Meh to Wow: Capital One’s Vastly Improved Transfer Partner Program
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Last year was a game-changer for Capital One miles transfer partners. The bank started off 2021 with a rather modest transferable points program; at the time, most Capital One transfer partners yielded 1.5 airline miles for every 2 Capital One miles transferred.
However, by the end of 2021, the Capital One program became a major contender by adding four new transfer partners and improving the transfer rates for 13 existing partners. Cardholders of eligible Capital One cards can now transfer Capital One Rewards miles to 15 airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 transfer rate. Only two partners remain at less than a 1:1 transfer ratio.
Here's a look at Capital One's standout year and what you can now book using Capital One Venture transfer partners.
Improvements to the Capital One transfer program in 2021
Most major transfer point programs don't change much year to year. At best, a program may add one or two new transfer partners. For example, in 2021, Chase partnered with Air Canada Aeroplan; Citi added Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges.
Comparatively, Capital One made massive improvements to its transfer point program in 2021. Here's how the changes rolled out.
In April 2021, Capital One announced four new transfer partners and improved the transfer ratios on seven existing partners.
Capital One's four newly announced transfer partners were:
British Airways Executive Club - initially at a 4:3 transfer ratio.
Choice Privileges - 1:1 transfer ratio, although point transfers weren't available until early 2022.
TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go - 1:1 transfer ratio.
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles - initially at a 4:3 transfer ratio.
Seven existing transfer partners were improved from a 4:3 transfer ratio to a 1:1 transfer ratio. The list includes Aeromexico Club Premier, Avianca LifeMiles, Etihad Guest, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Finnair Plus, Qantas Frequent Flyer and hotel program Wyndham Rewards.
Then, in October 2021, Capital One enhanced its transfer partner program once again. This time, Capital One improved the transfer ratio to 1:1 for six programs:
British Airways Executive Club.
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles.
Before this change, Capital One miles transferred to Emirates Skywards and Singapore KrisFlyer at a 2:1 rate. So this improvement effectively doubled the number of airline miles you'd get for the same Capital One miles transfer.
The other four airlines were previously 4:3 transfer partners, so transfers to each of these programs improved 33%.
That may not seem like much, but it means the difference between using 60,000 Capital One miles for a business class award to Europe to now using 45,000 Capital One miles for the same award. More about this sweet spot later on.
» Learn more: Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Other partnership changes
Capital One announced in April 2021 that Choice Privileges would become a transfer partner. However, Choice wasn't actually added as a transfer partner until early January 2022.
Unfortunately, there wasn't all good news for Capital One Rewards in 2021. After Oct. 24, 2021, Capital One Rewards dropped JetBlue TrueBlue as a transfer partner. Capital One didn't explain why this partnership ended, but it means that Capital One lost its only U.S.-based airline loyalty program.
In addition, Capital One dropped Alitalia MilleMiglia. This one was a lot more understandable considering Alitalia technically ceased to exist as an airline in 2021.
» Learn more: NerdWallet's points transfer tool — find the smartest booking for the flight you want with the points you have
Capital One transfer partners and rates
After all of the recent changes, Capital One Venture transfer partners now include 17 airline and hotel loyalty programs. Of those 17, miles now transfer to 15 partners at a 1:1 ratio.
Capital One transfers must be made in increments of 1,000 miles. Unfortunately, this means you can't top off an airline and hotel loyalty program account with just a few hundred miles or points.
What you can now do with Capital One miles
It can be hard to appreciate the difference between 2:1 or 4:3 transfer rates and the improved 1:1 transfer rates. So let's take a look at some examples to see how much better these rates make the Capital One Rewards program.
Emirates Skywards to Europe
One of the cheapest business class awards to Europe is using 90,000 Emirates Skywards miles to book a round-trip in Emirates business class. When Capital One miles transferred to Emirates Skywards at a 2:1, you'd need to transfer 180,000 Capital One miles to book this award.
Now that Emirates is a 1:1 transfer partner, you only need to transfer 90,000 Capital One miles to Emirates Skywards to book this incredible sweet spot:
Singapore KrisFlyer is another transfer partner whose transfer rate doubled during 2021. This effectively cut in half the number of Capital One miles that you need to transfer to Singapore.
The miles that would have gotten you a one-way ticket before now cover a round trip.
For example, you only need to transfer 17,500 Capital One miles — instead of the 35,000 miles needed previously — to book a one-way United award to Mexico or the Caribbean.
Or you can transfer 33,000 Capital One miles to Singapore KrisFlyer to book eligible awards between the U.S. and Asia. That's much better than the 66,000 Capital One miles that were previously required to transfer to book this award.
» Learn more: The best Capital One transfer partners
Booking domestic awards on United using Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is one of our favorite underrated mileage programs. You can book domestic United awards for just 7,500 miles each way in economy or 12,500 miles each way in business class. Best of all, this includes flights to Hawaii.
This was a great deal even when Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles transferred at a 4:3 ratio. However, now this sweet spot is that much sweeter at just 7,500 Capital One miles — or 12,500 Capital One miles in business class.
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Turkish Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each.
» Learn more: The cheapest ways to fly to Hawaii on points
Capital One cards that earn transferable miles
Not all Capital One credit cards earn miles that can be transferred to Capital One transfer partners. You'll need to spend on one of the following cards to earn transferrable miles:
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Spark Miles for Business all earn a minimum of 2 Capital One miles per dollar spent on all purchases.
That's an incredible earning rate considering the improved transfer rates for Capital One transfer partners.
To put that in perspective, you would need to spend:
$3,750 to earn enough miles to fly United to Hawaii.
$8,750 to get enough miles to fly United to Mexico or the Caribbean.
$16,500 to accumulate enough miles to fly to parts of Asia.
$22,000 for enough miles to fly Brussels Airways business class to Brussels or Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca.
$22,500 to score enough miles to fly United or Turkish business class to Europe.
The bottom line
Capital One miles got a lot more valuable in the past year because Capital One added four new transfer partners and improved transfer rates for 13 existing partners.
You now need just half the number of Capital One miles to book Singapore KrisFlyer and Emirates Skywards awards. Another 11 partners moved from 4:3 to 1:1 transfer partners. While a change from a 4:3 transfer rate to a 1:1 transfer rate may not seem like much, this really adds up when you're accumulating large amounts of miles to book award flights.
Now, you will be able to book excellent awards as fast as ever by combining these great transfer rates with Capital One credit cards earning 2 miles per dollar spent.
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 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card