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Capital One—like American Express, Chase and Citi—issues credit cards that offer cash back or flexible currency rewards. 

Capital One’s flexible currency, alternately referred to as Venture Miles on consumer cards or Spark Miles on business cards, can be used in different ways, such as buying gift cards, erasing previous purchases, purchasing travel through Capital One Travel or transferring to partners. 

Let’s dive into Capital One’s flexible currency and ways to use it.

Capital One Venture Miles

For many people in the points and miles community, Capital One miles have become more relevant and valuable since Capital One launched the new ultra-premium Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Spark Travel Elite Business Card, added transfer partners, improved transfer ratios and expanded cardholders’ ability to combine rewards between Capital One credit cards.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

LEARN MORE 

What Is Flexible Currency?

Capital One miles are similar to American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points. They’re earned through several credit cards and offer multiple redemption options. The primary advantage of flexible currency is that it provides cardholders more choices about how they want to use their rewards.

How Do You Earn Capital One Miles?

The following Capital One credit cards earn Venture Miles through new card welcome offers and spending on the card:

The following business cards earn Spark Miles, but they can be used and are valued the same as Venture Miles:

Cashback rewards earned on other cards may be combined with and converted to miles. This capability exists for cards in the Quicksilver, Savor and Spark card families, and the process is discussed below.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

LEARN MORE 

What Can You Do with Venture Miles?

You can redeem Capital One miles in the following ways:

  • Get cash back.
  • Buy gift cards.
  • Apply to Amazon purchases.
  • Redeem through PayPal.
  • Purchase tickets to entertainment events.
  • Make travel purchases through Capital One Travel.
  • Reimburse travel purchases paid for with an eligible Capital One credit card.
  • Transfer to Capital One airline or hotel partners.

Capital One Travel

Capital One Travel is available to Capital One rewards credit card holders in the United States. You can pay for travel bookings through Capital One Travel with miles, your Capital One credit card or a combination of the two. 

The Capital One Travel portal generally works like other online travel agencies (OTA), such as Orbitz or Expedia. You can use the Capital One Travel portal to book flights, hotels and car rentals.

When Does Using the Travel Portal Make Sense?

People have different perspectives about whether booking travel through portals is beneficial, and many experienced travelers prefer booking directly with travel providers unless there’s a compelling reason to use an OTA. 

This position is reasonable, since there are potential complications and risks of using any third-party service instead of booking directly with the travel provider. Hotels often treat guests booked through a third-party travel agency less favorably, so there may be an increased chance of getting a bad room or no room at all if the hotel is oversold.

More generally, it may be more difficult to deal with changes or cancellations when booking through an OTA, since an intermediary is involved.

Let’s discuss some situations in which it may be beneficial (or necessary) to book through Capital One Travel.

Using the Venture X Travel Credit

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card includes an annual $300 statement credit, but this credit can be applied toward purchases made through Capital One Travel only. If you have the Venture X card, make sure to spend $300 through the portal each year (based on your card anniversary date) to get this credit.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

LEARN MORE 

Booking Flights

Many points and miles enthusiasts prefer booking flights, rather than hotels or rental cars, through travel portals. 

Flights generally are priced the same (or close) regardless of booking channel, and the same benefits are provided. As long as your airline loyalty account information is included in the reservation, booking flights through a travel portal provides the same mileage earning and elite benefits as booking directly with the airline.

As discussed below, Capital One Travel also has some features built into its airline search tool that may help you save money on airline tickets.

Booking Hotels

There are two distinct disadvantages associated with making hotel bookings at chain properties with loyalty programs, such as Hilton, IHG and Marriott, through travel portals.

First, hotel portal bookings rarely earn points, and loyalty program members usually don’t get elite benefits that they would get by booking directly with the hotel. Second, travel portals typically don’t allow people to book special rates, such as AAA rates or corporate rates, that might be less expensive than standard rates.

For the reasons above, we recommend booking hotels through the travel portal only when prices are lower, you want to use a Venture X travel credit and when one or more of the following conditions apply:

  • You wouldn’t lose meaningful elite benefits (for example, the hotel is an independent hotel or is part of a chain where elite status or benefits don’t matter).
  • The hotel doesn’t have a convenient booking channel.
  • There are no special rates that would be advantageous.

Maximizing Rewards Earnings

In situations where costs are similar whether booking direct or through the travel portal and forgoing elite benefits isn’t an issue, an advantage of booking through Capital One Travel is that it’s a bonus category for eligible Capital One credit credits. 

This allows you to earn significantly more rewards in certain travel categories. For purchases through Capital One Travel, you’ll earn:

  • 10X miles on hotel and rental car bookings and 5X miles on flights with the Venture X card
  • 5X miles or 5% cash back on hotel and rental car bookings with all other Capital One cards (including Spark and Quicksilver cards, Venture and VentureOne) 

While earning extra points is great, you should always consider the trade-offs associated with booking through an OTA, as noted above. 

How to Use the Capital One Travel Portal

Access options vary depending on the types of Capital One account(s) you have and what you want to do, but this link to Capital One Travel is the most direct method for accessing the portal to book flights, hotels and rental cars. 

To begin, use your Capital One account credentials to log in on the initial screen.

Note that the “Book a Trip” option from the main Capital One rewards miles home page also provides access to the travel portal.

When redeeming Venture Miles through Capital One Travel, the number of miles required is determined by multiplying the cash price by 100. That means a flight costing $300.75 requires 30,075 miles.

Capital One Travel offers price matching within 24 hours of booking a flight, hotel or rental car. If you find a lower price on another site, you can get a refund for the difference by calling 844-422-6922 to submit a price match claim with the customer support team.

The first screen displayed after logging into Capital One Travel is the Hotels search page. To search for flights or car rentals, click the link for these choices near the top of the screen. 

Flights

The Capital One Travel portal uses Hopper technology for flight searches, and it has some interesting features, including price prediction, price watch and price drop protection. 

As described under Capital One Travel’s questions about finding the best prices, Capital One Travel provides free price drop protection if you purchase a flight when recommended. After purchasing the flight, Capital One Travel continues to monitor the price, and if the price goes down, you get a refund for all or part of the price difference.

In addition, Capital One Travel offers fee-based options to allow customers to freeze the price of a flight for a limited time before purchase or cancel for any reason. With the latter protection, the purchaser receives a partial refund (typically 70% to 90% of the ticket price) if they cancel the flight.

The flight search screen is displayed below. One option that isn’t available is a multi-city search function.

In the example below, the search is for a flight about three months from the search date. When selecting dates, the calendar view shows which dates have higher or lower prices.

The search results are provided below.

Capital One Travel categorizes the fare above as a “good” price for selected travel dates of Oct. 12 to Oct. 19 and recommends booking now. As noted above, Capital One Travel offers price drop protection, price watch and price freeze options.

The search tool also provides filtering and sorting capabilities. In the example below, we selected “Standard” to exclude basic economy fares and selected a different return flight to use the same airport in the Washington area for both flights.

Hotels

The following is a sample search for a hotel in San Diego.

Like in other hotel search engines, the results can be filtered and sorted to narrow down options. For example, the default sort of “Recommended” can be changed to price or star rating. Results can also be filtered by rating, price (user defined range) and other features.

Under “More filters,” the following options are available.

Car Rentals

On the search screen for car rentals, you enter the basic information including pickup and drop-off location and rental dates and times.

The search results screen allows further refinement of options by filtering the car type (small, medium or large), price, company, specifications (air conditioning, automatic transmission and unlimited mileage options) and cancellation policy.

Renting cars through Capital One Travel has similar limitations as discussed above for hotel bookings. In particular, booking through the portal limits access to special rates, and you may not receive car rental loyalty program elite benefits.

Other Uses for Capital One Venture Miles

To manage or use miles (for everything besides booking flights, hotels or cars through Capital One Travel), log into your Capital One online account and click the button for “View Rewards” in the tile labeled “Explore Rewards & Benefits.” Then, select the desired credit card account when prompted and click on “View Account.”

On the rewards home screen, scroll down to see the different options for using Capital One miles and select the desired option. The options available and their order may be different depending on which credit cards you have. 

The example below, with nine choices, is for a Venture X credit card. “Book a Trip” is the functionality discussed above for booking through Capital One Travel.

Convert Rewards

This is the mechanism for transferring miles to a partner airline or hotel program. 

As of June 2022, Capital One partners with 15 airline and three hotel loyalty programs. For most partners, 1 Venture Mile converts to 1 loyalty program mile or point. The minimum transfer amount for all programs is 1,000 Venture Miles.

For details on transferring Capital One miles to partners, click here.

