This post is a continuation of a series where we’re evaluating the value of different travel rewards based programs.
Here’s a list of our previous analyses:
How do you earn points?
Like each of the other programs reviewed, you earn points primarily by spending money on the branded credit card. In this case, you earn points by spending money on the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card. Yes, this is the card that currently offers the 100,000 miles match. However, I personally think the billion miles will be gone for people who have not yet applied for the card.
The card does come with a 10,000 point sign up bonus. Like many similar programs, points are worth approximately one penny. Thus, all you need to do is take your total number of points and move the decimal place to the left two places and you have the dollar amount value of your points.
10,000 points is worth $100.
The annual fee is $59.00.
Benefits of the Capital One Venture Rewards Cards
2 Points Per Dollar Spent
Both of the above programs award one point per dollar spent. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card does have an annual 7% award bonus, but that can’t make up for the 2:1 difference offered by Capital One.
Essentially, it offers you a 2% return on every purchase.
No Foreign Currency Exchange Fees
The other programs we’ve reviewed so far all have foreign currency exchange fees. Capital One, however, does not. Depending on how much you spend overseas, this could be a serious consideration for you.
The average foreign currency fee is 3%. This means that on $1,000, you ‘save’ $30 in foreign currency fees while earning 2,000 points.
Bonus Earning Opportunities
If you book travel through the Capital One Earning section of the site, you can earn even more bonuses on your travels.
Here are some samples:
- Hotels.com – 6 bonus points per dollar
- Cambria Suites, Clarion, Comfort Inn, Westin, EconoLodge – 5 bonus points per dollar
- Priceline – 4 bonus points per dollar
- Enterprise Rent a car, Virgin Atlantic– 3 bonus points per dollar
- Expedia, Travelocity, – 2 bonus points per dollar
- Orbitz – 1 bonus point per dollar
Let’s say you were to book a $100 hotel through Priceline.
You’d earn the standard 200 points. Then you’d also earn 400 bonus points. Your total points earning would be 600 points, which represents a 6% cash back.
Here’s the full awards detail per the website:
Offers are subject to change. Miles are awarded within 30 days after the travel completion date. Miles are earned when using your Capital One® credit card for qualifying purchases made when linking from this Web site. Miles are earned based on the net price of eligible goods and services purchased, excluding tax, shipping and handling or any special services. Purchase of gift cards will not earn rewards. Rewards will not be earned on purchases made with third-party partners where the customer is leaving the Capital One Web site.
Here’s where I think Capital One differentiates itself from other reward programs.
You can redeem your rewards points in one of two ways.
1. You can use the Capital One booking portal. As we’ve seen with ThankYou Rewards and Ultimate Rewards, this doesn’t give you access to the best travel prices.
2. You can request a credit for travel related expenses on your credit card.
As you can see in the image below, I just signed into the rewards section and asked to request a travel credit. It lists my transactions, and I simply click on the transaction I want credited to my account.
Why is the travel credit such a HUGE benefit?
- You can book through the absolute cheapest venue. Want to book on Priceline or Hotwire? Go for it. Then later, request your travel credit and get your money back. You’re not limited to only eligible fares and rates.
- Want to travel by train or rent a car? No problem! You can use your rewards to cover that cost.
- You can even use these rewards in conjunction with Starwood Cash and Points. The cash is covered by Venture Rewards, and the points are covered by Starwood.
- You can still earn rewards on your travel. When you book a $250 flight using Venture Rewards, you’d use 25,000 points and you get flight miles credit. With miles you’d use 25,000 points and not get credit.
- Makes the 100% free vacation an option. Use your miles to book the flight and your Venture Rewards to cover taxes and fees. Viola! A free flight!
Overall Rating and Final Thoughts:
I have two reservations with this card. First, when you apply for this card you will have your credit score pulled from all three bureaus. Second, I hear a lot of negative feedback regarding Capital One. I’ve personally never had any problems (I had a card for 3 years and just recently signed up for the Venture Rewards card). But I can say that communication can be a little difficult when you call customer service.
Rating 3/5 (Business Traveler) to 4/5 (Cheap Traveler)
Cheap Traveler – You’d rather have $800 towards an economy seat to Europe and earn points.
Business Traveler – You’d rather have 80,000 points for a business class flight to Europe, and you’re happy to pay a few hundred dollars for the taxes and fees.
For cheap travelers, the Capital One Venture Rewards is a very appealing program. It gives you some good earning opportunities and allows you to use your points in the cheapest way possible.
For folks in this category, it’s going to be harder to find a better rewards program.