Capital One Joins Chase in Boosting Travel Card Bonuses

Capital One is the latest issuer to inflate travel card bonus during pandemic

Capital One Bank

In a move to attract more customers during this unusual travel season, Capital One on Tuesday became the latest issuer of travel rewards credit cards to substantially increase its bonus for new cardholders. 

New applicants for the Capital One Venture Rewards Card can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles worth $500 to $1,000, depending on how they’re used. Applicants still get 50,000 miles if they spend $3,000 within three months of opening their account, but now they can earn an additional 50,000 miles by spending a total of $20,000 within their first 12 months. 

This increased promotional offer is the second large travel rewards bonus launched in the past week, and one of the bigger bonus changes The Balance has recorded during the coronavirus pandemic. Chase on Sept. 15 increased the welcome offer on its Sapphire Preferred card—a major rival to the Capital One Venture—from 60,000 points to 80,000 points (for those who spend $4,000 in their first three months). 

Like many travel rewards card issuers this year, Capital One and Chase have offered cardholders more everyday ways to earn and use points while travel is disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new promotional offers are the latest nod to the challenging times.

Key Takeaways

  • New applicants for the Capital One Venture Rewards card can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles, double the previous offer 
  • Capital One follows Chase in boosting the bonus on its flagship travel rewards card 
  • The new promotions are just one of several ways travel rewards card issuers have navigated the disrupted travel market

Since Venture Miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for recent travel purchases using the Capital One Purchase Eraser, the full promotional offer is worth $1,000 when miles are used that way. New cardholders may get more value if they transfer the bonus miles to a partner airline or hotel loyalty program, such as JetBlue’s TrueBlue frequent flyer program, based on The Balance average point-value calculations

Venture Miles can also be used for cash back, but are typically worth 0.5 cents each when used that way. That makes the full 100,000-mile bonus worth $500 when redeemed for cash back, but that’s still a competitive offer for a flexible travel rewards card with a $95 annual fee.

For comparison, the 80,000-point Chase Sapphire Preferred card bonus (earned by spending $4,000 within three months of opening an account) is worth $1,000 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, or $800 if redeemed for cash back. Like the Venture Rewards card, the Sapphire Preferred card allows cardholders to also transfer points to a partner airline or hotel loyalty program, which can increase their value. 

These recent bonus updates follow a handful of other short-term offers added to each card in light of the current spending and travel environment. For example, Venture cardholders can earn 5 miles per $1 spent on UberEats orders through the end of January, and redeem miles for not only travel, but also eligible dining and streaming service purchases until the end of 2020. Similarly, Sapphire Preferred cardholders can temporarily earn extra points on gas, streaming, and Instacart delivery orders, and redeem points at an increased value for dining and grocery purchases, among others, using a new “Pay Yourself Back” tool. 

Several other travel rewards cards are also offering additional ways to earn points and miles right now on non-travel purchases. They include American Express cards co-branded with Marriott, Hilton, and Delta, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.