If you travel regularly, you should have at least one travel rewards credit card in your wallet. The more you travel, the more specialized — and generous — that card needs to be.
I’ve had several travel credit cards over the years. Most have been general-purpose cards like the Capital One Venture X rewards card, which rewards purchases with all travel merchants (airlines, hospitality companies, rental car companies, and so on) over others. Venture X arguably offers the best value of any travel card for brand-agnostic, moderate-frequency travelers — people who take a few vacations of varying lengths each year and spend at least $2,000 on flights, lodging, and rental cars annually.
Full disclosure: I’m not a Venture X user. But the more I learn about the card, the more tempted I am to add it to my collection.
What Is the Capital One Venture X Rewards Card?
The Capital One Venture X Card is a super-premium travel credit card that earns miles on every purchase. Specifically, it earns:
10 miles per $1 spent (10x miles) on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel5x miles on airfare booked through Capital One Travel2x miles on all other eligible purchases, including travel booked through something other than Capital One Travel
You can redeem miles to offset eligible past travel purchases or current travel bookings (airfare, hotels, rental cars, local transportation, and more) at a value of $0.01 per mile. You can also transfer miles to more than 15 Capital One travel partners, including major airlines and hospitality families.
Venture X has other potentially valuable benefits, including a $300 annual travel credit, 10,000 bonus miles on your account anniversary, and complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges worldwide.
What Sets the Capital One Venture X Card Apart?
The Capital One Venture X has a lot of beneficial features, but three really stand out:
Extremely Easy to Offset the Annual Fee. Venture X’s $395 annual fee sounds steep, but it’s easy for even low-key travelers to avoid. The annual travel credit offsets up to $300 in bookings through Capital One Travel each year, and the 10,000-mile anniversary bonus is worth another $100 on top of that. That’s $400 in value with very little effort required.Up to 10x Miles on Eligible Travel Purchases. That’s about as good as you can do with a general-purpose travel credit card. Capital One limits the 10x miles rate to hotel and car rental purchases booked through Capital One Travel, but you can also earn 5x miles on eligible airfare booked through Capital One Travel — not bad, either.Discounted or Free Travel and Culture Memberships Unavailable Elsewhere. Venture X is the only travel credit card that offers free or discounted memberships to Prior, The Cultivist, and Gravity Haus. These memberships don’t make sense for all travelers, but if you can take full advantage of them, you’ll extract several hundred dollars in value each year.
Is the Capital One Venture X Rewards Card Worth It?
Fair question. The Venture X card has a $395 annual fee that’s not waived during the first year of membership. So it’s reasonable to ask whether it’s really worth nearly $400 every 12 months?
Yes, it almost certainly is. You only need to do two things every year to offset Venture X’s annual fee:
Make travel bookings worth at least $300 through Capital One Travel to redeem the card’s annual travel creditRedeem your 10,000 bonus miles after your account anniversary
Together, that’s $400 in potential value, or $5 more than the annual fee. As long as you make other purchases with your card and redeem earned miles, you’ll get still more value through Venture X’s rewards program. And if you can take advantage of complimentary airport lounge access, free or discounted travel and culture memberships, and the many other tangible benefits of Venture X, you’ll find yourself even further into the black.
Key Features of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Card
You’ve already gotten a taste of some key Venture X features. Find more detail on them (and some others not yet discussed).
Early Spend Bonus
Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. That’s a one-time bonus opportunity worth $750 when you redeem for eligible travel.
Annual Travel Credit
Earn up to $300 in credit against eligible Capital One Travel bookings each and every year. (Save yourself a trip through the fine print: “Eligible” is a formality here, and basically all Capital One Travel bookings are eligible.)
You must make said bookings through the Capital One Travel portal — the credit can’t be retroactively applied against prior bookings outside the Capital One ecosystem.
