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Capital One Venture Credit Card Review

By Jason Steele

capital one venture rewards cardThere are typically two types of rewards credit cards: cash back credit cards and travel rewards cards. If you’re a jet-setter, a travel rewards card is probably most appealing; if you’re a homebody, cash back is the way to go.

But what if you want both? While the Capital One Venture Rewards Card is marketed as a travel rewards card, savvy users will find that it’s actually a very good cash back card as well – thus making it an impressive “combo” card.

How to Use Capital One Miles

Like an airline, Capital One uses the term “miles” to refer to their loyalty points. Nevertheless, these miles can be redeemed for one cent each as a statement credit towards any travel related expense. Cardmembers simply log on to their account, select the hotel, airfare, or rental car charge they wish to be reimbursed for, and Capital One will credit their account for the equivalent amount.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the Capital One Venture Rewards Card to see if it’s the right rewards card for you.

Key Features

  • Two “Miles” Per Dollar Spent. Though it’s marketed as a travel rewards card and you earn two “miles” for each dollar you spend, the miles aren’t just valid towards airfare as they are with other travel cards. Each mile is actually worth one cent and can easily be redeemed for any travel expense such as airline tickets, hotel stays, or car rentals – and you’re not limited to any specific companies or airlines. For example, if you have 20,000 miles earned, you can use those miles toward any $200 hotel stay, train ticket, or flight. In essence, the Venture Rewards card is a cash back card that delivers a remarkable 2% return on all expenses.
  • $59 Annual Fee. This is a modest fee compared to other credit cards, and it’s waived your first year. One way to look at it is that the fee will pay for itself after you spend $3,000.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Foreign transaction fees are a terrible rip off. Most credit cards charge between 1-3% on all transactions processed outside of the United States for no reason other than the fact that they can. While some other credit cards, like the American Express Platinum, have recently announced that they will be eliminating these fees, Capital One has never charged this on any of its cards in the first place.
  • 13.9% to 20.9% Variable APR. The interest rate you receive will vary based on your credit history. It will change further depending on the Prime Rate.

Advantages

  1. Outstanding Reward Rate. While some cards may offer higher cash back rewards on purchases during some periods, 2% cash back is the highest non-promotional rate offered by a credit card on all purchases. So long as you spend at least 2% of your charges on something that is travel-related, the miles granted are as good as cash.
  2. Earn Points and Miles on Awards. If you were to earn genuine airline miles that were redeemable for an award that was worth 2 cents per mile, you still would not earn miles on the award flight itself. Since this Capital One program issues their awards in the form of a statement credit, the airlines treat your award flights just like any other paid ticket. That means that you will earn miles, qualify for elite status, and can even be eligible for upgrades on your award tickets.
  3. Award Flexibility. Anyone who has ever tried to redeem an airline award seat knows that availability can be scarce at best, and non-existent in many cases. Capital One’s No Hassle award program is entirely independent of these restrictions, allowing you to book travel on any airline at any time.

Disadvantages

  1. You Must Claim Credits for Travel Expenses. It’s not difficult to claim credits on the Capital One website, but it is an additional step you have to go through. And if you rarely travel, it will be difficult to claim your rewards. They do offer other redemption opportunities for merchandise and gift cards, but they are usually not as good as cash back.
  2. High Interest Rates. Like all rewards credit cards, you can expect to pay a higher interest rate than you would on a card that does not offer any kind of miles or cash back. Rewards cards are only for people who intend to pay off their balance every month in full and on time. If you ever have to carry a balance, you should consider a non-rewards card with a very low interest rate such as the Promise Card from PenFed.
  3. No Opportunity for High Value Redemptions. People who travel using frequent flyer programs from airlines hope to redeem their points for international business and first class award seats that normally cost thousands. If successful, this strategy can represent a value of far more than the one or two cents in value per dollar spent on a rewards card.

Final Word

If you travel occasionally, and are looking to avoid the unregulated lottery that frequent flyer programs have become, then the Capital One Venture Rewards card may be the best travel rewards card out there. Offering 2% cash back on all purchases, this credit card is a win-win for those who pay off their balance every month and want to save money on vacations.

Do you carry the Capital One Venture Rewards Card? In your experience, how does it compare to other cash back and travel rewards cards?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Jason Steele
Jason has been writing about personal finance, travel, and other topics on blogs across the Internet. When he is not writing, he has a career in information technology and is also a commercially rated pilot. Jason lives in Colorado with his wife and young daughter where he enjoys parenting, cycling, and other extreme sports.

