Won Over: Why I’ve Completely Flipped On Capital One

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Capital One Cards

Capital One Cards

Capital One doesn’t seem to do much anything quietly.  In our current age of fast-forwarding through commercials or avoiding them entirely, I still end up with Capital One spots forced upon me.  I blame live sports.  However, Capital One has gradually won me over in a very understated manner.  Indeed, I find myself feeling completely the opposite about Capital One now.  And that’s a good thing.  Shocker – Capital One cards have something to do with it.  But that’s not all.  Here’s why I’ve flipped on Capital One.

Capital One Cards

Stellar Business Cards

First, I came around on the Capital One Spark Cash Plus.  When the card arrived with a huge welcome offer, I shrugged.  Beyond the welcome offer, I saw just another 2% cash back card.  I already possessed plenty of those options with no annual fee, so why pay $150 to Capital One for that privilege?  Besides, I had plenty of other stuff going on, and I wasn’t ready to take on those welcome offer terms quite yet.

Long story short, things have changed, and this card having no preset spend limit means the world to me currently.  Other cards may do better on an earn rate, but scaling at 2% continues to deliver in my situation.

Capital One Cards
Source: Capitalone.com.

And Capital One has since stepped it up with the Spark Travel Elite.  Remember all of that fuss about the Capital One Venture X?  The Travel Elite’s 250k point welcome offer leaves the Venture X’s 100k launch offer in the dust.  The cards’ benefits are essentially the same, in addition to identical $395 annual fees. The major hurdle here is you need to apply via a business banker. Mark shared one such way to track one down.

Approvals, Finally

We’ve had a Capital One relationship for a good while, albeit a limited one.  The ING Direct Orange accounts we opened ~20 years ago became Capital One 360 accounts.  During the past few years, my wife and I applied for Capital One cards, mostly the Capital One Venture during escalated welcome offers.  Capital One denied all of our applications.  But recently, the approvals started arriving.  What/who I talk about next may have something to do with that.

Good People

Relationship manager, business banker, private banker, account manager, representative, etc – they’ve been called many things.  I had some questions about the nuances of the Spark Cash Plus, and I touched base with a Capital One relationship manager.  He walked me through the product in addition to asking me some questions I had expected.  I applied through a link he sent, and I was instantly approved.

Correlation doesn’t mean causation, but I’m confident working through him set me up for success.  Beyond the approval, I genuinely enjoyed talking with my point of contact at Capital One.  I can’t remember the last time I said that about anyone in the financial industry, if ever.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

Redemption Options Are Growing On Me

As I mentioned above, I love 2% cash back earning on a card with no preset spend limit.  But beyond the Spark Cash Plus, Capital One’s travel partners are growing on me.  Here are the 1:1 transfer partners:

  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Aeroplan
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Choice Privileges
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Finnair Plus
  • Flying Blue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • TAP Miles&Go
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • Virgin Red

Additionally, Capital One miles transfer to EVA at 2:1.5 and Accor at 2:1 ratios.  Many of the above partners can be found with other banks, such as Chase, Amex, and Citi.  But I see that as a positive – cardholders can take points from multiple bank currencies to realize even more lucrative rewards.  In the future, I’m particularly interested in tinkering more with Virgin Red, Accor, and Flying Blue.  Also, Disney hotels can be booked via the Capital One Travel Portal at similar rates to direct.

The Future Is Bright, Right?

I haven’t pursued Capital One cards on the personal side since obtaining a business card.  But I’d like to think I’ll be more successful with personal applications since I’ve established more footing with a Capital One business card.  At the very least, I can follow up with reliable Capital One employees prior to any application.  I may be squinting a bit to make out something I want to see.  Regardless, I’m more hopeful for personal card approvals now than I was before.

Conclusion

As hobbyists, we feel passionately about a variety of topics.  But I feel an open mind is key to grow even more successful with points and travel.  My recent experience with Capital One is an example.  Several months ago, I felt one way about them but was willing to be convinced otherwise.  On the other end, I’m now in a better position to play the game.  Do you enjoy Capital One cards?  What’s been your favorite aspect?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA for close to free. He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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36 COMMENTS

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36 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for sharing the story. I am sort of interested applying this card too. Can you confirm this business spark cash card does not report to your personal credit activity? I used to see your related post on 10/22/2020.

