There is tremendous variety within the travel-rewards-card space. Some cards are meant to appeal to people with hardcore loyalty to a particular airline or hotel chain and who want to 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.
Capital One is a major player in the latter category, with its Venture product. 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 follow this message and apply?
Consider these five things
#1. The double miles are real
With the Capital One Venture you really do get 2 miles for each dollar spent with the card. There is absolutely no cap or miles ceiling on this – you get unlimited double miles, regardless of how much you spend. As long as your card remains open and in good standing, these miles don’t expire.
#2. You’re 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:
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 airline or hotel website. For example, you could purchase a discount ticket on Spirit or Southwest Airlines or a book a hotel room through a discount aggregation site like Kayak. These services are all coded as “travel” purchases. So 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 because, if you use your frequent-flier/hotel loyalty number when booking the travel, you can still earn the airline’s/hotel’s proprietary rewards points AND get reimbursed via your Venture rewards. If you were to book a flight with frequent-flier miles, you would NOT be able to earn rewards on the flight.
#3. There are no foreign transaction fees
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 percent to 3 percent surcharge, the cost vs. benefit is a major dilemma. There’s no dilemma with this card; foreign transaction fees are waived to begin with.
#4. Venture offers a number of benefits
You a number of cardholder perks including an extended warranty program, travel accident insurance, a free 24/7 phone concierge service, and others. Check the application page for details
#5. There are two 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. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $59 after that. If you apply now you can enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel.
- Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card – This is a no annual fee version which gives 1.25 miles per dollar spent. If you apply now, you can earn a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $200 in travel.
Both of the Capital One Venture credit cards outlined above deliver value.
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 – Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel. $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card – Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $200 in travel. 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months.
Before you apply for either, however, consider other options. Barclaycard’s Arrival — probably the most similar card on the market — also gives you 2 generic travel miles per dollar spent, but costs $89 a year. There are also a slew of cash-back cards to consider. These allow you to redeem for statement credits, so you could conceivably redeem your cash-back rewards for travel expenses. Several on the market right now offer 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases (slightly under the 2 percent you get back wit the the Venture):
Why we gave it 3/5 stars
The Capital One Venture was rated based on our standards for generic travel rewards cards (because it earns travel “points” that can be redeemed at a fixed value for any travel expense).
The card performed strongly in our return-on-spending category and our simplicity categories – and also earned some points for its sign-up bonus and access to a free credit-tracking service. Its lack of ongoing bonus opportunities and lack of robust perks (despite having an annual fee) dropped its rating slightly.
|Rewards-earning rate: This card meets our requirement for annual-fee cards (at least 2X miles on all spending).|
|Bonus-earning opportunities: This card received half a star, as it offers an advertised sign-up bonus. However, it doesn’t offer any ongoing bonus opportunities like bonus-shopping portals or redemption bonuses.|
|Rewards simplicity: Rewards do not expire and can be redeemed easily for statement credits. We therefore rewarded a star in this category.|
|Unique perks: This card includes access to CreditWise, a credit-score-tracking service and simulator. However, the rest of its benefits suite doesn’t stand out from that of other cards.|
|Fair annual fee: The card doesn’t offer any perks with direct monetary value. So the only way to “earn back” the annual fee is via spending (to earn rewards).|
This review was written or last updated Nov. 4, 2016