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Capital One Venture Card Review: Stress-Free 2% Rewards Card

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Capital One Venture Card Review: Stress-Free 2% Rewards Card

If you’re the type of person who wants to have the best of everything, you might want to consider keeping the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card in your wallet.

With a huge sign-up bonus, high ongoing rewards rate and flexible redemption options, you aren’t going to find many travel credit cards better than this one.

At a glance
Sign-up bonus Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel.
Rewards program Unlimited 2x miles on all purchases
Annual fee $0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Foreign transaction fee None
Verdict: If you love to travel and want big rewards, this one’s for you.
Good for:
  • Someone who travels internationally
  • Someone who wants flexible travel rewards
  • Someone who is looking for a large sign-up bonus
Bad for:
  • Someone who is interested in cash-back rewards.
  • Someone who doesn’t like to travel
  • Someone who does travel hacking

In this article

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: The basics
Where the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card shines
What 2X earnings means for you
Where the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card falls short
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card versus the competition
Is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card right for you?

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: The basics

If you have an incurable case of wanderlust and don’t want to be tied down to a specific airline or hotel brand, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has what you’re looking for. First, it gives you a nice kickstart with its sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel. After that, you earn unlimited 2x miles for every dollar you spend on purchases.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital One's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee

Sign-up Bonus

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel

Annual Fee

$0 intro for first year; $59 after that

Intro APR Promotions

None

APR

  • APR: 12.9% - 22.9% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: 29.4%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.9%, Variable

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles don't expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • 100% free Capital One® Credit Tracker - see your monthly credit score anytime and get automatic alerts

Like all Capital One credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees, making international travel a little less expensive. Also, its annual fee — $0 intro for first year; $59 after that — is low compared with most travel credit cards.

Where the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card shines

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers a few features that make it a Nerd favorite:

High-rolling rewards: On its own, the sign-up bonus is enough to make the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card attractive. When you add unlimited 2x miles on every dollar spent and a 1 cent per mile value when redeemed for travel, you can see why this card is among the elite. Whether you want to travel the world or visit family halfway across the country, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s high rewards rate will get you there faster than most travel credit cards.

Flexibility: Capital One’s No Hassle Rewards program gives you two choices for travel redemption. First, you can use its platform to find deals on flights, hotels, rental cars or all-inclusive vacation packages. The other option is to book your travel elsewhere and use Capital One’s Purchase Eraser® to get a statement credit for your flight or hotel spend.

What sets the Purchase Eraser® apart from other travel redemption features on other travel cards is that there is no minimum. For example, if you buy a plan ticket for $300, you can redeem as little as $1 worth of points toward a partial statement credit. Whether you choose to book through the No Hassle Rewards® travel platform or get a statement credit, you have the freedom to choose your own travel plan and aren’t restricted to using your rewards with just one airline or hotel chain.

Major travel perks: If the rewards and flexibility aren’t enough for you, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s extra travel perks should sweeten the pot. Most importantly, the card has no foreign transaction fees, which will come as a relief to international globetrotters. Plus, you could get additional travel benefits that come with Visa Signature cards. If you qualify, these include 24/7 concierge service, complimentary upgrades, travel accident insurance, rental car insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and roadside assistance.

These advantages make the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card a great travel companion.

What 2x earnings means for you

It’s easy to throw out the 2x figure and move on, but let’s take a look at what it means for you. Let’s say you use your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card for groceries, gas and fun to the tune of $1,000 a month. Because you’re earning 2x miles on each dollar spent — regardless of where you’re dropping your coin — you’ll earn 2,000 miles every month.

That’s 24,000 miles every year for a total of $240 in travel rewards, just for using the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card instead of cash or a debit card. That amount could be enough to pay for a roundtrip flight, or a weekend stay at a hotel. The more purchases you make with your card, the higher your potential annual rewards.

Nerd note: We know how exciting it is to see the potential rewards from using your credit card, but the Nerds recommend keeping a monthly budget and sticking to it. Overspending for the sake of rewards will likely negate the benefits of the points or miles you’re earning.

Where the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card falls short

Even champions can’t be perfect. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card lacks in a few areas:

Poor cash-back rewards: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s strength lies in its travel benefits. If you want to use your No Hassle Rewards miles for cash back or a statement credit for non-travel purchases, your miles are worth only half as much as if you were to redeem them for travel. This can be an issue if you’re not too keen on travel or you would like to diversify your rewards.

