Lowest price guarantee, cancel-for-any-reason coverage and more: Your first look at the new Capital One Travel portal

Sep 8, 2021

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Booking travel is a daunting task, now more than ever. For one, it’s hard to know if and when you’re getting the best price possible. Then, any unforeseen circumstance — whether it’s bad weather or a last-minute positive coronavirus test — can lead to a slew of delays and cancellations.

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In a time of such uncertainty, Capital One has well-timed the launch of their new travel portal, which addresses many pain points and headaches of the “new normal” travel experience. The new Capital One Travel portal integrates technology from Hopper to ensure that customers get the best prices possible on flights, thanks to billions of data points that Hopper claims lend it 95% price prediction accuracy. Packaged with a whole suite of other customer-friendly features, from increased service support and the option to add cancel-for-any-reason (CFAR) coverage, the all-new Capital One Travel may be the best online booking agency yet.

(Photo courtesy of Capital One)

Let’s dive into all the details.

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Earn bonus rewards with an eligible Capital one card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

For starters, you’ll be able to access the initial beta launch of Capital One Travel in the coming weeks with the following Capital One credit cards:

The information for the Capital One Spark Miles Select and Walmart cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you’re a Venture, VentureOne or Spark Miles cardholder, you’ll also earn 5 Capital One miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Of course, you’ll also have the option to redeem your stash of miles for bookings made through it at the rate of 1 cent each instead.

Getting the lowest price possible

(Photo courtesy of Capital One)

Thanks to its partnership with the travel booking app Hopper, Capital One Travel is now uniquely positioned to find the lowest prices available thanks to AI-powered tools that track flight prices and trends. Here are the standout features.

Price prediction and price watch technology

For instance, let’s say you want to book a ski trip to Vail, Colo., this winter and are preemptively looking at flights for you and your family. Through the Capital One Travel portal, you can sign up to receive price alerts on flights you’re interested in, and you’ll receive a notification when prices have dropped and it’s the ideal time to book.

Price drop prediction

Once you receive a price drop alert and book your flight accordingly, Capital One is confident that you’re getting the best fare possible. If the fare lowers again after booking, customers will receive an automatic refund for the difference.

Best price guarantee and price match

To go one step further, Capital One offers a best price guarantee and will match prices from competitors. If a customer books through Capital One Travel, but finds a better price for a flight, hotel or car rental on another site within 24 hours of booking, they will receive a refund for the difference from Capital One Travel. For its part, Capital One Travel compares the hotel rates it pulls against those of Expedia, Orbits and other travel booking sites and will adjust its own prices to match or even beat competitors.

Price freeze option

If you’ve found a great price but aren’t quite ready to commit yet, Capital One Travel allows you to lock in the price for a small fee until you’re confident and ready to book. The fee will vary depending on the booking, but the most significant advantage to this capability is that Capital One will cover any fare increases while under the price freeze. On the flip side, if the fare lowers during your prize freeze, you’ll pay the lower price instead.

Cancel-for-any-reason coverage

Travel insurance has become top of mind for many travelers since the beginning of the pandemic. While many travel rewards cards these days offer complimentary travel protections, know that they likely won’t cover you in any coronavirus-related cancellations. If you’re looking for that type of more comprehensive coverage, you’ll typically need to purchase independent travel insurance that offers “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage.

Capital One Travel has made it easier to purchase CFAR coverage on top of your flight for a small fee that will vary per booking. This allows you to cancel your flight for any reason — no questions asked — up to 24 hours before your first scheduled departure and receive 80% of your ticket cost back. Since most other CFAR protections offered by different insurance providers only offer up to 75% back, the fact that this new coverage is now integrated into the booking process is another huge advantage to Capital One Travel.

The option to add CFAR is critical since booking refundable flights can sometimes be double the price of a non-refundable ticket. Therefore, having CFAR coverage for a fraction of that cost can save you potentially hundreds or even thousands of dollars in case your plans change.

Related: When to buy travel insurance versus when to rely on credit card protections

More call center staff

One of the biggest drawbacks of booking through an online agency (rather than directly through an airline) is that you may experience difficulty changing your plans or getting a refund for a canceled flight. For instance, we witnessed customer service meltdowns at all the major OTAs at the start of the pandemic.

Recognizing all of these pain points, Capital One states, “Knowing that the travel industry as a whole is continuing to see a surge in demand, we are significantly increasing hiring and staffing for call centers, adding travel agents with a goal to reduce call wait times to help customers make adjustments to travel plans when they need to.”

With dozens of reports from TPG readers and staffers of long wait times with airline customer service centers, this could also be a game-changer. However, we’ll have to test the hold times with Capital One Travel to ensure that the hold times are as good as the issuer claims they will be.

Capital One is looking at other ways to improve the customer service experience and empower their cardholders to change their plans, including self-service tools that customers can use to change or cancel trips online rather than waiting on hold for a customer service representative.

Related: Airline hold times — Who’s doing best right now

Bottom line

If all the features pan out as planned, Capital One Travel will be a much-needed breath of fresh air when it comes to travel booking portals. Especially during the past year and a half, many consumers have complained about the difficulties in obtaining a refund and unfavorable price differences when booking through other issuers’ portals such as Amex Travel or the Chase Ultimate Rewards than directly with airlines. Hopefully, the launch of this new Capital One Travel portal will usher in change for other portals toward an intuitive and streamlined travel booking process.

Featured photo by Wyatt Smith for The Points Guy.

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