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When you should consider the Capital One Venture card for hotels and car rentals

Aug. 14, 2020
6 min read
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The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has long been a favorite for all non-bonus spending because you earn a flat 2x miles on purchases. But there are two bonus categories that have escaped notice by many cardholders — hotels and car rentals.

You can earn a generous 5x on hotel stays and car rental purchases booked and paid with the card through the Capital One Travel portal. Since TPG values Capital One miles at 1.4 cents each, that's a solid 7% return on those purchases.

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Today, I'm walking through why it makes sense to use the Capital One Venture to book hotels and car rentals, plus a couple of examples when you shouldn't.

It's a competitive return on these categories compared to top travel cards

Let's take a look at three other mid-tier travel cards that earn bonus rewards on hotels and car rentals:

Card:Hotels/Car rentals bonus:Return on spend (based on TPG valuations):
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card2x Ultimate Rewards points4% 
Citi Premier® Card3x ThankYou points 5.1% 
American Express® Green Card3x Membership Rewards points6% 

The information for the Amex Green 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.

With its 7% return on spending, the Capital One Venture surpasses the three mid-tier travel cards above, based on TPG valuations (and not provided by the issuer). That alone makes it a compelling option for those purchases.

The only downside is that with the Capital One Venture, you have to book travel through the Capital One Travel portal, where the other three cards will let you use third-party portals or book direct to earn rewards.

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But if you prefer using a portal for your vacation planning (or are willing to make the switch to a portal), this card makes a lot of sense.

Related: Best cards for travel purchases

(Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy)
Your Venture could score you 5x miles on hotel stays — the highest return of top mid-tier travel credit cards that earn transferrable points. (Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy)

You can then redeem miles for your trip

Not only can you use the card to earn miles on hotels and car rentals, but you can also use those miles to offset the cost of your trip. The Capital One Venture allows you to redeem miles at a fixed one-cent-per-point value with its “purchase eraser” tool. Simply make an eligible purchase, and then use your miles to “erase” that purchase on your statement.

While you aren’t always getting the same value the way you can by using transfer partners, sometimes it makes more sense to use miles with this tool. For example, it could make sense to use miles at a fixed value if your travel expenses aren’t standard airfare and hotel stays that allow the transfer of miles.

Related: Best ways to maximize Capital One miles

It comes with secondary car rental coverage

Another thing to consider is travel protections. The Capital One Venture does offer a number of protections, including secondary car rental coverage. When you use your card to pay for your car rental, you’ll get an auto rental collision damage waiver, which generally covers physical damage or theft — after you pay the deductible on your car insurance.

Just make sure you’re booking a car rental that falls under the covered vehicles (for example, you likely won’t be able to use this benefit if you rent a large passenger van, some antique vehicles and motorcycles).

Related: Best cards with car rental coverage

(Photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)
The Venture is a solid choice for rental car purchases because of its 5x bonus category and car rental coverage. (Photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)

When other cards make more sense

There are a few occasions when the Venture may not be the best choice for your car rental and hotel stay purchases.

Executive suite at Conrad Hilton Downtown. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

First, remember that third-party portals such as Capital One Travel likely won't help you earn elite status at hotels. So if you’re looking to earn Hilton Gold elite status, for example, you’ll want to book directly through Hilton in order to ensure you’re earning those elite nights to help you hit status.

Additionally, your elite status may not be recognized if you book through a third-party portal.

For car rentals specifically, also keep in mind that the coverage that comes with the Venture is secondary coverage — it only kicks in after your primary insurance or in the case that you don’t have any insurance at all (or insurance that won’t cover rentals outside of the U.S.). If you want a card that earns rewards on car rentals that also offer primary coverage, you’ll want to look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Bottom line

While the Venture has long been hailed as a great travel card for everyday spending (The Points Guy himself uses it for a portion of his non-bonus spending each year), not everyone realizes that the card also earns an impressive 5x miles on car rentals and hotels booked and paid with the card through the Capital One Travel Portal.

It won’t make sense for every traveler in every situation to use this benefit, but many beginners or casual travelers can get a lot of value from these bonus categories. Additionally, this card is a top contender for road trips — you’ll earn 5x on your car rental and any hotel stays booked through Capital One Travel, plus 2x on all your other expenses along the way.

Related: Going on road trips this summer? Consider using these credit cards

Featured image by (Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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