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  • Big J

    I’ve never had another rewards card prior to the Venture card, but I love having this card. What’s great about this card is that you can also redeem your “miles” for gift cards and get the same value as you would if you used it for travel. For example, 20,000 points (which takes spending $10,000, but it’s money you would spend anyway) can get you a $200 gift card for Target, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and many other places. That’s usually what we use it for – let the points build up and then use it toward something for the house.

  • Ira Fronk

    pls delete

  • http://elliscaulley.posterous.com/currency-exchange-calculator-an-efficient-too Elisha Kean

    I highly recommend this card because of its generous mileage rewards program. I also like Capital One cards because they give you all the information you need upfront, there is not a lot of important information buried in the fine print.

  • http://www.nextpay.com/prepaid_debitcard_solutions.php Online Master Card

    Hello Jason. This is a nice review. Though I’m deeply satisfied using American Express Blue Cash Preferred, I might give this a try. We can have multiple cards provided of course that we know how to manage them otherwise we will be buried alive.

    And because I love rewards, I do some unusual things to spike it up. Once in a while I offer my friends/relatives to arrange their trips. So I get their cash, charge the services to my credit card and get the rewards. It’s neat.

    Best regards,
    Belinda

  • J Lindsey Tape

    Do you have to be a bank customer (have an account at Capital One) to be approved for this card.

  • Michael

    I’m glad you addressed the fact that this is not actually a miles rewards card. You never get any airline miles, nor can you transfer the points from the card to any actual airline rewards programs. This is simply a cash rewards card misleading consumers by calling itself a miles rewards card. You can redeem points at 1 cent per “point”, with absolutely nothing to do with airline miles.

    To put this into perspective, I just looked up a one-way, international economy ticket from LAX to Tokyo. The cost through United is $980. Or you can book it using award travel for 32,500 United MilagePlus points. Now if you had the Chase Sapphire card (or any other actual miles rewards card), you could convert miles at 1:1 from the card’s reward program into United MileagePlus miles. That would require roughly $32,500 in purchases to earn the 32,500 points needed to book (actually less with the Sapphire card, since they give a 7% annual bonus and double points on dining and travel). But compare that to the Capital One Venture card. Since it’s not actually a miles rewards card, but a cash rewards card, you have to pay the actual cash cost of any airfare. For this same ticket with the Capital One Venture card, it would require $49,000 in purchases to get 2% back and a total of 980,000 points to cover the cash cost of the ticket. So in this example, you only need to spend 2/3 as much on your Chase Sapphire card compared to the Capital One Venture card to get the same airline ticket, even though you only get 1 point per dollar with the Sapphire card on most purchases. Why the difference? Because the Sapphire points are far more valuable when transferred to actual airline miles that you can redeem for award travel. It’s most pronounced on first class tickets, where you’d only need to spend about 1/3 as much on the Sapphire card.

    The take home messages is that the Capital One card is just a cash rewards card, although they go to great lengths to mislead the public into thinking its a “miles rewards card” that actually gives you airline miles. If what you actually want is cash back, then the Venture card is your best deal. If you want miles and airline travel, get a real miles rewards card.

  • Lee

    Capital One Venture Rewards. Yes I agree It does not give you miles it gives you two cent on a dollar, there are no miles at all, you can not redeem them, just try. They will then explain to you the truth. We fell for their ads and even though I asked several times on two different calls to confirm that I get two miles for one dollar. When I wanted them transferred my miles to an airline they said sorry the 19,000 miles you earned is really only 195.00 and as we all know 19,000 miles cost a lot more then that. And their customer service is just treats you like your an idiot.

  • Gordy

    I love this card. I have charged close to $40,000 on it annually for about the last two years and really enjoy the 2% “travel” cash back on my purchases, which is one of the best out there. As was mentioned by the author, you can only redeem the 2% back for travel purchases, but we go on a vacation or take a flight at least once a year and have been able to pretty consistently use the rewards without any issues. Note: You must have enough points to cover the full amount of the purchase though as it will not let you redeem a partial reward. The customer service for this card has always been the best. They pick up the phone immediately and are always very polite and helpful. In fact, one time I was trying to book a flight to Hawaii online and the charge would not go through for some reason. I called CapitalOne and they said that they would call the airline on my behalf and work everything out for me. I just had to give them the details first. Then they called me back about 30 minutes later via conference call with the airline after everything was ready just to have me verify the info and give the go ahead for the charge. Wow!

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