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Capital One miles are underrated, man.
You’ve probably heard us screaming from the rooftops that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the BEST points to collect. That’s absolutely true for most of us. But if you use those points to buy travel through the Chase Travel Portal, you’ll be much happier collecting Capital One miles.
Shameless plug (for your sake), there are some pretty unbelievable offers right now:
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – 50,000 miles ($500 in free travel) after meeting minimum spending requirements. I have this card and have made some of my favorite travel memories from the bonus. And I’m not just saying that.
- Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business – Up to 200,000 miles ($2,000 in free travel) after meeting minimum spending requirements. This deal ends January 28, 2019.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Aren’t Always Better Than Capital One Miles
Here’s why Chase Ultimate Rewards points are better for lots of us: They transfer to the most valuable airline and hotel partners EVER. For example, I could take the bonus I earn from a card like the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and:
- Transfer the points to Singapore Airlines for 2 round-trip flights to Hawaii from anywhere in the US (continental)
- Transfer the points to United Airlines for 3 round-trip flights to anywhere in the US from anywhere in the US (continental)
- Transfer the points to Hyatt for 2 nights at a 5-star resort, like the Hyatt Residence Club Lake Tahoe, Northstar Lodge
But there’s a catch: Transferring points to partners means you now have to worry about blackout dates, available award seats, available hotel nights, etc. If you don’t have flexibility with your vacation days, that could be a problem.
To solve this issue, Chase also gives you the option of redeeming your points through their online travel portal. You’re essentially “buying” your airfare or hotel room with your points. Through the portal, your points are worth:
- 1.25 cents each if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred
- 1.5 cents each if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
For example, if you’ve earned 50,000 points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred after spending $4,000 in the first three months, your points are worth $625 in the Chase Portal (50,000 points X 1.25 cents each). You can buy a flight through the Chase Portal and use those points to cover up to $625 of your flight cost.
I’ve used my points this way several times. When I can’t find a good deal by transferring my points to Chase partners, I’ll just use some points through the portal to discount my vacation.
Here’s why Capital One miles are better for many of us: If you’re not interested in hunting for a bargain, you’re probably more inclined to just redeem your points through the portal. It’s a quick and easy discount.
If this is you, I’m willing to bet you’ll do better collecting Capital One miles from a card like the Capital One Venture instead of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Capital One miles are easier to redeem, and they have one giant benefit that Chase points do NOT.
Why to Choose Capital One Miles Over Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Capital One cards can give you a better return: Capital One miles are worth 1 cent each. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each through the Chase Portal. Chase points are the clear winner.
Oh wait, no they’re not. Here’s why:
- With the Capital One Venture, you’ll earn 2 miles for every single dollar you spend
- With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 1 point for every dollar you spend, and 2 points for travel and dining
If the lion’s share of your purchases happen to be travel and dining, you’ll come out ahead with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you have a more normal lifestyle, you’ll almost certainly come out ahead with the Capital One Venture.
Capital One miles are easier to redeem: You don’t have to go through a special portal to use Capital One miles. You literally use the card to purchase travel just as you would with any credit card:
- Buy your flight directly from the airline website
- Buy your hotel stay directly from the hotel website
- Buy your flight or hotel through Orbitz, Expedia, Hotwire, etc.
- Buy your rental car directly through the rental agency
- Contact a travel agent for your arrangements and pay them
It doesn’t matter how you reserve your travel. Just use your Capital One card when you do. Then you’ll have 90 days to visit your online account, find the travel purchase, and erase it from existence with your Capital One miles.
For example, if you reserve a $400 hotel stay, your Capital One card will show a balance of $400. You can then find the purchase in your transaction history, click “erase”, and you will instantly have a $0 balance on your card (and 40,000 fewer miles)!
You can redeem Capital One miles for more things than Chase Ultimate Rewards points: As long as the transaction is travel related, you can redeem your Capital One miles for it. I have the Capital One Venture, and I redeemed the bonus for a 3-night Airbnb stay in Barbados. You won’t find Airbnb in the Chase Portal.
You can also use Capital One miles to erase food purchases you make inside hotels, like room service or hotel restaurants. Because the bill codes as a hotel purchase instead of a restaurant purchase.
Capital One miles earn hotel points: The Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal uses Expedia to book travel. That is NOT a good thing if you’re booking a hotel.
That’s because you won’t earn hotel points when you book a hotel through the Chase Portal. If you book a hotel room anywhere but directly with the hotel, you will not get:
- Hotel points
- Elite night credits
- Your elite status benefits
When you book with Capital One miles, you can reserve your room directly with the hotel.
For example, the Washington Hilton, DC, generally costs $250 per night. If you book 2 nights directly with this hotel, and use your Capital One miles to erase the purchase later, you’ll receive:
- 5,000 Hilton points (you get 10 points per $1 you spend on your room when you book direct)
- Any bonus promo points (Hilton always has something good going on)
- 2 elite night credits
- Elite status recognized (possible upgrades, welcome gift, late checkout, free breakfast, etc.)
If you book the same 2 nights through the Chase Portal, the hotel will give you shelter for the night, and then tell you to get lost.
We often say the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for newbies. Because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are so incredibly useful!
But if you find yourself repeatedly using your points through the Chase Portal, the Chase Sapphire Preferred might be the wrong card for you. Look into cards that earn Capital One miles instead, like:
You’ll almost certainly get a better return for your spending. And you can redeem them for a wider variety of travel purchases! Check out our review of the Capital One Venture here.
Do you find yourself spending Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase Travel Portal?