The bottom line:
A big sign-up bonus, high rewards and flexible redemption make this card worth the annual fee.
Pros & Cons
High rewards rate
Flexible rewards redemption
High annual fee
Rewards have limited flexibility
Requires good/excellent credit
Alternate Pick: No Annual Fee
Compare to Other Cards
16.24%-24.24% Variable APR
16.24%-23.24% Variable APR
12.24%-23.24% Variable APR
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox
Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.
The is one of the most popular credit cards on the market — and not just because it's one of the most heavily advertised. Unlike the airline-branded cards it was designed to compete against, it pays a high rewards rate on every purchase (not just on travel spending), and you can use its rewards to pay for any travel expense, without any restrictions on when you travel, which airline you fly or which hotel you stay at. Throw in a big bonus for new cardholders, and it's no wonder this card is a favorite of so many people.
If you want travel rewards that are easy to earn, easy to understand and nearly effortless to redeem, you aren't going to find many travel credit cards better than this one.
Card type: Travel.
Annual fee: .
Rewards: Unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases. Plus, 5 miles per $1 spent on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel.
Use miles to book travel through Capital One at a value of 1 cent per mile.
Redeem miles for statement credit against travel purchases at a value of 1 cent per mile.
Transfer miles to more than 15 partner airline and hotel programs. Per-mile value depends on the transfer partner and how you redeem the transferred miles.
Redeem miles for gift cards. The redemption value varies between 1-1.25 miles per cent.
Interest rate: .
Foreign transaction fees: None.
(Note: Benefits may change over time.)
Credit of up to $100 for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck when you pay with the card.
Travel accidental insurance for no extra charge when you use the card to pay for your travel bookings. Terms apply.
Rental car coverage.
Extended warranty on eligible items.
Benefits of the
A high rewards rate
While most branded airline cards earn only 1 point per dollar on most purchases other than those you make with the airline, the keeps it simple. You’ll earn 5 miles per dollar spent on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel and an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases.
A generous sign-up bonus
The gives you a head start on your next trip with its bonus offer for new cardholders:
The comes with two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounge locations. After that, cardholders have access to a special entry rate of $45 per visit after that.
Right now, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport houses the only Capital One Lounge, but Capital One has plans to open lounges at Denver International Airport and Washington-Dulles in 2022.
Flexible redemption options
Capital One's rewards program gives you several ways to use your miles for travel:
Use the Capital One Purchase Eraser. With this option, you book travel however you want, then redeem miles for statement credit for some or all of the cost. Miles are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed — and there's no minimum redemption amount. That's a welcome difference from some other cards, which have minimums as high as $100. Any expense that Capital One considers "travel" is eligible for redemption. This includes not only flights and hotel stays, but also "rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and time shares," according to the Capital One website.
Book through the issuer's travel center. This online portal offers flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages. You can pay upfront with your miles, at a rate of 1 cent per mile.
Transfer miles to partners. Capital One lets you transfer your miles to the loyalty programs of a number of airline and hotel partners.
The offers additional benefits frequent travelers will enjoy:
A statement credit of up to $100 for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. The credit is available once every four years.
Trip protection including rental car coverage, travel accident insurance and round-the-clock travel assistance services if your card is lost or stolen.
No foreign transaction fees for overseas purchases.
(Note: Benefits may change over time.)
Drawbacks and alternatives
Lack of domestic transfer partners
For travelers who like to squeeze every last drop of value out of loyalty programs, the growing roster of transfer partners for the the is appealing. You can now transfer your Venture miles to more than a dozen airline partners but all are non-U.S. carriers. For those just dipping their toe into transfer options, sending their miles off to a foreign carrier may be a bit daunting.
The is a better choice for travel hackers. First, there's an option to transfer points to participating frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 ratio and those programs include domestic carriers United, Southwest and JetBlue, as well as the Marriott, Hyatt and IHG hotels programs. You can also use your points to book a trip directly with Chase's travel tool. If you choose this route, your points rise in value from 1 cent apiece to 1.25 cents.
The also offers a great sign-up bonus: It earns bonus rewards in a variety of popular spending categories, including dining and travel. The annual fee is .
Poor cash-back option
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 don’t travel often and want to turn your rewards into money in your pocket. You may get greater value out of a cash-back card like the , which offers 2% cash back on all purchases with a annual fee.
The has an annual fee of . While this is typical of travel rewards cards, that’s not comforting news to anyone trying to keep credit card costs down. The -annual-fee earns unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. New card holders can earn .
Use our calculator to see whether the rewards you would earn with the will cover the fee:
Is the right for you?
If you're serious about travel, the should be on your radar. With one of the highest sign-up bonuses and best ongoing rewards rates on the market, it can go toe to toe with any other travel card. It's especially a good option if you want travel rewards without the need to navigate a complicated redemption system.
Still unsure about whether this card, or any travel card, is what you need? Peruse our best credit cards page for options across categories.
NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.
Frequently asked questions
With the , you earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. You can redeem those miles (at a value of 1 cent apiece) for any travel purchase — flights on any airline, stays at any hotel, auto rentals from any agency, and so on. Unlike with points from airline or hotel loyalty programs, there are no restrictions or blackout dates. Book travel however you want, and then use your miles to pay for it.
Miles earned on the are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel. That means you get an effective rewards rate of 2% on all purchases.
You can use Capital One miles to pay for flights on any airline, but you also have the option of transferring those miles to about a dozen airline loyalty programs and combining them with frequent-flyer rewards earned in those programs.
The is a Visa card.
You’ll need at least good credit to qualify for the . Generally speaking, “good credit” is defined as a score of at least 690. But a credit score alone isn’t enough to qualify for any credit card. Issuers take into account your income, existing debts and other information.