Capital One Miles: Easy to Earn and Use

Lindsay KonskoFeb 5, 2021
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Capital One's travel credit cards earn rewards that it refers to as miles but that are really points. Depending on the card, you earn 1.25 to 2 miles for every dollar you spend. Miles can be redeemed for travel at a value of 1 cent apiece. There are other redemption options, but some of them don't give you as much value.

Cards that earn Capital One miles

All credit cards that earn Capital One miles offer unlimited rewards.

  • Rewards rate: 2 miles per dollar spent.

  • Bonus offer: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

  • Annual fee: $95.

  • Rewards rate: 1.25 miles per dollar spent.

  • Bonus offer: Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel.

  • Annual fee: $0.

  • Rewards rate: 2 miles per dollar spent.

  • Bonus offer: Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles – equal to $500 in travel – once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

  • Rewards rate: 1.5 miles per dollar spent.

  • Bonus offer: Earn a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles - equal to $200 in travel - once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Annual fee: $0.

How to get more Capital One miles

The cards above earn 5 miles per dollar spent on hotel and rental car bookings (but not airfare) through Capital One Travel. Beyond that and the new-cardholder bonuses on these cards, there aren't any clever ways to get more miles.

Unlike with the miles in airline loyalty programs, there's no option to buy extra Capital One miles. Consequently, the way to earn maximum miles is simply to use your card for as much as you can.

How to redeem Capital One miles

Good redemption options

Paying for travel: The best way to redeem Capital One Miles is for travel. You can either use them to book travel through Capital One, or you can redeem them for credit on your statement against travel purchases. With either option, miles are worth 1 cent apiece.

The upshot is that you can book travel however you want — through Capital One or elsewhere, flying on any airline, staying at any hotel — and use your miles to pay for it. That's why the ubiquitous ads for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card stress that there are no blackout dates or restrictions on how you use your miles.

There is no minimum redemption amount when using your miles for travel expenses.

Transferring to loyalty programs: Capital One lets you transfer your miles to the loyalty programs of more than a dozen airline and hotel partners. In most cases, though, the transfer ratio is less than 1:1

Transfer ratio explained: In the formula "X:Y," when you transfer X number of Capital One miles, you receive Y number of points or miles in the partner program.

  • Accor (2:1 ratio).

  • Aeromexico (1:1 ratio).

  • Air France/KLM (2:1.5 ratio).

  • Air Canada (2:1.5 ratio).

  • Alitalia (2:1.5 ratio).

  • Avianca (1:1 ratio).

  • British Airways (2:1.5 ratio).

  • Cathay Pacific (1:1 ratio).

  • Choice Hotels (1:1 ratio).

  • Emirates (2:1 ratio).

  • Etihad (1:1 ratio).

  • EVA (2:1.5 ratio).

  • Finnair (1:1 ratio).

  • JetBlue (2:1.5 ratio).

  • Qantas (1:1 ratio).

  • Singapore Airlines (2:1 ratio).

  • TAP Air Portugal (1:1 ratio).

  • Turkish Airlines (2:1.5 ratio).

  • Wyndham Rewards (1:1 ratio)

When you transfer your miles, the value you ultimately get per mile depends on how you redeem them with the program you moved them to.

Gift cards: This redemption method will get you a value of around 1 cent per mile, too, so if a getaway isn’t achievable, there’s still a way to decent value from your rewards. You'll need a minimum of 2,500 miles to redeem for a gift card.

Bad redemption options

You can also use your Capital One miles for cash back (in the form of a check or statement credit for a non-travel purchase). But cash-back redemptions cut the value of mile in half, meaning that miles are worth half a cent each if this is how you choose to use them. You'll need a minimum of 5,000 miles for a cash-back redemption.

The fine print

There isn't a lot of fine print in the Capital One rewards program that could trip you up. There’s no limit to the miles you can earn, and miles never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. If you close your account, you’ll lose any unused miles.

Also, if you pay your credit card bill late and are charged a late fee, you won't earn miles during the billing cycle that the late fee was charged. Carrying a balance won’t affect your ability to earn rewards, as long as you make your minimum payment on time.

Of course, you should make it a priority to pay your bill in full each month. The interest you’ll accrue is likely to cancel out the value of the miles you’ve earned.