Why the Capital One Venture Card Is a Great First Travel Rewards Card

Why the Capital One Venture Card Is a Great First Travel Rewards Card

BY Shep McAllister ON

Chase's Ultimate Rewards and American Express's Membership Rewards transferrable rewards points ecosystems get all the attention, but the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card boasts an impressive list of transfer partners of its own, while remaining a dead-simple card to grasp. If you've been intimidated by travel rewards cards in the past, the Venture card might just be the one that you should add to your wallet.

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The Basics

The Venture Card carries a reasonable $95 annual fee, just like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. And better still, that fee is waived in the first year for new cardmembers.

If you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months after signing up for the card, you'll also get a 50,000 mile welcome bonus, worth at least $500 in travel, or possibly more if you play your cards right.

Earning miles is dead simple: you get two of them for every dollar you spend with the card. There are no bonus categories, and no worrying about whether you're using the right card for a given merchant. One the one hand, that means you won't get any of the 3x or even 5x bonuses that you can get with some other premium travel rewards cards. But on the other, it means less stress.

The Points

Capital One Venture Miles can be used two different ways, at two different valuations.

  1. Purchase Eraser: Just book travel with your card however you'd like, and you'll be able to go into your card statement to "erase" travel purchases at will with your miles. The value of each mile when you use this feature is fixed at $.01 each, and if you don't have enough miles to completely erase a purchase, you can also apply miles to just a portion of the purchase as well.
  2. Transfer Partners: Like Chase and American Express's flagship travel rewards cards, the Capital One Venture card lets you transfer miles to the following airline and hotel programs, usually at a 2:1.5 ratio (i.e. 2 Venture Miles = 1.5 airline or hotel points), unless otherwise noted:

Airline Partners:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada
  • Air France, KLM
  • Alitalia
  • Avianca
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Emirates (2:1)
  • Etihad Airways
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines (2:1)

Hotel Partners:

  • Accor Hotels (2:1)
  • Wyndham Rewards

Some of these partners, like Finnair, are unique to Capital One. Most though are also available for transfers from Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards, making the Venture card a great way to supplement your earnings. However, since the transfer ratios aren't 1:1, you'll lose a bit of value when you convert your miles.

If you find any sweet spot redemptions, transferring is how you'll wring the most value out of your miles. But there's simply no easier way to turn miles into travel than Capital One's Purchase Eraser, even if it's not always the most valuable redemption option. All told, The Points Guy values Venture Miles at 1.4 cents each, which is lower than Chase and American Express's alternatives, but still perfectly respectable.

The Perks

Compared to hotel and airline-branded credit cards, the Venture card might seem a little short on perks. But like the competing Chase Sapphire Preferred or American Express® Green Card, its biggest perk is the flexibility of its miles. That said, you'll still find a few gems that you won't get with many $95/year credit cards.

TSA Precheck Global Entry Credit

Every four years, you'll receive a credit of up to $100 towards your TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee, if you charge it to the Venture card. Lots of cards offer this perk, but not many of them have annual fees under $100, and fewer still waive that fee in the first year.

Open Table Premium Access

Your Venture card will get you access to hard-to-book tables at over 200 Premium Access restaurants worldwide through the Open Table app.

Capital One Eno

Capital One's virtual assistant can intelligently alert you to suspicious or unusual purchases: particularly large restaurant tips, back-to-back identical charges, or unusually high recurring bills, just for starters.

Eno can even provide you with a unique card number specific to every website you shop at, meaning if the site gets hacked and your saved credit card number gets stolen, the hackers won't be able to use it.

Why Apply?

Capital One's Venture Card is squarely positioned as a competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Amex Green. And while it's arguably not as rewarding as either, there's no doubt it's simpler to use and understand.

Its combination of 2x miles on every purchase and the easy-to-use Purchase Eraser feature make the card a terrific entry point for travel rewards beginners, but it still offers the freedom to spread your wings and find lucrative redemptions with 17 different travel partners. It's probably not the best travel credit card, but it's one that you can grow into.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Photo: The Points Guy

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