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This card earns an amazing 10x miles at Hotels.com and will soon let you transfer rewards to select airline partners, all for a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card carved out a niche for itself as a strong option for those who prefer a straightforward redemption option over having to track several bonus categories and learn the ins and outs of several loyalty programs’ award charts. It’s historically offered fixed-value miles that you can redeem for 1 cent apiece to offset travel purchases, but an exciting update added airline transfer partners to the picture — a significant enhancement to this already-valuable card.

While the addition of transfer partners represents a great opportunity to maximize your rewards by redeeming them with carriers like Aeroplan and Etihad, those who’d rather not jump through hoops won’t lose out: The Purchase Eraser feature will remain, as will the card’s other strong benefits like a 10x earning rate at Hotels.com, which earns it the top spot on the list of best cards to use when booking hotels online.

Who Is This Card For?

The Venture Rewards has historically been best for people who want to keep things simple, since until recently there were no transfer partners. However, now that you can move your miles over to 14 airline programs, the card’s appeal changes a bit. It’s still a great option for using miles to cancel out travel purchases on your statement without having to worry about the complexities of many loyalty programs, but it’s now also a strong choice for diversifying your portfolio of loyalty currencies and redeeming with some hidden-gem airline programs.

Sign-Up Bonus

The Capital One Venture Rewards comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months you open an account. With transfer partners now available, Capital One Venture miles are no long worth a flat 1 cent apiece — or they don’t have to be, that is. Instead, they’re worth 1.4 cents each based on our valuationswe came up with that number based on our analysis of the current lineup of airline transfer partners and the redemption options available through each. With that number in mind, the 50,000-mile bonus is worth $700.

You’ll still have the option to redeem your miles for 1 cent apiece as a statement credit toward travel purchases, so while you can definitely maximize your 50,000 miles from the sign-up bonus to get more than $500 in value, you don’t have to jump through those hoops if you’d rather not. If you go the route of redeeming miles toward statement credits, the sign-up bonus would be worth $500. And the card’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, so if this is a card you think might be right for you, you can get it, earn the sign-up bonus, and try it out essentially for free for a year to see if it fits your needs.

Earning

Earning miles on the Venture Rewards is pretty straightforward, which is what makes the card useful to folks who just don’t want to spend a lot of mental bandwidth swapping credit cards in and out for different types of merchants. You’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend with the card on every transaction, which means you’re basically getting 2-2.8 cents (factoring in our new valuation) in travel for every dollar in purchases with no annual cap.

There’s one exception to this $1 = 2 miles rule, but it’s an awesome one. Thanks to a partnership with Hotels.com that runs through January 2020, when you use the Venture Rewards to book and pay for hotels at Hotels.com using a special link, you’ll earn 10 miles for every dollar spent on the purchase. That’s an incredible return and one of the best, if not the best, bonuses on hotel spend on any credit card in the market today.

At the same time, you can also participate for free in the loyalty program that Hotels.com itself offers, known as Hotels.com Rewards. That program allows you to effectively earn another 10% back on hotel purchases made at Hotels.com. Stack that together with the 10x earned on the Venture Rewards, and you’re getting a 20% rebate (or up to a 24% rebate, factoring in our 1.4-cent valuation of Venture miles) on all hotel purchases made at Hotels.com with the card.

Photo by @lira_n4 via Twenty20
When you use the Venture Rewards to book hotels at Hotels.com, you’ll earn 10 miles for every dollar spent on the purchase. Photo by @lira_n4 via Twenty20

Redeeming

Here’s where things get interesting. In addition to the Purchase Eraser option for redeeming miles to cover travel purchases, you can transfer your Venture miles to a selection of airline partners. Here are the 14 that are available as of publish time:

Aeromexico Club Premier
Air Canada Aeroplan
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Alitalia MilleMiglia
Avianca LifeMiles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Emirates Skywards
Etihad Guest
EVA Infinity MileageLands
Finnair Plus
Hainan Fortune Wings Club
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Singapore KrisFlyer

Transfers are at a 2:1.5 (4:3) ratio for all partners except Emirates and Singapore, which have a 2:1 ratio. These aren’t necessarily the easiest numbers to wrap your head around, but considering that you earn 2x miles on the card (on non-Hotels.com purchases), you’ll be getting 1 to 1.5 miles or points with an airline transfer partner for every dollar you spend. On Hotels.com purchases, you’ll be getting 5 to 7.5 points or miles with a partner program for every dollar you spend.

