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
No foreign transaction fee
Has annual fee
Redemption value for cash is half of value for travel
Requires good/excellent credit
Alternate Pick: No Annual Fee
Compare to Other Cards
$0 for the first year, then $95
17.99% - 25.24% Variable APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of the most heavily advertised credit cards on the market, but its wide popularity isn't just the product of hype. It offers a big sign-up bonus, a high ongoing rewards rate and extremely flexible redemption options. Simply put, you aren't going to find many travel credit cards better than this one.
» VIDEO: What we like about this card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Basics and benefits
Card type: Travel.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is designed for someone who wants a credit card that earns travel rewards — but who doesn't want to be tied to a specific airline or hotel brand. It's pretty simple:
You earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend.
Miles can be redeemed for statement credit against travel purchases. Miles are worth a penny apiece when redeemed for travel.
Say you want a plane ticket that costs $400. Just book the flight however you normally would and pay for it with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. When your statement comes, you would apply your accumulated miles toward the purchase: 40,000 miles would wipe out the cost entirely. If you didn't have enough miles to cover the whole amount of the ticket, you could redeem miles for part of the cost and pay cash for the rest.
An additional benefit is that because you're booking the flight the same way as if you were paying cash, you don't have to worry about blackout dates, seat restrictions or other limitations that are common to airline rewards programs plans.
Big sign-up bonus
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card gives you a head start on your next trip with its 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.
High rewards rate
Most airline-branded credit cards give you 1 mile per dollar spent on most purchases and double miles only on purchases with the airline itself. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card gives you double miles on everything. And its miles are worth the same 1 cent apiece as is standard within the airline industry.
Capital One's rewards program gives you two ways to redeem miles for travel:
Use the issuer's travel center to find deals on flights, hotels, rental cars or all-inclusive vacation packages, then pay for them upfront with your accumulated miles.
Book your travel elsewhere and use the Capital One Purchase Eraser to get a statement credit for the cost. There's no minimum amount to redeem for full or partial credit for an expense. 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 airline 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.
No foreign transaction fees
Credit cards often add a surcharge of around 3% to all purchases made in a foreign country. Good travel cards shouldn't charge this fee, and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card does not. (In fact, none of Capital One's cards do).
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Potential drawbacks
Even champions can't be perfect. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card lacks in a couple areas:
Poor cash-back option
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 planning on traveling in the near future and would like to make use of your rewards.
Difficult to "hack"
For sophisticated travelers who like to squeeze every last drop of value out of loyalty programs, the straightforward rewards of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card aren't conducive to "hacking." As of December 2018, you can transfer your miles to more than a dozen airline partners, but none of them are domestic carriers, and the exchange rate is fairly low — 2 Venture miles gets you 1.5 airline miles.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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 airlines United, Southwest and JetBlue as well as Mariott, Hyatt and IHG hotels. 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 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also offers a great sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The ongoing rewards rate is 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $95.
The card's annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95. An annual fee isn't uncommon for a top-tier travel rewards credit card, but it's still a consideration. A relatively low annual fee used to set this card apart; Capital One raised the fee in 2017 to bring it more in line with fees on similar cards. The fee is still waived in the first year, though. Use our calculator to see whether the rewards you'd earn with the card will cover the fee:
For a look at how your potential travel card options might stack up, check out NerdWallet’s best credit cards to apply for.
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 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 flexibility or if you travel internationally.
But depending on your needs, other travel credit cards may be a better choice. The Nerds recommend you explore all your options before applying.
Video: Words from our Nerds
on Capital One's website