Redeem Venture Miles for Airfare You’ve Already Purchased

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Have you ever found a great travel deal but didn’t have the points or miles you needed to book? Today’s post covers a strategy you can use to book a flight now and redeem miles to cover the purchase up to three months later.

Now is an excellent time to consider using this strategy because Capital One's flagship consumer card is currently running a limited-time offer for up to 100,000 bonus miles.

Read on to see if this strategy could work for you!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Offer Earn 100,000 Miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Following the revamp of Capital One's rewards program and the addition of airline transfer partners, the Capital One Venture has catapulted into our list of top travel rewards cards. The ability to earn 2X miles on every purchase provides a decent return on spending. Plus the card offers some great perks.
  • Earn 100,000 Miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months; worth $600 in travel if redeemed for a fixed-value, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
  • 2 Miles on every purchase
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® (up to $100)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee
  • 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.

Capital One Lets You Redeem Miles You Don't Have (Yet!)

The traditional way to plan a trip with miles is to decide your goals far in advance, apply for the right rewards cards, and use your everyday spending to accumulate the points you need. This is still the only way to secure high-value business and first-class tickets without paying an arm and a leg.

But, for those who don’t mind economy or premium economy travel, there is an alternative approach that requires far less patience and knowledge to execute. Thanks to some unique rules for redeeming Venture miles, it’s possible to buy a flight before you have the miles.

Redeem Venture miles for flights on low-cost airlines
You can buy tickets on low-cost carriers or airlines you don't have miles on and then erase the purchase with Venture Miles.

How Does It Work?

Most ways to use miles are numbingly complicated; Capital One makes it refreshingly simple. Venture Miles are fixed-value rewards that allow you to ‘erase’ travel purchases by requesting a statement credit. Buy any flight you like (or another travel-related product) and pay using your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Unlike other types of fixed-value rewards, you don't have to book through a specific website or worry about excluded vendors. If the purchase is categorized as travel, it should be eligible for Purchase Eraser.

Once the transaction posts to your Capital One Venture account, you can redeem miles at a value of one cent each towards the cost of travel. For example, 20,000 Venture Miles will erase $200 from the cost of your flight or hotel stay. You'll get a credit on your monthly statement, so you'll just need to pay for the part which isn't covered by miles.

Now, here's the best part: When you make a qualifying travel purchase with the Capital One Venture, Capital One gives you up to 90 days to redeem Venture miles towards that transaction. That means you don’t need to have all the miles you plan to redeem in your account at the time you make a purchase.

Buy Flights to Help Meet Minimum Spend and ‘Erase’ the Purchase Later

With a 90-day window to erase a purchase, you can:

  • Apply for the Capital One Venture card
  • Purchase your flight when the card arrives
  • Make other purchases to meet the minimum spending requirement, and
  • Redeem the miles earned for a statement credit after the welcome bonus posts to your account

The cost of your flight (or other travel purchase) count towards the minimum spend needed to earn your bonus. So, opening your account right before you need to confirm a trip can give you a nice boost to your normal spending.

To be clear, you shouldn’t use this strategy if you can’t afford to cover the cost of your flight upfront. You’ll need to pay your credit card bill in full when your statement is due to avoid interest. Charging the flight to a credit card can delay when that money comes out of your checking account. But, you'll want to have that cash available within a month of making your initial purchase.

The advantage of this strategy is that you can purchase a revenue ticket with rewards before you actually have those rewards in your account. Once you earn your welcome bonus, you can redeem for a statement credit before the 90-day window is up.

Using the Sign-Up Bonus to Erase Purchases

The first question that typically pops up when we mention this strategy is, “will the signup bonus post to my account in time to apply the statement credit within the 90-day window?

The current Capital One Venture offer is earned in two tiers. You can earn 50,000 miles—worth $500 when redeemed with Purchase Eraser—after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Then, you'll have a chance to earn an additional 50,000 miles by spending a total of $20,000 during your first 12 months of card membership. (After you earn the first tier of the bonus, you'll have $17,000 left to spend to earn the second part of the bonus.)

Fortunately, Capital One awards Venture miles as soon as the transaction posts to your account. So, you don’t typically need to wait for your statement to close to receive miles earned from regular spending. The same applies to the signup bonus. In our experience, the welcome bonus should post to your account as soon as you meet the requirements.

So with the current offer, you'll have an opportunity to use this strategy twice—once right after you receive your new card and a second time as you approach $20,000 in total spend later in the year.

Things to keep in mind when redeeming Venture Miles

  • You don’t need to cover the cost of the entire purchase with Venture Miles. Let's say you pay $1,000 for a flight, but you only have 70,000 miles in your account. You can still knock $700 off the cost of the ticket, slashing the out-of-pocket cost to $300.
  • There is no minimum redemption amount when redeeming miles, provided you cover the entire travel purchase. However, there's a 2,500-mile minimum ($25) if you only cover part of a travel purchase with your Capital One miles.
  • You can only get a statement credit for travel purchases made within the last 90 days.
  • The merchant must code as travel for the purchase to qualify for a statement credit. If the purchase doesn’t code as travel from the merchant, it won’t qualify. Here's how Capital One states that restriction:

“Every time you buy something, the merchant assigns a category code to your purchase. We use these codes to determine if it’s eligible for miles redemption. Please note, Capital One isn’t responsible for codes used by merchants.”

