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How to Make the Most of the Capital One Venture Card

May 26, 2016
Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

There are cash back credit cards, and there are travel rewards credit cards. The versatile Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card combines some of the best features of both.

Most travel credit cards dole out rewards in the form of miles or points that can be redeemed for travel. But many of them don’t make it easy. How much you earn in rewards sometimes depends on what you’re buying. And the monetary value of each mile or point sometimes requires higher math to figure out — and may vary substantially depending on how you redeem.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, on the other hand, prizes simplicity. You earn 2 miles per $1 spent, and you can redeem your miles for a credit on your statement. That no-fuss concept is similar to what Capital One offers with its cash back cards.

Basics of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Here’s what the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers:

  • An annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95.
  • A great sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

But best of all is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s rewards rate, which is both straightforward and generous. You’ll earn a flat 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, with no limits and no need to remember which spending categories pay more than others. The miles never expire as long as your account is open.

If you redeem your rewards for travel, miles are worth 1 cent apiece. You also have the option to redeem miles for cash, rather than for travel, but you’ll only get 0.5 cents per mile. To get full value out of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, then, redeem only for travel.

How to redeem rewards on the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

There are two ways you can redeem Capital One miles for travel — and both give you the same 1-cent value per mile:

  • Book travel through Capital One and use your accumulated miles to pay some or all of the cost.
  • Book travel however you want, and then use Capital One’s Purchase Eraser tool to redeem your accumulated miles for a statement credit against travel expenses. (Miles can be applied to travel purchases made in the previous 90 days.)

Some travel cards give you a higher redemption rate for booking through their portal, which limits you to whatever’s available on that portal. The greater flexibility afforded by the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of its standout features.

» MORE: The full rundown on Capital One miles

Redeem any amount

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.

Supplement rewards with a second credit card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card gives you 2 miles per dollar spent. At a penny a mile, that’s a fantastic 2% rewards rate on every purchase. If you’re the type of person who prefers to carry a single credit card and likes 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 2% 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: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express pays an astronomical 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in U.S. supermarket spending per year. It also pays 3% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on everything else. To really juice up the rewards, consider buying groceries and gas on the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and putting other expenses on the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Chase Freedom®TheChase Freedom® is a cash back card that pays 5% on up to $1,500 spent per quarter in rotating bonus categories, which in recent years have including gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and wholesale clubs. Using the Chase Freedom® 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.

Best practices

Whether you book your travel via Capital One’s website, buy plane tickets directly from an airline or line up a hotel room through Travelocity, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card will allow you to use rewards to pay for your trip. Just make sure you use your Capital One miles for travel, and you’ll get great value from your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire.