The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is often shamed and overlooked for other travel cards offered by Chase, Citi, and American Express, but that shouldn’t be the case. The truth is that the Venture card is actually a great option for many people and it can help lower your traveling costs to about as close to zero as they can reasonably get. Here’s a review of the Capital One Venture card and some insight into how to maximize its use.
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How do the “miles” work?
Unlike Chase, Citi, and Amex cards, where you earn points that are transferred to frequent flyer or hotel rewards programs, the Capital One Venture works a lot differently. For this card, you earn “miles” (which are really just points) through spending at a rate of 2 miles/per dollar spent. So if you spend $3,000 you earn 6,000 miles.
These miles can then be redeemed at one cent per mile after you make a qualifying travel purchase. So for example, let’s say you booked a hotel for a total of $400. You would then log in to your online account after the charge posts in order to use the Capital One “Purchase Eraser” feature. You’d then select to have your miles credited to your account for that $400 hotel stay and if you had at least 40,000 miles, the statement credit would be applied to your account within 2 to 3 business days, cancelling out your hotel expense.
This method of redeeming is perfect for individuals who don’t like to deal with the hassle (or perceived complexity) of transferring points to loyalty programs. With this type of card, you simply make a travel purchase (without any regard for availability restrictions) and redeem your points. It’s very simple.
You have to redeem your statement credit within 90 days from the date of purchase. That doesn’t mean that your miles expire, just that you won’t be able to get reimbursed for a charge if you wait longer than 90 days from the date that it posts to your account.
A lot of people don’t know this but you can actually call and request an extension for up to 6 months on this time restriction. Of course, it’s always better to play it safe and redeem within 90 days, but at least there’s an option for you in case you find yourself in a bind.
No minimum redemption amount!
One of the best perks of the Capital One Venture card is that there is no minimum requirement for redemptions. This is a huge benefit because it allows you to use this card to cover random travel expenses you will incur as you travel, such as parking, taxis, busses, etc. If you’re truly trying to travel for free, the Capital One Venture is one of the best cards to supplement your other “heavy hitter” travel credit cards with.
If you want to make partial redemptions for expenses the minimum requirement is $25 (or 2,500 points). For example, if you wanted to redeem points to cover part of the cost of a hotel stay, you’d have to be redeeming at least 2,500 points. This minimum requirement is still extremely reasonable considering the minimum redemption requirement for cards like the Arrival Plus.
Redeeming miles for the same purchase
Some people have had success with redeeming miles for the same purchase over and over again. So if you have 30,000 miles and one $100 purchase, you could theoretically redeem against that purchase three times and basically earn a $200 statement credit that would apply to any purchase. I haven’t personally tested this out, so I don’t know if this “glitch” still remains live.
One thing that I know you can do is redeem in segments on the same purchase. So for example, let’s say you were redeeming your miles for a $300 hotel stay. You could redeem 20,000 miles for that purchase one day and then a month later redeem an additional 10,000 miles for the remaining $100 for that purchase.
Booking travel with miles
You can also book air fare, hotels, and car rentals with your miles. The value works out to the same at 1 cent per point but you’ll just need to do research to make sure that whatever you’re booking is a good deal.
What constitutes “travel” for the Capital One Venture?
Just like some other cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Citi Thankyou Premier, the travel category for the Capital One Venture is quite broad.
Here are the terms taken straight from Capital One’s website:
Purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and time shares are generally considered to be travel purchases and availability for redemption is based on the merchant category code assigned to them by the merchant.
It all comes down to how the merchant codes the purchase. You can pretty much always expect purchases on things like airlines, hotels, and rail lines to properly code as travel but things get a little bit muddled when you try to redeem on things like campground purchases, so sometimes you might have to do a little bit of research to see how a merchant codes a purchase.
Redeeming for non-travel items
You can also redeem your miles for cash in the form of a check or account credit, gift cards and more. The redemption rate remains at 1 cent per point for gift cards and charitable redemptions but if you’re trying to redeem for a check or statement credit, it drops down to .5 cents per point (not worth it in my opinion).
- The current sign-up bonus is for 40,000 miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months.
That means that once you hit the minimum spend you’ll have earned 46,000 miles. Since these miles are redeemed at 1 cent per point for travel that means you’ll earn the equivalent of $460 worth of statement credit that can be applied against your travel purchases.
Bonus earning potential
The Capital One Venture card doesn’t earn extra points for special categories like dining but it does earn 2X miles on every single purchase.
Capital One usually pulls Transunion
One of the drawbacks to this card is that Capital One will often pull from all 3 credit bureaus, which is not so great for those who are already pretty deep into the game with lots of inquiries. To help mitigate the damage, you can always freeze one of your credit bureaus. I know of at least of a couple of people who have frozen their Experian report for about $11 (and another $11 to unfreeze it) and still got instantly approved for their card. It takes about 1 minute to freeze your report and if you’re adverse to getting hit with more inquiries, it’s at least something to think about.
The Venture comes with a number of nice (although pretty standard) travel benefits.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Fraud coverage
- Security alerts
- Travel upgrades and savings
- 24 hour concierge service
Since this is a Visa Signature card, it also comes with all of the Visa Signature benefits, some of which include:
- Purchase protection
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Auto rental insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Roadside dispatch
- $59, waived the first year
This means that you would need to earn at least 5,900 points to cover the annual fee (with travel reimbursements). That comes out to $2,950 of spending to break even with this card which isn’t bad but if you’re thinking about long-term earnings, you should consider the opportunity cost.
Just to break even on this card you’d potentially be forgoing hitting a $3,000 spend requirement on a different card that that would provide you with much more value. Also, if you’re interested in business class or first class award redemptions, you’re going to have to spend much, much more on your Capital One Venture card than on a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred to earn anywhere near the miles needed for those redemptions.
Overall, the Capital One Venture card is a great for two subsets of travelers. The first are those travelers who don’t like the hassle of transferring points and dealing with award availability and redemptions. Although I think the hassle is definitely worth the trouble, not everyone feels that way and for those people, a card like the Venture will be helpful.
The second subset of travelers that will benefit from this card are those looking to cover random travel expenses that otherwise couldn’t be covered with other types of credit cards. However, beyond utilizing the $460 earned from obtaining the sign-up bonus, I don’t think this is a card that you would want to hold on to in the long-term and you’d probably want to eventually consider downgrading it to a no-annual fee credit card.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.