Maximizing Capital One miles with new and improved transfer partners
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Capital One made waves when it announced positive changes to Capital One Rewards this week.
The biggest changes were in regards to its transfer partners. The bank added four new transfer partners and moved some existing partners to a new 1:1 transfer tier. These partners include some of the most powerful loyalty programs on the market, like British Airways Avios and Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. Plus, it upgraded some of its existing partners to a new 1:1 transfer tier — a huge improvement from the old 2:1.5 transfer ratio.
These changes make Capital One Rewards miles more flexible and valuable than ever before. Here, I'll give you an overview of each of these new partners and analyze whether or not it makes sense to transfer your miles to them.
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A closer look at capital One's new transfer partners
With that out of the way, let's take a look at Capital One's new transfer partners. I'll give you a quick look at each of these partners and discuss a few interesting redemptions with each program. You can use this as a guide to see if Capital One's new transfer partners fit your future travel plans.
British Airways Executive Club (2:1.5 transfer ratio)
British Airways has long been a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Capital One added BA as a transfer partner at a 2:1.5 transfer ratio, so 10,000 Capital One miles are worth 7,500 BA Avios. Avios aren't as useful as they once were, but they can be useful in some situations.
One of these is domestic flights on American and Alaska Airlines. Under BA's distance-based award chart, you can redeem a relatively small number of points for cheap economy flights. You'll find the best deals on short flights — here's a look at pricing:
- Zone 1 (1 - 650 miles): 7,500 Avios, 10,000 Capital One miles
- Zone 2 (651 - 1,151 miles): 9,000 Avios, 12,000 Capital One miles
- Zone 3 (1,152 - 2,000 miles): 11,000 Avios, 15,000 Capital One miles (you can only transfer in increments of 1,000)
You can book longer flights too, but the points cost is too high to recommend. You may want to book these flights with Avianca LifeMiles or Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles if you can find Star Alliance award space. More on those partners soon.
You may want to transfer to BA to book off-peak business class awards from the U.S. to Madrid (MAD) with Iberia. To do this, you'll need to transfer your miles from Capital One to BA and then transfer your BA Avios to Iberia Plus. Avios transfer between participating airlines at a 1:1 transfer ratio, but your accounts will need to be open for at least 90 days to transfer.
You can score an excellent deal when booking Iberia flights off-peak. Here's a quick look at award pricing from all of Iberia's U.S. gateways. Note that you must pay between $125 and $150 on one-way Iberia business class award tickets. This is still significantly lower than the fuel surcharges BA imposes on its own award flights.
|Origin||Blue Class / Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
|Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak|
|New York (JFK)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Chicago – O’Hare (ORD)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Boston (BOS)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Miami (MIA)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,500||62,500|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,500||62,500|
|San Francisco (SFO)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,000||62,500|
Under this award chart, you can transfer 46,000 Capital One miles to Avios and book a one-way business class ticket from the U.S. East Coast or Midwest to Madrid. This is an exceptional deal given many airlines charge a minimum of 60,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket to Europe.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles (2:1.5 transfer ratio)
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is another exciting new transfer partner. It's known for its low-cost awards from the U.S. to its hub in Istanbul (IST) and partner flights around the mainland U.S., to Hawaii and Europe. Unfortunately, rewards transfer at a 2:1.5 ratio, but it can make sense to transfer given how cheap some Turkish redemptions are.
One of the best uses of Turkish miles is Turkish Airlines business class flights from the U.S. to Istanbul (IST). You'll pay just 45,000 miles (60,000 Capital One miles transferred) from any Turkish U.S. gateway, including far-flung airports like Los Angeles (LAX). Taxes and fees cost between $170 to $200 each way.
You can book partner flights from the U.S. to Europe for the same price. You're subject to paying fuel surcharges on carriers that charge them, but you can avoid this by booking flights operated by United Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines or SAS.
You can also redeem just 7,500 miles (10,000 Capital One miles) for a one-way United Airlines economy ticket anywhere in the U.S. This includes United's new nonstop service from New York-JFK to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). Domestic first-class tickets will set you back 12,500 miles one-way (17,000 Capital One miles).
Even better? This applies to tickets to Hawaii too. You'll pay just 7,500 Turkish miles to fly from anywhere in the U.S. to Hawaii, which is by far the best deal we've found for flights to The Aloha State. The Turkish website sometimes has issues displaying connecting flights, however, so you may want to search on United.com and call Turkish to book once you've found award space.
There are plenty of other great Turkish redemptions out there too. Check out TPG's complete guide to Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles for more inspiration. But as a general rule of thumb: this is the best way to use Capital One miles to book transcontinental flights and flights to Hawaii. Plus, it can be a good deal for flights to Europe too.
