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

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

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Editor's Rating: 4.5 / 5

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

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital One's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Flexible redemption for travel

Cons

  • Has annual fee

Bonus Offer

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

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $59

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 23.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, 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
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that

At a glance
Sign-up bonus Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel
Rewards program Unlimited 2x miles per dollar on all purchases
Annual fee $0 for the first year, then $59
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 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel. After that, you earn unlimited 2x miles per dollar you spend on purchases.

Like all Capital One credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees, making international travel a little less expensive. Also, its annual fee — $0 for the first year, then $59 — 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 per 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 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 full travel statement credit redemptions, and only a 2,500 mile minimum for partial travel credit redemptions. For example, if you buy a plane ticket for $300, you can redeem as little as $2.50 worth of miles toward a partial statement credit. Whether you choose to book through the 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.

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 per 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 couple 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 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 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® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • A large bonus
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Cool factor - metal card
  • Earn more points on travel and dining at restaurants
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Cons

  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that $95 per year

Bonus Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 16.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

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 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, which could be worth $625 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 $0 for 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 – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card

Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card

Apply Now on Discover's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • No annual fee
  • 10.99% for 14 mos on transfers
  • No foreign transaction fee

Bonus Offer

We’ll match all the rewards new cardmembers have earned at the end of their first year. No purchase caps or minimums. No signing up. And no limit. New cardmembers only.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months

APR

  • APR: 11.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Unlimited 1.5x rewards on every purchase, every day. For every $1 you spend, you earn 1.5x Miles.
  • We’ll match all the rewards new cardmembers have earned at the end of their first year. No purchase caps or minimums. No signing up. And no limit. New cardmembers only.
  • Redeem your rewards in any amount for cash or a travel credit. You’ll always get $1 for every 100 Miles you’ve earned.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service. Talk to a real person any time.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.

Although the Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card is relatively 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 sign-up bonus, which Discover describes like this: “We’ll match all the rewards new cardmembers have earned at the end of their first year. No purchase caps or minimums. No signing up. And no limit. New cardmembers only.” That puts you in control of your sign-up bonus. Also, the annual fee is $0, which is impressive for a card of this caliber and attractive to the fee-averse.

If you’re a heavy spender, you’ll likely get a bigger sign-up bonus with the Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card. But the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s higher ongoing rewards rate — 2 miles per dollar vs. 1.5 — 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®

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Apply Now on Barclaycard's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Has annual fee

Bonus Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $89

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)

APR

  • APR: 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24%* Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers

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 5% back on all miles you redeem. However, you must have at least 10,000 miles to start redeeming for travel 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 $0 for the first year, then $89, 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.

Last updated July 27, 2016. 

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


Image via iStock.