Cheap Car Rentals: Saving Money With the Capital One Travel Portal

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Capital One also has a travel portal as part of their No Hassle Rewards portal, similar to Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You Points, where you can book cheap car rentals.

Cheap Car Rentals Series:

Capital One Travel Portal

I first read about cheap car rentals via Capital One on Rapid Travel Chai.  In my experience, rentals weren’t always cheaper on the Capital One travel portal, but they were sometimes cheaper than the Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi Thank You portals.

The BIG advantage of the Capital One No Hassle Rewards travel portal is that you can book one-way car rentals (where you rent the car in one city, but drop it off in another city) and pick-ups at non-airport locations.  You can’t book these type of rentals with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi Thank You points.

You can also pay with any credit card, so you could use a non-Capital-One credit card to pay for the rental if it has primary car insurance.  But you need a Capital One travel rewards credit card or a checking account to access the portal.  There is also NO cancellation fee if you cancel a booking made with a credit card, though there is no refund if you don’t pick up the rental and don’t cancel beforehand.

Another benefit of the Capital One Travel portal, if you’re paying with Capital One points, is that you could get a much nicer premium car or SUV for the SAME price in points!

But unfortunately, if you’re paying with a credit card, the price does change for different types of cars.

In my tests for the rental car series post, the Capital One portal wasn’t as low as the Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi Thank You portal, but I’ve seen the Capital One portal with occasionally lower rates than elsewhere.  But the rates were still cheaper than Hotwire or Costco Travel!

 
~6 Days Rental in Tampa
~1 Day Rental in New York (La Guardia)
~7 Days Rental in Maui
Cancellation Policy
Hotwire$286$131-$362 Economy Sedan
-$487 SUV
VERY Restrictive. No refunds, cancellations or modifications after booking.
Costco Travel$330$117- $401 Sedan
- $386 SUV
Can cancel, change, or no-show with no penalty
Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal

$156$46$207Can cancel/change for free within 2 days of pick-up. 1 day car rental penalty for cancellations within 2 days. No refund for no-shows.
Citi Thank You Portal$156$46$207Can cancel/change for $15 within 2 days of pick-up. 1 day car rental penalty for cancellations within 2 days. No refund for no-shows.
Capital One Rewards$169$53$318Can cancel for free if paid for with a credit card. No refund for no-shows.
WinnerChase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You PointsChase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You PointsChase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You Points

How To Access The Capital One Travel Portal

You need a Capital One checking account or credit card which earns “No Hassle Rewards” points to access the travel portal.  Cards which earn cash rewards points may have access to different cash rates.

This link to CreditCards.com has 2 Capital One cards, one with an annual fee and one without an annual fee.  Note that the cards have only a 10,000 point sign up bonus and that Capital One usually pulls your credit from all 3 credit bureaus.

My oldest credit card is a no-fee Capital One credit card which I got in college with a $200 limit, which was enough for breadsticks at the Pizza Express across form my dorm.  I gradually increased the credit line and financed my 1st car using a 0% APR offer (a 6 year old Ford Escort) in my junior year when I needed a car for an internship.  And I probably used the card for a few dates with Emily!

I did get the Capital One Venture Rewards card a few years ago when they had a 100,000 match your miles bonanza, but cancelled it because of the annual fee.

But the no-fee Capital One card still gets me access to the No Hassle Rewards portal and the cheap rental car prices.

The credit card prices were the same regardless of accessing the portal with a Capital One Venture card or a regular no-fee Capital One Platinum card which both earned “No Hassle Rewards.”  The points rates varies depending on which card I used to log into the portal, but the credit card rate was the same.

Step 1 – Log in

Log into your Capital One account using this link

Step 2 – Explore Rewards

Click on Explore Rewards.

Capital One Car Rentals

Click “Explore Rewards”

Step 3 – Redeem

Click on Redeem on the top left hand menu bar.  Then click on New Travel: Powered by Travelocity and search for your car rental.

