Travel rewards credit cards are a unique sort of card and one of the most oft-misunderstood.
Unlike cash back rewards cards, which are relatively self-explanatory, travel rewards take on a number of different forms.
Entire classes have been created around learning how to utilize them most efficiently, how to redeem them, and exactly what expenses can be covered with travel rewards.
"Travel hackers" are people who dedicate themselves to exploiting loopholes in reward policies, sign-up bonuses, and any other potential avenue in order to win thousands of free miles.
This article focuses solely on Capital One's travel rewards cards and what you need to know about them.
Capital One has two consumer-level travel rewards cards: the Venture and the VentureOne.
There are travel rewards cards for business, but they are far less commonly used than the personal cards.
While both cards require the same level of credit to qualify, their rewards, annual fees, and other specifics vary significantly.
The Capital One Venture card is, simply put, one of the best travel rewards cards available.
Cardholders earn double miles on every purchase, as well as a one-time 40,000-mile bonus if they spend more than $3,000 within the first three months.
The Venture also has a one-year introductory period with no annual fee, but the fee rises to $59 per year after the first year.
The Venture has a competitive APR that ranges from 13.49% to 23.49% depending on your credit score and other financial factors.
The transfer rate has the same APR, but there are no fees for a balance transfer.
The VentureOne is similar to the Venture in many ways, but offers a lower per-dollar reward amount and bonus offer.
The VentureOne offers unlimited miles at a rate of 1.25 per dollar spent.
If you spend $1,000 within the first three months, you receive a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles.
If you're judging these cards based strictly on travel rewards, the Venture is the better choice of the two.
However, the VentureOne excels in other areas.
It has an intro APR of 0% for the first year, then a variable APR of 12.49% to 22.49% after that.
The balance transfer rate is the same as the variable APR, but there is no transfer fee.
Another way the VentureOne sets itself apart is in the lack of an annual fee; while the Venture spares cardholders of a fee for the first year, the VentureOne never charges an annual fee.
How do travel rewards differ from other types of rewards?
One thing to keep in mind is that the Capital One travel rewards cards give miles rather than points.
Travel rewards are self-explanatory; they're designed with frequent travelers in mind, but many people misunderstand how they work.
Point-based rewards cards can often be exchanged for other things than tickets; for example, some rewards cards give points that can be used for either miles or hotel stays.
Rewards are usually limited based on their type, but the Venture and VentureOne cards set themselves apart.
You have two choices for mile redemption.
Capital One provides a platform for finding everything from flights to rental cars and even all-inclusive vacation packages.
Even though the cards yield miles rather than points, the rewards act like points and can be redeemed for things other than flights.
The other option Capital One provides is to book your travel through another agency, and then use their proprietary Purchase Eraser to get statement credit.
This means that if you spend $200 on travel, you can use the Purchase Eraser for a $200 credit on your next credit card statement—provided you have the necessary miles, of course.
What are the benefits of a Capital One travel rewards card?
What sets Capital One apart from any other company is the sheer amount of benefits a cardholder receives.
All Capital One cards, travel or otherwise, come with the following benefits.
With online banking, mobile apps for both smartphones and tablets, 24/7 customer service, and customizable alerts, you can find out what's happening with your account at any time of day with next to no effort.
Capital One provides fraud coverage to all of its customers, and the real-time alerts let you know whenever something out of the ordinary happens.
Capital One also has a $0 Fraud Liability policy, which means you aren't liable for any charges that happen if your card is lost or stolen.
For frequent travelers, this benefit can't be overstated.
Customizable security alerts as well as 24/7 account monitoring round out the package, giving a peace of mind not often found in a credit card.
Not everyone works on a standard nine-to-five schedule; self-employed individuals, for instance, might not get paid at the same time as everyone else.
That's fine. Capital One allows you to choose your own due date for your payment each month, as well as the method by which you make that payment—online, at a local branch, or by check.
