Last month Capital One launched an exciting new benefit for a few of their miles-earning cards, including:
This new feature makes cards like the popular Capital One Venture Card even more broadly appealing than before.
I covered the fundamentals of the new program previously, and in this post want to highlight more of the interesting and creative ways cardholders can take advantage of the new mileage transfer benefit.
Capital One’s new miles transfer option
It’s now possible to transfer points from the above cards, including the Capital One Venture Card, to over a dozen airline and hotel frequent flyer programs at a ratio of up to 2:1.5.
That means for every purchase you make on the Venture® Rewards or Spark® Miles cards, you’re earning up to 1.5 points per dollar spent. Here are the current partners:
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Accor Live Limitless (ALL)|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Wyndham Rewards|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands|
|Hainan Fortune Wings Club|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer|
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
The good news is that Capital One isn’t taking anything away. Cardmembers can continue to use the popular Purchase Eraser feature (or book through the Capital One portal) to redeem Venture miles for one cent each towards the cost of travel.
The great thing about being able to transfer Venture miles to select airline and hotel programs is that it opens up good value redemptions that you may not otherwise be able to book inexpensively with Venture miles.
So in this post I wanted to provide some examples of when it’s a great value to redeem Capital One miles by transferring them to an airline or hotel program.
When you should and shouldn’t transfer Venture miles
Every situation will vary, but I wanted to provide some general suggestions on when you should and shouldn’t consider transferring Venture miles to an loyalty program.
You should consider transferring Venture miles to an airline frequent flyer program if:
- You want to book an international first or business class ticket
- You want to book an economy ticket that would be expensive if paying cash
- You want to book a last-minute airline ticket, where cash fares are often expensive, but airline award availability is often best
You should instead consider the Venture “Purchase Eraser” feature if:
- You want to book a domestic airline ticket in advance, and fares are reasonable
- You want to travel internationally in economy, and the cost of a ticket is quite cheap
- You want to travel to a destination that simply doesn’t have much award availability (for example, airlines don’t make many award seats available to Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, etc., during peak season)
- You want to redeem for any sort of travel purchase except airfare, like car rentals, hotels, cruises, and more
It’s pretty easy to do the math on which option is better based on what kind of a travel purchase you’re trying to make.
For example, if you want to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo and a ticket would cost $500 in cash or 60,000 airline miles in a participating partner program (actual prices will of course vary based on circumstances), you’d be better off using the Purchase Eraser feature.
Why? Because you’d have to redeem 50,000 Venture miles for that ticket using Purchase Eraser, while you’d need to transfer at least 80,000 Venture miles to the airline program in order to book that seat, so one is a much better deal than the other.
This is just one example, and both the cost of paid airline tickets and award redemptions will vary based on your dates, the carriers involved, etc., but this should hopefully give you an idea as to how to compare the options.
As I’ll show below, there are also many cases where transferring miles to an airline partner is a much better value.
How do you redeem Capital One Venture miles?
With that out of the way, let’s look at some ways you can leverage this new mileage transfer option to get high value redemptions. In no particular order:
Redeem Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles for Promo Awards
Every month the Flying Blue program publishes what they refer to as Promo Awards, which offer a discount of 20-50% on award tickets. While Flying Blue often has reasonable redemption rates to begin with, this offers even further discounts on tickets.
This can be useful regardless of whether you’re looking to redeem for economy or business class. Flying Blue doesn’t have a fixed award chart, but rather award pricing varies based on the city pair.
For example, during their Promo Awards in November, you could have booked one-way economy flights from Seattle to Paris for just 14,500 Flying Blue miles plus $66.92 in taxes and fees.
Meanwhile during their Promo Awards in October, you could have booked one-way business class flights from Amsterdam to Vancouver for just 30,250 Flying Blue miles, plus $237.76 in taxes and fees.
Like I said, the deals vary every month, but keeping a close eye on these Promo Awards can pay off.
KLM’s business class on the 777
So, how do you actually go about booking Promo Awards?
- Verify the availability and pricing on the Air France-KLM website
- Once you’ve found flights you’re happy with, log into your Capital One account in order to transfer your Venture miles to Flying Blue
- Go back to the Air France-KLM website (or call) to actually ticket your reservation; keep in mind that award availability is subject to change, so you’ll want to complete this process as quickly as possible
Redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles for travel to Europe
Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance (the world’s largest airline alliance), so having Aeroplan miles gives you access to travel on many airlines.
One of my favorite uses of Aeroplan miles is being able to redeem them for travel to Europe in business class. For just 110,000 Aeroplan miles roundtrip (roughly 147,000 Venture miles) you can fly from most of the US to most points in Western Europe in business class.
In addition to your destination, you’re also allowed two stopovers on the award, which would allow you to visit three different cities on the same ticket, and for no additional miles!
This is a phenomenal redemption opportunity, and one of the best ways to get to Europe in business class using airline miles.
The one thing to be aware of is that in addition to paying taxes on award tickets, Aeroplan also passes on the carrier imposed surcharges that some airlines have. However, you can avoid this by redeeming on certain Aeroplan partner airlines.
Aeroplan is in Star Alliance, so you can fly Turkish’s business class on the 777 using your miles
How do you actually go about booking awards through Aeroplan?