  2. I have 2 Capital One personal cards and I just opened up the 360 checking because of the great service I have had from them – all online!!! I lost my job at the beginning of the year and they were so great with their “skip a pay” program and so understanding. Discover had nothing they could do and charged late fees and were horrible!! I recommend Capital One without hesitation!

  3. Benjy, you’ve completely switched simply because you’ve been approved.
    What does Capital One offer that is an incremental improvement over another issuer?
    – 10x / 5x on the travel portal (which is not ready for prime time) is available at Chase
    – 5x on travel is available at Amex
    – 2x on travel, dining, etc. not through the travel portal is inferior
    – 2x on domestic “all other spending” roughly matches the 1.5X Amex EDP and Chase FU after transfer bonuses are considered.
    What is left is 2x on foreign “all other spending” with no foreign transaction fees. That is the only incremental benefit I see with Capital One. Now, add in all of Capital One peculiarities and it’s a loser.

    I have Capital One checking and saving accounts. I walk into a local branch at Broadway and 56th in Manhattan. NO ONE in the branch is a relationship person. Tellers can take deposits and that’s about it. If you have an issue, call the 800 number. And, that’s just for simple banking. If you even ask about credit cards, it’s “just go to the web site.”

    • Lone Gunman,
      Being approved is a primary reason we’ve come around on Capital One, of course. Indeed, the Spark Cash Plus and Travel Elite welcome offers have been excellent. I agree that the bonus categories on the Travel Elite aren’t anything special; that’s why I didn’t bother mentioning them above. That leaves the 2x categories. Everyone’s different, but I’d rather have uncapped 2x on the Travel Elite, a no preset spend limit card, than 1.5x on the Amex Everyday Preferred or Chase Freedom Unlimited. I know many may disagree. But for my family’s needs, the 2x partners with Cap One exceed 1.5x with others. Sure, transfer bonuses are bound to happen, but we can’t rely on them for comparison purposes. Even if that was possible, we couldn’t presume those bonuses would only happen with solely one card issuer over time. And I must again underscore in my current situation, I cannot get enough uncapped 2x capacity. Consequently, I probably weigh that feature higher than many other hobbyists do.

      Thank you for sharing your Capital One branch experiences. Those are certainly noteworthy, and I’ll set my expectations accordingly. Fortunately, I live in an area without Capital One branches, so I won’t be subject to such disappointment that often.

      • If it works for your specific situation, great. And, for those out there who simply want to capture the signup bonus and that’s it. But, as a keeper card for the vast majority of people, I don’t see it.

        I also get the no preset limit thing. But, over time, a person can work the credit limit on the Citi Double Cash Card up to $50k. That’s a lot of bandwidth and it’s uncapped 2% cash back. Or, with the Premier, transferable points. But, maybe the wrong transfer partners at Citi. Yes, it has foreign transaction fees but I’m guessing your spending scenario is US-based. I’m just trying to understand your numbers. So, how much are your individual transactions? How much is your aggregate monthly spend?

        • Lone Gunman,
          I agree that cardmember year two and beyond will be a different calculus, in addition to any other changes in the hobby directly impacting our spend profile.

          • If you’re looking for a pure cash back play with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, you might want to check out the Alliant Credit Union Signature Visa (not the Platinum Visa). It’s 2.5 percent up to $10k per month and 1.5 percent thereafter. In two-player mode, you’re looking at $20k per month. In the absence of manufactured spending, that would handle most households’ “all other spending.” Again, “if.”

          • Lone Gunman,
            Before this card’s devaluation a few years ago, I applied and was promptly declined. Regardless, it’s still a solid card for many, and thanks for reminding everyone about it.

  4. With CapOne my biggest issue is I don’t know what is going to piss them off, and when. What one would think would set odd alarms usually don’t, and things that you’d think they wouldn’t care about, gets attention, and then they drop the hammer.

