Earn up to a 100k sign-up bonus: Review of the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card
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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card overview
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has continued to innovate, attracting new customers and rewarding existing ones. The card effortlessly blends fixed-value redemption with airline and hotel transfer partners. Plus a new lucrative sign-up bonus makes it even more attractive for new cardholders. Its low annual fee and solid return on everyday spending 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 Loyalty and Engagement Editor 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 Venture Rewards 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 defendable $95 annual fee, among various other benefits and perks.
Capital One was late to the game when it came to transferring credit card miles to airline and hotel partners, so many of the good features of the Venture Rewards card aren’t unique. However, the card still can be a great addition to your wallet, no matter where you are in your miles/points journey. But be warned: Capital One is incredibly sensitive to recent inquiries, so many people with excellent credit (myself included) will have a harder time getting approved for this card.
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Who is this card for?
The Venture Rewards card has historically been best for people who want to keep things simple, since until December 2018, there were no transfer partners. However, now that you can transfer your miles to 13 airline and two hotel programs, the card’s appeal changes a bit. It’s still an excellent 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 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. If not, you can always fall back on the fixed-value redemptions.
The second group that would benefit 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 miles, 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.
Sign-up bonus: Up to $1,400 in value
The Capital One Venture Rewards card comes with a new sign-up bonus: 100,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 on the card within the first 12 months of account opening. Or still earn 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 longer worth a flat one cent apiece — or they don’t have to be, that is. Instead, they’re worth 1.4 cents each based on TPG valuations. We came up with that number based on our analysis of the current lineup of transfer partners and the redemption options available through each.
If you choose the 50,000-mile bonus, that’s worth $700. But if you decide to go for the full bonus, that rises to $1,400. But be warned — some may find the $20,000 in spending within 12 months on the card (around $1,666 a month) to get the full 100,000-mile sign-up bonus tough to reach.
You’ll still have the option to redeem your miles for one cent apiece as a statement credit toward travel purchases, so while you can maximize your up to 100,000 miles from the sign-up bonus to get more than $1,000 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 up to $1,000. 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.
Main benefits and perks
The Venture Rewards card stands out for offering an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years; many other cards that offer this benefit have annual fees above $400. This TSA/Global Entry application fee credit alone is worth up to $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 travel benefits, including travel accident insurance and secondary auto rental coverage. When making everyday purchases, you’ll also get extended warranty protection. The Venture Rewards doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, so you can use the card overseas without accumulating extra charges.
How to earn miles
Earning miles on the Venture Rewards card is pretty straightforward, making the card useful to folks who don’t want to spend a lot of mental bandwidth swapping credit cards in and out for different types of merchants. You’ll earn at least two miles for every dollar you spend with the card on every transaction, which means you’re getting 2-2.8 cents (factoring in TPG’s latest valuation) in travel for every dollar in purchases, with no annual cap. And, you’ll earn five miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked on Capital One Travel for a return of 5-7 cents in travel for every dollar in purchases.
This makes the Venture Rewards card one of the most valuable options for everyday spending, an important but often overlooked part of accumulating miles. It’s easy to zero in on high-powered bonus categories for dining or travel, but at the end of the day, most people will spend most of their money outside of bonus categories. Adding a card like the Venture Rewards card to your wallet can help you mop up all those extra miles and ensure you aren’t leaving anything on the table.
And keep in mind that the card is currently also earning 5x on Uber Eats through Jan. 31, 2021, as part of Capital One’s new benefits to help cardholders maximize cards while spending habits have changed.
How to redeem miles
Here’s where things get interesting. In addition to the ability to redeem miles for recent travel (and currently some non-travel) purchases, you can transfer your Venture miles to a selection of airline and hotel partners. Here are the transfer partners, as well as the transfer times experienced by TPG Senior Travel Features Reporter Katherine Fan:
|Program||Transfer time||Transfer ratio|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Instant||2:1.5 (1,000 Capital One miles = 750 Premier Points)|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Instant||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Aeroplan Miles)|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||Instant||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Flying Blue Miles)|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||Instant||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 MilleMiglia miles)|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Instant||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 LifeMiles)|
|ALL Accor Live Limitless||1 business day||2:1 (1,000 miles = 500 ALL Rewards points)|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||5 business days||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Asia Miles)|
|Emirates Skywards||Instant||2:1 (1,000 miles = 500 Skywards Miles)|
|Etihad Guest||24-hour turnaround||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Etihad Guest Miles)|
|EVA Infinity MileageLands||36-hour turnaround||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Infinity MileageLands Miles)|
|Finnair Plus||Instant||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Finnair Plus Award Points)|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||Instant||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 TrueBlue points)|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||24-hour turnaround||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Qantas Points)|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||36-hour turnaround||2:1 (1,000 miles = 500 KrisFlyer miles)|
|Wyndham Rewards||Instant||2:1.5 (1,000 miles = 750 Wyndham Rewards Points)|
Transfers are at a 2:1.5 (4:3) ratio for all partners except Accor Live Limitless, 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 for most purchases on the card, you’ll be getting 1-1.5 miles or points with a transfer partner for every dollar you spend.
TPG came up with a valuation of 1.4 cents per Venture mile based on the selection of redemptions available through Capital One’s transfer partners. Some highlights include: booking Lufthansa business class with no fuel surcharges through Avianca LifeMiles; booking American Airlines business-class flights to Europe through Etihad Guest; booking Alitalia business to Italy through the carrier’s MilleMiglia program; and booking U.S. domestic flights. If you’re confused about how to transfer Capital One miles to airline and hotel partners, here’s how to do it.
You can sign in to your Venture Rewards online account and redeem them for one 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.
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 that 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.
While you won’t get any airline-specific perks such as 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). That flexibility to switch between “cash tickets” and award tickets make it even easier for you to stay on top of the best deals.
Which cards compete with the Venture Rewards?
Fixed-value credit cards used to be the most obvious comparisons to the Venture Card, but since the Capital One Venture also has 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 also has a $95 annual fee. It earns you two points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and one mile per dollar on everything else. You can transfer points to 10 airline and three hotel partners, including Aer Lingus, Hyatt, Marriott and Southwest, at a 1:1 ratio. While the earning rate on the Chase Sapphire Preferred tops out at just 2x, that still equates to a higher 4% return based on TPG’s valuations.
It can be easier to find value through Chase’s transfer partners than with the selection of Capital One transfer 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 30,000-40,000 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 U.S. supermarkets, 2x points at U.S. 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 information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred 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.
The Amex Membership Rewards program has more transfer 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, you can score some incredibly 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 also doesn’t have any extra perks, such as a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Card earns at a consistent rate and can facilitate simple fixed-rate redemptions as well as more complicated awards with hotel and airline partners. Between the 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 annual fee. For these reasons, it is one of our best travel credit cards.
Additional reporting by Benét J Wilson
Featured image by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
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