Last week, Capital One announced a new US credit card, the Venture X card. As of today, the card is now open for applications.
It’s always an exciting day when a new financial product enters the market. Here’s our first look at how the top-tier card compares, and how it fits into a Canadian rewards strategy.
In This Post
- Signup Bonus: 100,000 Miles
- Everyday Spending: Up to 10x Rewards on Travel
- Fees and Credits: Annual Credits Galore!
- Travel Benefits: Lounges and More
- Capital One Miles and Capital One Travel
- How to Get Capital One Cards for Canadians
Signup Bonus: 100,000 Miles
The Capital One Venture X card is offering a tantalizing welcome bonus:
- Earn 100,000 miles upon spending US$10,000 in the first six months
- For a limited time, get a US$200 credit towards vacation rentals such as Airbnb or VRBO
The points portion alone is impressive, enough to put the Venture X card on par with top-tier offers from its chief competitors. The Amex US Platinum Card is offering 125,000 Membership Rewards points, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred recently ended its offer for 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
There is a very high spending requirement before you’ll receive your miles. Fortunately, you’ll have a generous six months to meet the US$10,000 threshold, and the bonus is very achievable by averaging US$1,667 spent per month.
The vacation rental credit has to be used in the first year, and it must be used all at once. It’s best to credit it against a booking greater than US$200, otherwise you’ll lose any remaining credit.
I’m intrigued by the wording of the accommodation credit being “for a limited time” – it implies that the 100,000-mile welcome bonus might be here to stay.
Everyday Spending: Up to 10x Rewards on Travel
After you’ve earned the welcome bonus, you’ll continue to rack up travel rewards quickly on everyday spending:
- Earn 10 miles per dollar spent on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel
- Earn 5 miles per dollar spent on flights booked through Capital One Travel
- Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases
First of all, 2x rewards on every purchase is fantastic. Many other premium credit cards earn 1–1.25 points per dollar spent, plus bonuses on specific spending categories. While there’s no dining bonus, a popular category, the Venture X card is supercharged for general purchases instead, filling a unique niche.
5x rewards on airfare is also on par with the industry standard, matching the rate offered by the Amex US Platinum Card.
10x rewards on hotels is an incredible rate, far exceeding the value of the rewards you’d earn by using co-branded Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, or World of Hyatt credit cards. If you’re not particularly loyal to one hotel program and would prefer to earn flexible rewards, you might benefit more with the Venture X card (although you may not get elite status benefits by booking through Capital One Travel).
Plus, not many cards offer such strong rewards on car rentals, making the Venture X card an obvious choice in that category.
Also, there’s no limit to the bonus rewards you can earn in the travel categories. If you frequently book a lot of cash airfare, hotels, and car rentals, you could significantly benefit by using the Venture X card.
Fees and Credits: Annual Credits Galore!
While the welcome bonus and earn rates are best-in-class, it’s the ongoing perks that set this card apart.
As a premium credit card, the Venture X commands a US$395 annual fee. At first glance, that sounds rather steep, but there are ample credits to offset it.
You’ll get a US$300 annual statement credit for bookings made through Capital One Travel. (Unlike the US$200 credit that comes with the welcome bonus, the annual US$300 credit is cumulative, so you don’t need to use it all on a single transaction.)
Additionally, starting in your second year with the card, you’ll receive an anniversary bonus of 10,000 miles every year. These can be redeemed at a minimum value of 1 cent per mile via Capital One Travel, making this benefit worth at least US$100.
Already, that’s US$400 value coming back each year, against a US$395 annual fee. In short, you can effectively have a premium credit card for no net annual fee! That’s simply too good to pass up.
The Venture X card isn’t the only one doing this. We’ve seen similar rebates on other top-tier US credit cards:
- The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card offers a US$300 Marriott credit against a US$450 fee
- The Hilton Honors Aspire Card offers a US$250 Hilton credit and a US$250 airline credit against a US$450 fee
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a US$300 travel credit against a US$550 fee
Travel Benefits: Lounges and More
The Venture X card has an awesome package of travel benefits.
Most notably, cardholders get a Priority Pass membership with unlimited visits to over 13,000 participating airport lounges. You’ll be able to enter Priority Pass restaurants too, an area where Amex is lacking.
Capital One is also launching their own Capital One Lounges at airports, similar to the Amex Centurion lounges. They have one in Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), with plans to open more in Denver (DEN) and Washington Dulles (IAD) in 2022. They have some interesting facilities planned, including a fitness centre. Cardholders get unlimited visits and can bring two guests each time.
Authorized users also get the same lounge access. Best of all, there’s no annual fee for adding a secondary cardholder! This is a great way to share travel benefits with others.
As is standard with premium US travel cards, the Venture X card has no foreign transaction fees. That makes it an excellent choice for Canadians, even when spending at home. Plus, as a Visa card, it’s accepted more widely worldwide than Amex.
As usual, the premium card provides premium travel insurance, including $1,000,000 common carrier accident coverage, car rental insurance, and mobile device protection.
There’s also a US$100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, similar to the NEXUS benefits we’ve seen on many Aeroplan cards and others in Canada.
Finally, you’ll get Hertz President’s Circle status, the top tier in their program. This perk is unquestionably superior to the Hertz benefit on the Amex Platinum cards – they only match you to mid-tier Five Star status, which doesn’t guarantee a complimentary upgrade.
Capital One Miles and Capital One Travel
Like other major US credit card issuers, Capital One miles are transferable to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. In total, they have 15 transfer partners:
Capital One recently improved the transfer ratio for its airline partners. Before, you could transfer at a rate of 2:1.5, but now you can transfer at 1:1. This change brings the rate in line with Amex, Chase, and Citi’s rate for transfers to airline partners.
There’s a mix of familiar and exclusive transfer partners here:
- For a conventional approach, you could use your Venture X miles to top up your Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles accounts. All of these programs have countless co-branded cards and transfer partners in Canada and the US. By concentrating your efforts, you can quickly earn tons of rewards for programs which you understand quite well.
- Alternatively, look into sweet spots for using foreign programs for domestic routes. In particular, you can sometimes find Air Canada routes that cost fewer Singapore KrisFlyer miles than Aeroplan points.
- Many aspirational airlines, including Singapore Airlines and Emirates, don’t release award space to partners. The only way to book Singapore Suites First Class or Emirates First Class on points is with their own loyalty programs.
- Capital One is the only transfer partner for Accor Live Limitless, making the Venture X card the easiest way to earn points which can be used for Fairmont stays.
- Finally, ambitious globetrotters could transfer to Aeromexico Club Premier for a round-the-world odyssey on SkyTeam airlines.
While we at Prince of Travel don’t yet have an official valuation for Capital One miles, I’d venture that they’re reliably worth about 1.7 (USD) cents per point, equivalent to our valuation of Aeroplan points at 2.1 (CAD) cents per point.
While transferable rewards are the best way to get outsized value for travel, the revamped Capital One Travel portal also has some enticing opportunities. They actively adjust their prices to match the best rates available on other online travel agencies like Expedia, and they even have a price-matching policy within 24 hours of making a booking.
You’ll want to use the Venture X card as often as possible for 5–10x rewards on travel bookings through the portal. Their commitment to competitive pricing is hugely reassuring, and you’ll always be confident that you’re paying the best available rate while also maximizing your rewards.
Otherwise, you can use your rewards for travel booked through the portal, or as statement credit for travel booked other ways. Any way you look at it, your miles on the Venture X card are quite flexible.
How to Get Capital One Cards for Canadians
The Capital One Venture X card is a US credit card, but Canadians are still eligible to apply.
To apply for Capital One cards, you need to enter a social security number or an international taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
Before you apply, it’s best to begin building US credit history with another bank. Canadians without a SSN or ITIN can easily get credit cards from Amex US, or from the American arm of a Canadian “Big 5” bank (BMO, CIBC, RBC, or TD).
You will, however, eventually need a SSN or ITIN attached to your US credit history. Capital One does a credit inquiry against all three US credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian – and they’re unable to find your credit profile without an identifying number linked to your name.
We already have at least one data point from a Canadian-based Prince of Travel Royal Platinum member who was approved for the Venture X card today! This member has a long US credit history and a SSN.
In a departure from conventional wisdom, Capital One has a reputation for preferring applicants with bad marks on their credit history, or who carry and pay interest on a balance. That said, their approval algorithms are a bit of a mystery, so set your expectations accordingly and hope for the best.
As a personal credit card, the Venture X will count against the Chase 5/24 Rule if you’re approved. If you’re near this limit and won’t be dropping under in the next few months, you may want to hold off until the Chase Aeroplan Mastercard is launched, and apply for that one first, or any other Chase cards that may interest you.
Otherwise, if you’re already over 5/24 with no signs of slowing down, I’d say there’s no reason to wait to apply for the exciting new Venture X card.
Capital One has stepped up to the plate with the new Venture X card, making a big splash with their first truly premium credit card as they seek to compete with the likes of Amex, Chase, and Citi in the US. I definitely think it’s a worthy competitor, and I find it more compelling than their entry-level VentureOne and mid-tier Venture cards.
I’m happy to see that Capital One is putting emphasis on both the earning and redeeming sides. Not only are they improving their credit card products, they’ve also recently boosted their transfer partner redemption rates and are adding airport lounges to enhance the travel experience itself.
I’m a big proponent of using annual credits to offset high fees in order to maintain the benefit of premium credit cards long-term. I’ll absolutely be looking to add the Capital One Venture X card to my wallet as a potential keeper credit card at my earliest convenience.
Visit the Capital One website to apply for the card.