Do Capital One’s changes make the Venture, Spark cards more competitive?
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Capital One offers an array of credit cards to both consumers and small businesses, including their travel credit cards: 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.
The information for the Capital One Spark Miles Select 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.
Both the Venture and Spark Miles cards earn 2x miles on every purchase and offer a way to redeem miles at a fixed value or by transferring to partners. But while both are solid cards for beginners or those looking to supplement a larger card strategy with a card for everyday spending, they’ve never quite held up to top contenders from Chase and American Express.
But with new changes for the Capital One travel credit cards on the horizon, will they be more competitive?
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Changes coming for Capital One Venture and Spark
Capital One recently announced a number of new changes coming for its travel cards.
Most exciting is an overhaul to its current transfer partner program. Starting April 20, 2021, Capital One is adding four new transfer partners: British Airways, Choice Hotels, TAP Air Portugal and Turkish Airlines.
But even more exciting, some transfer partners will move to a new tier that allows a 1:1 transfer ratio: Avianca, Etihad, Asia Miles, AeroMexico, Finnair, Qantas, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines and Wyndham Rewards.
Related: Capital One transfer partners guide
Additionally, Capital One is planning to open two new airport lounges — one at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and one at Dulles Airport (IAD). Capital One cardholders will be eligible for special entry rates depending on their card.
Finally, Capital One is partnering with Hopper on its new travel portal experience.
Do these changes make Capital One more competitive?
The new changes are certainly improvements for Capital One.
Since Capital One first launched transfer partners, one of the disadvantages has been the transfer ratio. Amex and Chase both offer several partners with a 1:1 transfer ratio (and Amex even runs promos where you can get even more out of transferring points). With this change, Capital One certainly becomes a more competitive program that earns transferable points.
Avianca LifeMiles and Etihad Guest are two of Capital One’s top transfer partners because of Avianca’s ability to book Star Alliance award flights without passing on massive surcharges and Etihad’s partnership with American Airlines. Being able to transfer miles at a 1:1 rate will make these partners even more appealing.
I’m also excited to see what Capital One and Hopper create for Capital One’s new travel portal. I personally use Hopper to keep an eye on flight prices and help me decide when to book trips and it will be interesting to see how Hopper’s technology will be integrated.
If done well, the new portal could be a gamechanger for beginners and budget travelers who like to use Capital One miles at a fixed value.
Where does Capital One still fall short?
While these changes are certainly improvements across the board, there are a few areas where Capital One still falls short compared to top competitors.
The Capital One Venture card currently has a whopping limited-time offer and is a valuable credit card — especially for beginners, but it isn’t easily paired with other Capital One credit cards. Both Chase and Citi offer an ecosystem of travel and cash back cards that let you transfer rewards earned with cash back cards over to points that can be used for travel when you also have an eligible travel credit card.
Another area Chase still stands out is its portal bonus. Capital One offers a way to redeem miles at a fixed value for travel, but Chase still wins when it comes to using the portal for an array of common travel expenses and you’ll get a better redemption rate.
When you look at Capital One compared to American Express, Amex still has a more varied list of transfer partners and better overall transfer ratios to those partners. Plus, Amex cards can’t be beaten when it comes to its benefits for its top-tier cards.
This brings me to the final area where I think Capital One still falls short. It lacks a premium credit card option. Amex, Chase and Citi all have full line-ups of personal credit cards — cash back, mid-level travel cards and premium travel cards. Capital One doesn’t offer a premium travel credit card option.
Before I would truly put them on the same tier as the other three top issuers with transferable points credit cards, I’d want to see a premium card option that comes with travel benefits such as complimentary lounge access (to more than just Capital One lounges), travel or dining credits and more.
Overall, I am excited about these changes to Capital One’s travel rewards program. I’d already been planning to apply for the Capital One Venture this year, but these changes solidify my choice to add it to my wallet.
For those who have been considering applying for the Venture, now is a great time. It’s offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles — Earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
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