Anniversary Miles Bonus
Get 10,000 bonus miles — worth $100 when redeemed for travel — every year after your account anniversary. There’s no spend requirement to earn this bonus, which you get as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
Complimentary Airport Lounge Access
Enjoy complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges around the world, including:
A handful of Capital One Lounges in major U.S. airports, including Denver and Washington-Dulles — hopefully the network expands in the coming years because it’s almost not worth mentioning right nowMore than 1,000 Priority Pass lounges worldwide — you can get a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership when you register your Venture X card on the Priority Pass websiteMore than 100 Plaza Premium lounges worldwide, including select Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses
See Capital One’s partner lounge network guide for exclusions, restrictions, and a full list of eligible lounges. Guests mostly get in free as well.
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Fee Credit
Get up to $100 off the cost of your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. You only need to apply for these memberships every four years, so it isn’t a massively valuable perk, but every little bit helps.
Best Price Guarantee on Travel Booking With Capital One Travel
This isn’t a totally open-ended guarantee, but it’s quite useful (and potentially generous) for attentive, savvy travel-bookers. The key points:
Capital One sends price drop alerts on flights you’re watching and recommends when to buy.If you book airfare through Capital One Travel when Capital One recommends you do so and the price drops within 10 days, you’ll get a travel credit for the difference (up to $50).If you find a better price within 24 hours of booking any type of travel through Capital One Travel, Capital One will match it and refund you the difference.Capital One Travel’s hotel prices match the best of competitors like Expedia and Travelocity in near-real time.
To ensure you get the most out of Nos. 2 and 3, set price alerts on other popular travel booking engines (including Google Flights and Priceline) and watch like a hawk in the hours and days after you book through Capital One Travel.
Transferring Miles to Travel Partners
Capital One has more than 15 travel transfer partners, including:
Aeromexico Club PremierAeroplan (Air Canada)British Airways Executive ClubChoice Privileges (a major U.S. hotel family and probably the best value for domestic U.S. travelers)Flying Blue (Air France)
You can transfer your miles in 1,000-mile increments, usually at a 1-to-1 ratio (a few have less-generous 1.5-to-1 or 2-to-1 ratios).
The advantage of transferring is that partner loyalty currency tends to be more valuable than Capital One miles, which are always worth $0.01 apiece when redeemed against prior or current travel purchases on your Venture X card. Sometimes, the difference is significant: The right redemption might value partner points or miles at $0.03 apiece or more.
The catch is that partners don’t always offer the best deal on flights or hotels. And it’s not certain your travels will take you somewhere served by a partner that does offer a great deal. Most are international airlines that partner with U.S. airlines only on international flights. So it’s more work to make it work — though the effort certainly can (and frequently will) pay off.
Complimentary or Discounted Culture & Travel Subscriptions
I hadn’t heard of any of these subscriptions before diving into the details of this card. I wouldn’t use any, but that’s mostly down to lifestyle and travel patterns. I’m convinced plenty of frequent travelers — Venture X’s core audience — could get their money’s worth out of each.
Prior. Part travel magazine, part small-group excursion-and-experience company. Example experiences include an eco-lodge in the Himalayas and the Day of the Dead Festival in Oaxaca, Mexico. Venture X cardholders get the $149 annual subscription waived. You have to pay extra for excursions, of course.The Cultivist. Basically a club for art snobs But fine art is cool, and free access to more than 100 world-class museums is even cooler. Venture X cardholders get six months of membership at the Enthusiast level for free, then regular membership fees apply ($440 per year).Gravity Haus. A social club and lodging network for outdoor adventurers who love the mountains. Members get full access to lodging and amenities at several locations in the Colorado Rockies and Sierra Nevada mountains. Venture X cardholders get $300 per year toward an annual membership, which costs at least $1,200 per year for individuals (more depending on your package). Gravity Haus is expensive, but (maybe) worth it.
Here’s more detail on Gravity Haus pricing and access. You can see that it’s quite expensive, even for Venture X cardholders. It could be worth the cost if you love the mountains though.
Other Card Benefits
Venture X comes with some nontravel benefits worth writing home about:
Cellphone protection up to $800 per incident when you pay your cellphone bill in full with the cardUp to 100,000 bonus miles when you refer friends to Venture X (they must apply and be approved for you to earn the bonus)Capital One Dining, which features hard-to-get reservations at top restaurants and tickets to exclusive culinary experiences (though you still have to pay)Capital One Entertainment, featuring presale and VIP tickets to popular shows and sporting events
Venture X has a $395 annual fee from the first year. You can fully offset this fee if you take full advantage of the $300 annual travel credit and 10,000-point annual anniversary bonus though.
