If you’re looking for an easy-to-use travel rewards credit card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card could be a great choice — largely because it combines some of the best features of both cash-back cards and travel rewards cards.
Most travel credit cards earn rewards in the form of miles or points that can be redeemed for travel. But many of them don't make it easy, and they’ll often lock you into using one airline or hotel chain. How much you earn in rewards sometimes depends on what you're buying, and the monetary value of each mile or point sometimes requires a calculator to figure out.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, on the other hand, is simple and straightforward when it comes to earning and burning rewards. You earn 2 miles per $1 spent on everything, and those miles are worth a penny each toward eligible travel expenses. There are no rotating bonus categories, blackout dates or travel restrictions.
What you’ll get with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Here are some key features of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card:
Annual fee: $95.
Sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel.
Rewards: 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases, with no limits. Miles never expire as long as your account is open.
Transfer partners: Capital One has partnerships with more than a dozen airline and hotel programs, including Air Canada, JetBlue, Emirates and Wyndham among others. That means that you can transfer your miles to these partners, usually at a rate of 2 Capital One miles to 1.5 airline or hotel miles (in a few cases, the ratio is 2:1).
Benefits: Up to $100 credit for the application fee for TSA Precheck or Global Entry once every four years.
Foreign transaction fees: None.
How to redeem rewards with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Your Venture miles are versatile, unlike some other varieties of points and miles. You can pay for your airline ticket, hotel stay or other qualifying travel expense directly with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and then use the Purchase Eraser to receive statement credit for the purchase, or you can book travel directly through the Capital One travel portal. In these scenarios, miles are always worth 1 cent each.
You can also choose to transfer miles to a partner airline and book a flight. In these cases, the exact value per mile will vary but could potentially be higher than a penny each. More on that below.
Nerd tip: If you redeem for cash back, miles are worth only 0.5 cent each.
If you're booking travel through Capital One, there's no minimum redemption amount. That means you can redeem even a few dollars' worth of miles, without waiting until you have a significant number saved up. This can take the edge off a pricey trip, even if you don't have enough miles to pay for the whole thing.
Similarly, there's no minimum redemption if you're using the Purchase Eraser for full or partial credit against an expense. If you had a $4 cab ride, you can redeem $4 worth of miles for it.
Aim for the most valuable uses of your Venture miles
Whether you want to keep it simple and lock in a solid 1-cent-per-mile value, or whether you want to transfer miles to partners for potentially higher value, Capital One gives you options. When you log into your Capital One account, click “View Rewards” and you’ll see a list of several redemption options. Here are the most valuable ones:
Book a trip
Search for your flight, hotel or car rental here in the Capital One travel portal and select the options you want to book. You’ll have the option to pay for your trip entirely with your Venture miles or you can use a combination of miles and cash. You’ll get a fixed value of 1 cent per mile and you won’t have to worry about visiting several websites to book and keep track of your trip.
Nerd tip: If you have hotel elite status, you probably won’t be able to enjoy its perks or earn elite night credits if you book your hotel stay directly through the travel portal. Generally, you have to book a hotel directly if you want to take advantage of elite status. But sometimes you’ll find better pricing for that hotel room in a third-party portal.
Cover your purchases
This allows you to book your own travel directly however you want, and then use the Purchase Eraser to remove the charges from your bill. You can erase any travel purchases you’ve made for the past 90 days with a few clicks, and you’ll still get a 1-cent-per-mile value.
Transfer your rewards
Capital One has partnerships with more than a dozen airline and hotel programs, including Air Canada, JetBlue, Emirates and Wyndham. That means that you can transfer your miles to these partners, usually at a rate of 2 Capital One miles to 1.5 airline or hotel miles (in a few cases, the ratio is 2:1). Here's the full list.
On the surface, transfers at these ratios may not seem like the best way to redeem Venture miles. If you’re looking to book a low-priced economy ticket, using the Purchase Eraser statement credit is usually the way to go.
But in many cases, transferring Capital One Venture miles directly to a partner airline can unlock much higher value for them. If you’re willing to spend a little time learning how to navigate the award charts of some of these foreign airline carriers, you could redeem your Capital One miles for double (or even triple!) the fixed 1-cent-per-mile value.
Watch out for special transfer bonuses periodically and you’ll get even more miles. For example, in the past Capital One has offered a 25% bonus when you transferred your miles to Colombian airline Avianca and a 33% bonus for Australian carrier Qantas.
Share your rewards
You can easily transfer your miles to a friend or family member with a Capital One miles-earning account. There’s no cost to pool your miles. Other major travel rewards programs may have stricter restrictions if they allow sharing at all.
Avoid these less valuable redemptions
You can redeem your Capital One miles for gift cards at dozens of retailers and restaurants, but you'll generally get only between 0.8 cent and 1 cent per mile, depending on the merchant.
Shop with rewards
You can also use miles to pay directly when you shop with Amazon. But points are worth only 0.8 cent each this way.
Miles are worth only 0.5 cent each when used this way.
Take advantage of travel benefits
If you're a frequent flyer, it's likely worth your time to apply for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, which are trusted-traveler programs that can help speed you through airport security or customs more quickly. The application fees for these programs cost $85 and $100, respectively, and memberships last five years. If you pay the application fee with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you can be reimbursed that fee once every four years.
And if much of your traveling is international, make sure to pack your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Like any travel credit card worth its salt, it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, so it's ideal for purchases abroad.
Supplement rewards with a second credit card
If you prefer to carry a single credit card and like to travel, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card might be all you need.
But some folks really like to optimize their rewards. If that's you, consider pairing the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card with a cash-back card that pays more than 2X back on certain purchases. Use that card for the bonus categories, and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for everything else. Just think of the cash back as an advance discount on your next vacation!
A couple of cards to consider:
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: This card earns 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 a year in spending (then 1%); 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including such things as taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, trains and buses); and 1% back on all other purchases. Terms apply. To really juice up the rewards, consider buying things like groceries and gas with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and putting other expenses on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Chase Freedom Flex℠: This card earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 per quarter in rotating bonus categories (activation is required), which in recent years have included gas stations, drugstores and restaurants. All other non-bonus-category purchases earn 1% back. Using the Chase Freedom Flex℠ to buy items in the current quarter's bonus category and switching back to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for other purchases is a great strategy.