TAP Portugal Miles&Go (1:1 transfer ratio)
TAP Portugal's Miles&Go program is another new Star Alliance transfer partner. Unlike BA and Turkish, transfers to TAP process at a 1:1 ratio, so 1,000 Capital One miles are worth 1,000 TAP points. Unfortunately, however, there aren't many times you'd want to transfer to TAP over another Star Alliance transfer partner due to high redemption rates.
One of the better redemptions is flights from the U.S. to South America. You can book these for 35,000 and 50,000 miles one-way in economy and business class, respectively. This is a good deal, but you can book the same flights at comparable prices with Avianca LifeMiles, another Capital One transfer partner.
Despite being a European carrier, TAP's program doesn't have competitive award pricing on tickets from the U.S. to Europe. You'll pay 45,000 miles one-way in economy and 80,000 in business class. This isn't a great deal and is significantly more expensive than booking Star Alliance flights with LifeMiles or Turkish Miles & Smiles.
With this in mind, it doesn't make sense to transfer your Capital One miles to TAP Miles&Go unless you need to top-up your account for an award ticket.
Choice Privileges (1:1 transfer ratio)
Choice Privileges is the loyalty program for Choice Hotels. The hotel group has thousands of properties scattered throughout the world, with brands ranging from the budget-friendly Econolodge to more luxurious Cambria and Ascend. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio from Capital One to Choice.
You'll generally want to stay away from booking cheap Choice stays with Choice points. Instead, you can usually get a better deal by paying for the stay with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and redeeming miles toward the charge at a fixed value of 1 cent per point. This way, you'll spend fewer miles on the stay and earn Choice points on your stay.
For example, the Sleep Inn at Chicago-Midway (MDW) costs 12,000 points per night this June. You can book a refundable night for $102.72 after taxes and fees, for 0.86 cents per point in value. Alternatively, you can book a paid night and redeem 10,272 Capital One miles toward the charge.
Of course, there are times when it makes sense to transfer to Choice. A weekend night at the Cambria Hotel Blue Lagoon in Miami costs $428.33 this June. You can redeem 20,000 points for the same night, giving you 2.14 cents per point. This is an excellent Choice redemption.
Always make sure you're getting at least 1.0 cents per point in value before transferring Capital One miles to Choice. Otherwise, you'll want to charge a paid stay to your card and offset it with miles on the Capital One website.
Analyzing partners in the new 1:1 transfer tier
As discussed, Capital One also upgraded a handful of existing transfer partners to a new 1:1 transfer tier. This represents a huge boost in transfer value for these partners since they previously transferred at a 2:1.5 transfer ratio. Here's a closer look at these partners and when you may want to transfer your miles to them.
Avianca LifeMiles is one of my favorite loyalty programs. For some background, Avianca is a Central American Star Alliance partner with hubs in Bogota (BOG), Sal Salvador (SAL), San Jose de Costa Rica (SJO) and Quito (UIO). But you're not restricted to booking flights to these destinations. The carrier offers some of the best deals on Star Alliance tickets within the U.S. and other international destinations.
For example, domestic U.S. tickets start at just 6,500 LifeMiles with Avianca. The price you'll pay depends on how many regions you cross, so make sure to check out our guide to booking domestic flights with LifeMiles for more pricing info. As a general rule, you'll want to book shorter United domestic flights with LifeMiles and longer flights with Turkish Miles & Smiles. LifeMile's 1:1 transfer ratio makes it advantageous on shorter tickets.
You can also use LifeMiles to score good deals on flights from the U.S. to Europe. You'll pay 30,000 LifeMiles in economy, 63,000 in business class and 87,000 in first class. Better yet, the airline doesn't pass on fuel surcharges, so you can use this to book flights on Lufthansa, Swiss and other high-surcharge Star Alliance carriers without breaking the bank.
Or, you can fly one -way to the Middle East for just 78,000 LifeMiles.
Of course, you can get a good deal on flights to Central and South America too. A business class flight to Brazil will set you back just 50,000 LifeMiles one-way or as few as 25,000 in economy.
I think Avianca LifeMiles is one of Capital One's most powerful transfer partners in the 1:1 transfer tier — especially if you want to book high-fee Star Alliance tickets. Read through TPG's guide to LifeMiles for the full scoop on the program, its sweet spot and ways to maximize.
Etihad Guest is another partner I'm excited about moving to the 1:1 transfer tier. While I don't recommend using Etihad miles to book Etihad flights, you can use its miles to score great deals on flights operated by Etihad partners. Some of the best redemptions are long-haul flights on American Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and Royal Air Maroc.