Final Thoughts

The ideal rewards strategy is to have a mix of options that includes fixed-value rewards, transferrable points, and airline miles. Each type of points comes with unique advantages and disadvantages. If you’re well-diversified, you can use the type of points that fits your situation.

In the case of fixed-value rewards—like those earned with the Capital One Venture card—you’ll do best in situations where paid airfare is relatively cheap or when the itinerary you want isn’t available as an award ticket.

Most frequent flyer programs require you to have enough miles to cover the entire award price at the time of booking. With up to 90 days to redeem Venture miles retroactively, you can use the power of your future spending to earn the miles needed cover trips you want to confirm right away.

Although fixed-value rewards can't deliver the same kind of jaw-dropping deals you can get with a well-planned award ticket, their simplicity and flexibility are great reasons to add them to your points-and-miles arsenal.

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Comments

  • Avatar

    To those concerned about whether it really works, I’ve had a Venture card for almost a decade, and erased several travel transactions (flights, hotels). Didn’t know about the the 90 day limit though, thanks.

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    I am working on a similar strategy with the Discover It Miles card right now — it is going to cover a significant portion of an expensive River cruise next year. It doesn’t have a sign on bonus per se but you get 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase and after the first card anniversary they award you again all the points you earned in the first year. effectively making it 3.0 points per dollar. I’m using my initial spend to cover the deposit and I should be able to cover a large portion of the cruise cost when they double my miles at the end of the first year. (I am aware that cruising is in flux right now, but I’m taking the chance.)

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    To clarify – if I buy something for $500 coded as travel the day I get the card, pay off the first statement that includes that purchase but don’t have the 50,000 pt SUB yet, I can use the points later as a $500 statement credit even though I already paid off the original purchase as long as I’m within 90 days of that purchase?

    • Avatar

      Exactly! That’s why the Venture is a great card to get right before booking a trip. You can take advantage of the cheap travel rates and then “erase” the purchases with the points that you earn from booking that trip!

  • Avatar

    I’m skeptical that the company will accurately be able to post credit after the purchase but it would be great if it works as stated.

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    It’s great to have the ability to do this, but I am always afraid it won’t code right. Then either I would have to leave it or spend the time to try and get it coded correctly. I assume that usually is not the case, however, it would be frustrating when it would come up. I would love it if they didn’t have that it would have to code as travel and just have it cover anything.

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    sounds good to me, have to try it out

  • Avatar

    Sounds like a interesting idea, others should follow suit.

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    Can a person receive the bonus on the Capital One Venture credit card if they received the bonus previously and had cancelled the card when the CSR became available?

    • Avatar

      Officially, Capital One says “Existing or previous Accountholders may not be eligible for these bonuses”. That’s so vague that it’s not helpful at all! It’s probably best to call Capital One to see if you’re eligible.

  • Avatar
    Caroline Sim says:

    I would totally apply for this card and perk if I knew I could travel in the next year! I have some far away destinations I’d like to visit, but due to long layovers and lack of lounges being open, I think my flights would be too painful.

  • Avatar

    don’t you worry about the coding of it to be able to use the points to cover the cost? With cards like the Venture I do worry about how things may code to be able to cover them. I like that it’s easy to use but redeeming just worries me.

  • Avatar

    Although Capital One will not give me a credit card, (I applied again, was turned down, asked them to reconsider based on my history with them…nope, not for me.) I do see the benefit of the fixed value awards. Luckily I got the Barclay Arrival Plus last time it was offered, I can use that in my overall strategy. Kudos to those who can get this card, especially with the current offer, erasing travel charges is really nice.

  • Avatar

    I believe you can also apply miles to “erase” the same purchase more than once and thus essentially cover other purchases.

    • Avatar

      Can anyone else attest to this? This would seem to be quite the loophole, since you’re only supposed to be able to erase qualifying travel purchases.

  • Avatar

    Don’t forget about the new Capital One transfer partners! I know this post focused on the purchase eraser feature, but finally being able to transfer points certainly adds a new layer of advantages to having this particular card.

  • Avatar

    Interesting concept. Thanks for sharing the tips on when to best apply this.

  • Avatar

    Nice explanatory post on redeeming venture miles. Have never really got into capital one cards but might give it a try!

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    I would respond to this offer in a heartbeat if overseas travel were realistically possible right now 🙁

  • Avatar

    I haven’t done this for flights, but I have retroactively applied venture points to other travel purchases such as train tickets.

  • Avatar

    I love their unique and flexible approach to miles redeeming! I wonder if all rewards redemption companies are scrambling to find a way to encourage travel, and if so, I’m very much looking forward to them all!

  • Avatar

    Capital One Venture miles gives a person a lot of flexibility in redeeming their miles.