If you’re interested in racking up travel rewards credit card points, but your eyes glaze over when you read about the tricky (but lucrative) ecosystem of Chase Ultimate Rewards, the
Jennifer Garner Card Capital One Venture Rewards Card could be a great way to dip your toe in the water.
The Venture card pays out a 50,000 mile sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months after opening your account. It also has a $95 annual fee, but that’s waived for the first year. That 50,000 mile bonus might look the same as the 50,000 points you’d get from a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve, but they aren’t apples to apples, as I’ll explain shortly.
The Venture card is great for anyone who doesn’t want to keep track of bonus categories or shuffle through multiple cards, as every purchase earns you two miles per dollar.
The only exception is hotels booked and paid for through Hotels.com/Venture, which earns a whopping 10 miles per dollar. Paired with Hotels.com’s free night award for every 10 nights you stay (in the form of a voucher for the average price you paid for those 10 nights), that’s basically like getting 20% back on Hotels.com bookings. Just note that you have to book through Hotels.com/Venture to get the bonus; the regular Hotels.com homepage won’t cut it.
Elite status benefits usually aren’t available when you book through an online travel agency like Hotels.com, but if you aren’t loyal to any specific hotel brand, this is a niche where the Venture card truly shines.
A lot of digital ink has been spilled on how to maximize the value of your travel rewards points, and yes, you can get really incredible value if you play your cards right with Chase Ultimate Rewards. That’s simply not the case with the Venture card, as every point is only worth $.01 in travel, no matter how you choose to spend it.
That means your 50,000 mile signup bonus is worth exactly $500. Your two miles per dollar are worth exactly $.02. You’re probably not going to fly roundtrip to Hawaii with your sign-up bonus like you could with a Chase Sapphire’s, so make your peace with that before you apply.
But on the flipside, that means this is the most stress-free travel credit card out there. You don’t have to pore through forums or talk to confused airline agents in Seoul to wring the most value out of your miles. All you have to do is pay for something travel-related with your Venture card, and then wipe it off your statement later by trading in miles. If you booked a hotel through Marriott.com for $250, for example, you could make that charge disappear for 25,000 miles.
Even Chase’s mostly-universal travel portal, where points are worth 1.25 or 1.5 cents depending on your card, won’t show you random B&Bs or certain budget airline tickets, and portal-based redemptions prevent you from taking advantage of some travel deals offered by online travel agencies, airlines, and hotel chains. Capital One has no such restrictions, because you book your travel however you want, and then wipe it away with miles after the fact.
For some people, collecting points and finding the best redemption options is a hobby. But for many others, it’s just too much stress. I’d call the Venture Card a nice middle ground between cashback cards and travel rewards cards: It still implicitly encourages you to travel, which is a good and healthy thing, but doesn’t ask for too much of your brain power in return.
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