I know, I know — it was quite a controversial opinion among my TPG colleagues for the longest time. I’d always been a Chase girlie (the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card was my first travel credit card, and it still holds a top spot in my wallet), and the Venture always seemed overrated by comparison.
However, despite my misgivings, I applied for the card a couple of years back when Capital One was offering up to 100,000 miles as a welcome offer. Since adding the card to my wallet, it’s actually become a mainstay favorite that I can’t imagine getting rid of.
Here’s how the Capital One Venture Rewards changed my mind and became a favorite card of mine to recommend.
As someone who also has the Chase Freedom Unlimited (which earns at least 1.5% cash back per dollar spent), I initially overlooked the benefit of earning at least 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases. But that extra 0.5 miles does add up over time and makes a big difference in how fast I rack up rewards.
In 2020, I spent almost $21,000 on my Venture, which ended up earning around 42,000 miles. With my Freedom Unlimited, I would have only earned 31,500 Ultimate Rewards points on that non-bonus spending. That’s $777 in value earned with the Venture versus $630 earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited (since I also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, my Freedom Unlimited points get the full value of Ultimate Rewards points), based on TPG valuations.
Capital One transfer partners
Transferable points are a game changer for anyone who wants to save money on travel through points and miles. Capital One has really upped its game since first adding the ability to transfer miles to airline and hotel partners in 2018. Currently, Capital One has 18 transfer partners, most of which offer a 1:1 transfer ratio.
While my Chase and American Express cards also allow me to transfer my rewards to hotel and airline partners, Capital One does offer a couple of unique options that my other cards do not, including Accor.
Plus, the ability to funnel rewards from multiple cards into one account (such as British Airways or Virgin Red — which are transfer partners of all three credit card issuers) helps me maximize earning categories across cards while still being able to combine rewards for larger redemptions.
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Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit
I didn’t have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck before I got this card, and it has been such a game changer for me. If you’ve been in an airport this year at all, you know that security and customs lines are no joke. I’ve saved hours with Global Entry and TSA PreCheck so far in 2023 alone, and I cannot imagine traveling without them at this point.
The Capital One Venture card is one of few mid-tier travel rewards cards that offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit. In the first year, this benefit alone made the $95 annual fee (see rates and fees) for the card effectively $0.
Capital One Lounge passes
Lounge access is usually a perk reserved for top-tier credit card holders and those with elite status. The Capital One Venture Rewards gives me a taste of the action with two Capital One Lounge passes each year.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “Why are you excited about two measly lounge visits over the course of an entire year?” Capital One is still expanding its lounge presence in America, and it only has two lounges you can visit at the time of writing — one at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and one at Dulles International Airport (IAD). I usually fly through DFW at least twice a year when I visit family back in Arkansas.
Having two Capital One Lounge passes to spend when I fly back home is a sweet spot benefit that I know I’ll use each year. Could I pay hundreds of dollars more for cards with “unlimited” lounge access? Sure. But I’m OK with the trade-off of a much lower annual fee.
Low annual fee
The benefits listed above are great, but what solidifies this card’s value is the low annual fee. I get multiple perks with this card that most other travel cards in that sub-$100 annual fee range don’t offer. As much as I adore my Chase Sapphire Preferred, it doesn’t give me access to a nice lounge when I visit home, nor does it save me time at the airport by covering my Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee.
Some cards offer even more benefits — wider-reaching lounge access, travel credits, higher spending rates for certain categories and more. But they also come with much higher annual fees. At this point in my life, I can’t justify spending thousands of dollars each year on the annual fees for multiple cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express. Thankfully, some great mid-tier cards out there make traveling much more convenient without breaking the bank — including the Capital One Venture.
With only a $95 annual fee, it’s easy to justify keeping this card in my wallet for the long haul.
I can admit when I’m wrong, and I definitely misjudged the Capital One Venture Rewards for a really long time before I realized how much value it could add to my wallet. Now, it’s one of my most recommended cards for newbies to the points and miles space looking for a card that’s easy to use and maximize.
The Capital One Venture is a great first travel credit card with a low annual fee, easy-to-use rewards and solid benefits you don’t get with other mid-tier cards. For points pros, it offers a great way to diversify your transfer partner options across cards and earn rewards on non-bonus purchases that other cards may not cover — all without adding hundreds of dollars in annual fees.
To learn more, read our full review of the Capital One Venture card.
Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card