    And if that hammer drops, they’re not a bank you can call and have a conversation with. What’s done is done with them and in my experience, there isn’t one.single.human that can do anything to interject or override.

    That alone makes them rather *blah* to me because they’re products aren’t strong enough to be wallet placeholders and if I can’t do what I do, then they’re of little to no use to me.

      • PS Speaking of not knowing what is going to piss them off, I had that experience with US Bank and the Altitude Reserve Card. I try to make a jewelry purchase — fraud alert. I try to buy shirts at an upscale retailer — fraud alert. On and on. Averaging a few every month. Every single purchase was a legitimate purchase for personal use. No MS. No resale. Ultimately, the card was not worth the time I was spending on the phone clearing fraud alerts. I was going to cancel. Then the bank called me to say that they were canceling my card because it suspected I was using the card for fraudulent purchases. About a week later, I received a letter saying my checking account was closed for the same reason. Terrible bank.

          • The real joke is that US Bank was just fined for fraudulently opening bank accounts and credit card accounts for existing customers without those customers’ knowledge or consent. Why? To inflate its numbers on reports. As a publicly traded company, doing that seems like securities fraud. They got a lot of nerve telling me that my legitimate purchases were fraud.

        • Yeah, I was happy to close my US Bank Radisson card. Also had a checking account with them and had an Altitude Card cancelled before 1st purchase! They’re ridiculous.

          • Glen,
            Wow, your Altitude was cancelled before the first purchase? That’s the first I’ve heard of that, but hey, I guess anything (negative) is possible with US Bank. 😉

  5. Cap One feels like a scam. They promised lounges in spring 2022, then summer 2022, now 2023. (my home airport is IAD so I would really value this and its the primary reason I got the card)

    There is no activity going on at IAD in the Cap One Lounge area. Plus the travel portal sucks. Bait and switch.

    • rjb,
      They certainly wouldn’t be the only entity to ever change the opening date of a new facility. But your DP on the IAD lounge site is interesting.

      I haven’t bothered with the Capital One travel portal yet. Even if it’s less than satisfactory, I won’t give up easy rewards because of it. Indeed, I’ve had little need for these portals from Chase or Citi in recent years, but I still found great value with their rewards.

    • SMR,
      Are you completely reliant on the Capital One travel portal to obtain rewards/benefits from their cards and program?

  6. The beauty of the Accor program is its Southwest-like ability to apply points for a cash discount toward any qualifying rate with no blackout dates or award room capacity limits. Largely covered a suite at a lovely Novotel this summer while the Tour de France was in town and I’ll probably start stashing away the Accor points again if we seem serious about attending the Paris Olympics.

    • Beachmouse,
      Great Accor data point! I feel there’s a dearth of them out there relative to other programs, so I appreciate you sharing!

      • I believe Accor Live Limitless (ALL) points redeem at something like 1 EUR to 100 points. Works out to be ever so slightly better to transfer out to ALL as opposed to using the purchase eraser feature when the USD:EUR rate is favorable to the EUR side. If the EUR is weaker than the dollar, you should be better off booking with your cap 1 card and using the purchase eraser because your stay will also earn ALL points.

        And to the discussion above about the travel portal, I agree with other commenters that it’s largely useless. Hotel rates and airfare are reasonable but you’ll get better mileage using Chase UR at 1.5 cpp if you’re not transferring out to partners. The rental car rates are ludicrously inflated on Cap 1 travel IME. 10-20% more than even the Chase portal. And the fact that National rentals don’t show up on Cap 1 makes it useless to me.

  7. My favorite Cap One transfer partner is Wyndham. Then use the Wyndham points on Vacasa. In May we did a $425/nt 1 bdrm condo in Kaanapali for 15K points/nt.

  8. In the last 18 months I got a 100k venture SUB, 100k venture X sub and a 350k spark cash plus SUB. It’s been great.

    One complaint was I did hit spend caps on the spark cash plus a number of times requiring me to make payment before I could spend more which was irritating

    • Tom,
      Nice work! I bet you would agree that if making a few preemptive payments is your biggest frustration, you’re in a good situation overall.

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