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Normally we have to write about travel companies that have devalued their rewards program, often with no or limited notice.

(Just a few weeks ago, IHG apparently perpetrated the latest in a string of miles and points devaluations, though later it seemed to be mostly back to normal).

So I’m pleased to learn that Capital One has added a tremendous amount of value to its Venture Miles program. It was only a few years ago that Venture miles were more of an afterthought — a simple “penny point” program with limited opportunity to get any sort of outsized value. They have gradually been becoming more useful over the past 2+ years and we’re to the point where you can make a reasonable argument that Capital One Venture Miles is the best rewards currency out there.

Capital One Adds 4 New Transfer Partners

When Capital One first announced that you’d be able to transfer your Venture Miles to travel partners, there were only 12 partner airlines. When the program officially launched in December 2018, they also added two new partners (Emirates and Singapore). They added JetBlue in May 2019, and added Wyndham and Accor hotels in February 2020. Now they’ve announced that they’re adding four new transfer partners: British Airways Avios, Turkish Miles&Smiles, TAP Portugal Miles&Go and Choice Hotels. The three airlines are already available to transfer, and the transfer option to Choice Hotels will be available later this year.

Capital One Venture Miles can now be transferred to 16 airline partners:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Avios
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Infinity MileageLands
  • Finnair Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • TAP Portugal Miles&Go
  • Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles

And when Choice Hotels comes onboard later this year, you’ll be able to transfer your Venture miles to 3 different hotel programs:

  • ALL Accor Live Limitless
  • Choice Privileges (later this year)
  • Wyndham Rewards

Increasing the Transfer Rate for 6 Partners to 1:1

On top of adding the new transfer partners, Capital One is also increasing the transfer rate for six airline and hotel programs. Previously, transferring Capital One Venture Miles was at a rate of 2:1.5 (or worse). Now, the following six programs will all transfer 1:1 from Capital One Venture Miles:

  • AeroMexico Club Premier
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • Finnair Plus
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Wyndham Rewards

This can provide some outstanding value and IMO brings Venture Miles into the top tier of flexible rewards currencies.

Combining Cash and Venture Miles

Not mentioned in the recent press release from Capital One but also relevant is the fact that it appears to be possible to combine the cash back that you earn from cards like the Capital One Savor card into Venture Miles. This is still not 100% confirmed but multiple sources have indicated that this is true. The reason this would be a big deal is that it opens up the ability to earn even more Venture Miles. You can earn 4% cash back on restaurants and entertainment with the Capital One Savor card. If you can then transfer that cash back to Venture Miles, it means that you can earn 4 AIRLINE MILES per dollar spent on restaurants and entertainment. Definitely something to check out.

2 New Capital One Airport Lounges

Capital One also plans to open two new airport lounges over the next few years: one at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW), opening in late summer 2021, and the other at Dulles Airport (IAD), coming in 2022. There are still not a ton of details about what these lounges will be like and what the access protocol will be. That will make a big difference as to whether these lounges are worth paying attention to. Of course, at the current time, most airport lounges are either closed or offering drastically reduced services. So there’s not a lot of reason to even visit an airport lounge these days.

The only way that I could see these Capital One-branded airport lounges being useful is if there is a way that certain Capital One credit cardholders would get free or heavily discounted visits. If it’s just a situation where the “day price” is $49 and Capital One cardholders can get in for $39, or Capital One cardholders get 10% off, this would be basically a non-factor in my and many other people’s airport lounge choices.

The Bottom Line – Are Capital One Venture Miles the Best Rewards Currency Out There?

So, with these changes, where do Capital One Venture Miles stack up against the other bank rewards currencies like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points? Frequent Miler recently updated his analysis of the different programs and ranked Capital One right up there with Chase and Amex and a step ahead of Citi. That feels right to me — I know I’m definitely going to start paying more attention to Venture Miles.

What do you think of these recent changes from Capital One? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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