We came up with a valuation of of 1.4 cents per Venture mile based on the selection of redemptions available through Capital One’s airline transfer partners. Some highlights include booking Lufthansa business class with no fuel surcharges through Avianca LifeMiles for 63,000 miles one-way, booking American Airlines business-class flights to Europe through Etihad Guest for 50,000 miles one-way and booking Alitalia business to Italy through the carrier’s MilleMiglia program for 48,000 miles one-way.

The more straightforward Purchase Eraser redemption option remains as well. You can sign into your Venture Rewards online account and redeem them for 1 cent each as a statement credit against any eligible travel purchase you’ve made with the card in the last 90 days. This could be an airline flight, a hotel booking or maybe even a rental car. There’s no minimum redemption amount, so even if you made a travel purchase for only $1.50, you can redeem 150 miles for it and see the charge disappear from your balance.

Perks

The Venture Rewards Credit Card stands out for offering an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck — many other cards that offer this benefit have annual fees above $400. Meanwhile, the Venture has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and the Global Entry application fee credit is worth $100. Remember that you can gift this perk to a friend or family member if you don’t need it for yourself.

For regular travelers, the Venture Rewards card has a decent, though not top-of-the-market, suite of Visa Signature travel benefits, including Travel Accident Insurance up to $250,000, Lost Luggage Reimbursement up to $3,000 and secondary Auto Rental Coverage.

When making everyday purchases, you’ll also get Extended Warranty Protection, which doubles the manufacturers warranty up to one extra year for warranties of three years or less, with a maximum of $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder. And you’ll get Purchase Security, which replaces, repairs, or reimburses you for purchases in the event of theft or damage within 90 days of the purchase date, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder.

For international travelers, the Venture Rewards has no foreign transaction fees, so you can use the card overseas without accumulating extra charges just because you’re out of the country. And Capital One recently introduced a metal version of this card, which you’ll automatically receive if you’re approved as a new cardholder.

Which Cards Compete With the Venture Rewards?

Fixed-value credit cards used to be the most obvious comparisons to the Venture Card, but now that Capital One is introducing airline transfer partners those cards are no longer the only reference points.

Since the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a popular sub-$100 travel rewards card, let’s start there. Like the Venture Card, it has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year. It earns you 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else, and you can transfer points to 13 partners, including Aer Lingus, Hyatt, Marriott and Southwest, at a 1:1 ratio. While the earning rate on the CSP tops out at just 2x (a 4% return based on our valuations), it can be easier to find value through Chase’s transfer partners than with the selection of Capital One partners. For example, you can transfer points to Virgin Atlantic to book Delta flights for far fewer miles than what Delta would charge you, or transfer to Hyatt, where top-tier properties cost a still-reasonable 30,000 points per night. Plus, the 1:1 transfer ratio for all Chase Ultimate Rewards partners is more user-friendly than 2:1 and 2:1.5 on the Venture.

The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card from American Express is another $95-a-year card that earns transferable points, in this case in the Amex Membership Rewards program. You’ll earn 3x points on the first $6,000 you spend each year at US supermarkets, 2x points at US gas stations and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Plus, you’ll get a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 purchases in a billing statement, which increases your effective earning rates to 4.5x on groceries, 3x at gas stations and 1.5x on everything else. The Amex Membership Rewards program has more partners than Capital One does, and most of them have a 1:1 transfer ratio. If you’re able to take advantage of the transfer bonuses Amex frequently offers with partners like ANA, you can score some especially lucrative redemptions.

Finally, we can compare the Venture to a card much closer to home: the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. This card also earns transferable Venture miles, but it has no annual fee and earns 1.25 miles per dollar spent rather than 2 miles per dollar on the Venture Card. With this card, the transfer ratios to airline partners get a bit messier — you’ll get less than 1 point or mile with a partner program for every dollar you spend. The VentureOne does offer the same 10x miles at Hotels.com, but it doesn’t have any extra perks like a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

Bottom Line

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card is a more compelling card than ever, thanks to the addition of airline transfer partners. Between the incredible 10x earning rate at Hotels.com, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit and some intriguing redemption options through the transfer partners, this card packs a lot in for a $95 fee that’s waived the first year.

Featured image by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Earn unlimited 10x miles on hotel stays booked and paid through hotels.com/venture. Pair that with the Hotels.com Rewards program and you'll essentially be getting 20% off of hotel bookings! With the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus you can get up to $700 in value based on TPG's most recent valuations and you'll have the flexibility to transfer those miles to participating airline partners or redeem those miles on any purchase for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and more.

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More Things to Know
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Balance Transfer Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.