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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 an increased offer of 75,000 bonus miles.
Read on to see if this strategy could work for you!
- Earn 75,000 Miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening; worth $750 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
- 5X miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- 2X miles per dollar on all other purchases
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.
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 redeem your miles for 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, you can redeem your Venture Miles for the purchase.
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, redeeming 20,000 Venture Miles will knock $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 Redeem Miles for the Purchase Later
With a 90-day window to redeem miles for 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.
Redeem Miles for Purchases Using the Sign-Up Bonus
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 requirements.
So with the current increased offer, you'll be able to redeem miles for up to $750 worth of travel purchases after earning your welcome bonus.
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.”
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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