Capital One Venture – the card NOT to travel with

Those of you who know me know that I do a fair bit of travel; in the last year and a half I flew at least 250,000 miles through Asia and Europe for work.

As part of being a regular traveler I wanted a credit card with travel benefits. After doing some research I settled on the Venture Card from Capital One primarily because of its decent interest rate and its competitive points system. With that said I still cannot recommend this as a travel card.

Why you ask? Well there is more to a travel credit card than the interest rate and points. To explain let me tell you about my trip to Russia.

First to be honest I did not explicitly tell any of my cards that I was going to Russia. That said when I know I am going to be a heavy traveler like I was in this time of my life I will notify any cards (which I did in this case) I intend to use them while traveling that I will essentially be living on the road.

Though it is a good practice to notify your card companies every time you travel internationally calling them every 3 weeks isn’t a reasonable thing to do — and in my defense until this event it was never a problem.

The first part of the trip was in Belarus where almost no one took cards and I ended up paying for everything with cash — even Internet access. The second part of this trip we went to Moscow and the first time I tried to use the Venture card it was denied.

This is the same card I had previously used throughout the rest of Europe and Asia with no problem. Assuming it was an attempt to “protect” me from card fraud I calmly called support reaching what was apparently a Philippines call center where I was instructed that my card had been flagged as stolen by someone in Russia.

I explained this was the first use of the card in Russia and the suspected fraud was me. The agent informed me that despite this fact in the name of my best interests she would be canceling my credit card.

I of course protested; I was after all in another country for another month and had planed to use the points I earned to cover some of the costs of the trip and more importantly I had left my backup travel cards in Belarus. Without this card I was in essence dependent on the limited amount of cash I had left.

I explained my situation to the agent and was told not to worry that she would have a card to me at my home within 24 hours. I explained again that I was in Russia and that sending card to the states wouldn’t be of any use.

The agent then offered to mail me the card in Russia but couldn’t guarantee when it would arrive. I explained that this could take weeks — when I ship items via the fastest choice to Russia they typically get to the country within two days but don’t get delivered for three or more weeks. The agent responded that that this was the best they could offer but after some pushing I managed to get escalated to someone in the US where I hoped I might get a better answer.

It turned out that the US office was closed at that time but a few days later I did get a call back — unfortunately though it was clear this office at least understood the situation (the agent in Philippines office was very poorly trained) I was informed that since the other agent had already canceled my card there was nothing else they could do other than send me a replacement to my home in Seattle.

This is the core of why I wouldn’t recommend Capital One for a travel card — at least to an international traveler; when your traveling your credit card is your safety net, it is how you handle currency conversions, make sure you can feed yourself, have a place to stay and can handle the surprises you may encounter. More than the points, more than the interest rate this is what a travel card is. American Express built its reputation on being that card and when I have had issues in the past they have been there to help – Capital One on the other hand left me stranded.

Anyway I was so dissatisfied with Capital One’s handling of this when I got home I paid off the balance and did not activate the new card they sent.

Fast forward to over 6 months later and I get an email saying they have charged me the renewal fee for this card that in my mind was closed. I was a little disgusted by them charging me a renewal fee for an account they in-essence took from me when I needed it most but I was going to open a card anyway and decided to activate the card they had sent previously and pay the fee.

When I activated the card the automated system told me the card was ready for use but when I tried to use the card the first time it was denied. Frustrated I set the card aside until I had enough time to mess with their support again.

When I called to resolve this I was treated like someone who was avoiding paying a long standing balance and not someone who was trying to just resolve them miss-handling an issue so I just canceled the card.

Long story short — a good travel card has to have good customer service, they have to be your partner and look out for you and Capital One just doesn’t do that.

Though in my new role I don’t do much if any international travel I do a ton of domestic and have been using the Barclay Arrival card. I have had the occasion to talk to their customer service several times, each time they were professional and helpful. While I have not had a similar situation happen while using them as my primary travel card I suspect based on these experiences they would handle things differently.

Cards I Carry: Capital One Venture

For most of the last ten years I had only ever applied for and used Chase, American Express, and Citi credit cards. About a year ago I began to accumulate more credit cards with the goal of seeing just how many I could open, take advantage of all the sign-up bonuses, all while maintaining good credit. This led me to branch out and try the Capital One Venture Card. Here are the details:

  • 40,000 Bonus Miles: Spend $3,000 in the first three months your account is open and receive 40,000 bonus miles!
  • Unlimited Rewards: Earn unlimited 2X miles—that’s 2 miles for every dollar you spend on purchases. 100 miles is equal to $1 in travel rewards.
  • Annual Fee: $59 per year, but the fee IS waived for the first year.

As you can see the perks of this cards are pretty straightforward. Good sign-up bonus and the 2x points on all purchases is a great deal! Let’s take a closer look at what I consider some of the pros and cons to be.

