A Guide to the Capital One Venture Card: Everything You Need to Know Before Applying

FT Contributor  | 

Chances are, you’ve seen the commercials for the Capital One Venture Card promising flexible travel rewards, including the option to fly for free on any airline. As travel rewards credit cards go, the Capital One Venture Card is easy to use, even if it doesn’t offer some of the premium perks that other cards provide. However, if you want to earn miles to put towards your next vacation with every purchase, and not be locked in using them with a specific airline or hotel brand, the Venture card is worth considering.

Capital One Venture Card

If you love to travel, or even if you only take occasional trips, the Capital One Venture Card is an ideal credit card to carry thanks to its generous rewards and flexibility in using them.         

Card Details

The Capital One Venture Card is comparable to other rewards credit cards in terms of its APR, fees, and incentives. To qualify for the card, you typically need a good credit score, i.e., at least 690 or above.

Currently, the annual interest rate on the card is 17.24% to 24.49%, and varies according to your credit score and payment history with the card; late or missed payments will increase your interest rate. Capital One does not offer an introductory rate for this card. The cash advance rate is 24.49% and variable.

For the first year, you won’t pay a fee for this card. After that, the annual fee is $95, on par with other rewards credit cards. However, the card offers several perks as well as rewards, which, depending on how often you travel and how you use the card, can make the fee worthwhile. In addition to travel miles, the Venture Card offers:

  • No foreign transaction fees;
  • Secondary car rental insurance coverage;
  • $3,000 in lost baggage coverage;
  • Up to $250,000 in travel accident insurance coverage;
  • Rebate on fees for Global Entry and TSA Precheck ($100 and $85, respectively);
  • Purchase protection, including extended warranty coverage and up to $50,000 in covered replacement or repair costs;
  • 24-hour travel assistance services;
  • Access to cardholder exclusive events and experiences;

The Venture Card also offers a generous signup incentive when you’re approved for the card. You’ll receive a 50,000-mile bonus when you make $3,000 in purchases during your first three months of carrying the card. This is equivalent to about $500 in travel rewards.

Rewards

The Capital One Venture Card’s rewards system differs from other travel rewards cards. Instead of earning points or miles with a specific partner, the miles earned with the Venture Card can be used to book flights on any airline or stays at any hotel. You earn two points per dollar spent on the card, regardless of where you shop. These points never expire, and there’s no limit on how many points you can earn.

Occasionally, Capital One will offer additional points earning opportunities for cardholders, providing more points per dollar, or bonuses. For instance, booking a hotel via Hotels.com will earn you 10 points per dollar spent.

In terms of value, the Venture Card’s point system translates to about a 2% return, or 1.5 airline miles for every dollar you spend. Depending on how you use your rewards, the miles are worth about one cent each. However, unlike airline miles or other travel rewards, you can use your rewards with any travel provider, and there are no blackout dates or other restrictions on travel. You won’t be prohibited from upgrading your airline seats, for instance, because you used rewards.

How you redeem your rewards, though, makes a big difference in the actual value you see from them. Capital One offers several options for redeeming your points. First, you may apply your rewards to your account balance as a credit for travel purchases. For instance, if you book a flight with the card, you can log in to your online account and apply any earned rewards to that purchase. The benefit of doing this is that you can earn more points with the purchase as well as any frequent flyer miles you’re entitled to from the airline itself.

The second option is to book your travel through Capital One’s online travel agency, and instantly apply your rewards to the purchase. When you log on to your online account, you can access the portal to travel booking services. The site offers the same flights and prices as other major travel sites, but you can use your rewards to pay.

Finally, you also have the option of transferring your rewards in the form of airline miles to one of Capital One’s airline partners. Although the company works with more than a dozen airline partners, none of the major U.S. airlines other than JetBlue are on the list. Therefore, unless you regularly fly internationally with airlines such as Air Canada or Air France, transferring your miles isn’t likely to provide many benefits. In addition, when you transfer your miles, they only transfer at a rate of 2:1.5. This means that your 50,000-mile bonus, for example, will only carry over as about 37,000 miles to the airline.

Capital One Venture One Card

Capital One also offers a slightly different version of the Venture Card, the Capital One Venture One card. While the reward redemption rules are the same (unlimited earnings, no expiration, applicable for any airline or hotel) the earnings potential is lower.

With this card, you only earn 1.25 miles per dollar spent, and the initial bonus is only 20,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in the first three months. The Venture One card has a lower annual percentage rate, though (currently 0% for the first 12 months, and 13.49% to 23.49% after that), and does not charge an annual fee. The credit score requirements are the same.

Pros and Cons of the Capital One Venture Cards

As with any credit card, there are pros and cons to carrying the Capital One Venture Card.

Pros

The flexibility to use your rewards with any airline or hotel is one of the biggest pros of the card. Depending on how you use your card, it’s easy to earn a free flight or hotel stay that you can take advantage of when and where you want without any hassles.

Other pros include:

  • No blackout dates for travel;
  • Points don’t expire;
  • There’s no limit to the points you can earn with the card;
  • You can transfer the miles to certain airlines;
  • Additional travel benefits;
  • Can be used anywhere the card is accepted;

Cons

For all of its positives, the Capital One Venture Card isn’t perfect. Among the drawbacks:

  • Miles don’t transfer at a 1:1 ratio;
  • The list of airline partners is limited;
  • Has an annual fee;
  • The travel perks aren’t as generous as other cards (no concierge services, for instance);

Applying for the Capital One Venture Card

Applying for the Capital One Venture Card is easy. The best way to apply is online. You’ll need to supply personal information, including your Social Security number, employment information, and income. Depending on your credit history and the information you provide, you may receive a response right away, or hear back via mail within seven to 10 days.

If you already have a different Capital One credit card, or a bank account with the company, you can also apply for the Venture Card via your online account page. Capital One also occasionally sends out pre-screened offers for the card, providing the option of applying by phone or mail.

Credit Needed to Apply for the Capital One Venture Card

The Capital One Venture Card requires a good to excellent credit score of 690 or higher. If you have a lower score, you may qualify for one of the company’s other products.

Checking Your Credit Score

Before you apply for the Venture Card, it’s smart to check your score and credit report to determine whether you’ll qualify. Applying for the card will initiate a hard inquiry into your credit, taking points off temporarily, so knowing your chances ahead of time prevents an unnecessary ding on your score.

To access your score, check your statements from any other credit cards or loan accounts you have. Many lenders have implemented credit score services for customers or will provide the most recent score every month on the statement. You can also purchase your score from a site like MyFico.com, or work with a credit score service, which may or may not charge you.

What to Do if You’re Denied a Credit Card

If your application is denied, Capital One will send a letter detailing their decision. Review the information in that letter (known as an adverse action letter) to determine your next steps. The most important thing is to avoid doing anything that could potentially hurt your credit. However, depending on the reasons for the denial, you may need to focus on the following to increase your credit score:

  • Making payments on time, every time;
  • Lowering your existing credit card and loan balances;
  • Removing derogatory information from your report (e.g., old accounts, incorrect accounts, paying collection accounts);
  • Building a more solid history through store credit cards or secured cards;

The Capital One Venture Card may be beneficial to you if you travel often and want to earn rewards for your everyday purchases. However, as with any card, do your homework before you apply, and compare your options, to make the best decision for your finances.


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This post was updated January 15, 2020. It was originally published January 15, 2020.