3 ways to spend a million Capital One miles traveling the world
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Earning 1 million miles with any rewards program is no easy feat. But if there’s one program with which you can achieve it, it very well may be Capital One miles.
Capital One is known for offering 100,000-mile or higher sign-up bonuses from time to time. You can then progress toward a million miles twice as fast as some other programs thanks to the 2x earning rate on everyday purchases offered by several Capital One cards. Plus, Capital One makes it easy to pool your miles with others, whereas most other programs either only let you pool points within your household or don’t let you share points at all.
Today, three of TPG’s expert points and miles staffers will offer their own take on how to unload a Capital One miles balance of this size. According to TPG’s valuations, 1 million Capital One miles would be worth a whopping $17,000 in travel.
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Business-class trip around the world
Andrew Kunesh, senior reporter
Capital One has steadily improved its loyalty program over the past couple of years, adding transfer partners and improved transfer tiers and ratios. I recently started earning Capital One miles myself, and am planning out a way to spend my (much smaller) stash of miles.
If I ran into a stash of 1 million Capital One miles, I’d focus on leveraging transfer partners to book a business-class around-the-world trip with 352,000 Capital One miles transferred to Aeromexico Club Premier. You can use the carrier’s around-the-world pass to book up to 15 stopovers so long as you continue in the same direction and start and end in the same country.
My itinerary would look like this:
- New York (LGA) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – Delta domestic first class.
- Chicago O’Hare to Mexico City (MEX) – Aeromexico business class.
- Mexico City to Tokyo Narita (NRT) – Aeromexico business class.
- Tokyo Narita to Taipei (TPE) – China Airlines business class.
- Taipei to Hong Kong (HKG) – China Airlines business class.
- Hong Kong to Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) – Aeroflot business class.
- Moscow Sheremetyevo to Prague (PRG) – Czech Airlines business class.
- Prague to Paris (CDG) – Czech Airlines business class.
- Paris to Cayenne (CAY)– Air France business class.
- Cayenne to Pointe-a-Pitre (PTP) – Air France business class.
- Pointe-a-Pitre to New York-JFK – Air France business class.
This would help me revisit some of my favorite cities like Hong Kong, Prague and Tokyo, as well as see plenty of new places around the world. I would also experience some of SkyTeam’s most interesting routes and business-class products.
For example, did you know that Air France operates intra-Caribbean service, with flights to the U.S., or that Aeromexico has multiple flights to Asia?
The remaining 648,000 Capital One miles would go toward hotels in each of my stops. I’d spend three nights in each destination, with the exception of Chicago and Prague where I’d stay longer to visit family. I would also stay with family and friends in these two cities.
Here’s a look at the hotels and how I’d book them:
- Chicago – Stay with family.
- Mexico City – Tryp by Wyndham Mexico City, 7,500 miles per night transferred to Wyndham Rewards (22,500 miles).
- Tokyo – Park Hyatt Tokyo, $475 per night redeemed at a fixed value (142,500 miles).
- Taipei – W Taipei, $306 per night redeemed at a fixed value (91,800 miles).
- Hong Kong – Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View, $199 per night redeemed at a fixed value (59,700 miles).
- Moscow – StandArt Hotel Moscow, Design Hotels, $107 per night redeemed at a fixed value (32,100 miles).
- Prague – Stay with family.
- Paris – InterContinental Paris Le Grand, $410 per night redeemed at a fixed value (123,000 miles).
- Cayenne – Grand Hotel Montabo, $227 per night redeemed at a fixed value (68,100 miles).
- Pointe-a-Pitre – Villas et Chambres d’hotes Chez Flo, $309 per night redeemed at a fixed value (92,700 miles).
While I wouldn’t normally redeem Capital One miles at a fixed value of 1 cent per point, Capital One’s limited hotel transfer partners make it difficult to book hotels outside of North America. On the bright side, this would help me requalify for Marriott, IHG and Hyatt elite status as I would earn qualifying nights and redeemable points on each stay by booking directly with the hotels and using the miles to essentially pay myself back.