Capital One Car Rentals 2

Click “Redeem”

Price Comparisons

[Note that price comparisons between rental agencies were made on the same day, but posted later.  The credit card prices were the same regardless of accessing the portal with a Capital One Venture card or a regular no-fee Capital One Platinum card which both earned "No Hassle Rewards."  The points rates varies depending on which card you have.]

A)   ~6 Days in Tampa

The cheapest rate from the 1st post in the series was $286 for a very restricted reservation from Hotwire or $156 through the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portals.

At $169, the Capital One portal is slightly more expensive than the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portals, but much less expensive than Hotwire/Costco Travel.

Note that the redemption using points (instead of credit card), in the screenshot below, remains the same across different vendors and that a larger car costs the same as a smaller car!

Capital One Car Rentals

$169 for 6 days in Tampa

B)   1 Weekday in New York

The cheapest rate from the 1st post in the series was $117 through Costco travel or $46 through the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portals.

At $54, the Capital One portal is slightly more expensive than the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portals, but much less expensive than Hotwire/Costco Travel.

Note that the redemption using points (instead of credit card), in the screenshot below, remains the same across different vendors and that a larger car costs the same as a smaller car!

Capital One Car Rentals

$54 for a 1 Day Rental in New York

C)  ~1 Week in Maui

The cheapest rate from the 1st post in the series was $362 for a very restricted reservation from Hotwire or $207 through the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portals.

At $319, the Capital One portal is much more expensive than the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portals, but less expensive than Hotwire/Costco Travel.

Note that the redemption using points remains the same across different vendors and that a larger car costs the same as a smaller car!

Capital One Car Rentals

$319 For 7 Days In Maui

Using The Capital One Portal For Car Rentals

1.  Restrictions,  Refunds, & Fees

You can cancel a booking made with a credit card for NO charge by calling 1-877-523-2912 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 12:00 pm EST, Saturday/Sunday, 9:00 am to 10:00 pm EST).

However, if you make a booking using Capital One rewards points, you can only make ONE change, so you’re better off cancelling the reservation and making another reservation so that you don’t lose flexibility if you need to cancel in the future.

Here’s the complete cancellation policy:

  • If using a credit card to book your credit card will be charged in full at the time of booking.
  • Due to program restrictions, reservations booked using rewards can be changed only ONCE. After a reservation booked using rewards is modified once, it CANNOT be changed or cancelled again.
  • Changes in itinerary can result in a change in price. If a price increase occurs, then the difference in price CANNOT be paid with rewards. Price increases must be paid with a credit card.
  • No monetary refund will be given for cancellation of a reservation booked using rewards. An equivalent amount of Rewards, minus any cancellation or change fees, will be credited back to your Rewards account if changes to your rewards reservation result in a refund.

You don’t get ANY refund if you no-show and don’t pick up your car.  So always cancel your reservation if you don’t plan on renting the car.

All fees are included in the price except for extras like GPS etc.

2.  Pay With Credit Card OR Points, but NOT Both

You can pay for rentals through the Capital One Travel Portal using any credit card or you can redeem points provided you have enough Capital One points for the FULL rental.

You don’t have the option of redeeming for a combination of points and cash.

Capital One Car Rentals

Can Pay with Credit Card OR Points, but NOT Both

3.  Earning Miles/Points

I haven’t made enough reservations to see if I can add an airline or car rental frequent traveler number and earn miles/points for the reservation.  I suspect that I won’t be able to earn miles/points for the reservation.

However, you can sometimes earn airline miles for short reservations, like say this offer for 1,500 US Air miles for a 2 day or longer rental (targeted to US Air Preferred members, but works for most).  In some cases, particularly for short rentals, it make sense to forgo the lower credit card price from the Capital One portal and earn miles for the rental.  But do the math for yourself!

4.   Bypassing Airport Rental Car Counters.

I’m also not sure if you can add your rental car number to the reservation so that you can skip checking in at the rental car counter and go straight to the car.  I tried calling Avis to add my number to a reservation, but was told I couldn’t do it because the rate would increase if they associated my Avis number with the reservation.

