Travel rewards credit cards are a unique sort of card and one of the most often misunderstood. Unlike cashback rewards cards, which are relatively self explanatory, travel rewards take on a number of different forms. Entire classes have been created around learning how to utilize them most efficiently, how to redeem them, and exactly what expenses can be covered with travel rewards. "Travel hackers" are people who dedicate themselves to exploiting loopholes in reward policies, signup bonuses, and any other potential avenue in order to win thousands of free miles. This article focuses solely on Capital One's travel rewards cards and what you need to know about them.

Capital One travel rewards cards options

Capital One has two consumer-level travel rewards cards: the Venture and the VentureOne. There are travel rewards cards for business, but they are far less commonly used than the personal cards. While both cards require the same level of credit to qualify, their rewards, annual fees, and other specifics vary significantly.

Travel Rewards Are Different

Capital One Rewards mile redemption process

One thing to keep in mind is that the Capital One travel rewards cards give miles rather than points. Travel rewards are self explanatory—they're designed with frequent travelers in mind, but many people misunderstand how they work. Point based rewards cards can often be exchanged for other things than tickets. For example, some rewards cards give points that can be used for either miles or hotel stays. Rewards are usually limited based on their type, but the Venture and VentureOne cards set themselves apart.

You have two choices for mile redemption. Capital One provides a platform for finding everything from flights to rental cars and even all inclusive vacation packages. Even though the cards yield miles rather than points, the rewards act like points and can be redeemed for things other than flights. The other option Capital One provides is to book your travel through another agency, and then use their proprietary Purchase Eraser to get statement credit.

Capital One Travel Rewards: Features and Benefits

Variety of Capital One travel rewards cards

What sets Capital One apart from any other company is the sheer amount of benefits a cardholder receives. All Capital One cards, travel or otherwise, come with the following benefits:

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    Convenient access

    With online banking, mobile apps for both smartphones and tablets, 24/7 customer service, and customizable alerts, you can find out what's happening with your account at any time of day with next to no effort.

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    Bank-level security

    Capital One provides fraud coverage to all of its customers, and the real-time alerts let you know whenever something out of the ordinary happens, and for frequent travelers, the Fraud Liability policy can't be overstated. Customizable security alerts as well as 24/7 account monitoring round out the package, giving a peace of mind not often found in a credit card.

Personalized payments

Calendar and money on a watch

Not everyone works on a standard nine to five schedule; self-employed individuals, for instance, might not get paid at the same time as everyone else. That's fine here, because Capital One allows you to choose your own due date for your payment each month, as well as the method by which you make that payment—online, at a local branch, or by check. If that's too much hassle, you can set your account to Autopay and stop worrying.

Extended warranties

bullhorn and extended warranties

How many times do businesses offer extended warranties on products for an extra cost? Capital One provides this automatically to cardholders if you use your Capital One card to make the purchase. Both the Venture and VentureOne provide even better benefits in the form of Visa Signature Benefits.

Travel upgrades

travel upgrades airplane and tickets

Owning a Visa Signature card opens the door to complimentary upgrades and special discounts at some hotels, resorts, and spas if you pay using your Venture card.

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    Complimentary concierge service

    If you're in a new city and looking to find the best sushi joint around, never fear; just give a call to Visa Signature Concierge and find the answer to your questions, any day of the year, 24 hours per day.

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    Retail discounts

    Special discounts are available at specific retailers and online merchants if you purchase with the Venture card.

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    Auto rental insurance

    Renting a car is convenient, but something happening to that rental can be a nightmare of paperwork and liability. If you rent with the Venture card, you receive coverage for damage or theft at no additional cost.

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    Emergency card replacement

    If you've ever lost your credit card while traveling (or had it locked), you know just how problematic that can be. Not only are you unable to pay for anything, but you lose access to all the additional benefits that come with owning a Venture card. Capital One will issue an emergency replacement as well as a cash advance to cover you until you receive the card.

Stacking up against the competition

While the Venture and VentureOne cards are great options, they aren't without their faults. The rewards structure is a bit misleading, for starters. While you receive double miles with your purchase, they aren't ‘traditional' miles. Capital One's travel rewards are like cashback cards that can be redeemed for miles, but not at the same rate as competitors.

Capital One vs AAdvantage vs True Blue

What is the minimum credit score I should have before applying?

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    The Venture and the VentureOne both require Excellent credit in order to qualify.

If your credit isn't quite there, you can still apply, because based on other factors, you might still qualify for the card. Remember that every application for a credit card is a mark on your credit history, and too many rejected applications can impact your ability to qualify for future cards.

How to redeem rewards?

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    Capital One designed the Venture and VentureOne cards with simplicity in mind, so that simplicity naturally extends to reward redemption.

You have two main options. The Purchase Eraser may sound a bit grandiose, but the title gives a pretty clear description of what it does. To use this, go into your statement history and select any travel purchase from the last 90 days. It can be anything as long as the expense code is "travel."

The other way to redeem rewards is through Orbitz, the official travel partner of Capital One. You would click on the "Book a Trip" portion of the website and use your miles for a hotel, flight, or vacation package. The downside to this is that you can't do partial purchases, so you need enough miles to cover the full expense.

Are there travel restrictions?

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    While most rewards cards have blackout dates during which rewards can't be redeemed, one of the primary marketing points for the Venture and VentureOne cards is that there are no blackout dates.

That's a major bonus for any travel rewards card.

How can you use travel rewards?

The best use for your Capital One miles is through travel rewards.

However, you can also make charitable donations, receive gift cards, redeem your miles for non-travel credit statements, and even get cash back.

Venture Forward

Venture and VentureOne held next to eachother

Capital One is near the front of the pack for travel rewards cards. The double miles, lack of blackout dates, and the numerous benefits for travelers that come with the card make it a solid choice for any frequent traveler. If the Venture's fees and requirements are too high, the VentureOne offers similar benefits with less expense.