Let's start with American. American devalued its AAdvantage loyalty program in 2016, but Etihad Guest largely kept its old pricing. You'll get the best deals on flights in American Flagship first class and international business class. Here's a quick breakdown of one-way pricing on popular routes:
|Route||Economy||Business class||Flagship first class (if available)|
|Domestic (including transcontinental)||12,500||25,000||32,500|
|Mainland U.s. to Hawaii||17,500 (off-peak), 22,500 (peak)||30,000||40,000|
|U.S. to Asia Zone 1||25,000 (off-peak), 32,500 (peak)||50,000||62,500|
|U.S. to Asia Zone 2||35,000||55,000||67,500|
|U.S. to Canada, Mexico and Caribbean||17,500||30,000||40,000|
|U.S. to Europe||20,000 (off-peak), 30,000 (peak)||50,000||62,500|
|U.S. to Middle East and India||45,000||67,500||90,000|
|U.S. to Central America and South America Zone 1||17,500||30,000||40,000|
|U.S. to South America Zone 2||20,000 (off-peak), 30,000 (peak)||50,000||62,500|
This is by far the best way to redeem Capital One miles for American business and first class with the new 1:1 transfer ratio. Plus, Etihad only adds moderate taxes and fees on these award tickets. This is how I foresee myself spending most of my Capital One miles going forward — especially as international travel continues to open back up.
Brussels Airlines is another interesting Etihad Guest partner. You can book one-way tickets from New York-JFK and Washington-Dulles (IAD) to the airline's hub in Brussels (BRU) for just 27,000 miles in economy and 44,000 in business class. This is an exceptional deal and is even cheaper than booking the same flights with LifeMiles.
Similar pricing applies to Royal Air Maroc flights to Casablanca (CMN). The airline flies from New York-JFK and Washington-Dulles (IAD), and you can book nonstop flights for 22,000 miles in economy and 44,000 in business class. You can pay extra miles to continue to the airline's other destinations in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
The airline also has partnerships with Air Canada, ANA, Asiana and various other airlines. Some of these have interesting niche redemptions that can make sense, so read my guide to Etihad partners for more inspiration. Do note that you must book Etihad Guest partner tickets over the phone, but the extra time spent is well worth it. These excellent redemptions make Etihad Guest one of the most powerful Capital One transfer partners at the 1:1 transfer level.
You'll want to transfer Capital One miles to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles when booking Cathay Pacific or British Airways award tickets.
OIn the Cathay Pacific side, you'll find reasonable redemption rates on flights from the U.S. to Hong Kong in any class of service. The best deals are in business and first class. Further, Cathay Pacific historically opens more award space to Asia Miles members than to members of other partner programs.
Here's a look at Cathay Pacific's award pricing to Hong Kong from its U.S. gateways. These flights have mild taxes and fees.
|Route||Economy||Premium Economy||Business||First (if offered)|
|Boston (BOS) to Hong Kong (HKG)||42,000 miles||60,000 miles||85,000 miles||125,000 miles|
|Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Hong Kong (HKG)||42,000 miles||60,000 miles||85,000 miles||125,000 miles|
|Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG)||30,000 miles||45,000 miles||70,000 miles||110,000 miles|
|New York-JFK/Newark (EWR) to Hong Kong (HKG)||42,000 miles||60,000 miles||85,000 miles||125,000 miles|
|San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG)||30,000 miles||45,000 miles||70,000 miles||110,000 miles|
Asia Miles offers good points deal on British Airways flights too. This is in large part because you'll spend less on fuel surcharges when booking with Asia Miles over British Airways Avios. For example, a flight from New York-JFK to London-Heathrow (LHR) costs 61,000 Asia Miles and $204.48 in business class. BA charges 60,000 Avios (80,000 Capital One miles) and $729 for the same one-way ticket.
Keep these redemptions in mind for future trips to Hong Kong and London. It can help you save a ton of money over booking cash tickets, which are frequently over $8,000 from the U.S. to Hong Kong in business class. Plus, redeeming Asia Miles for BA flights is the best way to avoid huge fuel surcharges onboard its flights. Check out TPG's Asia Miles guide for other interesting redemptions.
