The best ways to redeem Capital One miles for domestic flights

Oct 31, 2021

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.


When Capital One introduced airline transfer partners, it was a game-changer for Capital One miles collectors. It provided an opportunity for bargain hunters to squeeze even more value from the rewards earned on cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

There are now 14 frequent-flyer programs to which you can transfer your miles, most at a 1:1 ratio. However, with no U.S. carriers on the list anymore, you’ll have to know just how to leverage airline partnerships if you’re looking to book a domestic flight.

In today’s post, we’ll examine the best options for transferring Capital One miles to airline partners when you need to book a domestic flight. And we’ll also look at how to decide when to use this option versus redeeming Capital One miles at a fixed value.

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In This Post

Capital One transfer partners

Let’s start with a high-level overview of the program’s transfer partners and what it will take to book a flight within the U.S. Here’s a chart that shows four key details:

  1. How much does each carrier charge for a one-way domestic flight (economy / first class)
  2. How many Capital One miles you’d need to transfer for each one-way award
  3. Which domestic partner(s) are bookable through the carrier’s program
  4. Whether you can book those awards online
Program Miles required for one-way domestic flight Capital One miles needed Transfer ratio U.S. partner Online booking?
Aeromexico 40,000 – 44,000 / 80,000 – 88,000* 40,000 – 44,000 / 80,000 – 88,000 1:1 Delta Yes
Air Canada Aeroplan 6,000 – 22,500 / 15,000 – 35,000 6,000 – 22,500 / 15,000 – 35,000 1:1 United Yes
Air France-KLM Dynamic Dynamic 1:1 Delta Yes
Avianca 6,500 – 12,500 / 15,000 – 35,000 6,500 – 12,500 / 15,000 – 35,000 1:1 United Yes
British Airways Avios 7,500 and up / 15,000 and up 7,500 and up / 15,000 and up 1:1 Alaska, American Yes
Cathay Pacific 15,000 and up / 45,000 and up 15,000 and up / 45,000 and up 1:1 Alaska, American Yes
Emirates Skywards Varies based on carrier and route Varies based on carrier and route 1:1 JetBlue Yes
Etihad 12,500 / 25,000 12,500 / 25,000 1:1 American No
EVA 39,000 / 58,000 52,000 / 77,333 2:1.5 United Yes
Finnair 27,000 / 51,000 27,000 / 51,000 1:1 Alaska, American No
Qantas 8,000 – 25,200 / 18,400 – 68,400 8,000 – 25,200 / 18,400 – 68,400 1:1 Alaska, American Yes
Singapore KrisFlyer (United) 12,500 – 17,500 / 34,500 – 46,000 12,500 – 17,500 / 34,500 – 46,000 1:1 United Yes
Singapore KrisFlyer (Alaska) 7,500 – 12,500 / 17,500 – 47,000 7,500 – 12,500 / 17,500 – 47,000 1:1 Alaska No
TAP Portugal Miles & Go 30,000 / 45,000 30,000 / 45,000 1:1 United Yes
Turkish Miles&Smiles 7,500 / 12,500 7,500 / 12,500 1:1 United Yes

*Uses dynamic pricing and is often higher than award charts.

Just keep in mind that these partners have varying transfer times, so check out our guide to Capital One transfer times so you know how long you’ll have to wait for your miles to post.

Related: 3 ways to spend a million Capital One miles traveling the world

Best transfer options

That’s a lot of information to take in. So, which programs are the best options for domestic flights? In no particular order:

British Airways Avios

British Airways’ distance-based award chart has some sweet spots for short and medium-haul domestic flights operated by American or Alaska. Specifically, Zone 1 flights in the U.S. (up to 650 miles in distance) price at 7,500 miles in economy or 15,000 miles in business class and Zone 2 flights (up to 1,151 miles in distance) cost just 9,000 miles in economy or 16,500 miles in business class.

This opens up some valuable redemptions like New York-JFK to Miami (MIA) in a lie-flat seat for just 16,500 miles or Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) for only 9,000 miles in economy. Additionally, you can book economy flights to Hawaii from several West Coast cities (less than 3,000 miles) for only 13,000 miles each way.

