2017 Capital One Venture Card Review – WalletHub Editors
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The Verdict: It’s already in the travel rewards hall of fame and continues to be one of the best offers out there. The Capital One Venture Card has long served as the standard-bearer for a more straightforward credit card market, with its “No Hassle” double miles, lucrative initial rewards bonus and lack of foreign transaction fees helping to set pro-consumer trends amid a landscape previously characterized by general shadiness.
It’s ultimately no wonder why Venture has been praised by users and emulated by competitors, as WalletHub research reveals that it has the potential to yield the average spender roughly $1,500 in rewards over the first two years of ownership. The key is to redeem Venture Miles to pay for travel-related transactions once they post to your account. Not only does this give you the best redemption rate, but is also eliminates much of the red tape common with travel credit cards – allowing you to focus on finding the best deal, no matter which airline, hotel or travel comparison site offers it.
- $400 Initial Bonus: Sign-up bonuses are in vogue right now, with most of the market’s best rewards cards offering some serious value. Venture is no aberration. Spending at least $3,000 during the first three months will earn you 40,000 miles redeemable for $400 in travel-related expenses. This offer isn’t always available, so if you’ve been thinking about applying for the Venture Card, you may want to do so sooner rather than later – provided that you wouldn’t need to spend any more than normal to qualify.
- Double Miles That Are Worth It: Many credit cards offer more than one mile, point or percent cash back. Most, however, restrict their heightened earning rates to certain types of categories or simply move the redemption goalpost. But each Venture Mile is worth one cent, as long as you redeem for a statement credit to pay for a travel-related purchase after it has posted to your account. That means strategic users earn the miles-equivalent of 2% cash back on every dollar spent.
Choose Your Own Travel: Capital One makes a big deal out of the fact that users don’t have to deal with blackout dates, seat restrictions, etc. It’s certainly true but also somewhat misleading. Logistical snafus simply aren’t part of the equation because you never have to actually book anything through Capital One. Rather, you can use your card to pay for whatever travel costs you incur – whether plane tickets booked through a travel-booking site or a taxi ride – and then pay for the resulting charges with miles using Venture’s Purchase Eraser tool.
You can indeed also use miles to directly purchase flights, rental cars and hotel reservations though Capital One’s Rewards Center, but the ability to take the credit card company out of the booking process without sacrificing rewards earning potential is the more powerful component of Venture Rewards. This provides a great deal of freedom, after all, enabling you to focus on price minimization without sacrificing a redemption opportunity – even if you book through a travel-comparison website. Keep in mind, however, that airlines, hotels and other travel providers may have some blackout dates and restrictions of their own.
Venture Swallowed (Some) Of The Key Fees: None of Capital One’s credit cards charges foreign transaction fees. That alone will save Venture Card users 2% to 4% on any purchase processed outside the U.S. The freedom to use your credit card as your primary international spending vehicle also enables you to forgo hard currency exchange, thereby saving roughly another 6%, on average.
Venture doesn’t currently charge a first-year annual fee either – an $59 value that opens the door to people solely interested in sign-up bonuses and could lead those who aren’t careful to forget they have increased costs in their future.
Relatively Broad Definition Of Travel Rewards: Whether or not you can redeem miles at the highest possible valuation depends on how the transaction you’re trying to pay for is classified on your account. If a given transaction is deemed to be “travel-related,” then your miles will be worth roughly one cent each when put to use. If not, they could be worth as little as half a cent each.
Capital One has a fairly extensive list of items that are “generally considered travel purchases” (see below), accommodating redemption across modes of transportation and hospitality expense segments. But the fact that merchant category codes ultimately rule the day means you should double-check whether fringe expenses qualify before paying for them with miles.
- Hotel reservations
- Cruise reservations
- Train tickets
- Travel agent fees
- Time shares
- Taxi fare
- Bus lines
- Limousine services
- Annual Fees For Loyal Customers: If your interest in the Venture Card extends beyond a quick rewards score, you can expect to pay for the privilege to earn far more than the average travel credit card. The $59 annual membership fee first assessed after your first account anniversary isn’t unreasonable by any means, but it's certainly worth taking into account.
Miles Halved When Redeemed For Cash Or Merchandise: Venture is a travel rewards credit card, and users sacrifice a lot of their earnings when you stray from that purpose. The number of miles you have in your account won’t change, but how much you get for them will.
The card’s 40,000-mile initial bonus would only be worth $200 when redeemed for cash back, for example. As long as you enter into this relationship with your eyes open, this shouldn’t be too big of a deal, but it’s a significant potential pitfall nonetheless.
Other Things To Consider
- Pay Late, Lose That Month’s Earnings: Not only will you be assessed a late fee of up to $35 if you miss your monthly due date, but you will also sacrifice all the miles you earned for the transactions listed on that month’s statement. That’s a bad surprise that most people won’t find out about until it happens to them.
- Not A Good Option For Financing: If you don’t pay your balance in full every month, there are better cards out there. Only the absolute best applicants will be approved for an APR toward the low end of Venture’s 13.74% to 23.74% APR, and even that is above the market average among credit cards for excellent credit: 12.84%. You won’t get any kind of 0% introductory deal, either.
Compared To The Competition
You can never get a complete picture of a given credit card without comparing it to other leading offers available to qualified applicants. With that in mind, we compared Venture to the most popular travel rewards cards catered to people with above-average credit.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Annual Fee||$0 for 1st yr, $59 after||$0||None 1st yr, $89 after||$0 Intro for the First Year, $95 after|
|Rewards Bonus||40000 miles||20000 miles||50000 miles||50000 points|
|Rewards Rate||2 miles / $1||1.25 miles / $1||2 miles / $1||1 - 2 points / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||Not Offered||0% for 12 months||Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Transfer Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|Regular APR||13.74% - 23.74% (V)||12.74% - 22.74% (V)||16.74% - 23.74% (V)||16.74% - 23.74% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||5.0 / 5||4.5 / 5||5.0 / 5||4.5 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
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