeem Capital One miles for domestic flights, you may want to consider Turkish Miles & Smiles or Avianca LifeMiles. Want to get to Hawaii? You might want to use British Airways Avios to book awards on either American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. For flights to Europe, you might find additional award availability on Air France and KLM by using their own Flying Blue miles. In all cases, it pays to think strategically and creatively.

You can redeem 63,000 LifeMiles for a one-way ticket in Lufthansa business class (Photo courtesy of Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy)

Likewise, there are plentiful opportunities to redeem Capital One miles on Star Alliance airlines, redeem Capital One miles on Oneworld airlines and redeem Capital One miles on SkyTeam airlines. Be sure to determine the best redemption rate before transferring your miles to a specific program.

Related: Best ways to maximize Capital One miles

Choose flights that have ample award seats available

If you can’t put an award ticket on hold, ample award availability improves the odds that you’ll be able to book a seat when your miles hit your account. Use tools like ExpertFlyer to find how many award seats are available on a flight. You can also search for three or four passengers — that way, you can determine roughly how many seats are available for award tickets.

Select uncommon routes

You can improve your chances of finding an award ticket by flying routes that are less popular or originate from non-hubs. Those often have better award availability.

Let availability determine your destination

If you have some flexibility and your original itinerary is no longer an option because availability has changed, one solution is to choose your destination based on which awards are still bookable. Also, keep in mind that award availability changes frequently and can increase (or decrease) as you get closer to your departure date. Check regularly and be ready to act quickly when seats you want open up.

Related: Ultimate guide to searching award availability for the major airlines

Which cards earn Capital One miles?

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Only some Capital One credit cards earn transferable Capital One miles. Here’s a quick overview of these four cards:

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Related: Capital One Venture Rewards credit card review

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

  • Current bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Benefits: 1.25x miles per dollar on all purchases and  no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $0

Capital One Spark Miles for Business 

Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business

  • Current bonus: Earn a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Benefits: 1.5x miles on all purchases, no foreign transaction fees, free employee cards
  • Annual fee: $0

The information for the Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.       

Can you transfer Capital One miles to someone else’s account?

You can only transfer Capital One miles to an airline or hotel loyalty program registered to the same name as the Capital One account. However, you can easily combine Capital One miles from one Capital One account with another and transfer from there.

(Image courtesy of Capital One)

Log in to your account, click on “View Rewards” and click on “Use My Miles” under “Share Rewards.” You can transfer Capital One miles from your account to another one of your Capital One accounts or someone else’s Capital One account. Although Capital One eventually plans to make transfers to someone else’s account available online, you’ll currently need to call the number on the back of your card to do so.

Related: Ultimate guide to points pooling and sharing

Is there a fee for transferring Capital One miles?

There is no fee involved when you transfer Capital One miles to an airline or hotel travel partner. Nor is there a fee to transfer Capital One miles from one Capital One account to another.

Bottom line

The good news is that nearly all of Capital One hotel and airline transfer partners have instant transfer times in our tests. The three outliers were Accor Live Limitless, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and EVA Infinity MileageLands. That said, instant transfers are not guaranteed, so you’ll want to put your award ticket on hold if you can and consider focusing on transfer partners that usually transfer quickly or for which there is ample award availability.

Additional reporting by Katie Genter, Ryan Patterson and Eric Rosen.

Featured photo by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy.

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.

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