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Historically, Capital One miles have only been redeemable as “cash” points, typically for 1 cent per point. So points earned from the Capital One Venture card or Capital One Spark cards would be redeemable to offset cash purchases made for travel. A 50,000-point welcome offer meant that you could use those points to offset $500 in travel. There was no way to make those points be worth less, but also no way to get any more value from them, either.
But in November 2018, Capital One began adding airline transfer partners. Over the years, the list has changed and you can currently transfer to more than 10 partner airlines. You can transfer Capital One Venture Miles in 1,000-mile increments, and in most cases, 2 Venture Miles transfer to 1.5 airline miles. You can transfer miles to Accor Live Limitless, Emirates and Singapore Airlines at a 2:1 ratio, and there are periodic transfer bonuses, like the 33% bonus to Qantas Frequent Flyer or 25% to Avianca LifeMiles.
The 4 best Capital One transfer partners
Here are my top four Capital One transfer partners:
Singapore Airlines: One reason Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles are useful because they are easy to get; in addition to Capital One, they transfer from Chase, American Express, Citi and Marriott points. Check out our Singapore Airlines sweet spots.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: Flying Blue has monthly promo awards that discount certain routes by up to 50%. That means you can sometimes find one-way travel from the U.S. to Europe as low as 16,500 Flying Blue miles.
Air Canada Aeroplan: My favorite use of Air Canada miles is to book United flights within the United States, especially last-minute flights.
Avianca Lifemiles: Avianca is (along with Singapore and Air Canada) a member of the Star Alliance, meaning you can use Avianca LifeMiles to book flights on United, Lufthansa and other Star Alliance carriers.
Other solid Capital One transfer options
Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles: Cathay Pacific has an odd award chart that depends in part on whether you’re flying only Cathay or including additional Oneworld partners. The AsiaMiles award chart is distance-based, so your best redemption will be 7,500 miles for intra-Asia flights under 750 flown miles.
Emirates Skywards: Ever since Alaska devalued its award chart for flying Emirates first class, using Emirates’ own miles is one of the best ways to fly premium cabins on Emirates. Check out some of our other Emirates Skywards sweet spots.
Etihad Guest: Etihad is another program with a quirky award chart that has some amazing redemptions. Over the past year or so, they've been shutting down some of the truly excellent deals, but I recently returned from a trip to Morocco that I booked for only 22,000 Etihad miles one-way.
Qantas: Qantas also has a distance-based award chart, and flights under 600 miles cost only 8,000 miles to book. This can be a great option for last-minute short-hops within the U.S. (flying on American Airlines) or in Australia itself.
Accor Live Limitless: Accor Hotels have a slightly different way to redeem points earned in their Accor Live Limitless (ALL) program: 2,000 Accor points will take a flat 40 euros off your bill. With a 2:1 transfer ratio, it will take 4,000 Venture miles to get 2,000 Accor points. While those 4,000 miles would otherwise get you $40 off of your bill at the moment, 40 euros are worth slightly more than $40 — so you would come out slightly ahead if you have an Accor hotel stay planned.
Transfer partners to avoid
The remaining Capital One transfer partners are not a good use of your time or miles. I would avoid transferring to any of the following programs unless you have a specific redemption in mind and feel you're getting good value:
It’s important to note that JetBlue doesn’t have an award chart. Instead, the cost in miles is loosely tied to the cash cost of a particular flight. NerdWallet values JetBlue points at 1.1 cents each, and 2 Venture miles only gets you 1.5 TrueBlue miles. Here’s an example of a flight from New York-JFK to Reno, Nevada. It will cost either $174 to buy it in cash or 12,500 JetBlue miles.
Buying the flight with cash from JetBlue will cost $174, which you can pay for with 17,400 CapitalOne Venture miles. Transferring points to JetBlue to buy it with miles would only cost you 16,667 Venture miles (due to the 2:1.5 transfer ratio), but you would still have to pay the $5.60 in taxes and fees. And, by booking an award flight, you’re passing up the opportunity to earn TrueBlue miles and elite credit. Generally, you’ll be better off paying cash and using your Venture miles to offset the cost of the flight.
Photo of author on a horse courtesy of Dan Miller.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best airline credit card for you Capital One Venture review: Easy earnings, effortless redemptions 7 best Capital One credit cards