At the Top of My Wish List: Capital One Venture Rewards Review
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To The Point
This card earns an amazing 10x miles at Hotels.com and lets you transfer rewards to select airline partners, all for a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year.
|The Capital One Venture Rewards Card has continued to innovate, attracting new customers and rewarding existing ones. The card effortlessly blends fixed-value redemption with the addition of new airline transfer partners. Its low annual fee, solid return on everyday spending and great hotels.com bonus make it a keeper if you’re able to get approved for it.||Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½|
*Card rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
The award travel world is incredibly complex, with transfer partners to keep track of and a never-ending stack of acronyms to memorize that TPG’s Richard Kerr calls the complexity of an ever-present devaluation. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great answer to this problem, offering simple earning and redemption options for beginners and high-value transfer options for the more experienced.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the best rewards credit cards as it earns 2x miles on every purchase, has no foreign transaction fees, includes an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and sports an easily defensible $95 annual fee after the first year, among various other benefits and perks.
Capital One was late to the game when it came to transferring credit card points to airlines, so many of the good features of the Venture Rewards card aren’t unique. In fact, all of Capital One’s best transfer partners are shared with American Express Membership Rewards and/or Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Venture Rewards card still can be a great addition to your wallet no matter where you are in your points journey. But be warned: Capital One is incredibly sensitive to recent inquiries, so many people with excellent credit (myself included) will have a hard time getting approved for this card.
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 several 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.
As such, I think there are two main groups of people who would benefit from this card. The first is people who are new to the points and miles world. If you’re able to learn how to maximize Capital One’s transfer partners in time for your next vacation that’s great, but if not, you can always fall back on the fixed-value redemptions.
The second group is more advanced award travelers looking to add a fixed-value card to their wallets. Even if you get your flights and hotels for free with points, having a fixed-value card to help you cancel out other ancillary charges, such as rental cars and maybe even certain tours, can help keep your travel as close to free as humanly possible.
Further Reading: Best Ways to Redeem Capital One Miles on Star Alliance Airlines
Sign-Up Bonus: Worth $700
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 three months. 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 valuations. We 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.
Further Reading: Redeeming Capital One Miles for Maximum Value
Main Benefits and Perks
One of the most valuable perks of the Venture Rewards Card is the 10x miles earned on hotel stays when you book through hotels.com/venture and pay with your Venture Rewards card. That 14% return (based on TPG’s valuations) stacks with the existing hotels.com loyalty program, which offers one free night for every 10 paid nights. Taken together you get a whopping 24% back on your hotel stays, which no other card — even a fan favorite like the Chase Sapphire Reserve — can possibly match.
The Venture Rewards 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. The TSA/Global Entry application fee credit is worth up tp $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.
How to Earn Points
Earning miles on the Venture Rewards card 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 using the special link Hotels.com/venture, 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.
How to Redeem Points
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 transfer partners, as well as the transfer times experienced by TPG Contributor Katherine Fan:
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Instant|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Instant|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||5 business days|
|Etihad Guest||24-hour turnaround|
|EVA Infinity MileageLands||36-hour turnaround|
|Hainan Fortune Wings Club||36-hour turnaround|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||24-hour turnaround|
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club||24-hour turnaround|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||36-hour turnaround|
Transfers are at a 2:1.5 (4:3) ratio for all partners except Emirates, JetBlue 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; booking Alitalia business to Italy through the carrier’s MilleMiglia program for 48,000 miles one-way; and booking US domestic flights. If you’re confused about how to transfer Capital One miles to airline partners, here’s how to do it.
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 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.
Further Reading: Best Ways to Redeem Capital One Miles on Oneworld Airlines
The Best Card for Free Agent Travelers
While I think most people would do well to have a Venture Rewards card in their wallet, there’s a specific group who can get even more value out of the unique way this card is set up. Free agent travelers, or those who aren’t inherently loyal to a single hotel chain or airline, can take full advantage of the flexibility that this card offers.
The downside to hotels.com is that you won’t earn hotel points or elite credits, but if your only loyalty is to getting the best deal then the 24% return should be more than enough to make you happy. The same goes for plane tickets. While you won’t get any airline-specific perks like free checked bags or priority boarding with this card, you’ll be able to use your rewards to jump on the cheapest cash ticket to wherever you’re going, while still taking advantage of transfer partners in all three major alliances (Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam).
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 has introduced 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. 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 nine airline and three hotel 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 under 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 when booked and paid via Hotels.com/venture, but it doesn’t have any extra perks, such as a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.
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.
Apply here for the Capital One Venture Rewards Card with a 50,000-mile bonus.
Featured image by JT Genter for The Points Guy.
SIGN-UP BONUS: 50,000 Miles
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $700
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 10X miles on stays booked and paid for through Hotels.com/Venture + 2x miles on everything else. Miles are now transferrable to over a dozen airline partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- 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, through January 2020; 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