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 four months later.

Even better, you can earn up to $600 worth of miles between the time you book your trip and redeem your rewards.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Offer Earn 60,000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
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 60,000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening; 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.

The Unique Way You Redeem Venture Miles

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.

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.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is currently offering a signup bonus of 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

Thanks to some unique rules for redeeming Venture miles, it’s possible to buy a flight before you have the miles. Then you can retroactively apply the 60,000 bonus miles to knock up to $600 off the cost of travel.

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

Traditional frequent-flyer programs require you to have all the points and miles in your account before you can book an award. However, Venture Miles are fixed-value rewards that allow you to ‘erase’ travel purchases as a statement credit.

How does it work in practice?

You pay for a flight, hotel, or other qualifying travel purchase with your Capital One Venture card, then redeem Venture miles as a statement credit towards that purchase after the fact. Each mile is worth 1¢ towards the cost of travel. That means 20,000 Venture Miles will erase $200 from the cost of your flight or hotel stay.

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. 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 as a statement credit.

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

With a 90-days 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?

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 minimum spend.

Also, there's ample time to apply the bonus miles to qualifying travel purchases made during the minimum-spend period. That's because the window to meet the minimum spend is 90 days, and the window to redeem miles as a statement credit is also 90 days.

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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  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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 🙁

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

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    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!

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