It may seem an obvious point, but not all travel rewards cards are created equal. Some are meant to appeal to people with hardcore loyalty to a particular airline or hotel chain and earn miles or points with those companies. Others offer more flexible travel reward “currency” that can be used toward any type of travel-related expense. So, if you are in the market for a travel rewards credit card it would be wise to ponder which type would work better for your spending and potential reward travel. Capital One is a major player in this space with their Venture product. Below are things to know about the Capital One Venture card and why it stands out from the crowd.
Since Capital One introduced this card several years ago you may have seen a number of commercials touting the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. From the original Capital One barbarians asking what’s in your wallet to the current slate of famous actors making the same inquiry about their Venture card, the commercials have stayed on message. Whatever is in your wallet, should you succumb to the pressure and apply to this almost too-good-to-be-true card?
Admittedly, two miles per dollar sounds almost too good to be true and it’s logical to assume there has to be a catch somewhere. But after completing a thorough review of the card here are our five major observations:
#1. The double miles are real
It’s neither hype nor are any tricks buried in the fine print – this is the real deal when it comes to lucrative travel rewards. With the Capital One Venture you really do get 2 miles for each dollar spent. There is absolutely no cap or miles ceiling on this – you literally get unlimited double miles, regardless of how much you spend. Card issuers are notorious for including insidious (and often hidden) limits on too good to be true-sounding reward levels in their terms and conditions, so it’s truly refreshing to see that this was a genuine offer with no caveats.
#2. You’re literally earning the equivalent of 2% on everything you buy
This is how the Venture rewards program works: Each mile you earn is worth $.01 towards a travel purchase, which may not sound like much but it actually adds up pretty quickly. Examples:
Since you are earning two miles per dollar in card purchases that equates to a significant two percent back on all your routine spending when you use your miles for travel purchases. This is the aspect of the program that can really add up quickly.
The nice thing about this rewards structure is that you have the flexibility to book and pay for travel on your own without being required to use a particular non-discounted airline or hotel website to directly book your trip. For example, you could purchase a discount ticket on Spirit or Southwest Airlines a flight or a book a hotel room through a discount aggregation site like Kayak or Trivago. Just charge that purchase to your Venture card and afterward, you can redeem your “miles” to offset that eligible purchase. This effectively allows you to double dip.
#3. There are no foreign transaction fees
When you make purchases outside of the US, just about every card on the market will sock you with a foreign transaction fee. It’s usually around 2-3% of the purchase price. Getting back from a trip abroad can entail a nasty shock if you didn’t use a card that waives foreign transaction fees.
On one hand you want to use your credit card while traveling because it’s much safer than cash – but on the flip side – if you have to pay that 2-3% surcharge, the cost vs. benefit is a major dilemma. But with the Venture card you don’t have to take the risk of carrying lots of cash, whether in dollars or the local currency, as all foreign transaction fees are waived to begin with.
#4. Venture offers a number of benefits
As a Visa Signature card, you get a number of cardholder perks including an extended warranty program, travel accident insurance, a free 24/7 phone concierge service, and others. The application page goes over the details/rules for each benefit.
#5. There are 2 different Venture cards
Although the commercials tend to be for the double miles version, there are actually 2 different types depending on your needs:
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – This is the more popular offer because it allows you to earn 2 miles per dollar. The annual fee is $59 but it’s waived for the first year. If you apply now you can earn 40,000 bonus miles (equal to $400 in travel) when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.
- Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card – This is a no annual fee version which gives 1.25 miles per dollar spent. Reviews from forum members have said its customer service and benefits are just as good as the $59 version. If you apply now you can earn a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. With this one you get 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 12.24%-22.24% variable APR after that.
Both of the Capital One Venture credit cards outlined above deliver value. Even if you prefer other cards for special categories of spending, on all other purchases (which usually make up the bulk of your spending) there’s a good chance you’re only earning 1%. So having a card that can earn more than that is a fantastic deal.
But which one should you get? Well we created this graph comparing the Capital One Venture vs. VentureOne, so you can see where the break-even point is…
Once you’ve spent $7,866 the value of your earned rewards (assuming you redeem them for travel) will be worth the following:
The difference between the two numbers is $59… the same amount as the annual fee for the Venture. So as long as your annual spending will be more than $7,866 (average of $656/month) it makes more sense to get the $59 Venture. If you spend less, go with the no annual fee VentureOne card.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card – Earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 12.24%-22.24% variable APR after that.
This review was written or last updated April 8, 2016