Executive Summary -
This is an extremely popular credit card and for good reason. You can earn double miles (or rather points) and there is also no foreign transaction fees. But it is facing stiff competition at the moment from a competitor (find out who in our review).
Capital One introduced the this card in 20101 and shook up the world of reward cards. Prior to it's introduction, most reward cards from issuers charged no annual annual fee and all had very similar programs. It was a very competitive space with very little differentiation among the issuers. Capital One decided to announce their presence by being slightly different. Firstly, they decided to charge an annual fee. But more importantly, they decided to allow card members to earn double miles for every dollar they spend on the card. In fact, at the time of their launch, the only other card that had such a feature was the Discover Escape Card. But CapOne also launched a no annual fee version of this card at the same time as well. And they also differentiated themselves by allowing card members to earn 1.25 points/$ rather than the standard 1 point. Aside from the fact that this card offers double miles (or points), they also do not have any foreign transaction fees.
In this review, we will focus the annual fee version. So let's get started.
Double Miles Always - As we just mentioned, the highlight of this card is that you can earn double miles (or rather points) for every dollar that you spend on the card. And there are hardly any cards back then with this feature with the exception of the Discover Escape Card. And you earn double points not just for travel or any specific type of expense. But rather, it is for all spending. That makes it easy for a higher spender to rack up lots of points. You can earn unlimited points and they do not expire.
The points that you have earned can be used for a variety of rewards. For most folks, the most logical choice would be for travel. Under the CapOne program, you can book your travel with anyone. That means you have the choice of using an aggregator like orbitz.com or travelocity.com. You could also book with the airlines directly (always recommended after checking sites like kayak.com!) and also with hotels directly (best practice). For complicated trips, you could also use an offline travel agent for complicated trips. After you have booked your trip, you could simply inform CapOne and use your points to pay for them.
The great advantage of using credit card points rather than frequent flier miles is that while you could get free tickets, you could still earn FF miles on the flights because you are not using FF miles to redeem them. The value of the points redeemed is 1% (ie 100 points gets you $1 in value)
Aside from travel, you could also use the points you earned for things like gift cards, merchandise. However, the return on your points is slightly less than 1%.
How Does This Card Compare With It's Peers?
Venture Rewards And It's Competition There are many travel cards that charge an annual fee. But none really allows you to earn double points on everything. Hence, this card faces very few competition. When it was first launched, the Discover Escape Card was the only card that was pretty similar in that you could earn double miles. But I felt that this card was slightly better because it did not charge any foreign transaction fees and also because it was a Visa.
Lately (as in 4/20132
), Barclays introduced two new cards called Arrival, which really mimicked CapOne's Venture cards and added a couple of new features. The annual fee version is very similar to this card in that you can earn double points and also have no foreign transaction fees. But Barclays has added a couple of features which is going to give this card a run for the money. Firstly, when you redeem your points for travel, Barclays will top up your account with 10% of the points that you have used. Furthermore, Barclays also gives you a complimentary TripIt Pro subscription (worth $49 annually) for their card members.
So right now, if you are looking at the reward cards that earn you double miles or points for everything, then these are the two alternatives in the market.
Is the CapOne Venture Rewards A Good Card?
As frequent flier programs and hotel loyalty programs continued to get devalued, many consumers are turning to or considering credit card programs rather than affinity programs from airlines and hotels. There are several factors to consider when choosing a rewards card. The first is how much do you spend on the card. The reason this is important is because you can get lots of no annual fee alternatives, but you are stuck to earning one point per dollar. Or you could consider this card and earn double points for everything. Based on the annual fee of $59, the breakeven point is at $6,000 in annual spending. If you spend $6,000 a year or more on your card, then having this card will definitely allow you to earn more points than a regular no annual fee card will. The other advantage of reward programs like this one is that there are no blackout dates and aside from getting free tickets, you could still earn FF points because you are not using the airline's frequent flier miles to get the free ticket.
Credit card programs like this one is also more suited to those who fly lower cost domestic airline tickets. For those who accumulate miles to fly once in a lifetime Asia trip on a first class ticket, then this would not be the card for you because you need to spend a lot more to earn enough points for such tickets. Instead, being savvy about frequent flier miles and going that route is better.
So if you spend more than $6,000 and fly mainly low cost domestic flights, then this could be the best card for you. However, I would also urge you to consider the Barclays Arrival Card since it is very similar and actually has slightly more and better features.