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Capital One last week introduced a new partnership to make it easier for its Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Cardand Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card cardholders to maximize their travel using rewards. It’s the first of its kind in the credit card world—a credit card joining forces with a travel booking site—and it highlights the issuer’s efforts to make travel rewards more flexible, presumably to encourage you to use the card for more of your travel.
But there are other ways to make the most of your travel rewards. Here’s a rundown, starting with Capital One’s new partnership, followed by two other tips.
Use Your Capital One card at Hotels.com
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card cardholders now earn 10 miles per dollar spent at Hotels.com, which makes reservations at numerous types of hotels ranging from international chains and all-inclusive resorts to independent boutiques and bed and breakfasts. That’s on top of the one night free after 10 nights that you get as part of the Hotels.com Rewards loyalty program. Effectively, that is 20% back on hotel purchases made at the booking site.
“We know our customers travel often, and for a lot of different reasons, everything from weddings to family vacations to holidays,” says Lauren Liss, Vice President, US Card at Capital One. “Because of that, simplicity and flexibility are important to them, both when booking travel and earning rewards.”
Important notes: To get the 10x miles, you must book through the special partnership portal at hotels.com/venture. You typically can’t earn rewards for the hotel chain or benefit from your elite status if you book through an online travel agency, such as Hotels.com.
Book at airlines that are partners to yours
For those who carry a co-branded airline card, it’s important to get to know any airline alliances, or agreements among two or more airlines that allow you to use miles from one airline to book a flight on another. There are three major airline alliances: Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam. Similarly, Virgin America has a partnership with Delta that allows you to use SkyMiles for Virgin flights—even though Virgin is not part of the SkyTeam Alliance.
Important notes:In practice, booking flights on alliance airlines can be cumbersome. For instance, each airline decides how many seats, and on which flights, are available to those with frequent flyer miles. Some airlines may release fewer seats to loyalty members of partner airlines than they release for their own customers. It also may be harder to find available flights on alliance airlines without going to the partner websites. Last, it’s often more difficult to redeem alliance miles for flights online. Your best bet may be to call a customer service representative to walk you through the process.
Transfer card points to loyalty programs
Some general travel cards have rewards programs that allow you to transfer points to hotel and airline loyalty programs, such as American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Here’s our analysis of each.
American Express Membership Rewards: Four hotel groups and 16 airlines make up the Membership Rewards travel partners. ValuePenguin generally has found that you get more out of your rewards if you transfer to airlines, typically more than 1 cent a point. Booking last-minute trips is also advantageous. Most flights have a fixed awards cost based on distance and typically don’t adjust too much based on when you book. However, you may have to pay a late booking charge on some airlines.
Important notes: Avoid transferring Membership Rewards to the Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred programs. With both, transferred points are worth significantly less than a cent each.
Chase Ultimate Rewards: The Ultimate Rewards travel partners include seven airlines and three hotel groups. Transferring to airline loyalty programs is the best use of your Ultimate Rewards points. But you may prefer to earn points towards the perks offered by hotel rewards programs. Of the four Ultimate Rewards hotel partners, Hyatt stands out with its valuable Gold Passport rewards program.
Important notes: Transfers must be done in increments of 1,000 points. Transfers are non-refundable and points can’t be moved back to the Ultimate Rewards program. Make sure you know how many points you need for a transaction before making a transfer.