But I’ll gladly wait for 15 to 20 minutes at the airport to save hundreds of dollars!

5.   Personal Observations

The Capital One portal is not always the cheapest, but it is worth checking if you have access to the Capital One portal.  And it is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for 1-way rentals or non-airport locations.

Sometimes you will see only 1 rental car provider or the rates will be comparable to elsewhere.  But the rates usually reduce and you can see more providers if you check back in a few hours.

If you’re using Capital One points, you can often get a premium car or a SUV for the same price in points as an economy car!

Bottom Line

In my experience, the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portal often have the lowest price on car rentals.  But sometimes the Capital One No Hassle Rewards portal has better rates so it doesn’t hurt to check!  And especially for 1-way and non-airport location rentals since the Chase and Citi portals don’t have this option.

The Capital One portal doesn’t charge for cancellations, if you book the car using a credit card.

Please share your story in the comments if you’ve used the Capital One travel portal for car rentals!

PS:  I’m traveling today to meet our friends from Chase, so I won’t be able to get to the comments and email for a bit.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

26 Responses to Cheap Car Rentals: Saving Money With the Capital One Travel Portal

  1. Alfred E. Neuman

    The cash rate shown on the Capital One portal apparently varies depending on what kind of credit card you have. I have the Capital One Venture One card and when I access the portal, the points are based on 100 points per dollar, so if the rate is $192.46 the points needed will be 19,246.

  2. Even though I don’t like capital one points, I still think using points on car rentals is a bad value. It is so easy to get a cheap rental car I never think it is worth the points. I interested to see where you comparisons lead, but so far I haven’t seen anything that beats Priceline’s name your own price.

  3. I only have cap1 plat card (no fee). Under redeem rewards, there’s no option to access car rental portal, only able to redeem cash / gift card etc. Anyway, good post as always!

  4. I was on the Capital One site for 10 minutes trying to find this site. I even chatted with Capital One and they said there wasn’t a place to book travel on Capital One.

    Finally I came back and re-read your post on the step by step. Would never have found it without your directions. Thank you!

  5. @Alfred E. Neuman – I logged in using a no-fee and an annual fee card and the cash rate was the same, but the points rate changed. But there are lots of different Capital One cards available, so this could be ymmv.

    @Scott – You don’t have to use points when you book the rental car since you can charge it to a credit card!

    @cow – Which Capital One card do you have? Is it part of their cash rewards cards?

  6. WOW! You have no idea how much I saved booking a car for my family for Passover/Easter Break. CapitalONE was 50% cheaper than booking through Budget directly, and cheaper than Costco by 50% too!.

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  19. Logged on with my Freedom card on the Chase portal and the rates were laughable. Hotwire is more than $30 cheaper on average. Even Priceline is cheaper.

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  21. Just curious if anyone has use the travel portal and booked a vehicle for a family member rather than yourself? We are traveling with extended family and looks like these are the best rates. I’d like to book a vehicle for ourselves and one for my in-laws but hope I can book theirs in their name to avoid paying the additional driver fees.

  22. @Julie – I believe you can book cars for others as well, but have to pay with your card.

  23. Just wanted to say thanks for this! I was able to save HUNDREDS of dollars on a one-way through the Capital One site for a trip next month. I booked this rental several months ago but just today decided to see if I could add my Dollar Express number to the reservation. I called Dollar and they said I would need to call Capital One. I spoke with a wonderful agent at Capital One – she put me on hold and came back and told me she was able to add our Express number! So, no waiting in line for us! She did say that some agencies will allow it and others won’t. She was going to start making a list for herself as she is asked this often and couldn’t remember which ones would do it.

  24. @Connie – Reader success stories are my favorite kind of comments!

  25. @Julie – You can book rentals for anyone else, even with their credit card.

  26. This is the most thorough writeup about this card I’ve found. I just opened one of these and am learning about how to redeem the travel points so this was helpful. Thank you.

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