Related: How to book award flights using British Airways Avios

Etihad Guest

Another excellent option for domestic flights is Etihad Guest, which allows you to book American Airlines award flights for 12,500 miles each way in economy and 25,000 miles each way in first class. Both of these match American’s saver award rates through the AAdvantage program, but unfortunately, you’ll have to call to book.

American Airlines A321T First Class
Fly first class on A.A.’s three-cabin A321T for 25,000 Etihad Guest miles. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Related: Etihad Guest miles continue to fly under the radar

Turkish Miles & Smiles

Turkish Miles & Smiles offers hands down the most generous domestic redemption awards on U.S. carriers of any award chart. It charges a flat 7,500 miles each way in economy or 12,500 miles each way in business class for any domestic route. This includes flights to Hawaii, premium transcontinental routes and flights to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These rates are a fraction of what United would typically charge for these flights.

Turkish Airlines Hawaii award booking online
(Screenshot courtesy of turkishairlines.com)

Related: How to fly to Hawaii for just 15,000 miles round-trip

Singapore KrisFlyer

Singapore KrisFlyer can be a great option for booking Alaska Airlines flights. Coach flights start at just 7,500 miles each way and top out at 12,500 miles, including Hawaii and Alaska. You will have to call to book, though. And don’t bother considering first-class awards, as you’ll need to use anywhere from 17,500 to 47,000 miles each way and Alaska doesn’t offer lie-flat seats.

Singapore's award chart of Alaska
Singapore’s award chart for Alaska Airlines. (Screenshot courtesy of singaporeair.com)

The KrisFlyer program also partners with United, but you’ll be much better off transferring to and booking with Turkish for these flights.

Related: Maximizing Singapore Airlines partner awards

Decent options

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Some of Capital One’s other partner programs have decent award rates. So, under certain circumstances, it could make sense to use these options:

Avianca LifeMiles

If you don’t want to book through Turkish, you can also get great award rates on United with Avianca LifeMiles. The LifeMiles award chart divides the continental U.S. into three zones, and if your origin and destination are both in a single zone, you’ll redeem just 7,500 miles each way.

In most cases, these will be short-haul United flights, but there are some geographic sweet spots. Here are some examples of flights that require 7,500 miles each way:

  • Colorado to California
  • Florida to Montana
  • Maine to South Carolina

Even better? Despite what the award chart says, Avianca prices some award flights at just 6,500 miles each way. Plus, awards between continental U.S. zones top out at just 12,500 LifeMiles each way in coach and 25,000 miles each way in business, including premium transcontinental routes.

Related: Everything you need to know about Avianca LifeMiles

Air Canada Aeroplan

Alternatively, the Aeroplan program can also be a solid option for United flights, especially since you can easily book partner awards online. Awards start at 6,000 miles each in economy class for flights of 500 miles or less and become more expensive as the distance increases.

While there are no fuel surcharges, Aeroplan does charge a CA$39 ($32) per-person partner booking fee. So you should only consider this option if you run into issues with Avianca LifeMiles or Turkish.

Related: How does Aeroplan’s award chart compare to other Star Alliance programs?

Air France-KLM

Flying Blue has a dynamic award formula, so there’s really no telling how many miles an award flight on Delta will require. However, they generally start at 11,500 Flying Blue miles each way in economy.

You should be able to book online, but the Flying Blue website is notoriously unreliable and has had issues displaying Delta-operated award flights in the past. If you’re having trouble finding availability online, try to use mobile apps to beat Flying Blue restrictions on award searches.

Related: How to fly to Hawaii for just 35,000 miles round-trip

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

The Asia Miles program offers domestic award flights in economy class on both American and Alaska. You can book Alaska award online, but not American.

Redemption rates vary by route, but you can check the rates on Cathay’s website for your specific route. For example, you can fly from New York-JFK to Los Angeles in economy for 15,000 miles or in first for 45,000 miles.

Related: Everything you need to know about Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Emirates Skywards

With Alaska out of the picture, Emirates’ only U.S. partner now is JetBlue. Domestically, you can book coach awards as well as Mint flights. The pricing is based on the route, but there is some good value to be found (see the award chart here).

For instance, Mint awards on transcontinental routes cost 52,000 miles. By comparison, JetBlue’s own TrueBlue program typically charges at least 82,200 TrueBlue points for transcontinental Mint awards. Even better, you can book these awards online.

JetBlue Mint seat
Redeem Emirates miles to fly in JetBlue’s Mint cabin. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Related: You can now book JetBlue Mint with Emirates miles — and it’s a good deal

Qantas Frequent Flyer

You can easily book awards on American Airlines using Qantas miles. Award rates start at 8,000 miles each way in economy class and 18,400 miles each way in domestic first class on two-cabin aircraft for flights of 600 miles or less. While those are decent rates, British Airways and Etihad offer slightly better award rates and should have access to the same inventory. So, you’ll want to consider those options first.

Related: 6 award chart ‘sweet spots’ that will save you money on domestic flights

Poor options

Some of Capital One’s airline partners have such unfavorable award charts for their respective U.S. partners that it’s difficult to imagine a situation where you should transfer miles to one of them for a domestic award:

  • Aeromexico
  • EVA
  • Finnair
  • TAP Portugal Miles&Go

Related: Why Delta is my go-to airline for last-minute domestic flights

When to transfer miles to partners versus when to redeem miles directly for travel

United 737 MAX
United award flights through Turkish can be a great value, but when should you simply redeem miles for travel purchases? (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Spark Miles for Business and Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business let you redeem your miles for one cent each as statement credits towards any travel purchase you’ve made within the last 90 days. So how do you decide when to transfer miles and when to redeem for recent travel purchases?

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

At its most basic, before you transfer, make sure the airline miles you’ll be using will be worth more than one cent apiece for the award redemption you want. If not, you’ll be better off simply redeeming your Capital One miles directly for travel as a statement credit. Here are five factors you should consider.

Cost

The easiest way to start looking for a domestic flight is to check your favorite airline’s price and search an online travel agency for the lowest prices (or consider Google Flights for a quick snapshot).

As noted above, domestic round-trip economy awards booked through Turkish will require you to transfer 15,000 miles. As a result, if you find any highly-discounted fares for $150 round-trip or less, you should likely just book a paid fare and then redeem miles to offset your recent travel purchases.

Award availability

Next, look for award availability at the lowest mileage levels using the major domestic carriers’ websites (American, Delta and United). When you find saver-level award space, you can use the chart above to see how many airline miles it will require.

BOS to HNL United award
(Screenshot courtesy of united.com)

Factor in mileage earning and upgrade opportunities

When you redeem Capital One miles for recent travel purchases, you can book tickets the way you usually do.

That means you can earn miles from the flight and get credit towards elite status. If you currently hold elite status, you should still enjoy all of your elite status benefits, including being eligible for upgrades. You may not receive those benefits when you transfer your Capital One miles to an airline and book a partner award. To estimate the value of the miles you could earn, consult TPG’s points and miles valuations.

One additional note: if you want to enjoy your free checked-bag benefits on United-operated flights through cards like the United Explorer Card, remember that you have to use your card to purchase the ticket. As a result, flights in this scenario would be a poor choice for redeeming for recent travel, as you’d still need to pay those checked bag fees.

Consider taxes and fees

All frequent-flyer programs will add security fees at a minimum, which will be $5.60 each way. However, Flying Blue has started adding additional surcharges to Delta awards, so remember this when using your miles. Similarly, Aeroplan charges a partner booking fee, albeit a low one of just CA$39 (US$32).

Think about the risks and hassle factors

When you are faced with the choice of redeeming miles for recent travel or transferring miles to frequent-flyer programs, consider the time it could cost you, especially if the airline doesn’t offer online booking. You may have to create a new account and spend time calling the airline.

There’s also the risk that the airline won’t be able to see the award you want or that the award could disappear before you receive your airline miles. For these reasons, you should default to redeem miles toward recent travel when you won’t save a lot of miles by transferring them — especially when you aren’t familiar with the frequent-flyer program.

Related: Fly more, spend less: These are some of the best airline awards in the world

Bottom line

Capital One took a significant step forward when it upgraded most transfer partners to a 1:1 transfer tier. After all, this redemption option significantly boosted the value of Capital One miles — and the value of holding Capital One cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.

If you need to book flights within the U.S., Capital One’s transfer partners give you various options, some with solid redemption rates. Just be sure to crunch the numbers to ensure you won’t get a better value by redeeming miles for recent travel purchases.

Additional reporting by Jason Steele and Joseph Hostetler.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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