If that's too much hassle, you can set your account to Autopay and stop worrying.
How many times do businesses offer extended warranties on products for an extra cost?
Capital One provides this automatically to cardholders if you use your Capital One card to make the purchase.
The Venture and VentureOne provide even better benefits in the form of Visa Signature Benefits.
Owning a Visa Signature card opens the door to complimentary upgrades and special discounts at some hotels, resorts, and spas if you pay using your Venture card.
Complimentary concierge service
If you're in a new city and looking to find the best sushi joint around, never fear; just give a call to Visa Signature Concierge and find the answer to your questions, any day of the year, 24 hours per day.
Special discounts are available at specific retailers and online merchants if you purchase with the Venture card.
Auto rental insurance
Renting a car is convenient, but something happening to that rental can be a nightmare of paperwork and liability. If you rent with the Venture card, you receive coverage for damage or theft at no additional cost.
Emergency card replacement
If you've ever lost your credit card while traveling (or had it locked), you know just how problematic that can be.
Not only are you unable to pay for anything, but you lose access to all the additional benefits that come with owning a Venture card.
Capital One will issue an emergency replacement as well as a cash advance to cover you until you receive the card.
How do they compare to competitors?
While the Venture and VentureOne cards are great options, they aren't without their faults.
The rewards structure is a bit misleading.
While you receive double miles with your purchase, they aren't 'traditional' miles.
Capital One's travel rewards are like cash back cards that can be redeemed for miles, but not at the same rate as competitors.
Capital One's rate is roughly $0.01 per mile.
American Airline's AAdvantage redeems at $0.015 per mile.
JetBlue's TrueBlue redeems at $0.013 per mile.
Competitors also offer similar redemption rates.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives 2x points on dining and travel, while the Citi ThankYou Premier gives 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining and entertainment.
This isn't to say the Venture is a poor choice; while it isn't the best option for pure miles, people with certain spending habits would benefit more from a card that yields high rewards with a bit more flexibility.
What are the rates?
The Venture has an APR of 13.49%, 18.49$, or 23.49% based on your credit score.
If you take out a cash advance, the Venture has a set APR of 23.49%.
There is no annual fee for the first year, but after that first year the annual fee becomes $59.
Cash advance fees are $10 or 3% of the total advance amount, whichever is greater.
If you happen to miss a payment, Capital One charges a $35 late fee.
The Capital One website says of their rates, "The daily periodic rate for your Purchase APR is 0.03696%, 0.05066% or 0.06436%, Transfer APR is 0.03696%, 0.05066% or 0.06436%, and Cash Advance APR is 0.06436%."
The VentureOne, on the other hand, has a 12-month introductory APR of 0%.
The APR then becomes 12.49%, 17.49%, or 22.49% depending on your credit score—slightly lower than the Venture.
These rates are the same for balance transfers, but the cash advance rate remains 23.49%.
The Venture One's rates vary slightly from the Venture's: "The daily periodic rate for your Introductory Purchase APR is 0.00000%, Non-Introductory Purchase APR is 0.03422%, 0.04792% or 0.06162%, Transfer APR is 0.03422%, 0.04792% or 0.06162%, and Cash Advance APR is 0.06436%"
The minimum payment for both cards is calculated the same way.
It will either be $25 or 1% of your balance due, whichever is greater.
Any late fees, interest, and past due amounts will also be added to the minimum payment amount.
What is the minimum credit score I should have before applying?
The Venture and the VentureOne both require excellent credit in order to qualify.
Excellent credit is a score of 750 or higher, although some classifications list 720 as the starting number for the "excellent" range.
If your credit isn't quite there, you can still apply.
Based on other factors, you might still qualify for the card.
Remember that every application for a credit card is a mark on your credit history, and too many rejected applications can impact your ability to qualify for future cards.
What do other customers have to say about these cards?
Customer feedback is one of the most valuable tools for deciding if a card is right for you.