Aeromexico Club Premier
The only time you'll want to transfer rewards to Aeromexico Club Premier is when booking round-the-world tickets. The SkyTeam airline offers a solid deal and flexible routing rules on these multi-stop itineraries. Pricing is as follows:
- Economy: 224,000 miles
- Business class: 352,000 miles
There's no doubt that that's a lot of miles to spend, but the routing rules make it worthwhile. In short, you can plan a trip with a maximum of 15 stopovers (up to five per continent) so long as your trip starts and ends in the same country and you continue east or west for the entire journey. This means you can build an itinerary that looks like this for just 352,000 points, all in business class:
- Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to New York (JFK) - Delta Air Lines
- New York-JFK to Paris (CDG) - Air France
- Paris to Amsterdam (AMS) - KLM
- Amsterdam to Prague (PRG) - Czech Airlines
- Prague to Beirut (BEY) - Czech Airlines
- Beirut to Dubai (DXB) - Middle East Airlines
- Dubai to Shanghai-Pudong (PVG) - China Eastern
- Shanghai to Sydney (SYD) - China Eastern
- Sydney to Los Angeles (LAX) - Delta Air Lines
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) - Delta Air Lines
- Minneapolis to Chicago - Delta Air Lines
Refer to our complete guide to round-the-world tickets for more information. This can be an excellent redemption once international travel resumes post-pandemic — it lets you see multiple cities and experience business class on great SkyTeam airlines. Just note you'll have to pay any taxes, fees and fuel surcharges incurred.
Capital One also added Finnair Plus to the 1:1 transfer tier, but it's not worth transferring. You'll almost always get a better deal on Oneworld tickets when booking with Asia Miles, Etihad Guest (for American) or Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qantas Frequent Flyer is the largest loyalty program in Australia. While its distance-based award chart is generally lackluster, it has a couple of noteworthy redemptions that may align with your future travel plans. The first is booking El Al flights to Tel Aviv (TLV). From New York-JFK, you can book one-way tickets for 37,800 miles in economy and 90,000 in business class. While not cheap, it's the only way to use Capital One miles on El Al flights.
You can also get a good deal on short-haul American Airlines flights. Flights 600 miles or less cost 8,000 miles when booked with Qantas. This is a better deal than British Airways Avios since you can transfer Capital One miles to Qantas a 1:1 transfer ratio.
There are some other niche deals out there too. Still, you're generally best off booking Oneworld awards with another partner like Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, British Airways Avios or Etihad Guest (for American Airlines). Regardless, it's a nice option to have for these specific award tickets.
Wyndham Rewards is another Capital One hotel transfer partner. The program has undergone several changes over the years and recently split its award chart into three pricing categories: 7,500, 15,000 and 30,000 points per night. There are some solid redemption options in each category, but like Choice, you'll always want to compare the cash and award price to ensure you're getting a good deal with a points transfer.
Here's an example of a great Wyndham redemption. A weekend night at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is $608.75 after tax next February. Alternatively, you can book the same night for 30,000 points plus a $39.55 resort fee, giving you 1.9 cents per point in value. Keep an eye out for these high-value redemptions as you book future trips with Capital One miles.
Another time it might make sense to transfer rewards to Wyndham is booking Vacasa vacation rentals. You can book any Vacasa property with your Wyndham points for 15,000 points per bedroom per night. These properties frequently cost $300+ per night in tourist-heavy destinations. Check out my full guide to Vacasa redemptions for more details, and pay special attention to the section on blackout dates.
Keep in mind that most Wyndham hotel stays are relatively cheap. So while Wyndham Rewards isn't Capital One's strongest transfer partner, it's a nice option to have when traveling during peak dates when hotels are expensive or when booking high-end properties.
Earning Capital One miles
You'll need a qualifying Capital One credit card to start earning Capital One Rewards miles. The issuer has a handful of personal and business cards that award these miles. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is the most well-known of the bunch and offers a 60,000-mile welcome bonus and earns 2x miles per dollar on all purchases.
Here's a quick look at the current signup bonuses:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Take a closer look at each of these cards and which is the best fit for your wallet. Each earns Capital One Rewards miles that can be transferred to travel partners. Of course, each card offers a different signup bonus, earning rate and annual fee. It's worth considering all your options before you choose a card.
Related: The best travel credit cards of 2021
Capital One's new transfer partners and 1:1 transfer tier make the Capital One Venture and Spark cards more powerful than ever. Its new transfer partners are powerful, and the introduction of a 1:1 transfer tier finally makes Capital One competitive with American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Here, I gave you an overview of each of these partners and discussed their best redemptions. Keep these in mind when you consider whether or not to open a Capital One card.
I think Asia Miles, Avianca LifeMiles, Etihad Guest and Turkish Airlines are the most interesting Capital One transfer partners. Each has unique redemption sweet spots that provide incredible value on domestic and international travel alike. If the redemptions line up, you can leverage these new partners to get $1,020 or more in value from your Venture card's bonus.
Feature photo of Austrian Airlines business class by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy