Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Review: Is It the Best Travel Rewards Card for You?
The Capital One Venture Rewards card is a travel rewards card that has a robust 50,000-mile sign-up bonus as well as a 2x rewards rate on all purchases that can earn you 60,000 miles per year.
What makes the card such a powerful tool for travelers is that it gives you the option to redeem the miles for travel purchases or transfer them to 15 different airline frequent flyer programs.
In this review, we’ll give you our analysis of how the card’s rewards work, what its rates and fees are, how it compares to other cards and what we think the Venture’s strengths and weaknesses are. We’ll also tell you who we think this card is good for.
As we mentioned a few seconds ago, there are two ways to earn rewards with this card. First, you can get 50,000 miles via a sign-up bonus.
The requirements to earn this bonus are simple. You have to spend $3,000 in the first three months you own the card, starting on the date Capital One approves your application.
If you can hit that threshold, Capital One will deposit 50,000 miles to your rewards balance with around 60 days. You can check your balance by logging into your Capital One account.
This sign-up bonus is about average among travel cards, which is something we’ll talk about in the comparison section later in this review.
The second way to earn rewards is through everyday spending. Each time you make a purchase with your Capital One Venture card, you’ll earn two miles for every dollar you spend.
Capital One allows you to use these miles to cancel out travel purchases you make with your Venture card or transfer them to 15 airline frequent flyer programs.
If you choose to redeem them for travel purchases, you’ll simply go to your online account and select the travel purchases you want to cancel out with your miles. If you have a $100 airline charge, Capital One will apply to your card a $100 credit. A $100 credit requires 10,000 miles.
The following is a list of some purchases—but not all—Capital One considers “travel”:
- Rail lines
- Car rentals
- Limo services
- Travel agents
One important thing to note is that you can only cancel out travel purchases you’ve made in the past 90 days.
The second way that you can redeem your miles is to transfer them to one of 15 frequent flyer programs. Fourteen of those airlines are international and one, JetBlue, is domestic. A few of the notable airlines are:
- Singapore Airlines
- Air France/KLM
These miles transfers aren’t 1:1, though. Thirteen of the transfer partners do a 2:1.5 redemption rate, while Etihad and Singapore Airlines do a 2:1 transfer rate. So, if you transfer 20,000 Capital One miles to JetBlue (2:1.5), you’ll get 15,000 Jet Blue miles. If you transfer 20,000 to Singapore Airlines(2:1), you’ll get 10,000 frequent flyer miles.
This is a lower transfer rate than what you’d get with the miles you earn with Chase, which does 1:1 point transfers with most of their travel partners.
One last reward of owning this card is that Capital One will reimburse you for the application fee you pay for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck programs. These programs allow you, pending security clearance, to enjoy expedited security check-in when you fly.
Their application fees are $100 and $85, respectively. Capital One will recognize the fee and reimburse you with a statement credit. If you do both applications, the one you do first earns the credit.
The rewards the Venture offers are positive money you can put toward travel purchases and frequent flyer programs. The Venture’s rates and fees are negative financial features that could cost you a lot of money over time.
Therefore, it’s important to understand what the card’s rates and fees are. Here’s a quick list:
- Interest rate for purchases and balance transfers: 17.99%, 22.74% or 25.24%
- Interest rate for cash advances: 25.24%
- Penalty interest rate: None
- Balance transfer fee: 3% during promotions, 0% otherwise
- Cash advance fee: $10 or 3%, whichever is greater
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Late payment fee: Up to $39
- Annual fee: $0 the first year, $95 after
What tends to be the most important rate/fee here is the interest rate (“APR”). Our research from sites like CreditCards.com indicates that most credit card users carry a balance. Estimates range from $8,000 to $16,000 depending on how researchers find their averages.
To help you see how much this can cost you, we’ve created a chart where we show the yearly interest payments for several average daily balances based on the Venture’s APR’s:
|Daily Balance||17.99% APR for one year||22.74% APR for one year||25.24% APR for one year|
Our comparisons of the Venture card to other rewards card reveal that its $600 in yearly rewards are right at the top of the list. However, you can easily end up paying more in interest than you earn in rewards with a balance of as little as $3,500.
This is important to keep in mind as you consider what your spending habits are, if you spend more than you earn, and if you have a budget to keep your finances in line so you don’t rack up balances.
Travel cards are a really diverse category of rewards cards. There are cards that have a flat rewards rate like the Venture but others have varied rates. Some have travel partners and others don’t. The following comparison chart features all the top cards we included in our rankings of the best travel credit cards of 2019.
|Capital One Venture Rewards||Discover it Miles||Chase Sapphire Preferred||U.S. Bank FlexpPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card||Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard||Citi Premier Card||Bank of America Travel Rewards Card|
|Intro offer||50,000 miles||45,000 miles||60,000 points||25,000 points||70,000 points||50,000 points||25,000 points|
|Rewards rates||2x on all purchases||1.5x on all purchases||2x on travel and dining, 1x on everything else||2x on cell phones, charitable donations and airlines, gas or groceries||2x on all purchase plus a 5% bonus on redeemed points||3x on travel and gas, 2x on restaurants and entertainment, 1x on everything else||1.5x on all purchases|
|Yearly miles/ points on $30K spending||60,000 miles||45,000 miles||34,865 points||40,531 points||63,000 points||44,498 points||45,000 points|
|Travel portal booking bonus||None||None||1.25x||1.5x||None||1.25x||None|
|Number of transfer partners||15 (14 int’l airlines, 1 domestic airline)||None||9 (6 int’l airlines, 3 domestic airlines, 3 hotels)||None||None||15 (14 int’l airlines, 1 domestic airline)||None|
|APR||17.99%, 22.74% or 25.24%||14.24% to 25.24%||18.24% to 25.24%||16.24% to 26.24%||18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24%||16.74% to 25.74% (29.99% penalty APR)||17.24% to 25.24% (29.99% penalty APR)|
|Annual fee||$0 first year, $95 after||None||$95||$0 first year, $49 after||$0 first year, $89 after||$0 first year, $95 after||None|
What this chart reveals is that the Capital One Venture Rewards is a card that offers more than any other travel rewards card we’ve compared. It provides an excellent flat rewards rate that only the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard matches.
Its yearly rewards total is just a few dollars behind the Barclaycard and 15,000 more than the next closest cards. In addition to that, it has 15 airline travel partners and no annual fee the first year.
The Venture, however, doesn’t measure up well when it comes to APR and sign-up bonus. Its best APR is higher than all but one card and its sign-up bonus is better than only three other cards.
Another category that makes things more interesting is the rewards portal bonus. The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards (1.5x), Chase Sapphire Preferred (1.25x) and the Citi Premier Card (1.25x) provide a points boost if you book travel through their sites.
The FlexPerk’s boost gives your yearly points a cash value of around $607, which is slightly better than your Venture card.
While there are cards that challenge the Venture’s individual features, we see this card’s overall profile being better than all cards, including the Discover it Miles and the Bank of America Travel Rewards.
Based on our research, we believe this card has some clear strengths and weaknesses. Overall, we think it’s one of the best travel cards you can obtain. The rewards rate is easy to understand and doesn’t discriminate between different types of purchases.
Also, the fact that the card allows you to transfer your miles to frequent flyer programs is another bonus. Finally, we believe that the card has an excellent overall profile of features. It’s not a stripped-down travel card like the Discover it Miles and it features better rewards rates than the well-rounded Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The card’s weakness is that, while it does offer 15 travel partners, none of those transfers give you one mile per point as the Chase Sapphire Preferred does. Also, the low APR it features is pretty high compared to other cards.
Based on these various factors, we think the Capital One Venture is good for the following types of people:
- You want a simple rewards rate that doesn’t involve bonuses for certain purchases
- Transferring miles/points to airlines isn’t a top priority
- You don’t carry a balance and like to travel
Conversely, we think the cards weaknesses make it a poor choice for the following types of people:
- You want a travel card to book airline rewards travel
- You carry balances on a regular basis
- You spend more than the average person on groceries and charity
That last one is key, as we’ve used averages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate yearly rewards. The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card provides 2x points rates on groceries and charitable donations. So, if you spend more than $4500 a year on groceries and more than $5,500 a year on charity, the U.S. Bank card could provide you significantly more travel dollars per year than the Capital One Venture Rewards.