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Simplicity is the key to the Venture Rewards card — every purchase earns 2 miles per dollar, and the miles have a fixed value of 1 cent apiece. But Capital One’s new partnership with Hotels.com means huge bonus miles for hotel bookings.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Points and miles can be complicated. You can use travel loyalty programs to fly nearly anywhere for practically nothing, but it often takes a lot of time, organization and flexibility to maximize how you earn and redeem points and miles. You’ll have to track bonus categories, search for award availability and even check which airlines pass along carrier surcharges and which ones don’t. Not everyone has the time or the inclination to do all that, and some would prefer a simpler way to travel for free.
If that sounds like you, you’ll want to take a close look at the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Fixed-value points cards like the Venture Rewards may not be glamorous, but you can get a solid return on every purchase you make and redeem your points without jumping through a lot of hoops, or really any hoops at all. And the icing on the cake is that Capital One’s new partnership with Hotels.com immediately boosts the Venture Rewards to the top of the list of best cards to use when booking hotels online.
Who Is This Card For?
In a word, the Venture Rewards is for people who want to keep things simple. It’s not a card that will get you into the ultra-luxurious First Apartment on Etihad — or at least it’s not the best choice for that type of redemption — but it’s great if you want to use the same card on every single purchase and redeem your points without chasing award space or all the other complexities of many travel loyalty programs.
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. This is a fixed-value card with miles worth a flat 1 cent apiece, so those 50,000 miles are guaranteed to be worth $500 in travel.
Because redeeming Venture Rewards miles is very easy, you won’t have to worry about maximizing your 50,000 miles from the sign-up bonus — it’s pretty much a breeze when you’re ready to spend your miles. 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 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 cents in travel for every dollar in purchases with no annual cap. Very simple.
There’s one exception to this $1 = 2 miles rule, but it’s an awesome one. Thanks to a new 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 on all hotel purchases made at Hotels.com with the card.
When you’re ready to spend your miles, 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.
Venture Rewards miles don’t expire for the life of the account, so you can also take time to build them up until you have a stack of them to offset the costs of larger travel purchases. Keep in mind you’re always going to get 1 cent per mile with this card, so expensive premium cabin redemptions are going to cost a avalanche of miles versus points or miles tied to an award chart. That’s the tradeoff — it’s easy to use Venture Rewards miles, but you can’t improve on the fixed value of 1 cent per mile.
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 last year Capital One 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?
Since the Venture Rewards offers fixed-value travel rewards, it’s best compared to other fixed-value cards. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is the most obvious competitor, as it also earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases with a locked value of 1 cent each. The Arrival Plus offers an extra 5% rebate on redemptions, which gives it ever so slight an edge over the Venture Rewards on the redemption side of the equation. However, it has a $100 minimum on redemptions, so you can’t get rid of small travel purchases.
The other primary credit card we’d compare the Venture Rewards to is the Citi Double Cash Card, which is a cash-back card that earns 2% on all purchases — 1% when you make the purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill. If you never travel and would just prefer to earn cash back, then the Citi card is likely a better choice for you. But keep in mind that the Citi Double Cash card is not a travel card and thus has zero travel benefits — no travel accident insurance, no lost baggage coverage and no rental car protection. You’ll also pay foreign transaction fees with the Citi Double Cash, so it’s definitely not a good card for overseas travelers.
Of course, when comparing either of these cards to the Venture Rewards, Capital One’s offering has an ace in the hole: the 10x on purchases made at Hotels.com. If you even book just one hotel stay at Hotels.com each year, the bonus miles will easily offset the 5% rebate you get with redemptions on the Arrival Plus or the flexibility of earning cash over travel miles with the Citi Double Cash.
Not everyone wants to spend time playing the points and miles game, and if your life is complicated enough already without having to fight to redeem travel rewards, the Capital One Venture Rewards card could be a great choice for you. It’s not going to get you into free luxury hotel suites or on Lufthansa first class, but it’s simple to earn 2 miles per dollar on everything and redeem them for any travel purchase you make without worrying about blackout dates or award restrictions.
While the Venture Rewards was a decent if not sexy travel rewards card before now, the new 10x Hotels.com bonus really brings this card directly into the hotel booking conversation. It’s a fantastic return on hotel spend — better than you’ll do with any other credit card. So if you’re looking for a simple solution to your travel rewards needs, the Venture Rewards card might be just what you’ve been searching for.
Featured image by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.