This itinerary would leave me with 15,600 miles left over, which I would save for a future domestic award ticket with Avianca LifeMiles or British Airways Avios. Alternatively, I could use the miles to offset $156 worth of other travel expenses, like Uber rides and train tickets.
Using miles on 4 different trips — including Lufthansa first class
Benji Stawski, strategic travel reporter
With 19 transfer partners in total — 16 airline and three hotel — Capital One offers one of the most diverse collections of transfer partners.
However, with only some programs transferring at a 1:1 ratio while others are either 2:1.5 or 2:1, they’re definitely not all equal. So, I’ll try to stick to 1:1 transfer partners like Avianca LifeMiles and Etihad Guest and some of the more valuable 2:1.5 partners like Air Canada Aeroplan and Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles.
Rather than redeem all of my miles at once, I’d use them to book four separate trips.
First, I’d book a trip home to see my family in Los Angeles. To get there, I would transfer 34,000 miles to Turkish to book a round-trip United business-class ticket out of Newark (EWR). Those 34,000 miles would yield 25,500 Turkish miles, which is just enough to book a round-trip business-class ticket to anywhere in the U.S. United offers its premium transcontinental service on this route so I’ll get to enjoy special perks like United Club access and a lie-flat seat — or one of United’s swanky Polaris pods if I’m lucky. Since I’d be staying with family, I won’t need a hotel in Los Angeles.
After catching up with family on the West Coast, I’d like to pay a visit to my relatives across the pond in Germany. Naturally, I’ll want to fly there in style. Specifically, I’d book a round-trip Lufthansa first-class ticket to Frankfurt (FRA) for 174,000 miles, booked through Avianca LifeMiles.
This is one of the best first-class products in the world, with some standout perks being the signature caviar appetizer and dedicated (and recently reopened) First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. I’d spend six nights in Frankfurt and stay at either the Tryp by Wyndham Frankfurt or H4 Frankfurt Messe. Both hotels are fairly simple but pretty inexpensive at just 15,000 Wyndham points per night. Wyndham is a 1:1 transfer partner so my stay would come out to 90,000 miles in total.
Next, I’d like to cross Morocco off my travel bucket list.
I’d transfer 88,000 miles to Etihad Guest to book a round-trip business-class ticket from New York-JFK to Casablanca (CMN) on Royal Air Maroc. I’d spend two nights at the Movenpick Hotel Casablanca for about 16,000 Capital One miles transferred to Accor Live Limitless at a 2:1 ratio. While that isn’t the best transfer ratio, ALL allows you to redeem 2,000 points for 40 euros off a stay and the nightly rate at this hotel is usually under 80 euros.
After my short stay in Casablanca, I’d book a round-trip economy ticket to Marrakech (RAK) for 12,000 miles, again booked through Etihad Guest. I’d spend six nights in Marrakech and stay at the luxurious Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech. Rooms at this hotel usually cost around 300 euros per night, which translates to 15,000 ALL Rewards points or 30,000 Capital One miles per night.
For my fourth trip, I’d book an all-inclusive beach getaway for a friend and me. I’d transfer 80,000 miles to Turkish Miles&Smiles and book two round-trip business-class tickets to Cancun (CUN). Then, once 1:1 transfers to Choice Privileges go live later this year, I’d book six nights at the Ventus at Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort, Ascend Hotel Collection. Award nights currently start as low as 35,000 points and the resort is all-inclusive so all of our meals, drinks and activities will be covered.
Even after these four trips, I’ll still have around 120,000 Capital One miles remaining. I’ll save these miles to “erase” any additional travel expenses that may arise during my travels, such as taxi rides. Miles are worth 1 cent each when redeeming for recent travel, meaning that I’ll be able to offset about $1,200 in incidentals.
