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The newest player in flexible points, Capital One offers a strong rewards program for travelers and non-travelers alike. Capital One miles—previously an indistinct term for something that was essentially cash back—now offer customers numerous redemption options to fit any need. That’s on top of competitive earning rates, even on cards with no annual fee.
Best of all, Capital One’s array of solutions makes this one of the most straightforward credit card programs available. With the right credit card, a customer can get away with a single card in their wallet and still take advantage of strong earnings and a wide variety of redemption options, including some with no strings attached. Most other programs don’t offer that simplicity.
If that balance of simplicity and flexibility sounds up your alley, here’s what you need to know about Capital One miles.
How to Earn Capital One Rewards
Capital One offers two personal cards and two business cards that earn transferable rewards. Each card offers different benefits and earning rates so with that many choices, there’s likely to be a card (or two) to fit your personal needs.
All four cards offer a straightforward earning structure, where every purchase earns rewards at the same rate. There are no category bonuses to keep straight, no caps on earning and as a bonus, miles post when you earn them rather than at the end of your statement period.
Personal Credit Cards
Business Credit Cards
It may also be possible to combine rewards between two or more eligible Capital One cards. This can lead to additional redemption options when moving rewards from one card to another as well as allowing you to reach reward goals faster.
How to Use Capital One Rewards
Like many flexible currencies, Capital One miles provide the highest redemption values when redeeming rewards toward travel. Cardholders can choose between transferring to more than fifteen partner loyalty programs or redeeming miles toward travel at a fixed rate to avoid blackout dates and other limitations.
While you won’t get the same redemption values when choosing non-travel awards, Capital One also allows cardholders to redeem miles for cash back, gift cards or Amazon.com purchases. This versatility means you’ll always have an option that works for you.
Transfer Capital One Points to Travel Partners
Capital One rewards can be transferred to 15 airline partners and two hotel partners. Transfer rates vary by partner, with several at a 1:1 ratio, meaning 1 Capital One mile is equivalent to 1 point or mile with the travel loyalty program. Others work out to 2:1.5 or 2:1, meaning your rewards won’t stretch quite as far. Infrequent transfer bonuses improve these ratios.
Since all transfers are final, it’s important to have a specifically intended use for your rewards before initiating the transfer.
Although transferring rewards to partner programs offers incredible flexibility, it also means the value of your rewards is highly variable depending on how you redeem your newly-transferred miles.
Before you transfer rewards to a loyalty program, ensure you’re getting at least 1 cent per point in value. Otherwise, you will be better off redeeming your Capital One rewards through the other methods detailed below.
Use the Capital One Travel Center
Capital One’s original claim to fame was using miles to book travel through their dedicated booking engine at a flat rate, with no blackout dates or other hassles. The option still exists today, providing customers a surefire way to redeem their rewards without a dose of frustration on the side.
The Capital One Travel Center is an online travel agency (OTA), which works similar to the interfaces you’re already familiar with at sites like Expedia or Priceline. However, when you use the Capital One portal, you’ll be able to make payment via your rewards. When redeeming points this way, you’ll get a flat one cent per point in value.
Since the Travel Center isn’t affiliated with specific airlines or hotels, you’ll have access to your choice of airlines and properties, including those that aren’t direct transfer partners. This allows you to fully customize your trip and work around inventory restrictions that come with traditional awards. You can also book non-chain hotels or other forms of accommodation, ranging from bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels and even some vacation rentals.
Redeem Miles Toward Previous Travel Purchases
Travelers who prefer not to use the Capital One Travel Center can also redeem miles by purchasing travel directly with airlines, hotels and other travel providers and paying with their eligible card. After the purchase is posted to your account, you can reimburse yourself for the purchase by redeeming miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent each.
To use this feature, the transaction must be classified by the merchant as a qualifying travel category, such as airfare, hotel stays or a cruise. Eligible purchases from the last 90 days will show as redemption options in your online Capital One account.
Redeem for Cash Back
Using your points for travel typically yields the most value for your rewards but it’s not the only option. Capital One also allows cardholders to redeem their rewards as cash back (in the form of a mailed check or an electronic statement credit), although only at 0.5 cents per point.
Statement credits usually show up in two to three business days and will lower your card balance but do not count as a payment on your account so you may still need to make a minimum payment toward your bill.
Cutting your reward value in half is a tough idea to swallow but it can be a good option when your budget is tight or you don’t have time to take a vacation.
Redeem for Gift Cards
Capital One offers gift cards as another redemption option for your miles. While choosing a gift card isn’t as flexible as accepting cash, it increases the value of your miles to 0.8 to 1.0 cent each, depending on the gift card merchant and denomination of the gift card.
Capital One partners with dozens of different gift card brands, including retailers and restaurants nationwide as well as everyday staples like gas stations and grocery stores. Most gift cards arrive by mail within two to three weeks after redemption.
Shop with Points on Amazon.com
Like many other credit card reward programs, you can use Capital One points to cover the cost of purchases at Amazon.com. To do so, you’ll need to link your Capital One card to your Amazon.com account. Then, at checkout you’ll see an option to redeem points toward some or all of your purchase at a rate of 0.8 cents per point. Amazon has offered discounts and other promotions in the past to incentivize shoppers to boost the value of your redemption.
With a large portfolio of cards to choose from and flexible redemption options, Capital One can be a compelling solution for cardholders. Their program excels in simplicity when it comes to earning and offers a few cards with no annual fee, making it a great set of cards for anyone dipping their toe in the water.
Redemption options can be equally easy, if you choose to redeem for travel at a flat rate, with the possibility of outsized value for cardholders willing to learn the ins and outs of travel partners.
Ultimately, for anyone collecting travel rewards, Capital One’s rewards program is one worth considering in almost any situation.