I’m sure you’ve already heard that this month Capital One is adding the ability to transfer points to airline partners on some of their cards. Namely: Capital One Venture Rewards and Capital One Spark Miles for Business (both have a $95 annual fee).
This is obviously an interesting development and welcome news for miles and points enthusiasts. Having more options in this hobby is usually a good thing as long as your head doesn’t explode from a condition referred to as “paradox of choice”.
A reminder: both cards currently earn 2 “miles” per dollar, but in reality, it’s similar to 2% cash back, redeemable towards travel purchases. What’s changing: you will now be able to transfer these “miles” to real airline miles. Get it? The transfer ratio will be 2:1.5. Here is the initial list of partners:
- Air Canada (Aeroplan) for United flights
- Air France/KLM (Flying Blue) for Delta and SkyTeam flights
- Avianca (LifeMiles) for United and Star Allianca flights
- Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) for American and Oneworld flights
- EVA Air
- Finnair Plus
- Hainan Airlines
- Qatar Airways
I’ve highlighted partners you are most likely to utilize, but other programs have “sweet spots” too. You just have to be willing to dig deep.
What this news means to an average Joe
To put it in simple terms, you will be paying a $95 fee for the privilege of purchasing certain miles at 1.33 cents apiece, as you need them. Speculatively, it’s not that great of a deal. However, if you need miles to top up an account for a specific award, it’s actually a very good price. Normally, programs charge 2 to 3 cents per mile. Capital One claims that most transfers will be instant, something that hasn’t yet been confirmed by actual datapoints.
But assuming they are instant, this option could potentially come in handy. If you are someone who needs a lot of real miles on a regular basis, having Capital One “miles” at your fingertips could be useful. But again, I see this as mostly a supplement to the stash you already have. If you’ve been in this hobby for a few years, you know that you have many other (potentially much more lucrative) options.
The main ones, of course, are Amex and Chase flexible points programs. See this post for more on the subject. If you have a business and want simplicity, there is Blue Business Plus credit card that earns 2 MR points on every dollar, on up to $50k each year. And it doesn’t even have an annual fee, unlike Capital One Spark Miles. Do you want to maximize bonus categories? You have a choice of Amex Everyday Preferred/Amex Gold or Chase Freedom/Ink Cash (in combination with a premium Chase card).
Would you like to have a well-rounded premium card that has travel insurance and airport lounge access? Look into Chase Sapphire Reserve. Capital One cards don’t currently have any of those benefits.
So, in short, if you decide to renew your Capital One Venture Rewards, you will end up with a Citi Double Cash, but with an annual fee of $95. Yes, you also get the ability to transfer your points to actual miles. But I wouldn’t say that it’s a dirt cheap price, especially for someone who usually flies in economy. On a good day, I get 1.5 cents per mile on my economy redemptions, but have settled for much less.
Who should consider renewing Capital One Venture Rewards or Spark Miles card
Here is IMO the ideal candidate:
1)You like simplicity and hate juggling multiple cards. You don’t like Amex because it’s not yet accepted everywhere.
2) You don’t care about travel insurance, primary car rental coverage or airline lounge access.
3) You tend to book off-the-beaten-path places that code as travel. Ability to redeem points towards travel is what you are primarily after.
4) You like to redeem miles on premium airline seats.
5) You know foreign airline programs inside out, and don’t mind dealing with potential hassle of booking awards.
6) You are a high-spender.
7) You often book lodging on Hotels.com where you can earn 10 points per dollar with Venture Rewards card.
Who should consider applying for Capital One Venture Rewards or Spark Miles card?
Everyone! I’m only partially joking. The sign-up bonus on each card is absolutely worth it. Whether you will get approved is another matter entirely. Capital One is extremely sensitive to recent inquiries to the point that I pretty much gave up on it.
They also pull all three credit agencies. But getting 75,000 points on Capital One Venture Rewards and 50,000 points on Capital One Spark Miles (pays us commission) is nothing to sneeze at. At the very least, you will be getting $750 and $500 respectively. With Spark Miles you can potentially get a richer bonus if you are a high-spender. Keep in mind that Capital One business cards do show up on your personal credit report.
When it comes to renewal, that’s where things get iffy. I think recent changes have put these cards into “maybe” category from “no way, Jose.”
Readers, do you consider this development to be a game-changer in the hobby?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.