RevDan’s Pros to the Capital One Venture Card:

  • Sign-up Bonus: If you have been following me for long, you know I’m all about the sign-up bonus! This one is worth $400 in free travel. It’s not the best one out there, but it’s a good one!
  • 2x Points: Some cards, like the Chase Freedom offer bonus categories where you can get 3x and 5x points on certain purchases, but the majority of your purchases only get you 1 point. If you spent $10,000 in a year, you would have $200 in free travel. With most other cards, even with their bonus categories, it will be hard to beat that accumulation of points/miles.
  • Travel Redemption: Many cards, like the Chase Sapphire, allow you to book travel through their travel portal. Capital One offers the same perk, but they take it one step forward. You can charge ANY travel purchase to your card (airfare, hotel, rental car) and simply request a refund and they will credit your account. For instance, if you spend $200 on a rental car, they will simply subtract 20,000 points and credit your account with $200. I like the flexibility this offers.
Venture cardsI didn’t have any travel purchases in the last month, but if I did they would appear right here and I could begin the redemption process.

RevDan’s Cons to the Capital One Venture Card:

  • The Sign-up Bonus: Yes, this is a pro, but it’s also a con if you’re looking for the best sign-up bonus out there. I only recommend this card if you are looking to expand your credit card portfolio. $400 in free travel is great, but if you’re only going to carry two or three cards, there are others with better sign-up bonuses!
  • The Annual Fee: You’re in good shape for the first year, because the fee is waived. This is one of those cards that I would definitely cancel after 11 months, so as to not incur the fee.
  • Limited Rewards Redemption: While you can do a cash back option, I don’t recommend it. You only receive 1/2 cent per point. So for instance, your 40,000 sign-up bonus is worth $400 in travel, but only $200 in cash back. They do offer some good options on gift cards that are mostly at a one cent per point ratio. One option to consider is if you’re doing a home improvement project, you could get $400 in Home Depot gift cards. Or maybe you and the spouse want a night out on the town, there are some great restaurant gift card options.

If you are already carrying several Chase, Citi, and American Express cards, then I absolutely recommend this card! However, if you’re still new to the credit card flipping game, I’d start with some of the others I have recommended.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

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* See the online Provider's credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the 'Apply Now' button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the provider's website.

Earn 40,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in 3 months.

No cap on spending

Venture cards

I received their Platinum MasterCard about a year ago and with steady increases worked up to a 6K credit limit. In-between then and now I acquired several other cards (2 AMEX, 2 Chase, 1 USAA). One day I was online checking my balance and on a whim decided to apply for Venture. and i was pleasantly surprised when I was approved for 12K!! A few weeks later I wanted to find out if I could combine both lines of credit into one card. My first attempt at doing this failed spectacularly. I received a message stating "this card (Platinum) must have a zero balance before you can transfer the line of credit to another Capitol One card". So I waited a few weeks, paid off the Platinum card, and tried again. SUCCESS. The line of credit from my Platinum MasterCard was transferred over to my Venture card, which now has a credit limit of 18K, and the Platinum card was automatically closed. That was fine by me, since the Platinum card really served no purpose outside the credit line (no rewards, miles, cash); and I didn't lose that line of credit, it was just added onto my Venture. This can all be done online, there is no need to call and speak to a representative. Hope this helps!

Venture cards

Upgraded to the Venture from Quicksilver last year and I recently converted my account back to Quicksilver. The main reason is although you earn double points for every purchase with the Venture, the annual fee means you need to spend at least 8,000 to break even and start earning reward dollars. Secondly, when you want to redeem the points for something other than travel (or what Capital One recognizes as travel) you only get 50% of the value on your point redemption. Example: I take a trip and want to use reward dollars towards an expensive restaurant; if I have 20,000 points, and I redeem them for the meal, they are only worth $100 instead of $200 if I redeem an airline purchase. So, if you're not smart, you could be paying the $59 fee each year, spending less than $8,000 on the card, and redeeming your points for half of their value -- essentially losing money using the card instead of making money from the bank. If you stricly redeem for airfare purchases or train tickets, and spend a great deal on other purchases, it can be very simple. As for me, I didn't like to make airline purchases using the Venture to make airline purchases because I earn more points using the Amex Premier Rewards Gold. I would rather redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership rewards points because instead of 1:1 value when using points, I can earn a 2:1 or 3:1 ration when transferring to certain airlines or hotel partners.

In the end, once I had accumulated substantial rewards, I converted the account back to Quicksilver and cashed out the points for 1:1 value. So now I have no annual fee but a guaranteed earning and redemption rate on my points.

In conclusion, the Venture card is good if you want no frills and use the card exactly the way Capital One advertises, for travel,

venture cards

Venture cards

The Capital One Venture Rewards Card isn't worth it for me, as an avid luxury traveler. I've never had it, and never will. I value being able to turn our miles and points into international first class and business class award travel, such as Singapore Suites, Qantas First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class and similar flights--and the Capital One Venture card won't get you these flights.

