Capital One has been on a tear the past few years making considerable improvements to its Venture Miles program, adding additional ways to use those miles – and, more importantly, more lucrative redemptions through Capital One's network of transfer partners.
But with the addition of a new Capital One Travel Portal and a longtime favorite option of using Venture Miles to cover travel purchases – which allows you to pay for any travel expense with your Capital One card, then go back and cover the cost with miles – there are now three different ways to put your Capital One Venture miles to use. Deciding which avenue is best to make the most of your miles can be confusing.
In our opinion, you shouldn’t ever redeem your Venture Miles directly through the Capital One Travel Portal. You can still use Capital One’s travel portal to book flights (and put your $300 travel credit to use if you’ve got the Venture X Card) … but there’s a workaround that will ultimately save you Venture Miles in the long run.
Here's what you need to know.
Booking Travel Through the Capital One Travel Portal
No matter which Capital One card you have, Venture Miles will always be worth a fixed amount of one cent each when you redeem them through Capital One Travel. That means if you are looking to book a flight, hotel, or rental car through Capital One Travel that costs $500, you would need to use 50,000 Venture Miles to do so. Unlike redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards through the Chase Travel Portal, where your points are worth up to 1.5x more depending on which card you hold, your Venture Miles will never be worth more than one cent each when you use them this way.
Capital One does offer some additional perks for using its travel portal, though, including a tool that predicts whether the price of your flight will drop, the option to watch pricing before booking, and the ability to freeze the price of a flight if you're not ready to book.
But if you're looking to pay for a flight with cash rather than points, Capital One provides a pretty good incentive.
If you hold the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, you'll earn 10x miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through the travel portal. For flights, you'll earn 5x miles per dollar spent on those bookings. Not to mention, Venture X cardholders get a $300 credit to use for bookings through Capital One Travel each and every year they hold the card.
If you hold the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you'll earn 5x miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through the portal.
Both cards earn 2x miles per dollar spent on every other purchase you make with your card.
Using Venture Miles to Cover Travel Purchases
Capital One offers another, easy way to redeem your Venture Miles by using them to cover travel purchases after the fact.
If you have Venture Miles, you'll have the ability to get reimbursed for the cost of flights, hotels, Airbnbs, cruises, or any other purchase you make that codes to your card as travel. Using this method, you can use Venture Miles to cover almost any travel expense imaginable.
Simply charge any travel expense to your account and wait for it to post to your card statement. Once it does, you'll have up to 90 days to remove that charge from your account with Venture Miles. It's as easy as that.
When you redeem them this way, each Venture Mile will be worth one cent each. That means a $500 flight can be covered with 50,000 Venture Miles – the same rate you'll find by redeeming points in the Capital One Travel Portal.
No matter if you book directly with an airline or a hotel or through an online travel agency like Expedia, Kayak, or Capital One Travel itself, those charges can all be covered with Venture Miles. That's why we think it never makes sense to redeem Venture Miles directly through the Capital One Travel Portal.
Why You Shouldn't Redeem Points Through Capital One Travel
Purchases made through Capital One Travel are eligible to be covered with Venture Miles using the option described above – and that opens up a door to get a better value for your miles when booking travel than you would by redeeming them through the travel portal.
Since you can earn up to 10x Venture Miles per dollar spent on bookings made through Capital One Travel depending on which card you hold, you can earn a lot more miles booking through the portal than you could booking directly through the airline, hotel, or rental car agency.
Those additional Venture Miles post to your account immediately, so you can come out ahead by booking first through the Capital One Travel Portal using cash, earning miles, and then later removing the charge from your statement using those Venture Miles.
Here's an example of how this works in practice: A few weeks ago, I needed to book a one-way flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Minneapolis – St. Paul (MSP) to get home from a trip to Japan I'm taking this fall. I zeroed in on a Sun Country flight that would cost me a total of $101.90.
I hold the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and if I booked that flight directly with Sun Country, I would have earned 203 Capital One Venture Miles since I earn 2x Venture Miles per dollar spent on that purchase. Once that charge was posted to my statement, I could remove it for 10,190 Venture Miles since each Venture Mile is worth one cent each when redeemed that way.
Instead, I opted to book the flight through the Capital One Travel Portal to earn 5x points on the flight purchase instead of the 2x I would have earned by booking directly with Sun Country, for a total of 510 Venture Miles.
More importantly, since purchases made through the travel portal can still be removed with Venture Miles once they post to your statement, I can still remove the charge for only 10,190 Venture Miles.
By doing it this way, I earned an additional 307 Venture Miles, a better value than if I had simply redeemed my Venture Miles through the travel portal.
The math here works better for Venture X cardholders, who earn 5x points when booking flights through Capital One Travel, and 10x points when booking hotels and rental cars.
Other Venture cards only earn 5x points on hotels and rental cars and 2x points on all other purchases, including flights. So unless you're interested in the fringe benefits of using the travel portal, it makes more sense to cut out the middleman of an OTA like Capital One Travel and book directly through the airline, then use your Venture Miles to remove the charge from your statement after the fact – it will cost you the same number of miles either way.
Thrifty Tip: Booking through Capital One Travel also allows you to take advantage of the $300 travel credit from the Venture X card. About a week after booking my Sun Country flight, I received a statement credit for the $101.90 purchase. And even though I was already credited back the $101.90 as part of my $300 travel credit benefit from Venture X, I could still remove the original charge with miles.
Capital One provides cardholders with three different ways to use Venture Miles. You can transfer them to airline and hotel transfer partners, use them to cover travel purchases, and even redeem them directly through Capital One's new travel portal. But in theory, there isn't much value in redeeming them direclty through the Capital One Travel Portal.
You're better off paying cash to book a flight or hotel through the travel portal and removing that charge with Venture Miles at a later time.