The credit card rewards space has two groups. In one corner you have the loyalists who are brand ambassadors and have anchored themselves to a particular airline or hotel chain. This group loves being rewarded for loyalty with upgrades and the feeling of comfort they get from traveling with some level of familiarity. This group may or may not also love to brag about their loyalty.
In the other corner you have the free birds. This group is afraid of commitment and likes to explore all of their options without settling down. This group falls for offers that provide more flexible travel reward “currency” that can be used toward any type of travel-related expense. The Venture card falls into this category.
Since Capital One introduced this card you have probably seen the "What's in Your Wallet" commercials about a thousand times. For the most part, this marketing message and the dollars behind the campaign were necessary. The card wasn't that great and there needed to be some brute force selling to move the product. In December 2018, Venture launched a dozen new transfer partners, creating a card that appeals to both groups of rewards seekers.
With the Venture you earn 2 miles for each dollar spent with the card. There is no cap or miles ceiling on this. As long as your card remains open and in good standing, these miles don’t expire. There's no rotating group of categories to remember.
What exactly is a mile? Capital One miles were a stroke of marketing genius to help Capital One ride the wave of travel cards. You initially couldn't actually buy any flights or hotels with these points. 1 Capital One mile did not equal a mile in any other points currency. Those days are gone though. Users can now either transfer miles to a partner program or redeem miles at a value of one cent a piece as a statement credit for travel expenses.
As for the transfer partners, here's what you can expect. These are all non-US based airlines, but keep in mind many have reward arrangements with US airlines as part of their travel alliance programs. For example, booking through AeroMexico's rewards portal will unlock rewards with United Airlines.
In addition to the transfer partners and the flat 2 miles per dollar spent earn rate, Capital One Venture holders can also earn 10x miles per dollar on hotel rooms booked through Hotels.com/Venture. This perk is set to expire in January 2020, so don't let it be a deciding factor, but in the meantime, it's a nice to have.
The annual fee on this card is $95, but it is waived for the first year. That means you'll pocket $645 in rewards the first year if you spend $12,000 on the card. Every year there after, you'll net $145 in rewards if you maintain the same $12,000 in spend and pay the $95 annual fee. For those of you that aren't keeping up, $12,000 in spend = $240 in annual rewards.
First, it comes with a new customer bonus of 50,000 points after you make $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Points are worth .01 cents when redeeming towards travel, so you've got yourself $500. You're welcome, you math wizard you.
Second, the card earns 10 points per dollar spend when you book hotels through Hotels.com/Venture. That's essentially 10% off if you choose to redeem your earned points as a statement credit against your travel purchase. The best part about this perk is that it stacks with Hotels.com's 11th night free promotion. If there was a perk for people with commitment issues that love to travel this would be it.
If you like to try new things the best 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. The downside is you are tied to Hotels.com to optimize your benefit. You may find that you actually save money booking directly through the hotel's website since that will provide benefits like free internet.
Venture offers no foreign transaction fees, so feel free to take this card overseas. This is a pretty common staple for all rewards cards, so we wouldn't make this a deciding factor. Other than that, look for a $100 credit for TSA Precheck or global entry, an extended warranty program, travel accident insurance, and a 24/7 phone concierge service, as part of the Venture's offerings.
If you are brand agnostic and like to travel - this is a pretty good card if you don't mind booking with Hotels.com. If you hate rotating categories and like easy - this is a good card for peace of mind. If you are new to the rewards game - this is a good card to get your feet wet. If you like hotels.com - this is a great card because, duh.
Seasoned travelers with brand loyalty. We'd push you to get a travel specific card like the Citi Prestige. You'll enjoy the benefits of the card and make use of the priority lounges. Your travel self will thank you.
If you spend less than $12,000 a year on your card, take a look at the Double Cash and its straight 2% cash back without an annual fee.
Capital One is unique in that they pull all 3 credit bureaus when looking at your credit score. This isn't the end of the world for most people. Since Capital One specializes in average credit consumers they gather all 3 reports to help make sure they are making a good decision on your credit profile. With that being said, Venture does require excellent credit. If you are in the fair/good category we'd recommend starting with the Quicksilver cash back card.
Yes. Yes you do. The Sapphire Reserve is still riding the waive of consumer interest from its launch and corresponding 100,000 point bonus. It was a stroke of marketing genius. Don't get us wrong, the Sapphire Reserve is a great card if you're going to make use of the travel partners. If you're new to the rewards game and considering Venture, this card will help you learn the travel ropes in year one, with a waived annual fee. If you're weighing the options of the Venture card against Sapphire Reserve, take a look at the Sapphire Preferred instead. The annual fee might be more up your alley.
The Venture card is a strong rewards credit card that you should never feel bad about having in your wallet. It might not be the sexiest card on the market, but it's not meant to be. It is a work horse that gives you the flexibility of redeeming with loyalty programs when you want to, or redeeming as cash back in the form of statement credits when that works better for you. Add in some nice perks like a credit for Precheck and increased awards at Hotels.com and you have yourself a fine card.