Difficult to “hack”: For sophisticated travel hackers trying to squeeze every last drop of value out of a frequent flier program, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s straightforward No Hassle Rewards isn’t conducive to the hacking strategy. It doesn’t allow you to transfer your miles to a travel partner or have any other loopholes to multiply your rewards. In short, what you see is what you get.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card vs. the competition

Though not without flaws, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card stands tall among travel credit cards. However, you may find another card that suits you better, such as one of these:

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

One card usually has strengths that tackle another’s weaknesses, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does just that. For starters, experienced hackers can work their magic because of the option to transfer points to participating frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 ratio. But you can also use your points to book a trip directly with Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel tool. If you choose this route, your points will rise in value from 1 cent to 1.25 cents apiece. For those looking for more non-travel flexibility, you can redeem points as cash back to your Chase checking or savings account (each point will be worth 1 cent).

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also offers a nifty sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, which could be worth $500 in travel purchases if you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal. The ongoing rewards rate is 2X points on travel and dining and 1X point on all other purchases.

Between the rewards and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a better short-term value proposition, even for people who aren’t interested in hacking. Also, if you spend a lot on travel and dining, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is compelling for the long term. But if you don’t travel or eat out often, you may be better off with Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card because of its higher everyday purchase rewards rate.

 

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card vs. Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year

Discover It Miles Credit Card
Apply Now

on Discover's
secure website

Although the Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year is new to the travel rewards game, it’s still a force to be reckoned with. Like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you redeem rewards in the form of a statement credit for travel-related purchases. The biggest difference is the Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year’ sign-up bonus: Exclusive Double Miles Offer: At the end of your first year—when other Miles cards charge an annual fee—Discover doubles all the Miles you’ve earned. That’s a virtually unlimited sign-up bonus. Also, the Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year’ annual fee is $0, which is impressive for a card of this caliber and attractive to the fee-averse.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card outshines the Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year in its ongoing rewards rate. The Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year offers unlimited 1.5x miles on every purchase, which is high, but not as high as the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s 2x miles rate.

If you’re a heavy spender, you’ll likely get a bigger sign-up bonus with the Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year. But the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s higher ongoing rewards rate might be more interesting if you’re keeping the card for the long run.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card vs. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

These two cards are similar in almost every way. Both have comparable sign-up bonuses and rewards rates, no foreign transaction fees and flexible redemption options. However, there are a couple differences worth noting.

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, you get 10% back on all miles you redeem for travel statement credits. For example, using 50,000 miles to help pay for a trip will net you 5,000 miles to get you started on the next one. This puts the effective reward rate for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® at 2.2% when redeemed for travel, slightly higher than the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. However, you must have at least 2,500 miles to start redeeming with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. It also doesn’t allow you to book travel through its site, making redemption less convenient.

Fee-conscious people will be interested to know that Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® has an annual fee of $89 - Waived first year, making the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card a little more appealing on that front. But overall, we’d give the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® a slight edge due to the higher rewards rate.

 

Is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card right for you?

If you’re serious about travel, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card should be on your radar. With one of the highest sign-up bonuses and ongoing rewards rates on the market, it can go toe to toe with any other travel card on the market. It’s especially a good option if you want flexibility or if you travel internationally. Plus, its low annual fee should appeal to the frugal crowd.

But depending on your needs, other travel credit cards may be a better choice. The Nerds recommend you explore all your options before applying.

Ben Luthi is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow him on Twitter @benluthi and on Google+.


Image via iStock.

  • Dan Roberts

    PenFed Platinum Rewards is the best rewards card if you can qualify for it. 5% on gas, 3% on groceries 1% on everything else. No annual and no foreign transaction fees.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Great point, Dan! Anecdotally we’ve heard that it’s nigh impossible to qualify for, requiring beyond-excellent credit.

    • Cash

      How do you feel now about your PenFed crap card?

  • Cash

    2% Priceline Visa is the King of all 2% rewards cards (for those who have it). Not offered anymore. 2% straight cashback or up to 3% cash back if redeemet for name your own price purchases.

  • Shelby Hilliard

    Wondering what the best card for me is. I am ultimately looking fr something to help with flight costs and have been debating Venture rewards versus Sapphire. Im not sure I will be able to spend 3K in 3 months so I wonder if either is really good for me anyway. Thoughts?

    • CJ Pellerano

      Hey Shelby, a great way to get around the spending limit is to paypal yourself using the card through a friend, you’ll pay a small fee (a few extra dollars) but you’ll have no problem getting the big bonus

  • John Curry

    I currently have an Alaska Airlines card and charge about everything I can to it. I get double miles on Alaska purchases but only single (1 to 1) on everything else. I’ve been accumulating over 60K miles per year as such. Although with the Alaska card I do get an annual companion fare coupon (a little over $100 each which saves a lot…@ $300-$500 a year) getting double miles on ALL purchases likely makes more sense. Also, as I understand it, I could use miles earned with the Venture card on any airline. And that is my question: currently my miles are Alaska miles and it is easy to redeem when flying Alaska of any of their partner airlines and making reservations on Alaska’s website How does one use/transfer the Venture miles when making airline reservations? Thanks in advance!