Yet I often get asked about the Capital One Venture card by readers who notice its conspicuous absence on the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card page. For example, this recent comment, from a reader seeking advice on which card to apply for next:

" I'm looking for a new credit card for every day use but I don't travel regularly. I'd love for my rewards to be able to be used primarily for travel. Most of my spending is on groceries and dining out, along with your usual bills etc. I have been considering the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card, which I currently have an offer for a 50k sign up bonus after spending 1k in 3 months. Also, I like the looks of the Capital One Venture card, which has a 40k pts sign up after 3k spend in the first 3 months and 2x spend on every purchase. First, is there a reason you don't mention the Capital One Venture card in your blog? Finally, after doing further research it looks like the Chase Sapphire Preferred is in consideration as well. Any guidance would be very much appreciated! Thank you!"

To give proper guidance, I'd want to better understand this reader's travel goals. But even if he mainly wants to travel domestically in economy rather than internationally in first class, I'd still recommend other cards before the Capital One Venture card.

Here are the 5 reasons I'll never bother with the Capital One Venture Rewards Card:

1. 3 Hard Credit Pulls: Lowers Your Credit Score More Than Applying for Other Credit Cards

If you apply for the Capital One Venture card, Capital One will initiate 3 hard pulls from Experian, Transunion and Equifax. Most credit card companies do just one hard pull--Chase typically pulls just Experian, Barclays typically pulls just Transunion, etc.

Each hard credit pull knocks a few points off your credit score, so by pulling from all three credit bureaus, Capital One does triple the damage to your credit score. Sure, your score will eventually recover, but why would you get a Capital One card when, as we'll see, there are so many more lucrative travel rewards cards you could get with just 1 hard credit pull?

2. There Are Bigger Credit Card Signup Bonuses

The Capital One Venture Rewards card is currently offering 40,000 points, but as we'll see, Venture Rewards points are worth less than a number of other miles and points currencies, especially if your goal is international first class or business class award travel.

Nor is 40,000 points all that great as a signup bonus. Consider that non-AMEX cardholders or lapsed cardholders can get targeted for as much as 150,000 signup bonuses--see 150K AMEX Business Platinum Bonus Offer (Targeted). And last year, there was a 100K Citi Executive AAdvantage Card and a 70K Ink Plus Bonus Offer.

Even among current offers, I would signup first for the 50K Citi Platinum Select offer, the 50K CitiBusiness AAdvantage card, 50K Ink Plus, 40K Chase Sapphire Preferred (45K if you earn the 5K from adding an authorized user), 50K British Airways Visa, 50K United MileagePlus Explorer Visa, 50K US Airways Mastercard, etc., all of which provide both a higher signup bonus and greater value than any Capital One card.

3. There Are Better Spend Bonuses Than 2X

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of seeing the Capital One ads "What's in Your Wallet?" Here's what's in my wallet, and as you can see, no Capital One card.

2X on all spend? I'd much rather have 5X on a good chunk of my spend, where each "X" is more valuable. That's what the Ink Plus and Chase Freedom provide:

Ink Plus: 5X on phone spend, cable and Internet spend, 5X on all Amazon, 5X on all Whole Foods spend, 5X on all Starbucks and other store spend via gift cards bought for 5X at Staples and other office supply stores

Chase Freedom: 5X on rotating categories such as groceries, gas, restaurants, up to $1500 per quarter. Make sure your spouse or travel partner also has the card so you get 5X on up to $3000 per quarter on the bonus categories.

4. Airline Miles and Transferable Points Are MUCH Better for First Class and Business Class Award Travel

Some people give up on frequent flyer miles because they say they can never use them. But if you can either plan far enough in advance or at least be flexible with dates and routings, you can get so much more value out of frequent flyer miles and out of points that can be transferred to airline frequent flyer programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards points and SPG points.

That's because you can use, for example, 67,500 (135,000 roundtrip) AAdvantage miles to book yourself from the U.S. to Asia in Cathay Pacific First Class, or 57,375 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Singapore KrisFlyer to book Singapore Suites (with closing doors, pajamas, pre-ordered lobster thermidor, etc.) between NYC and Frankfurt, Germany, or any one of a number of other redemptions that give you a nominal value per mile of anywhere between 6 and 14 or more cents per mile.

You'll never get that kind of return on any kind of cash back card, such as the Capital One Venture, which basically is 2% cash back. That means that for the Cathay First Class flight above, which often costs $23,000, you'd have to spend over 1 million on your Venture card to be able to earn enough Venture points to book that ticket. Instead, you could have signed up for a couple of Citi AAdvantage cards when there was the 100K Citi Executive AAdvantage offer, or two 50K cards currently, and spend or transfer SPG points to earn the additional AAdvantage miles to book a Cathay award.

5. There Are Better "Travel Cash Back" Cards

Even if you do want a cash back card, depending on your spend, you could easily be better off with the Chase Freedom, with no annual fee and rotating 5X cash back categories (plus, if you have the Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred you can transfer those points to airlines instead of taking it as cash back) or the Barclays Arrival Plus World MasterCard, which has a similar 40K bonus and gives you an effective 2.2% cash back when redeemed on travel, due to its 10% rebate when you redeem your points on travel.

Do you find the Capital One Venture Card Worth It or Not?

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