Loyalty ProgramTransfer Ratio
Accor Live Limitless2:1
Aeroméxico Club Premier1:1
Air Canada Aeroplan1:1
Air France-KLM Flying Blue1:1
Avianca LifeMiles1:1
British Airways Executive Club1:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1:1
Choice Privileges1:1
Emirates Skywards1:1
Etihad Guest1:1
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands4:3
Finnair Plus1:1
Qantas Frequent Flyer1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1:1
TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go1:1
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles1:1
Virgin Red1:1
Wyndham Rewards1:1

Cover Travel Purchases

Selecting this option brings up a list of eligible travel purchases paid for with your credit card, and the website indicates how many miles are required to reimburse the charge. 

Purchase eligibility is based on the merchant category code for each transaction. Capital One notes that purchases from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and time shares generally are considered to be travel purchases. 

The rate for erasing purchases is 1 Venture Mile for 1 cent of charges, so a $100 charge would require 10,000 miles to reimburse the charge fully. Purchases made up to 90 days ago can be covered using Capital One miles. 

Follow the steps to reimburse a travel charge:

  • Select the purchase you want to reimburse.
  • Confirm or change the number of rewards miles to apply (redemptions for a portion of a purchase amount are allowed).
  • Click the “Continue” button.

The corresponding number of miles will be deducted, and the reimbursed charge amount will be credited to your account. Capital One notes that account credits usually are applied to your balance within two to three business days.

Redeem for Experiences

This option takes you to the Capital One Entertainment site, and you can search for Cardholder Exclusives and other events in the following categories: Sports, Music and Comedy & Theater. Hovering over the different categories shows more details about the available options.

Once you select an event, you can see ticket prices, listed in both cash and miles. In the example below, the redemption value is 0.8 cent per mile, so we would recommend paying with cash. Rewards earned with cashback cards can be redeemed for 1 cent apiece.

Get Gift Cards

Clicking this box presents a screen where you can select and purchase a variety of merchant gift cards. Redemption value varies, depending on the credit card account used and the specific gift card. 

For example, purchasing Amazon gift cards as a Venture X cardholder requires 100 miles per 80 cents of Amazon gift card value. In other words, a $25 Amazon gift card requires 3,125 miles, which is a poor use of rewards. 

Other gift cards can be purchased at a higher redemption value of $1 per 100 miles. For example, a $25 Applebee’s gift card requires 2,500 miles. For individuals purchasing gift cards with rewards from a cashback card, redemption rates for Amazon gift cards are reported to be 1:1, as in 2,500 rewards miles for a $25 gift card.

Redeem for Cash

This option allows you to redeem miles for cash back (either as a statement credit or a check) but at a poor redemption value. With the Venture X card, redeeming 1,000 Venture Miles yields only $5, which is half the value of redeeming miles for travel or certain gift cards.

Redeem with PayPal

The redemption value when redeeming Capital One rewards with PayPal also varies depending on the type of card used. Cashback cardholders receive better redemption value than travel rewards cardholders:

  • Cashback cards require 100 miles for every $1 of the PayPal purchase price (redemption value of 1 cent per mile).
  • Credit cards that earn Capital One miles require 125 miles for every $1 of the PayPal purchase price (redemption value of 0.8 cent per mile, which is a poor value).

Shop with Amazon

Using Capital One rewards to shop at Amazon requires linking your credit card on Amazon’s website and enabling shopping with points. The redemption value varies for cash back credit cards (1 cent per mile) and travel rewards cards (0.8 cent per mile), similar to PayPal and Amazon gift card redemption values.

Move Rewards

Capital One allows an individual who has card(s) that earn cash rewards and card(s) that earn miles to combine rewards. You can convert cash rewards to miles at a 1:1 ratio, where $1 in cash rewards becomes 100 miles, by selecting “Move Rewards.” It’s not possible to convert miles to cash rewards.

It’s been widely reported on points and miles sites that Capital One allows people with separate credit card accounts to combine rewards. The ability to share rewards between two different cardholders’ accounts isn’t formally documented and must be initiated by calling Capital One. 

Final Thoughts

Capital One’s flexible currency has become a valuable alternative for many people in the credit card rewards hobby. 

In some cases, using Capital One Travel to book flights, hotels or car rentals makes sense and provides good value, but this depends on each person’s situation. 

Transferring Capital One miles to partners or using them to reimburse travel purchases paid for with your credit card may be a better option for some scenarios. It’s also important to consider the differences in earning rates, redemption rates and redemption options among different Capital One credit cards.

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