  • Michelle Vona

    Do any of these cards offer “rewards” if you transfer balances upon signing up?

  • brooke

    BEWARE if you are signing up hoping to receive the bonus miles for spending $3,000 in three months. They start your “three months” once you have been approved not once you receive and activate the card. Which means you lose out days to actually accrue spending dollars because you do not have the card in your possession to actually spend. I got approved February 28th, however did not receive my card until March 11th. I lost eleven days to spend due to the fact that they start your 90 days once you been approved NOT once you can actually spend. This is FALSE ADVERTISING. I did not get 90 days to spend, I got 79 days. When I called to explain the issue to customer service they were rude and said there was nothing they could do because I do not spend enough money with this company. I then asked to speak to a manager who did not even look into my account because he stated I wasn’t even close to hitting that mark. He stated I had only spent $1,200- which I informed him was false. He then proceeded to be condescending and informed me I “better start spending” and he could put a claim in but from what he has seen “these kind of claims are always denied”. I will not recommend this card to anyone
    in the future.

    • Jacqueline

      When you were approved, did they send you the card number immediately so you could make online purchases? I find their “90 day” lie of a policy annoying, but I still think it’s the best card for me, so I’m trying to be strategic about when I apply. Thanks for the warning!

  • Stacey W.

    If you typically like to use miles to fly in Business Class, it seems this redemption is not greatest. For example, Biz class ticket to London is going to be about $7000.00 which would require 700,000 miles with Cap One if I’m understanding correctly. But, if you tx miles to FF program, it would take about 120,000 miles for a free round trip ticket. A free coach ticket would be about 60,000 miles vs about 120,000 with Cap One based on $1200 London ticket. Granted, you have to deal with crazy limited availability of tickets using mileage, but that’s a huge difference in miles. So NerdWallet, which card do you think is best for transferring to FF miles on most number of airlines?

  • Desdemona3

    Do NOT get this card!!! They use a ridiculous fraud prevention algorithm that keeps declining my purchases and it’s incredibly frustrating! It’s a travel card, for pete’s sake, and they freak out when they see international purchases! They had declined some reservation I made in Peru like a month ago, and I had to call to get that straightened out, but then they declined a reservation for Machu PIcchu tickets last night. I called and they assured me there was now an alert on my account and that it would go through next time. So I tried again, maybe an hour after I spoke with them, and it was declined again!!! I called back and at first they tried to deny it, but you know they decline it because they send an email immediately. So she finally admitted they declined it a second time and she admitted that it’s all automatic? But she had me try again while I was on the phone with her, and it was declined a third time. This time she said it wasn’t on their end and that the company was probably declining it due to too many attempts!!! I suspect she is right because I did not get an email from Capitol One the third time around. So now I have contacted the company and am waiting to hear back. But still, if the company agrees to accept the payment next time, how do I know Capitol One won’t decline it again?!?! It’s an algorithm that is clearly out of control! So don’t do it–it’s not worth it!!! They also put a stop on my husband’s card after he made two purchases at the same store in the same day. It’s ridiculous!

  • phonebanshee

    Ignore everything they say about “miles” – think of them as “pennies.” There are some tiny hoops you need to jump through to actually turn them into pennies, but they really are tiny.

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

    It’s definitely worth a shot! Different issuer, but I got the Chase Freedom when it had a $200 signup bonus and they upped it to $300 a week later. I called and asked for the $300 bonus, and they said yes.

  • Doug

    Yes, but think of it this way. If you spend over $2000/year abroad, that pays for your $59 annual with 3% foreign transaction fee savings. The other advantage is the 40k points sign-up bonus, which is worth $400. I don’t think the Citi Double cash has any sign-up bonus.

  • Scot

    Capital one has a very similar card for business use its called Spark Miles for Business

  • Scot

    You must have a social security number and a USA address to apply, you will also need a decent credit score, if you never had credit in the USA you probably don’t have a decent credit score if at all.

  • phonebanshee

    Can’t answer for those specific sites, but mine includes surprising stuff like Washington State Ferries (to people around here, that’s a commute expense, not travel), Uber, Lyft, car2go, and Clipper (San Francisco Bay Area commute tickets).

    You shouldn’t use the points for travel though. At the end of the year, they’ve been letting you redeem them for gift cards that often have a 20% or so bonus. Just buy those and it’s really a 2.4% cash-back card. (Or if you don’t want to wait for the holidays, you can redeem for lots of different gift cards without a bonus.)