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How a Capital One transfer bonus got me $1,000 in flights for 45,000 miles

Aug. 24, 2022
9 min read
Clear waters on USVI's Buck Island
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It's no secret that I love transferable credit card points. I've leveraged these currencies to book numerous premium-class flights and luxury hotel rooms for me and my family. They've even come to the rescue when things went wrong — most recently in salvaging a trip to Greece that was nearly derailed by a flight delay.

However, even when I'm not using them for business-class tickets to far-flung corners of the globe, these currencies can still keep an awful lot of cash in my pocket — especially when I can add a transfer bonus to the mix.

Here's how I took 45,000 Capital One miles and turned them into nearly $1,000 worth of flights for a long weekend trip.

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Capital One transfer bonus to British Airways

As we wrote about in early August, there are a number of current transfer bonuses from the major transferable points programs — including two from Capital One:

(American Express, Chase and Citi all run transfer bonuses periodically, too.)

One of my colleagues already got some phenomenal value using the first one for a flight home from Europe, but I had my sights set on the second one.

That's because British Airways partners with American Airlines, and I happen to live near an American hub — Miami (MIA) — with extensive service to the Caribbean and Latin America. Even better? British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, so these short flights require a comparatively small number of Avios, even though they frequently carry a high cash price.

In fact, nonstop flights that cover between 651 and 1,151 miles in distance come in at just 9,000 Avios each way. And that's exactly what I booked. Here's how I did it.

Finding award availability

My wife and I had been trying to figure out a trip for the Labor Day weekend. With only three days off work, we didn't want to stray too far from South Florida and thus spend a ton of time traveling. When I heard about the transfer bonus from Capital One to British Airways, I started zeroing in on American Airlines-operated flights out of Miami.

That's when I found nonstop flights to St. Croix (STX) in the U.S. Virgin Islands at times that aligned perfectly with our work and school calendars.

While the cash price — $336 — wasn't terrible, I noticed that the evening flight out of Miami and the afternoon one back home had saver-level award availability. This was key, as it meant that the flights should be available through partner airlines like British Airways.

(Screenshot from aa.com)

Sure, I could've used 25,000 American miles per person, but I find AAdvantage miles to be much more valuable for long-haul, premium-cabin flights. I also knew that this route was a prime example where booking nonstop AA flights is actually cheaper using Avios.

So, instead, I opted to use the transfer bonus.

Related: Best sweet spots in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Transferring my miles

The next step was to actually complete the transfer from Capital One. First, I did some quick math to figure out how many miles I'd need to transfer given the bonus.

At 9,000 Avios each way, that translates to a round-trip price of 18,000 per person. For three passengers (me, my wife and our daughter), that would come to 54,000 Avios all up.

Without a transfer bonus, the next calculation would be simple. Since Capital One miles transfer to the majority of partners at a 1:1 ratio, I'd normally transfer 54,000 miles — giving me exactly 54,000 Avios.

However, the bonus meant that I could transfer fewer miles and get the same number of Avios. In this situation, a 20% bonus meant that every 1 Capital One mile would get me 1.2 Avios. So, to calculate the number of miles I'd need to transfer, I'd divide the total number of Avios for the redemption by 1.2.

Here's the formula I used:

  • 54,000 Avios ÷ 1.2 Avios per Capital One mile = 45,000.

In other words, I'd need to transfer 45,000 Capital One miles.

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

Booking the flights

However, I didn't immediately do so. Why? Because the BA online search engine doesn't recognize St. Croix's airport code (STX).

I knew that these American flights should be bookable using Avios, but I didn't want to take any chances. After all, converting transferable rewards to airline miles or hotel points is irreversible. I wanted to make sure this redemption was doable before transferring — which I knew would be instant, based on our tests of Capital One transfer times.

So, I called the British Airways Executive Club customer service line, and after a short wait, I was connected to an agent. I provided the dates of my trip and the flights I wanted. You see, sometimes phone agents can put together an itinerary that you can book online. Indeed, she was able to verify the availability and price: 18,000 Avios plus $15.16 in taxes and fees per person.

Once I had this information — and while I stayed connected to the agent — I logged into my Capital One account and initiated the transfer. The process was very simple. I navigated to the rewards page and then clicked on the "Convert Rewards" icon:

(Screenshot from capitalone.com)

Both of the 20% bonuses were featured prominently at the top, so I clicked on Transfer Miles next to the British Airways Executive Club offer:

(Screenshot from capitalone.com)

From there, I entered my British Airways account number and on the following page, it showed that my 45,000 miles would be boosted to 54,000 Avios (with the 20% bonus):

(Screenshot from capitalone.com)

As soon as I clicked "Complete Transfer," I let the phone agent know. She refreshed the account information on her end and sure enough, she immediately saw the 54,000 Avios.

A few minutes later, the three of us were ticketed on the exact flights we wanted.

Had we paid out of pocket, this itinerary would've set us back $1,008.18. When you remove the $45.48 in taxes and fees, my 45,000 Capital One miles got us $962.70 worth of flights — for a value of 2.14 cents per mile. That's higher than TPG's valuation and more than twice the value I'd get by using my Capital One miles at a fixed value for travel purchases.

That made the deal even sweeter? I was able to call American Airlines and switch the frequent flyer number on the reservation to my AAdvantage number. This means that I'll be able to enjoy the perks of my newly-minted Gold status, including the ability to select preferred seats and check a bag for free.

Related: What is American Airlines elite status worth in 2022?

Earning Capital One miles

You can replicate this exact strategy if you have a Capital One card that allows transfers to airline and hotel partners. Two, in particular, are favorites here at TPG: the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Both Venture cards can be very valuable for travelers. (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Both currently offer 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening, and you'll also earn at least 2 miles for every dollar you spend on each card. However, the Venture X comes loaded with extra perks, including:

To help choose which card is best for you, check out our Venture card comparison.

Bottom line

Transferable credit card currencies can get you outsized value for your rewards, especially when one is offering a transfer bonus. By using the current 20% bonus for converting Capital One miles to British Airways Avios, I was able to get nearly $1,000 worth of flights for just 45,000 miles.

While this was far from my most valuable redemption of all time, it's a perfect example of how knowledge is power in the world of travel rewards. I knew that nonstop flights on American Airlines represented a great use of Avios and when combined with the transfer bonus, this sweet spot got even sweeter.

Most importantly, I'll get the chance to make memories with my family in a destination we've never visited with minimal out-of-pocket expense — and that's probably the most valuable thing of all.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism)
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.

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2XEarn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases

Intro offer

75,000 miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable perks like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth up to 100,000 miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first six months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2XEarn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable perks like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth up to 100,000 miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first six months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023