Capital One issues a travel rewards card called the Capital One Venture Card. It comes with a newly elevated 50,000 bonus points offer for spending $3,000 on your new card within three months of account opening.
The Capital One Venture Card earns a type of reward they call a mile, but there’s no outsized value to be found as they’re not like an airline mile you can redeem on award space. One Capital One mile = 1 cent towards travel expenses. That means you don’t want to open this card if your goal is to fly free in First Class.
Nevertheless, this card is worth consideration simply for the sign up bonus (a free $500).
Capital One Venture Card Quick Facts
- Sign Up Bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening.
- Value of Points: 1 cent each towards travel
- Category Bonus: 2x on every purchase
- Global Acceptance: Visa (so widely accepted), chip technology, and no foreign transaction fees.
- Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
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Sign Up Bonus
For spending $3,000 on the Premium Rewards Card within three months, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points. With the spending it takes to meet the minimum spending requirement, you’ll earn at least 6,000 points along with the 50,000 bonus points. That’s 56,000 points, worth one cent each, for a total return of $560.
Historically, this is the highest the sign up bonus has ever been. The standard offer is 40,000 miles.
How to Redeem Capital One Venture Miles
“Miles” are redeemed in the form of a statement credit on travel expenses for one cent each. This is convenient because you can book travel however you want. You aren’t confined to finding award space on flights or at hotels, just book the cheapest cash ticket or room you can find and then you redeem points retroactively for money back. You must redeem miles within 90 days of the purchase you wish to erase. You should see the statement credit hit within two to three days of redemption.
How does Capital One define Travel Expenses?
From Capital One’s terms: “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“.
Online travel agencies are included as well, like Expedia, Orbitz, etc.
You will earn a simple 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. This makes the card very similar to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, which also earns 2 “miles” (not really miles, are also worth 1 cent towards travel expenses) per dollar spent on all purchases.
There are many cards better for non-bonused spend if you’re into miles or point rewards that can be redeemed for outsized value (instead of credit card points pretending to be miles), like the…
- Starwood Preferred Guest Amex card that earns points most people value well over 2 cents each per dollar spent
- Blue Business Plus Amex that earns 2x Membership Rewards worth about 2 cents each for a total return of around 4 cents on the dollar
You will not be charged foreign transaction fees when using this card abroad or on purchases with foreign merchants. There is a $95 annual fee, but it is waived the first year.
The Deal with Capital One
We don’t write about cards issued by Capital One very often, so you may not be familiar with their practices and attitude toward credit card churners. Here’s a little background.
When you apply for a Capital One credit card, all three of your credit reports are pulled. This is not typical of a major issuer, but Capital One is known for doing it and gets hated on for it. Some say this makes it harder to get approved for their cards as they are able to see more hard credit pulls than the average bank. That being said, all banks can see the number of new accounts you’ve opened, which I assume matters more.
Capital One is also known for only accepting one application per person every six months, so if you’ve applied for another Capital One card recently, wait until six months has passed before applying the for the Venture card. Apparently you do not have to close an old Capital One card in order to be eligible for a repeat.
Should You Get This Card?
There’s always an opportunity cost to consider when you could be spending towards more a lucrative bonus, i.e. one that gives you a heap of airline miles or transferrable points you can book First Class with. But if you fall into one of the following categories, then this card is recommendable:
- Economy Flyers– If you mainly fly economy class, it’s hard to get even 1.5 cents of value per traditional mile. Most miles cards earn 1 mile per dollar, meaning they get economy flyers 1.5 cents of travel per dollar spent–if that!
- Families– Families have two things working against them. It’s tough to book four capacity-controlled award seats on the same flight, and they usually have little date flexibility since they want to travel over school breaks. The “miles” earned on the Capital One Venture Card don’t require you to find award seats. They can be redeemed toward any travel purchase. A family can book four tickets to Disneyland and use their miles from this card to make that flight–whatever flight they want–free.
- Points Omnivores- This is my category. I’ll collect any mile or point I can to get more travel. I collect other types to get into international premium cabins. I’ll collect this type to fly to more mundane places in economy class. A dollar saved is still a dollar saved.
For the first year of card membership, I see the Capital One Venture Card as a free $500. I do think getting this card and keeping it open a year is worth it for many people. You will profit a significant amount for only spending $3,000.
Looking Towards the Second Year
I don’t see this card as compelling enough to keep open past the first year. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is very similar to the Capital One Venture Card, providing essentially the same reward structure but with a slightly higher return (thanks to the 5% rebate of miles you receive every time you redeem Arrival miles), better benefits, and a lower annual fee. If you want a card like the Capital One Venture Card to hold longterm that will help you earn points to cover cheap cash flight, cheap hotels, and other travel incidentals, I’d open an Arrival Plus instead.