We've listed one positive and one negative review for each of the cards to give you a brief glimpse at what others have to say.
"I have had my Capital One Venture Card for 3 years. It's probably been the best experience I have ever had with a credit card company. Due to the double points and accessible travel interface (powered by Orbitz - my favorite travel booking site), I have received 4 domestic flights and have been able to take my family on multiple vacations. Additionally, their fraud alert services are top notch. The texting feature to alert the customer of fraud with an easy "decline" text is very efficient to stop illegal use of my credit card. Lastly, the yearly report that categorizes and itemizes your expenses so you can see what you are spending annually is perfect is you are trying to stay on a budget and evaluate spending. I'm really happy I switched to the Capital One Venture Card."
-- Traveling Texan, 5 out of 5 stars
"I had a disappointing experience dealing with capital one customer service. I was denied boarding on a flight (the flight was overbooked) and capital one did nothing to help me get on another flight, despite the fact that I booked the flight through capital one. After making this complaint, capital one offered me 500 miles, which I deemed unacceptable. Capital one eventually told me they could offer 5000 miles for the issue, but I have yet to see that added to my account. I wish I hadn't applied for this card in the first place. I would like to cancel the card, but I know it will affect my credit score."
-- DeeEeeGee123, 2 out of 5 stars
"I love the features on this card, the points for traveling is an added bonus. Most cards of this caliber charge an annual fee and most people do not realize how underrated the no foreign transaction fee feature is. Great card overall."
-- Deemer, 5 out of 5 stars
"My Venture One card requires too many points for cash back or any other perks. I like my Capital One Quicksilver MasterCard better because you can get cash back on your statement as you make charges to your card -- no minimum to be able to redeem. Yes, the annual fee is a downer. But hopefully, you can earn the fee back with cash back on charges to this card -- wish I could transfer over charges from my Venture One card to my Quicksilver card to take advantage of the easy cash back feature."
-- YesandNo, 2 out of 5 stars
The Venture has 4.5 out of 5 stars after 8,441 reviews, while the VentureOne has 4.5 out of 5 stars after 5,174 reviews. Both cards are highly rated overall.
How to redeem rewards?
Capital One designed the Venture and VentureOne cards with simplicity in mind, so that simplicity naturally extends to reward redemption.
You have two main options.
The Purchase Eraser may sound a bit grandiose, but the title gives a pretty clear description of what it does.
To use this, go into your statement history and select any travel purchase from the last 90 days. It can be anything as long as the expense code is "travel."
You receive $0.01 per mile, and aren't required to cover the entire cost of the purchase.
For example, if you wanted to pay for $50 of a $100 hotel stay, you would need to spend 5,000 miles.
However, the minimum amount you can spend for a partial purchase is 2,500 miles.
The other way to redeem rewards is through Orbitz, the official travel partner of Capital One.
You would click on the "Book a Trip" portion of the website and use your miles (at the same rate of $0.01 per mile) for a hotel, flight, or vacation package.
The downside to this is that you can't do partial purchases, so you need enough miles to cover the full expense.
There are a few other ways to redeem rewards, but we warn against them.
Gift cards, non-travel credit statements, cash, and other redemption methods value your miles at only a half-cent each, rather than one cent each.
Are there travel restrictions?
While most rewards cards have blackout dates during which rewards can't be redeemed, one of the primary marketing points for the Venture and VentureOne cards is that there are no blackout dates.
That's a major bonus for any travel rewards card.
How can you use travel rewards?
The best use for your Capital One miles is through travel rewards, when their 2x value remains in place.
However, you can make charitable donations, receive gift cards, redeem your miles for non-travel credit statements, and even get cash back.
Capital One is near the front of the pack for travel rewards cards.
The double miles, lack of blackout dates, and the numerous benefits for travelers that come with the card make it a solid choice for any frequent traveler.
If the Venture's fees and requirements are too high, the VentureOne offers similar benefits with less expense.
More About Capital One Cards