Over the last several years, Capital One has committed significant resources toward making its credit card miles competitive with other heavyweights in the industry. The issuer vastly improved its travel rewards program in 2018 by creating a transfer partner option, which allows card holders to not only use their miles to offset any travel charges with the bank’s “Purchase Eraser” tool but also to transfer miles to any of 16 airline and hotel partners for potentially even more value.
In the intervening years, Capital One has been improving its transfer program bit by bit. But on Thursday, the issuer took what may be the final leap in making its miles program a top-notch option by moving the bulk of its remaining partners to its top transfer ratio tier.
Starting Oct. 7, all but two of Capital One’s airline and hotel partners will transfer at a 1-to-1 ratio. This means that if you transfer 1,000 Capital One miles to 14 of the program’s 16 current partners, you’ll get 1,000 points or miles in the corresponding airline or hotel loyalty program.
Six airline frequent flyer programs are moving up to Capital One’s 1-to-1 transfer ratio tier: Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, British Airways Avios, Emirates Airline Skywards, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles.
Most of these programs formerly transferred from Capital One at a 2-to-1.5 ratio, while both Emirates and Singapore transferred at a 2-to-1 ratio. The improvements mean that Capital One card holders will get 33% more points or miles than before when they transfer to these programs, and 50% more when transferring to Emirates or Singapore.
These airlines join eight other loyalty programs that already transfer from Capital One at a 1-to-1 ratio, for a total of 14 programs at 1-to-1 with hotel chain Choice Privileges slated to join as a 15th 1-to-1 transfer partner before the end of 2021. The entire list of Capital One partners now looks like this:
Previously, Capital One also included JetBlue TrueBlue and Alitalita MilleMiglia as transfer partners. However, at the beginning of October, the issuer informed its card holders that JetBue would no longer be available as a transfer partner as of Oct. 25, 2021, and Italy’s flag carrier Alitalia is currently in bankruptcy and in the process of being dissolved.
By moving the bulk of its partners to a 1-to-1 transfer ratio, Capital One miles are now comparable to Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards, both of which transfer to most of their partners at a 1-to-1 ratio. The one downside is that while both Chase and Amex have at least one domestic US airline in their partner rosters, Capital One exclusively features international carriers.
However, the primary Capital One travel rewards credit cards — the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business credit card — earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on every purchase you make, giving Capital One a leg up on Chase’s and Amex’s basic credit cards when it comes to earning travel rewards.
The issuer is also going head-to-head with its competitors by launching its own airport lounge network. Two locations have already been announced, with an inaugural lounge scheduled to open at Dallas-Fort Worth airport in late 2021 and a second at Washington, DC’s Dulles Airport in 2022.
In addition, Capital One recently revamped its travel website to add airline price prediction and protection features. Powered by the price-prediction technology of travel booking website Hopper, the new suite of tools includes airfare price prediction and price watches, price drop protection, best price guarantees and the option to purchase “cancel for any reason” insurance.
If you don’t have a Capital One credit card, the Capital One Venture currently comes with a sign-up bonus that can put a chunk of miles in your pocket fairly quickly. New card holders can earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account. The card has a $95 annual fee but features up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credits and no foreign transaction fees.
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