New perks the Capital One Venture should offer to stay competitive
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A few years ago, I was privileged to visit Capital One headquarters with a handful of other miles and points writers to discuss potential Capital One credit card improvements or perhaps an altogether new product. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card needed a refresh — and Capital One knew it. They were (smartly) reaching out to the points and miles community for help.
We’ve seen tremendous improvements to Capital One miles since, such as valuable airline and hotel partners with solid transfer rates and the ability to convert cash back into Capital One miles. But competitors like Amex, Chase and Citi have been making improvements, too.
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In my opinion, Capital One is the bank that can make the most impactful improvements with the least amount of effort. Capital One, if you’re still listening, this is how to tweak the Capital One Venture to become a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card killer.
How Capital One can improve the Capital One Venture
The Capital One Venture has a few great things going for it already:
- Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening (worth $1,388 in travel, per TPG valuations).
- Earn 2 Capital One miles per dollar on all purchases.
- Valuable airline and hotel transfer partners.
- Application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck: Up to a $100 credit every four years.
- Capital One lounges: Soon-to-come domestic airport lounges at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Washington Dulles (IAD). Capital One cardholders will receive a special entry rate.
- No foreign transaction fees.
The above benefits are all good — but are they enough to keep the card competitive with the likes of products such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Here are some ways we think the card could improve.
The Capital One Venture is most famous for one particular card benefit: It earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. It’s an uncomplicated card that saves you from mentally juggling bonus categories.
Simplicity is a two-edged sword. Capital One could floor the competition if they maintained their minimum 2x earning rate while adding a couple of popular bonus categories, such as supermarkets and gas stations. Chase recently added new bonus categories in its lineup of Sapphire cards with Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders earning 3x on select streaming services and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
To remain competitive, Capital One could take a page out of the Chase book and add a few popular bonus categories with elevated rates (above 2x) on specific popular bonus categories.
Increase redemption value for offsetting travel
The Capital One Venture offers a number of ways to redeem your miles, but only two will provide you with a reasonable value:
- You can transfer your rewards to airline and hotel partners (we’ll talk about that in a bit).
- You can redeem your rewards at a value of 1 cent each toward travel-related purchases.
This second option has long been the most popular way to use Capital One miles — again, because of its simplicity. Just use your Capital One Venture to make a travel purchase (airfare, rental car, hotel, Airbnb, etc.), and effectively “cash out” your miles at a rate of 1 cent each toward the purchase. If you spend $140 at a hotel, you can later offset the transaction for 14,000 miles.
If Capital One were to increase the value of its miles to 1.25 cents, they could better compete with the likes of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which offers a similar per-point value when redeeming rewards for travel through the Chase travel portal. In fact, Capital One would even have a big advantage, as you’d be able to book direct.
Capital One has made unbelievable improvements to its loyalty program in 2021. Capital One miles now transfer to 17 partners, 15 of which offer a 1:1 transfer ratio.
In other words, the card’s transfer rates are finally on par with other transferable rewards programs such as:
All these programs occasionally offer transfer bonuses to airline and hotel partners. If Capital One targeted more aggressive transfer bonuses exclusively to Capital One Venture cardholders, the card would instantly become more appealing.
Better travel protections
There’s an area in which the Capital One Venture is conspicuously lacking: built-in travel insurance. The card does offer travel accident insurance and secondary auto rental coverage (both these benefits are available only to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card — terms apply). But one of our favorite travel credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, offers the following:
- Primary rental car coverage: When you waive the rental agency’s collision damage waiver, you’ll receive primary car insurance against damage and theft. That could easily save you at least $15 per day over purchasing in-house coverage at the counter.
- Trip delay insurance: When your flight is delayed by at least 12 hours (or you are required to stay overnight), you’ll receive up to $500 per ticket in reasonable expenses such as hotel room, food, transportation, etc.
- Baggage delay insurance: When your bag is delayed by at least six hours, you’ll receive up to $100 in reasonable expenses such as clothes, toiletries, phone chargers, etc., for up to five days.
These benefits are the heart and soul of a travel credit card. They’re the reason we tend to book all our travel with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred to protect us if and when things go wrong, on the road or in the air. If the Capital One Venture adds these precious benefits, it’s in the conversation as possibly the top travel rewards card.
Capital One lounges
It’s confirmed: Capital One lounges are legit. We’ve only seen inside one (and there are two more to come in 2022), but these look to be serious competitors with the lauded Amex Centurion Lounges, which offer free hot meals and mixed drinks.
If Capital One can manage to open a significant number of lounges in the near future — and perhaps give Capital One Venture cardholders free access — the card’s value proposition would spike. Airport lounges are a TPG reader favorite among credit card benefits.
Since its inception, the Capital One Venture has evolved from a card evoking lukewarm sentiments from points and miles enthusiasts to a really solid card, and one that many of us have in our wallets. With even a couple of the above proposed improvements added to the card, I can honestly say I’d likely end up using it more than any card I own.
Let us know what you think Capital One should do to ensure the Capital One Venture remains relevant.
Application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
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