Hawaii, Singapore and beyond
Katie Genter, senior writer
Each time I’m asked to write a section in one of TPG’s posts about how to use 1 million points or miles for an epic trip, I consider the program’s hotel transfer partners. To this point, Capital One has three hotel transfer partners: Accor Live Limitless, Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges. However, although Capital One announced Choice Privileges would become a transfer partner, you can’t transfer Capital One miles to Choice until later this year.
You can book a room at the same resort we visited — Emotions All Inclusive Puerto Plata, Ascend Hotel Collection — for just 16,000 points per night from Sep. 16 to Nov. 30. So, if I wanted to return to this resort and was able to transfer Capital One miles to Choice, I could book 62 nights during this time range with 1 million miles.
But, in general, Choice won’t be the most valuable Capital One transfer partner. So, here are two trips I could book if I had 1 million Capital One miles to spend right now.
For my first trip, I’d fly to Hawaii for just 15,000 miles round-trip by booking through Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles program. I could transfer Capital One miles to Turkish at a 2:1.5 ratio. So, to book two round-trip tickets, I’d need to transfer 40,000 Capital One miles to Turkish.
As for lodging, there are plenty of hotels bookable for 15,000 Wyndham points per night in Hawaii. I’d spend five nights at the Club Wyndham Royal Garden at Waikiki since I’ve stayed there before and liked the location. Wyndham is a 1:1 transfer partner, so I’d spend 115,000 Capital One miles on my Hawaii trip for two.
For my second trip, I’d redeem Air Canada Aeroplan points to fly to Southeast Asia. Depending on my origin and destination, the award price would vary.
An award from Atlanta to Singapore on a partner airline would cost 85,000 Aeroplan points. And I can transfer Capital One miles to Aeroplan at a 2:1.5 ratio. So, round-trip business-class award tickets for two would cost me about 454,000 Capital One miles. As for lodging, I’d stay at the following hotels:
- Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park (Singapore): 15,000 points per night, free shuttle to public transportation.
- Ramada Encore by Wyndham Chinatown Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): 7,500 points per night, located in the heart of Chinatown with good access to public transportation.
- Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Bangkok Menam Riverside (Thailand): 15,000 points per night, near the old quarter on the Chao Phraya River.
- Days Inn by Wyndham Patong Beach Phuket (Thailand): 7,500 points per night, just a five-minute walk from Patong Beach.
- Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay (Thailand): 15,000 points per night, a newly built resort with views over the Andaman Sea.
- Days Inn by Wyndham Aonang Krabi (Thailand): 7,500 points per night, steps from Aonang Beach.
If I stayed at each hotel for five nights, this would cost me 337,500 Capital One miles. I’d book cheap flights between my destinations in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and then redeem Capital One miles at a fixed rate to offset the fares. After doing so, I should have spent just under 1 million Capital One miles across these two trips.
How to earn 1 million Capital One points
While earning a million Capital One miles will take a lot of time and effort, you can get there faster with credit card welcome bonuses. But you won’t want to sign up for just any Capital One credit card as only some earn transferable miles.
Out of the currently available Capital One cards, two consumer and two business credit cards earn transferable Capital One miles. Here’s an overview of each of the cards’ sign-up bonuses:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 within the first three months of account opening.
- Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business: Earn 20,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months from account opening.
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.
You’ll also want to note that Capital One is known to have some hard-and-fast application restrictions. Specifically, the issuer limits you to two of its personal credit cards at a time and you’re only able to get approved for one Capital One-issued card every six months.
From Lufthansa first-class trips to Germany to luxurious getaways to Morocco or over two months at an all-inclusive resort, the possibilities for redeeming 1 million Capital One miles are endless. Even if you don’t have anywhere near a million miles in your Capital One account, hopefully you can still use the examples shared today as inspiration when planning your adventures as the world reopens.
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh and Katie Genter.
Featured photo by Abdelhadi Mebtouche/EyeEm/Getty Images.
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