Travel credit cards can sometimes be frustrating when it comes to redeeming your rewards. Some restrict you to a certain hotel chain or airline, and others may require you to use their mediocre travel website to get good value.
“The Venture card is great for infrequent travelers who aren’t loyal to a particular airline or hotel,” says Alex Cohen, founder of Birch, an app that helps you track spending and maximize credit card rewards.
“Because the rewards are flexible to redeem for all sorts of travel and don’t restrict you to particular brands, you can plan the trip as you normally would and shave off some of the costs using miles,” he says.
How to redeem Capital One Venture Miles
You’ll see your rewards balance as soon as you log into your online account. Simply click on that balance, and you’ll be directed to the rewards page.
You’ll see several options for rewards redemption, including:
- Redeem travel purchases
- Book a trip
- Get gift cards
- Get an account credit
- Get a check by mail
- Transfer rewards
With most redemption options, you’ll get a value of 1 cent per mile (i.e., 10,000 miles = $100).
Get free or discounted travel
Chances are you applied for one of these cards to get free or discounted travel.
“You can use these miles to book travel with any airline or hotel brand,” Johnson said. “You don’t have to worry about finding a seat or sticking with a specific loyalty program, and you can book directly with airlines or via discount travel sites.”
When it comes to travel redemption, there are two options:
Redeem travel purchases
If you click on this option, you’ll be directed to a page that shows any travel purchases you’ve made in the last 90 days. This includes travel you had paid for before you received your sign-up bonus.
You can then apply as many of your miles to any travel purchase as you want. There’s no minimum redemption amount if you are redeeming for a full travel purchase. But if you redeem for only a portion of a purchase, the minimum is 2,500 miles, or $25.
For example, if you have a hotel charge for $89, you can use 8,900 miles to get a statement credit for that purchase, essentially erasing it.
Capital One considers any purchase from the following to be travel-related:
- Rail lines
- Car rental agencies
- Limousine services
- Bus lines
- Cruise lines
- Taxi cabs
- Travel agents
Once you choose the purchase you want to erase and submit your request, your statement credit will appear within two to three business days.
If you haven’t made your travel purchase yet, you also have the opportunity to book your trip through the Capital One website. The service works much the same as Expedia and other travel aggregator websites. You can book flights, hotels and rental cars, and there’s also a menu for special travel deals.
With this redemption option, you’ll simply book your travel as you would normally. The only difference is you’ll use your miles to pay instead of cash. There are a couple of drawbacks to using this method, however.
First, you can’t do partial redemptions, so you must have enough miles to cover the full booking. Second, you’re limited to the prices shown. Before booking through Capital One, check out other travel websites to make sure you’re getting the best deal. After all, you can always use your miles to cover those purchases, too.
Get gift cards
If you don’t have any upcoming travel plans and those miles are burning a hole in your pocket, gift cards are another valuable redemption option.
Capital One partners with about 75 retailers and restaurant chains to give you a wide selection from which to choose. As of April 2017, that list includes Walmart, Home Depot, AMC, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc.) and Brinker Restaurants (Chili’s, Macaroni Grill, etc.).
As with travel redemptions, your miles are worth 1 cent apiece when you redeem them for gift cards.
You have two options to redeem your miles for cash: statement credit or check. But unless it’s an emergency, it is usually best to avoid redeeming miles for cash with these cards. Redemption rates are typically low (as low as 0.5 cents per mile). Check out the Capital One Venture profile for the latest rates.
If you’re feeling charitable, Capital One also allows you to donate your miles instead of using them for yourself. You can donate to a wide selection of charities. Some of the bigger names include the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and the National Geographic Society. The redemption value can be as high as 1 cent per point (again, check the card profile for the latest rates).
Should you get a Venture card?
If you don’t already have one of the Venture cards, consider applying for one. They offer solid rewards and a lot of flexibility you won’t get with airline and hotel cards.
“Even if you are a frequent traveler, you can still pair this card with something like the United MileagePlus card or Citi AAdvantage card,” says Cohen. “For example, let’s say I fly United 6 times a year and earn double miles [on flights purchased] with my United Card. I would use [the Venture] card for all other purchases to consistently optimize my wallet.”
If you’re not quite sure, check out SuperMoney’s top travel credit cards to compare other travel credit cards.
If you do already have the card, check out your rewards account and see whether there are any past travel purchases you can erase. If not, now is as good a time as ever to start planning your next trip!
Ben Luthi is a personal finance writer and a credit cards expert who loves helping consumers and business owners make better financial decisions. His work has been featured in Time, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance, U.S. News & World Report, CNBC, Success Magazine, USA Today, The Huffington Post and many more.