Travel is fun but booking travel rarely is. Experts worry there’s always someone who will get a better deal, which leaves most travelers all but sure someone will. Capital One has a new solution that might change this dance for the better.
Capital One acquired a significant stake in Hopper, the flight prediction and booking app, and is launching the user friendly interface to support the new Capital One Travel platform. Not only can you book travel and use points, you can now gain price insights, and protect the price, or your trip.
It’s a massive change to how credit cards reward customers, so here’s everything you need to know, including some more features yet to come…
The New Capital One Travel
Starting today, Capital One members will start to see a new beta version of Capital One Travel hit their online accounts. It’s hard to miss, because it’s sleek, minimalist and full of new bells and whistles.
For a start, navigating to where you want to go is simplified. You can book travel, transfer points to airline and hotel partners, or use your points as cash back to “erase” travel purchases, just like before.
New Price Drop and Protection Features
What’s genuinely exciting today is what happens when you want to book travel. Capital One and Hopper created a Google Flights style interface, with some bells and whistles even Google Flights doesn’t currently have. Like Google Flights though, it allows you to track flight prices for free, and get instant alerts if prices drop!
During the first search, you can also get an instant picture of how pricey each day is, which can help people with a day or two of flexibility to save right away. But even if one day is cheaper than another, what if the price changes?
Using years of Hopper’s travel learnings, Capital One has a new price prediction tool which claims 95% accuracy and expects to save customers an average of 15% on all flights. A bank saving you money? Maybe!
In short, Capital One’s flight booking portal tell you whether it’s a great deal and probably a “buy”, whether things are pretty normal and a “maybe”, or whether prices are high, and maybe not as low as they could be.
These features will roll out to all Capital One Venture, VentureOne, Spark Miles, Spark Miles Select and Capital One Walmart Rewards cardholders in the coming weeks.
Price Drop Protection
For those who want to hedge their bets, Capital One is offering both price protection and trip protection (separately).
Capital One price drop coverage is complimentary, to highlight just how serious the price prediction tool is — on trips where Capital One’s price predictor recommends booking. If the price drops, you’ll receive an automatic refund of the difference. Pretty cool.
The protection applies to each ticket purchased, and can represent significant savings, which very few other booking channels offer.
You can even use points to cover the purchase. On that note, because the airline sees the fares as cash tickets, even if you use Capital One Venture or Spark Miles to book, you still earn elite status credit as well as any miles from the airline.
If, for example, flights drop by $100, and Capital One charges you $20 to protect the price, you’d get $80 refunded to your card. Obviously, the price prediction and free price alerts tool should help secure a great deal from the start, but sometimes peace of mind is nice.
Price Matches Too
Capital One seems rather determined to become your go-to travel booking website. So much so, it’s offering a pretty simple price match guarantee for car rentals, hotels and airfare. If another site has a lower price within 24 hours, you’ll get it matched.
Speaking to the team at Capital One, they even noted that the aim of the program is to be simple. If you find a lower price from a US site, in the correct currency, without any private discounts, you can just call customer service and they’ll sort it.
Capital One also promised to match hotel rates seen on Orbitz, Expedia and others. If that’s not a reason to give it a go, what is?
More Features On The Way
Already, this is instantly among the most consumer friendly ways to purchase travel, with tons of features designed to save Capital One cardmembers money. Why stop though?
Capital One says it’s planning other features, including price freeze, allowing people to hold a price for up to 14 days for a small fee, while they finalize plans. A no hassle trip cancellation policy will also be offered for a fee. Unlike other policies, if you want to cancel for any reason and receive a full refund, you’ll be able to.
Credit Card Reward Renaissance?
Credit card rewards were once entirely overlooked. It’s been a long time since that was the case, but even as they’ve grown in popularity, they’ve remained elusive and pretty complicated to use.
This direction from Capital One Travel, not only developing one of the best travel booking platforms, but loading it with confidence inspiring features could be the start of a very exciting era of credit card rewards. Basically, other banks will need to match or beat this new offering from Capital One.
Airline and hotel transfer partners are still there, but with increased earning rates and great “no hassle” ways to redeem points for trips of all kinds, it’s getting harder to stay away. As cheesy as it may be, Capital One is earning the “what’s in your wallet” tag line.