No, the Capital One Venture card is not in my wallet.
Capital One has a fantastic (but misleading) ad campaign to market its Venture Rewards credit card. In the ads, America’s sweetheart Jennifer Garner touts how many “miles” she earns with the Venture card, since she claims the card earns 2x “miles” on all purchases. In various TV commercials, Garner complains about not being able to find an award seat using an airline credit cards, has a credit card intervention with a friend at the coffee shop, and causes an excitable librarian to shout with glee after learning about the Capital One Venture card. She’s charming, she’s funny, she’s genuine… Jennifer Garner would never lie to us, right?
Wrong. These Capital One Venture card “miles” aren’t actually miles. The Venture card is essentially a cash back credit card disguised as a travel rewards program.
Yes, you do earn double “miles.” But these Capital One “miles” have a fixed value of $0.01 each, which means that double “miles” really means that you’re receiving two cents cash back on all of your purchases. Hey, 2% cash back is a great deal, and with the 50,000 “mile” sign-up bonus (after spending $3,000 in three months), that’s the equivalent of starting with $500. So it’s not that this card doesn’t provide value.
However, these Capital One Venture “miles” are not a credit card currency that can be transferred to other airline’s frequent flyer programs. The “miles” can only be spent via your Venture Rewards account. There’s no upside to the “miles” since they are always worth one cent apiece.
Let’s compare value of Capital One Venture “miles” to the value of credit card points from our around-the-world trip (How We Made It Happen). The average value of our frequent flyer miles ended up being 8.6 cents; each Capital One “mile” is only worth 1.0 cent. In other word, our credit card points were 8.6x more valuable than the Capital One “miles.”
I know what you’re thinking. “Well, that $500 in travel credit is a nice sign-up bonus. It’s hard to beat that.”
And actually, it’s quite easy to beat that. Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi ThankYou Premier cards offer 1.25 cents/point when you book your flight through their website travel portals. These are the equivalent of the Venture Rewards portal that you must use when redeeming Capital One “miles.” Since the sign-up bonus is generally 50,000 points for both the Sapphire Preferred and ThankYou Premier cards, the cash value of the sign-up bonus at 1.25 cents/point is $625. So not only are the “miles” not really miles, but the cash value of the sign-up bonus still pales in comparison to other credit cards.
However, there’s a silver lining to the Capital One Venture card. If you have no desire to play the points game, the 2% cash back on all purchases is a great return, and it is completely mindless. You don’t have to search for award space, plan your travel around award availability, and deal with frequent flyer program award charts. Better yet, the Venture card recently added a new promotion of 10x “miles” (read: 10% back) on purchases made through Hotels.com. That’s an awesome return, but for fellow infrequent flyers, we’re probably not spending enough on Hotels.com to fully take advantage of these promotion.
So no, I have no intention of applying for the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card. I’d rather play the points game and redeem airline miles for business class redemption than earn 2% cash back.