Transferring credit card points on to airline programs is the big-deal end game for travel rewards hackers. It’s easy to ignore that other persuasion out there, you know, the more stable partners. There’s a whole world of faithful fixed-rate travel cards that we rarely talk about.
Typically those fixed-rate cards, while reliable and steady, don’t provide the type of excitement and romance that a transferable points card, like an American Express Platinum, or a Chase Sapphire. Set out using a Bank of America or Capital One rewards card to fly in a cabin like Cathay Pacific First Class or the Etihad Apartment, and you’re going to be waiting a long time (or spending a lot of money) just to get close.
There is one fixed-rate card that might just be too good to overlook, though.
To date, I have never held one of these fixed-rate cards, but the current deal on the Capital One Venture Rewards card might just persuade me otherwise. For anyone who spends a significant number of nights in hotel rooms, this one should be a no-brainer.
The card also offers 2 points on all other purchases. It costs $95 per year, waived the first year, and it comes with a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee waiver.
The points (Capital One actually calls them “miles”) can only be redeemed at a very strictly fixed one-cent rate. But let’s think about this value proposition for a minute.
Right now, new cardholders get a nice 50,000 intro bonus after they spend $3,000 in three months. That’s worth (you guessed it) exactly $500. Live other travel cards, Capital One Venture doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.
The guaranteed rate of return for points exchanged through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, for Sapphire Reserve cardholders, is 1.5 cents each. For Preferred holders, it’s 1.25 cents each.
Hotel stays booked with the Sapphire Reserve net three points per dollar — two points with the Sapphire Preferred.
An ambitious return on a points transfer from Chase to a partner might exceed 3¢ per point, so let’s use this redemption rate as an example and compare a couple spending profiles.
Bigtime spends most of her time in the air, and given that accommodations are booked directly by her employer, spends on hotels just incidentally throughout the course of the year.
Airfare – $17,854
Hotels – $1,452
Dining – $2,987
Other – $9,754
Using only the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, Bigtime would be guaranteed $1,149 in travel rewards this year. If she transferred her Ultimate Rewards points for pricier business and first class flights, she might earn the equivalent of $2,300.
Using only the Capital One Venture card, Bigtime would be guaranteed $757.10 in rewards that could be applied to travel or anything, really.
Isolating the hotel expenses and putting them on the Capital One card, while using the Sapphire Reserve for everything else, Bigtime can maximize both his guaranteed and optimized rewards, up to $1,230 guaranteed and $2,313 optimized.
In this case, the additional points earned on hotels through the Capital One Card don’t cover the additional fee to hold the card (for comparison, I’m ignoring the current 50,000 Venture Miles introductory bonus).
But for someone who spends more on hotels, the difference becomes vastly more pronounced.
Sleepy’s consulting business means he spends more nights in hotels than in his own bed, racking up major hotel expenses throughout the year, in addition to airfare and dining while on the road.
Airfare – $9,546
Hotels – $12,988
Dining – $4,250
Other – $9,234
Using only the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, Sleepy would be guaranteed $1,343 in travel rewards this year. If he transferred his Ultimate Rewards points for pricier business and first class flights, he might earn the equivalent of $2,687.
Using only the Capital One Venture card, Sleepy would be guaranteed $1,759 in rewards that could be applied to travel or anything else he could want.
Isolating the hotel expenses and putting them on the Capital One card, while using the Sapphire Reserve for everything else, Bigtime can maximize both his guaranteed and optimized rewards, up to $2,058.13 guaranteed and $2,817.46 optimized.
For a heavy hotel spender like Sleepy, the Venture card actually offers higher guaranteed travel rewards than the Sapphire Reserve. When combined, the increase in guaranteed and potentially optimized rewards more than covers the fee to hold both cards.
Considerations When Using Capital One Venture
There are a few rules to maximize the Venture card 10-point deal with Hotels.com.
- Only hotels booked through Hotels.com/venture qualify.
- Hotels must be prepaid on hotels.com; rooms paid upon arrival don’t count.
- Hotels booked on the Hotels.com app or over the phone don’t count.
- The 10x points partnership is guaranteed through January 2020.
- The 8x bonus points sometimes take longer than the standard 2x points to appear.
Redeeming points is easy. Most flights and hotel rooms can be found in Capital One’s online portal. It’s also possible to use the points to buy gift cards, which can then be spent on a whole variety of goods.
Capital One also allows Venture cardholders to retroactively apply points to their credit card statements. Charges can be vanquished, using miles, with at the click of a button.
Generally, I don’t recommend fixed-point travel cards. For just a little more upfront, cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi ThankYou Premier offer far more versatility and generally better rewards.
When I learned about this 10x points arrangement with Hotels.com, however, I had to turn and consider this card. I’m not in the category of individuals who spend enough on hotels to make this work, but those who do have a lot to gain by considering this card.
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