This article is brought to you by Capital One. We get approached for sponsored posts all the time, but only take them up when they offer value or useful information to our readers. The partnership came along at a time when our view on the points game coincided with theirs, and I’m excited to offer this insight…
The best and most fascinating part of running a travel site is engaging with the audience on a daily basis. And with millions of people reading, opinions are one thing the site is certainly not short on. The beauty of having so many opinions shared daily, is that feedback helps form my opinions, seeing what travelers strive to achieve with their points, and that what advice *may* make sense for some, may make none for others. My view on points has evolved since I started writing this blog years ago, and our partnership with Capital One to promote the Venture card is a reflection of this ever-changing view. And with a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles worth $500 in travel, the view looks better than ever…
Every travel blogger starts out aspirational. You know, what I’m talking about, and you’ve certainly read the headlines, like “Man Flies First Class Around the World for $12”. Perhaps the greatest catalyst for people to initially get into the points game are the aspirational experiences points can unlock. There’s something very cool about flying an apartment in the sky for 35,000 credit card points via an obscure workaround, or transferring 25,000 hotel points for an otherwise impossibly expensive hotel room, through what seems like voodoo magic back channels.
But, once you’ve done that stuff – you just want to travel more. Travel is about seeing the world. Readers have taught me that: for most travelers, there is no flexibility, people would rather travel somewhere cool in any cabin, than go somewhere just to experience a plane, and that red tape, surcharges and other things typically associated with redeeming points via airlines ruins the fun of collecting them in the first place!
I can safely say I’ve done just about everything aspirational in travel, and between my personal travel goals, and seeing how impractical some aspirational ideas are for other travelers, my focus is on earning the best rebate for my travels, that I can use for any part of them. Even if it only covers part of the purchase.
That’s where the Capital One Venture card caught my eye. The card has evolved from a seemingly standard rewards credit card to a highly lucrative travel card with seriously flexible perks. With the first year annual fee waived, and 50,000 bonus miles worth $500 towards travel as a welcome bonus, the card makes a lot of sense.
I’m talking about perks like receiving 10x miles when booking on Hotels.com/Venture which can be combined with Hotels.com’s lucrative loyalty program, which offers 1 night free for every 10 nights stayed, receiving a credit of up to $100 for either your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application, and being able to cash in your miles when you want to with no blackout dates. Capital One Venture earns two miles per dollar on all purchases, which makes it one of the strongest earning credit cards on the market. Plus, when you use your miles to cover travel purchases, you always unlock the full 2x return. When used toward travel, 100,000 Capital One Venture Miles covers $1000 of travel expenses, whether that’s flights, hotels, rental car, etc., without any gimmicks or blackout dates.
I care about this more and more, because I don’t have the flexibility I once did. I can’t hope that an airline releases just one seat using points, once a month, if I want to travel with my wife during defined travel dates. The more people you’re talking about, the more relevant availability becomes.
I just want to travel, I want to save and I want to breeze through the airport. If I see a flight that’s $200, I’d love to use some of my points to make it $100, or better yet – free! Capital One Venture is the card that makes more and more sense, as I aim not to unlock the craziest luxury travel experiences, but the best travel experiences for me, which is now traveling more often at times that best fit my schedule. With this card, you can receive arguably the best rebate on booking hotels, and one of the best earning rates for all spending, not just some of it.
I have observed that that the bloggers’ views seem to evolve over time. They all evolve lockstep with whichever credit card/provider is goosing referral incentives at the time. The flavor du jour seems to be Capital One, TBH.
If you read my content over the last six months, you’d see consistent coverage about cash back offering increasingly good value, given airfare trends and hotel moves.
I love how people give a blogger shit when it’s 120 non sponsored posts per month, and they choose to comment on the only sponsored one, TBH.
My apology if you took my comment to be a personal insult. It wasn’t meant that way, especially in light of your disclaimer about the sponsorship. You were upfront and honest.
It was directed at the group of bloggers who hawk the same card on their posts until they suddenly all shift to a new one. Their move is more insidious and they don’t “fess up” about their motivation. I assume you’re a blog consumer as well as provider, so you must see what I mean – there tends to run a few-day period when we followers are all warned about “jump in now before it’s too late”. Or “this card is now the very best one” until it suddenly isn’t. The chorus is too strong on the same card to not be financially motivated. Even with them, it’s not constant; things are pretty steady until there’s a spike. I still appreciate all I gain from reading travel blogs and do use the links, It’s just an observation triggered by your question. Haven’t you seen an uptick in Cap 1 posts?
Colleen, were all good. I apologize. I think we’re all in the business of covering news, and few products have changed recently as much as Capital One.
Lol. @colleen ….I agree totally
I understand your evolution. After trying their hotels for about a year, the rotting stink from “customer oriented improvements” in the SPG/Marriott loyalty program merger has driven me off. Back with Hyatt/Hilton/IHG for now, I can easily imagine one or more of those going badly. So I can definitely see Hotels.com in my future and, if Capital One features make Hotels.com even better, a new credit card to go with my new BBF (Booking Best Friend.)
Forget the capital one sponsored bit.
Great article as this is the reality of points for most travellers.
I am lucky to be able to decide when I take time off. My wife is not. My child is in school.
I always cringe when I see great deals which I could book and fly on but can’t go as a family (and therefore can’t be interested to travel as I love to share experiences with my family).
Deals could be last min reward availability or amazing cash deals = latest Hong Kong airlines one. I got the alert via FT and could have easily booked. I went till the end of booking to check validity of this deal.
So yes, I completely agree with being more realistic about what you can do with points bearing in mind most ppl have a lot of restrictions.
Here’s where cash incentives and perks etc are more valuable. Amex fine hotels a even just the usual amex hotels have been useful. Hotels.com is my best friend as well.
Then recently got an awesome deal at Ritz in NYC with Marriott points (transferred via Starwood). Got a suite upgrade as well. Special occasion so used points (could have 100 better uses of Starwood points for better ROI on J/F flights, but experiences are more valuable than just maximising points all the time).
There are many times where I have ‘wasted’ points or miles to just upgrade seats to business when I know that if my family had a lot flexibility in holidays, just a little extra miles transferred to another programme via partner awards would get us first class (not BA). Lol.
It’s very hard but that’s the reality. I collect miles and points to have as a back up. At times when we do find time to go, it can be very expensive and that’s where points and miles are very handy (like RC in central park was 1100 USD a night – I got it for nothing with points. We wanted to stay there. Plus got a suite = crazy money).
I am in the same boat but prefer amex plat because of my business. We run large invoices with our vendors often $5k plus so we always get 1.5x mr points combined with 35% points back on premium ticket bookings I now travel with no blackout dates and always in F or J. And when I can plan something out it’s always transfer to ANA for 95k miles J to China and Taiwan roundtrip. Can’t beat it but my situation is not as common.
Mr Luigi G. Ott you’re open about sponsorship and that’s appreciated A useful post (whilst I disagree with you on the quality of several airlines can’t remember any useless articles from gstp…EVER).
Thanks and keep up the great work you are appreciated even by the whingers who can’t get over falling /failing standards.
The travel industry moves fast and best offers change which I guess keeps you busy and means sites like gstp are essential for those looking to get maximum value. Completely understand need to be sponsored every now and again, less so the unwillingness to criticise the behemoths when they get things wrong as a matter of policy (thinking clean cabins).
Anyway the gist is thank you you please the vast majority the vast majority of the time.
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