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Capital One enters the world of premium travel — and plans to transform the market

Dec. 16, 2021
8 min read
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There are a lot of players in the travel credit card arena, but this year, one stood apart. Capital One has overhauled its portfolio of products and rewards, transforming the travel space for both current and future customers. With the recent introduction of its first premium credit card (the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card), improved transfers to travel loyalty programs, an excellent travel booking experience and even airport lounges, Capital One — in our opinion — is ideally positioned to become a market leader as travel continues to rebound in 2022 (and beyond).

Related: Why I decided to apply for the new Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Here’s how Capital One is transforming the travel experience for the better with its ecosystem of offerings.

A new card

Capital One released its highly-anticipated premium travel rewards credit card last month, and it's a great way for people to earn rewards that they can redeem to travel the way they want, when they want. The card’s welcome offer is incredibly enticing, but that’s only one of several reasons why we’re excited about this card.

For starters, it’s loaded with rich perks.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the things you’ll enjoy as a cardholder:

  • 10x miles on hotels and rental cars, and 5x miles on flights booked via Capital One Travel — plus 2x miles everywhere else.
  • Up to $300 in annual statement credits for travel booked through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary, starting on your first anniversary.
  • Unlimited access to Capital One Lounges for cardholders, authorized users and two guests per visit, plus access to over 1,300 airport lounges with Priority Pass™
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® statement credit.

Visa Infinite® benefits also include:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption coverage, which lets you change your dates as needed for qualifying events.
  • Trip delay coverage of up to $500 when stuck for more than six hours or require an overnight stay.
  • Cell phone protection when using your Venture X card to pay your bill.
  • Eligibility for coverage on damage due to collision or theft on qualified rented vehicles.

The lounge access benefit for authorized users is worth elaborating on further. Based on TPG's experience, many premium cards put restrictions on guests in airport lounges. Some add costs for authorized users, while others require travel companions to pay a fee to get in.

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But not Capital One.

Authorized users and up to two guests can enjoy the same lounge access privileges as the primary cardholder, providing incredible flexibility for travelers.

In short, you won’t have to leave your friends or family members waiting in the terminal while you relax in the Capital One Lounge.

And then, of course, there’s the welcome offer: 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first six months from account opening and, for a limited time, up to $200 in statement credits for vacation rentals like Airbnb and Vrbo charged to your account within the first year.

TPG pegs the 100,000 miles alone at $1,850 if you maximize Capital One’s array of transfer partners — so even when you factor in the card's $395 annual feel, it can offer some astounding value for new applicants. (Valuation not provided by the issuer.)

Related: Tips and tricks to get maximum value from your Capital One miles

But Capital One’s strong position isn’t just about a single new product ...

A transformed digital experience

For many travelers, earning rewards on popular travel credit cards is typically a lot easier than using those rewards. This isn’t just about the actual platform used to redeem your points and miles — it’s also about understanding when you should (and should not) put those rewards to use.

Enter Capital One Travel, the completely redesigned booking engine that’s transforming the digital experience for cardholders looking for flights, rental cars or hotels. And this starts before you even initiate your search.

Take this example for a round-trip flight from San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK). Before I even input my dates, I’m presented with a color-coded calendar with prices — showing me which dates are currently available at a lower cost.

(Screen shot courtesy of Capital One)

But this gets even better.

Once I select dates and get to the search results page, I’m offered guidance on whether I should pull the trigger and book now — or wait for a better price.

(Screen shot courtesy of Capital One)

And note the option at the top right, where I can enlist Capital One Travel to “watch” my trip and notify me when the time is right for me to book.

This secret sauce comes from a technology integration with Hopper, the renowned app that collects billions of data points on flights to deliver predictive analysis for customers. In fact, the new Capital One Travel price prediction tool recommends when to book your flight with 95% accuracy. No other credit card issuer partners with Hopper to offer this in-depth, consumer-driven intelligence built directly into its booking experience.

In short, the process of using your miles isn’t just simple — it also helps you to make the best, possible decision.

Related: How to use the new Capital One Travel portal

Of course, for those wanting to extend the value of their miles even further, Capital One offers an array of transfer partners — including lucrative programs like British Airways Executive Club, Avianca LifeMiles and Air Canada Aeroplan. Almost all of these were shifted to a 1:1 transfer ratio earlier this year, clearly demonstrating the issuer’s commitment to delivering value for its customers.

Of course, this investment also shines through in the travel experience ...

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

An industry-leading lounge experience

The traveler’s experience with Capital One doesn’t end when the miles are earned and the trip is booked. With the opening of the first Capital One Lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) — and two more on the way at Denver (DEN) and Washington-Dulles (IAD) in 2022— customers can now enjoy a top-notch airport lounge experience when they’re on the road.

And these aren’t your typical airport lounges. Think things like relaxation rooms, a cycling and yoga room, made-from-scratch, locally-sourced food, and craft cocktails — all of which are key features of the new Capital One Lounge at DFW. And in a beautiful move towards inclusivity, it also offers multi-faith rooms and reflection rooms.

The Capital One Lounge even caters to travelers without a ton of time between flights, as it offers a dedicated, grab-and-go selection of food items perfect for those in a hurry. Most airport lounges forbid guests from taking food out of the lounge — whereas Capital One is directly encouraging it.

As noted earlier, Venture X cardholders (and their authorized users) enjoy unlimited access to the Capital One Lounge and can bring two guests, at no charge.

More still to come

It’s hard to believe that Capital One could give us more than it already has — but it’s true. And I (for one) am very excited about what’s on tap.

Capital One Travel is rolling out the option to freeze the price of a flight for reservations made through the booking experience. Users can lock in the price for a specific period of time by paying a small fee. When you freeze the price of the flight, Capital One Travel will hold that price for you until the expiration date of your frozen price (that expiration date is displayed prior to completing your purchase).

There are also plans for even more features within Capital One Travel, including additional protection options for your trips.

And of course, those new Capital One Lounges will open at DEN and IAD in 2022 — providing even greater coverage for travelers across the country.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply

Bottom line

It’s been an astonishing year for Capital One. With new card products, enhanced transfer ratios, stunning airport lounges and a transformative new booking experience, the issuer is leaning into every aspect of its customers’ travel journeys — from earning rewards to booking travel through taking the trip.

And incredibly, it’s not done yet, as more product enhancements are on the way in 2022.

The developments of the last year have Capital One perfectly positioned to capture surging demand from consumers looking to ramp up their travels — and we’re excited to watch how it continues to transform the travel space next year, and beyond.

Featured image by (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)