Late last year, Capital One shook things up by adding the ability to transfer points directly to 14 different airlines. And now, the popular travel rewards card issuer is sweetening the deal.
Capital One has announced it will occasionally offer transfer bonuses when sending miles to specific airlines. Though it started this new bonus feature with a real dud – a 1:1 transfer to Emirates Skywards, which is a very weak mileage program – it's an encouraging sign. A spokeswoman from Capital One made clear this is simply the first in a rotating series of such bonuses.
And that's great news. These transfer bonuses are essentially free miles. American Express and Citi both offer them occasionally, and it's part of the reason we value American Express Membership Rewards points so highly. These bonuses typically range from an extra 10% to 30% when transferring your credit card points to a designated airline.
Just how this will look with Capital One remains unclear. But it could help address a glaring flaw with the Capital One's new transferability: A relatively poor return when you transfer your miles.
Scan through the list of Capital One transfer partners, and you'll see that it takes 2 points to get 1.5 miles for almost every airline. It's worse with Emirates and Singapore, where points transfer on a 2:1 basis.
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles||Airline||1:1||Up to five business days|
|Etihad||Airline||1:1||Up to 1 day|
|EVA Air||Airline||2:1.5||Up to five business days|
|TAP Air Portugal||Airline||1:1||Same day|
|Turkish Airlines||Airline||1:1||Same day|
|Virgin Red||Other||1:1||Same day|
|Accor||Hotel||2:1||Up to two business days|
|Choice Hotels||Hotel||1:1||Same day|
Compared to the 1:1 transfers you get to most airlines from other banks, it's an issue. That means the 50,000-point sign-up bonus on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is good for just 37,500 airline miles at most.
This is welcome news, to say the least.
While the launch of points transfers was a mixed bag, this could help level the playing field for Capital One. And despite the fact that Capital One kicked off these transfer bonuses with a pretty horrible option, it's encouraging.
As I said above, these transfer bonuses are essentially free miles. It can drastically lower the amount of points you need to book some insane flights.
Now, whether these bonuses will ever match the amazing 30% transfer bonuses from American Express to Virgin Atlantic remains to be seen.
This is a great step for Capital One that can give your points an extra boost. We just hope the next transfer bonus airline is better than Emirates.