- Verify the availability and pricing on the Aeroplan website (if you’re trying to plan a ticket with stopovers, you may need to phone the Aeroplan contact center)
- Once you’ve found flights you’re happy with, log into your Capital One account in order to transfer your Venture miles to Aeroplan
- Go back to the Aeroplan website to actually ticket your reservation; keep in mind that award availability is subject to change, so you’ll want to complete this process as quickly as possible
Redeem Avianca LifeMiles for travel to Asia
Avianca also belongs to the Star Alliance, and their LifeMiles program has excellent values thanks to their reasonable redemption rates and the fact that these tickets have low fees — LifeMiles doesn’t pass on any of the carrier-imposed surcharges to passengers.
For example, you could redeem 75,000 LifeMiles (~100,000 Venture miles) for a one-way business class redemption on EVA Air.
EVA Air offers one of my favorite business class experiences. On longhaul flights, passengers receive pajamas, excellent champagne, catering provided by Din Tai Fung, amenity kits from popular luggage brand Rimowa, and most importantly, fully flat beds with direct aisle access.
EVA Air’s business class on the 777
How do you actually go about booking awards through LifeMiles?
- Verify the availability and pricing on the LifeMiles website
- Once you’ve found flights you’re happy with, log into your Capital One account in order to transfer your Venture miles to LifeMiles
- Go back to the LifeMiles website to actually ticket your reservation; keep in mind that award availability is subject to change, so you’ll want to complete this process as quickly as possible
Now, you might be saying to yourself that EVA Air Infinity MileageLands is also a Capital One partner, so why wouldn’t you instead transfer miles to them for travel on EVA Air?
While there are lots of other great uses of EVA Air miles, in this case it’s cheaper to redeem miles for EVA Air through LifeMiles than through EVA Air’s own program. While LifeMiles charges just 75,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket between the US and Taipei, Infinity MileageLands would charge 87,500 miles for the same ticket. So ironically you can save ~16,700 Capital One miles by booking through LifeMiles in this example.
Redeem Cathay Pacific Asia Miles for travel to Asia
Hong Kong is my favorite city in the world, and Cathay Pacific is the largest airline based there.
The Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program can be a good value if wanting to fly business class to Asia, and presents a good alternative to LifeMiles and EVA, so Capital One is giving you plenty of potential options here.
For example, you could fly one-way from San Francisco to Hong Kong for 70,000 Asia Miles (~93,400 Capital One miles).
Cathay Pacific is generally quite consistent about releasing award space in business class, so there should be lots of opportunities to book these tickets.
Cathay Pacific’s business class on the A350
Alternatively, if you really want to splurge, you can also redeem miles for Cathay Pacific first class. The same flight in first class (again, one-way) would cost 110,000 — or roughly 147,000 Venture miles.
In first class you can expect amazing champagne, caviar, pajamas, one of the most spacious beds in the sky, and attentive service.
Cathay Pacific’s first class on the 777
How do you actually go about booking awards through Asia Miles?
- Verify the availability and pricing on the Asia Miles website
- Once you’ve found flights you’re happy with, log into your Capital One account in order to transfer your Venture miles to Asia Miles
- Go back to the Asia Miles website to actually ticket your reservation; keep in mind that award availability is subject to change, so you’ll want to complete this process as quickly as possible
Redeem Etihad Guest miles for travel to Morocco
Morocco is a hot travel destination right now, and one of the easiest ways to get there is on Royal Air Maroc. Royal Air Maroc flies from New York, Washington, and as of 2019, Miami, nonstop to Casablanca. From there you can connect to Marrakech or other points in Morocco.
One of the best values for redeeming on Royal Air Maroc is using Etihad Guest miles, as a one-way ticket costs just 44,000 Etihad Guest miles (or ~58,700 Venture miles) plus taxes and fees. You can actually use this to fly anywhere in the region, so you could continue to Europe or other points in Africa if you wanted to, for no additional miles.
Royal Air Maroc has a fully flat business class product on their 787, which they use for all of their US flights.
Royal Air Maroc’s business class on the 787
How do you actually go about booking Royal Air Maroc awards through Etihad Guest?
- You’ll need to phone up Etihad Guest to ask about availability (these tickets aren’t bookable online)
- Once you’ve found flights you’re happy with, log into your Capital One account in order to transfer your Venture miles to Etihad Guest
- You’ll once again need to call Etihad Guest to actually ticket your reservation; keep in mind that award availability is subject to change, so you’ll want to complete this process as quickly as possible
As you can see, many of the best uses of Venture miles for airline mileage transfers are for situations where you’re looking for what I’d consider to be an “aspirational” redemption, like flying first or business class to somewhere exotic.
There are other instances where it can also make sense, but in general this is the beauty of this new mileage transfer opportunity.
If you’re just looking to book an inexpensive economy ticket (either domestically or internationally), consider using the Purchase Eraser feature, since this will be more straightforward, and likely a better value.
But for those looking for new and exciting way to use their Capital One miles, this is an excellent option.
The redemption rates and travel rewards programs described above are current as of December 2018 and may change. It’s always best to review the most current information directly on the loyalty program’s site.