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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.
[…] 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. […]