Capital One has long prided itself on keeping their rewards program simple and easy for their customers. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card stay true to form with their simple earning structures and straightforward means of redeeming miles for travel. But these cards can still appeal to a wider, more experienced crowd. Below we take a look at these two cards and who they might be a good fit for.
The Venture Rewards card has a base earning rate of 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. The VentureOne card has a base earning rate of just 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases. Both cards also earn 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, which is Capital One's travel portal.
Neither card has strong benefits or perks. The Venture Rewards card does offer two free Capital One Lounge passes per year, along with discounted admission of $45 per visit thereafter. The card also offers a Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit every 4 years.
Both the Venture Rewards and the VentureOne cards also offer no foreign transaction fees.
Capital One is one of the most recognized names in the credit card world. Many of their ads knock traditional airline miles and credit cards. But what does Capital One do differently that sets them apart?
First, up until just a few years ago, the only way to redeem Capital One miles was to apply them directly to any travel purchase at a rate of 1 cent per point. This was their “simplicity” model that essentially just turns the Venture Rewards into a 2% cash back card but only for travel purchases. This makes a 60,000-mile sign-up bonus worth a flat $600 towards travel. That probably doesn’t attract the moderate-to-advanced award traveler. But for someone just wanting to get a couple free flights or hotel stays, it could be attractive. But there are still plenty of other cards that earn 2%/2x per dollar that don't have an annual fee.
More recently, Capital One began trying to compete with Chase, Citi, and Amex by introducing airline and hotel transfer partners. Some of their partners offer solid value. These include Turkish Miles&Smiles, Wyndham Rewards, Air Canada Aeroplan. Almost all of Capital One's transfer partners have a 1:1 transfer ratio. This is where Capital One may attract more experienced award travelers, who understand the value of transferrable currencies.
The elevated earn rate when booking hotels and rental cars through the Capital One travel portal doesn’t do much for either card. When booking through portals like this, you give up elite benefits and points earning with hotels. Also, as with any other online travel agency (OTA), if a problem comes up, you have yet another party to deal with. Instead of working directly with the airline or hotel to resolve your problem, you must also deal with the travel portal service provider.
The main hang-up with the Venture Rewards card is the annual fee. There are other no annual fee cards that offer the same earning rate. The Citi Double Cash (review) offers 2% or 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and has no annual fee. The Blue Business Plus from American Express (review) also offers 2 points per dollar (although capped at $50,000 per year) without the annual fee. And between Amex and Citi, they cover almost all of the transfer partners Capital One offers. So unless you really value the two free lounge passes and the Global Entry/TSA benefits, it’s a tough sell as a long-term keeper card.
Like most cards, the sign-up bonus more than offsets the annual fee on the Venture Rewards for the first year. Coupled with a nice earn rate on all expenses and if you can put the free lounge passes to use, this card presents a good first year value. After that, consider how much value you would get moving forward and consider downgrading it to the no fee VentureOne card.
Capital One does a great job appealing to both sides of the market with their cards. For experienced award travelers, Capital One is building an appealing program. And for those who don't want to spend time to learn how to best redeem those miles, they have a simple earning and redeeming structure for them.