July 9, 2024

What It’s Really Like to Have a Capital One Venture X

What It’s Really Like to Have a Capital One Venture X
man relaxing in airport lounge

Image source: Getty Images

It’s become my go-to credit card.

Key points

  • This card’s annual travel credit and annual bonus miles outweigh the annual fee, so it pays for itself.
  • Since it earns double miles on purchases, it’s a card you can use anywhere and would work well for a one-card wallet.
  • Other travel cards have more flexible rewards points and more luxury benefits, but this Capital One card is no slouch in those areas, either.

Sometimes you see a credit card and know right away that you want it. That was my experience when the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card came out in late 2021. It seemed like the antidote to everything that had been frustrating me about travel cards.

Other card issuers were tacking on lots of dubious perks, like $10 monthly spending credits with apps I never used, and using them to justify big annual fee increases. Then Capital One launched a card that cost hundreds of dollars less, with features that I wouldn’t have trouble using.

You can read reviews and get an idea of what a card offers, but it helps to hear about people’s firsthand experiences. I’ve had this Capital One card for about a year now, and it has more than lived up to the hype.

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It actually pays for itself

When a credit card has an expensive annual fee, the first thing I look at is cash-equivalent benefits, like spending credits. Ideally, these will be enough to wipe out most or all of the annual fee.

With the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, the annual fee is $395. It offers a $300 travel credit through bookings with Capital One Travel. On each account anniversary, you also get 10,000 bonus miles, worth $100 toward travel. So, the card costs you $395, but it provides $400 in value with benefits that any traveler can use.

This is why I consider it a can’t-miss travel card. There are other travel cards that offer lots of different spending credits, but they’re often a pain to redeem. Here’s $300 per year off at expensive gyms you never visit. Here’s $5 per month with DoorDash. I’m not a huge fan of credits like these, because they can be hard to manage and people don’t always use them. It’s great to see Capital One go in the opposite direction.

I love earning double miles everywhere

This is by far the credit card I use the most, because the earning structure is awesome. It’s light on bonus categories — you earn 10 miles per $1 on hotels and rental cars booked in Capital One Travel. You also earn 5 miles per $1 on flights booked through Capital One Travel. Both are high rates, but they’re not in wide categories, like all your grocery or gas spending.

Outside of that, there are no other bonus categories. Instead, you earn 2 miles per $1 on your other purchases, no matter the spending category.

I also have some credit cards with bonus categories, and I don’t mind keeping track of a few. I’ll use other cards for dining and travel purchases, to give a few examples. But a lot of my spending doesn’t fit into any bonus categories, and that’s why my Capital One card is so valuable. I know I can use it for any type of purchase and earn a pretty good rewards rate.

The rewards program isn’t the best, but it has some bright spots

Capital One Venture miles have never been the most valuable type of travel rewards, and that remains true. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are still better. So are American Express Membership Rewards points.

However, to give credit where it’s due, Capital One has improved in this area. First, it started letting cardholders transfer their miles to airline and hotel partners. The transfer ratio wasn’t great in the early days at 1.5:1 for most partners, meaning you’d need to give up 15,000 miles to get 10,000 in the partner’s loyalty program. But you now get a 1:1 ratio with most partners. You can also redeem rewards toward any travel purchase at a fixed rate of $0.01 per mile.

Although Chase and American Express still have the best rosters of airline and hotel partners, Capital One isn’t bad, either. There are ways to squeeze a lot of value from your miles, especially on international travel. For example, I transferred 130,000 miles to the Avianca LifeMiles program and booked a pair of $6,700 business class tickets with Lufthansa. Then I had to cancel them because my wife and I got COVID, but fortunately, redemptions like these aren’t that hard to find.

It’s high-value, not ultra-lux

For my money, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the best value among travel cards. It has all the big things I want, like airport lounge access and a Global Entry credit. There are also occasionally some cool extras that I can use, like a six-month membership to The Cultivist. That provides free access to over 100 museums. I took advantage of that a couple of times, including to visit the New York Met.

It does all that while being less expensive than the competition. Lots of premium travel cards cost $550 or more; this one costs $395. Many of them charge a fee of $75 or more to add an authorized user; this one lets you add them free of charge.

This isn’t the most luxurious, high-end credit card out there. It doesn’t get you elite status with a bunch of hotels and airlines. There also aren’t all kinds of spending credits with various brands. Whether that matters depends on your lifestyle and travel habits.

I love that Capital One made a card where it’s easy to get your money’s worth. As long as the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card has these benefits without any annual fee hikes, I plan to hang on to mine.

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