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® Rewards Credit Card has long served as the standard-bearer for a more straightforward credit card market, with its 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 $2,270 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.
- Hefty Initial Bonus: Initial 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 3 months will earn you 50,000 miles, redeemable for $500 in travel-related expenses. Or you can now get 100,000 bonus miles if you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening. 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 7%, on average. Venture currently charges a $95 annual fee that could close the door to people solely interested in initial rewards bonuses and could lead those who are really interested in being rewarded while traveling.
- 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 $95 annual membership fee 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 initial bonus would only be worth $250 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
- 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 17.24% - 24.49% (V) APR, and even that is above the market average among credit cards for excellent credit: 13.03%. 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
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Rewards Bonus||100,000 miles||20,000 miles||80,000 points|
|Rewards Rate||2 miles / $1||1.25 miles / $1||1 - 2 points / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||N/A||0% for 12 months||N/A|
|Transfer Intro APR||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Regular APR||17.24% - 24.49% (V)||15.49% - 25.49% (V)||15.99% - 22.99% (V)|
|Editors' Rating||5.0 / 5||4.5 / 5||4.8 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|