Venture X has no foreign transaction fee, a nice plus for international travelers.
Venture X requires excellent credit to apply. If you have any significant blemishes on your credit report, you might not qualify.
Advantages of the Capital One Venture X Card
If you’ve read this far, it should already be clear that the Venture X Card has a ton of potentially valuable benefits. Here’s a detailed recap.
$300 Travel Credit Nearly Offsets the Annual Fee. Venture X has a $395 annual fee. That sounds like too much until you remember it also credits the first $300 in eligible Capital One Travel purchases every year and delivers a 10,000-mile bonus ($100 value) every year too. Take full advantage and you’ll more than break even.Great Return on Capital One Travel Purchases. You can probably break even after the credits by booking your usual travel through Capital One Travel. You’ll earn 10x miles on eligible hotel and car rental bookings, or $100 for every $1,000 spent.Complimentary Access to 1,400+ Airport Lounges Worldwide. Your Venture X card gets you free access to more than 1,400 airport lounges in three networks. Priority Pass Select is the behemoth. Most major U.S. airports and many international airports have at least one Priority Pass lounge.Excellent Early Spend Bonus. Venture X has one of the better early spend bonuses of any travel rewards credit card. Just mind the spending requirement, or you’ll get nothing.Annual Miles Bonus for Doing Basically Nothing. Speaking of nothing: That’s what you have to do to get 10,000 bonus miles every year with Venture X. Well, almost nothing. You have to keep your account open and pay your bill on time, but that should go without saying.Solid Lineup of Travel Transfer Partners for International Travelers. Capital One’s travel transfer partner lineup leans heavily international. That’s awesome if you regularly travel abroad (which in this case includes Canada and Mexico).Complimentary and Discounted Culture Memberships Not Available With Comparable Cards. If you’d heard of Prior, The Cultivist, or Gravity Haus before reading this review, congratulations: You’re cooler than I am. And your Venture X card can net you nearly $700 in value during your first year if you join them all (but make sure you’re a good fit before doing so).No Foreign Transaction Fees. Venture X doesn’t charge international transaction fees. Most premium travel cards don’t, but this is still notable if your travels take you abroad often.
Disadvantages of the Capital One Venture X Card
Does the Venture X Card have any drawbacks? Well, yes — all credit cards do. These downsides give me the most pause.
No Mile Redemption Bonuses. Unlike some other superpremium travel cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you get no bonus from Venture X when you redeem for travel purchases. By contrast, every Sapphire Reserve travel redemption is worth 50% more than standard redemptions.No Major U.S. Airlines Among Transfer Partners. Venture X also compares unfavorably to Sapphire Reserve on the transfer partner front. Yes, it has more partners than the Chase card, but there are no major domestic U.S. airlines among them (and just one domestic U.S. hotel family). So it’s not as useful for domestic travelers.Travel Credit Limited to Capital One Travel Bookings. The Venture X travel credit only applies to Capital One Travel bookings rather than bookings made with other online travel agencies or directly with the travel vendor. But that’s an inconvenience, probably not a deal-breaker.
How the Capital One Venture X Card Stacks Up
The Capital One Venture X Card bears a more-than-passing resemblance to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, another superpremium travel rewards credit card. Which is a better fit for you? See how they compare, then decide for yourself.
Other Alternatives to Consider
If neither Venture X nor Sapphire Reserve speak to your inner traveler, one of these alternatives might. I’d personally recommend them all, but do pay attention to the core use cases we’ve called out in the right column — they’re not all appropriate for all travelers.
People ask me for premium travel credit card recommendations all the time, usually people who couldn’t care less who they fly or stay with. For years, my response was always the same: Chase Sapphire Reserve is where it’s at.
Not anymore. Now that the Capital One Venture X rewards card is a thing, I tailor my recommendations to my audience. To people with solid but not lavish travel budgets and limited vacation days, I present Venture X. To those who seem to spend more time out of town than at home, I still push Sapphire Reserve.
I haven’t heard any complaints yet.