I never thought this day would come.
Capital One has long been a punchline in the mileage game. The reason that airline miles are so lucrative is because you can get crazy values for your points by transferring them into miles and redeeming them for pricey last minute tickets, business class tickets, and first class tickets. I’ve received values that range from 5 cents to 50 cents per mile on my best redemptions, making it far more lucrative than earning cash back.
Capital One advertises miles, but until now all those miles were good for is a rebate of 1 cent each towards travel. Their best cards earn 2 miles per dollar, but that’s a maximum of 2% towards travel, which is worse than 2% cash back cards. Capital One also pulls and reports to all 3 of your credit reports and they report business cards on your personal credit report.
That will all change in December. You’ll be able to transfer points from Capital One into these 12 airline programs at a 2:1.5 ratio:
- Aeromexico (SkyTeam)
- Air Canada Aeroplan (Star Alliance)
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue (SkyTeam)
- Alitalia (SkyTeam)
- Avianca LifeMiles (Star Alliance)
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (OneWorld)
- Etihad (No alliance)
- EVA (Star Alliance)
- Finnair (OneWorld)
- Hainan (No alliance)
- Qantas (OneWorld)
- Qatar (OneWorld)
That means if you spend on a card that earns 2 Capital One miles per dollar, you’ll effectively earn 1.5 airline miles per dollar spent. You’ll also still have the option to use the Capital One miles towards travel, so you can also use the card to earn 2% back on travel.
Capital One says that they will be adding more partners in the future as well.
I don’t find this to be as lucrative as Freedom Unlimited+Sapphire Reserve, but it’s close. That combo earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent everywhere and can be redeemed for 2.25% back on travel. Plus you earn 3 miles per dollar on dining and travel and even more as you add more Chase cards to the combo.
That being said, Capital One does have the advantage of no foreign transaction fees and you can book travel anywhere, it doesn’t need to be via a portal like Chase requires. Plus you only need one card to do all of that, though there are no strong bonus categories. One Capital One mileage earning card effectively becomes a hybrid card by giving the ability to redeem miles at a decent value towards paid airfare and the ability to transfer into airline miles.
In general I prefer Chase’s transfer partners as I get a lot of value from partners like United. Chase also has a valuable hotel transfer partner in Hyatt, something that other transferable currencies typically lack.
However Capital One’s transfer partners are strong:
- Avianca has many sweet spots for Star Alliance travel.
- Aeroplan has their own sweet spots as well.
- Air France has promo awards for cheap travel to Europe and Israel.
- Cathay Pacific recently devalued their award chart, but there are still sweet spots to be found and they have lower fuel surcharges for British Airways travel than other airlines have.
- Qantas is an excellent option for travel on El Al without fuel surcharges.
- The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is offering 50,000 miles for spending $4,500 in 3 months.
- The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is offering 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 in 3 months.
Will you switch some of your spending to Capital One because of this change?