Capital One Just Made Its Miles A Lot More Valuable When Transferred To Airlines

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Capital One made its reputation as an alternative to airline miles, with David Spade mocking airline co-brands.

Over the past three-plus years they’ve taken their strength consistently delivering on a value proposition – albeit one best-geared to buying cheap tickets – and worked to build a really strong value proposition in frequent and aspirational travel. That’s the new travel portal that’ll help ensure you get the best deal, the soon-to-launch airport lounge network, and that’s transfer of Capital One miles into airline miles.

They’ve consistently been adding features, rarely taking them away – which I love for customers. And they’ve been working to become an essential companion to travel.

If there’s one thing that’s held them back from widespread adoption, it’s the complicated (but good) value proposition of airline miles transfers. And this is a company that built its brand on simple, straightforward value props.

When they launched mileage transfers at the end of 2018 they offered a variety of transfer ratios.

  • Capital One Venture is a great card, built on earning 2 miles per dollar. Earning ‘always double miles’ makes it hard to then transfer 1:1 into airline miles. Because a card that earns 2 airline miles per dollar, in your choice of airline, on all of your spend (rather than limited categories)? That’s expensive.

  • But if you earn 2 miles per dollar, and transfer those at 2:1.5, that’s still 1.5 airline miles per dollar spent on everything – which is great.

But you have to do math, stop and think. Capital One keeps doubling down on adding value to travel, and they did so in April introducing… 1:1 transfers to some airlines so you really could earn 2 airline miles per dollar on all of your spend.

It was a limited set of airlines initially. That’s changing. They’ve added several airlines to the 1:1 transfer tier, making the earn power of Capital One Venture as well as Spark Miles even better.

Capital One miles now transfer 1:1 to:

  • Star Alliance: Air Canada Aeroplan, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, Avianca LifeMiles, TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go
  • oneworld: British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Finnair Plus, Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • SkyTeam: Air France KLM Flying Blue, Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Non-alliance: Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest
  • Hotels: Wyndham Rewards

Even with 1:1 transfers, Capital One is offering a 50% bonus on transfers to Etihad in October.

Capital One miles also transfer at 2-to-1.5 into EVA Air Infinity MileageLands. And they transfer 2-to-1 into ALL Accor Live Limitless.

At this point – and EVA Air is a really underappreciated transfer partner – I’d probably just drop EVA Air and Accor to make the value proposition of 1:1 transfers to all partners simple.

I like by the way that they allow transfers in just 100 mile increments rather than 1000 mile increments (as long as there’s a 1000 mile minimum transfer), since I often find after a transfer I might have 878 miles in an account. I’d much rather go closer to zero, and not ‘waste’ that extra 1000 miles. It’s a small win, but something Capital One does for customers that other issuers do not.

And while not all points transfers are instant, the ones you’ll probably use most like Air Canada, Air France, Avianca, British Airways, and Emirates generally seem to be.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

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  1. […] On the points-spending side you can redeem points through Capital One’s travel portal, but you do not have to in order to use points for paid travel, since you can also redeem against recent travel purchases on your statement. My favorite use of course is transfers to other loyalty programs, which are now nearly all at 1:1. […]

Comments

  1. The ability to transfer to frequent flier miles, or to cash out for stuff like Amtrak, Airbnb, Uber, etc, means that building and having a stash of Capital One miles/points can truly come in hand. Good move here.

  2. Yet another blog entry that isn’t directly related to American Airlines – what is happening to this site?

  3. How long until they offer an actual premium card? The Venture is… fine, but nothing to compete with the Platinum or Reserve or similar “high fee” cards.

    That matters for those of us that get those cards for the combined benefits and earn structure. For example, I love Chase’s travel insurance (AmEx Platinum had a stretch of time without it). I don’t buy travel on other cards specifically because of that insurance.

    I’d happily pick up a high-end Venture card if it came with reasonable benefits and this transfer program!

  4. RE: Capital One mileage article.
    Milage calculations referring to 2 for 1 miles, make no sense. For example if miles are transferred at 1:1, that means you get 2 miles per dollar. Huh??

  5. @ Gary — Amd, I just transferred my SO’s entire stash of 56k C1 points to AF…2 weeks ago. Oh well, maybe I will try for their crap card next.

  6. A very misleading article. Many other cards have miles which exchange at the same value as Capital One on the few carriers accepting Capital One miles. A more accurate article would have said a handful of international airlines are now accepting Capital One miles at parity with other miles programs.

    None of this changes the fact Capital One cards earn miles at a lower rate than competing cards. Bonus categories of three to five percent are common. There are at least five credit cards which offer 2.5% on all purchases.

    When you consider Capital One’s atrocious customer service along with the poor earning rate of their cards, there is no reason to use Capital One cards.

  7. Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the article. I’m excited about this change too. I’ve seen where you and others have talked about the 50% bonus on transfers to Etihad this month, but would you mind sharing where you got that information? I’ve seen it on other articles like this one, but haven’t seen anything firsthand from Capital One or Etihad about it.

    Hi Deng,
    What exactly do you feel is “misleading” about the article? That’s a pretty hefty accusation for someone that’s giving you free quality content. I also believe your comment is much more “misleading” than this article because of errors in it. You’re saying that it’s a “fact” that “Capital One cards earn miles at a lower rate than competing cards.” Actually, Capital One is the only personal credit card option available where you can have just 1 credit card earning 2 miles per dollar across as many airlines as Capital One is now 1:1 to. On the business side of things Capital One is there too, and unlike the Amex Blue Business plus, the 2x miles are uncapped (whereas Amex BBP is capped at $50k in spending). It’s also the only miles option where you could get 1.5 miles per dollar (transferable to as many airlines as Capital one miles) on general spending on a personal credit card while paying no annual fee by holding the Quicksilver and the VentureOne Rewards cards and converting the 1.5% to 1.5 miles per dollar. Add in the 3x on the SavorOne Rewards card and that 3% cashback on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery stores turns to 3 miles per dollar by holding a Capital One miles card like the no annual fee Venture One Rewards. If you’re a bigger spender on those categories, you can get 4x (or 4% if you prefer $) on all but groceries (which is 3x or 3% if you mistakenly prefer cash) if you hold the Savor Rewards and combine it with a miles-earning Capital One card. With Citi, there are options like that, but you have to pay an annual fee to convert the Citi Double cash’s cashback to miles. If you only value Capital One Miles at 1.25 cents per point, sure a 2.5% cashback card would be better on general spending, or even better, one option for 2.625% cashback (BoA w top tier Preferred Rewards status). The fact is, I don’t value Capital One miles at 1.25 cents per point. It’s very easy to get a lot more than that when you do something like a 1:1 transfer from Capital One to Turkish and then fly thousands of miles each way domestically on United for 15k in economy or 25k in business. Turkish isn’t a transfer partner of Chase or Amex.

    Hi Barry,
    All of the airlines are able to be used on domestic airlines via partnerships.

  8. Hi again Barry,

    Also have you looked at the options on Vacasa with Wyndham? There are a number of 1 bedroom options between $250-$350/night where you can use 15k/night to stay there. Also if you get the Wyndham business earner card, where the annual fee is easily covered in value by the 15k/yr points you get, it comes with top tier status that gives upgrades to suites even on award nights. It also gives 10% rebate on points. Have you looked into the value per point of some points+$ stays? I’ve seen over 5 cents per point in some cases. While sure, Hyatt would have been better, there’s plenty of value in Wyndham as well, and it’s easy to get top tier status with them

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