Fun with Capital One – Spark Travel Elite Odds and Ends

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Spark Travel Elite

Capital One Spark Travel Elite

The Spark Cash Plus is probably my favorite Capital One card, but I’ve found the Spark Travel Elite to be the most entertaining one.  The card’s lucrative welcome offer clearly plays a big role there, and the ongoing benefits have kept me busy (in a good way) since reaching that milestone.  While getting acquainted with the card, I noticed the terms and conditions aren’t as specific as I would have liked.  But with a bit of tinkering and a helping hand from my Capital One banker, I’ve achieved more clarity on the card’s benefits.  Here’s what I learned which some of you may find helpful.

Annual Travel Credit – Calendar or Cardmember Year?

The Spark Travel Elite offers cardholders an annual $300 travel credit for bookings through Capital One’s travel portal.  Unfortunately, the terms provided with the new card didn’t clearly specify whether that benefit is based on the calendar or cardmember year.  My banker confirmed that the benefit is based on the cardmember year.  I’m happy for this clarity, knowing I don’t have to rush a booking in the next six weeks or so.

Question Of The Week: How Can I Meet My Minimum Spend?

How User-Friendly Is the Travel Credit?

I generally cringe when I see a card benefit which requires use of the bank’s travel portal.  Rates are often higher, decreasing the value of a travel credit, or a primary cardholder can only receive the credit.

I messed around on Capital One’s travel portal, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  First, the primary cardholder can easily book a hotel or flight for employee cardholders – or, potentially, anyone.  Employee cardholders are listed in the travel portal, and I was able to add a non-cardholder’s info during a test reservation process for each.

In my experimentation so far, I found flight and hotel pricing to be competitive to booking directly, particularly with a bit of date flexibility.  I understand that many have had issues with Capital One’s travel portal, so experiences can definitely vary.  But it’s safe to say the portal is not all bad.

RELATED: Here is Mark’s experience using the travel credit.

Source: Capitalone.com.

Points Particulars

I’m a big fan of rewards currencies which post quickly.  It’s a drag to wait around until after a statement cuts in order to take advantage of those points.  (I’m fully aware of how spoiled I sound here.)  I’m happy to report that points from the Spark Travel Elite arrive quickly.  Points have appeared in the account a day or two after a transaction posts.  And once they post, cardholders can immediately redeem them.

I’ve also found that travel purchases subsequently erased with points still earn points.  Even better, since the points post quickly (as I mentioned above), one can use the points earned from the purchase to erase that same transaction!  Thus far, I haven’t seen any points clawed back due to this activity.  I used this method to entirely wipe out my room charges at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago and look forward to doing so again.

Conclusion

I’m not finished tinkering with the Spark Travel Elite, and I look forward to what I discover next.  I’ve come to enjoy Capital One with all their wrinkles.  I’d like to give another plug for Capital One bankers.  In my experience, mine has made a world of difference in obtaining cards and better understanding their benefits.  In fact, I genuinely enjoy interacting with my banker, something I don’t think I can say about any other individual in the industry.  How has your experience been with the Spark Travel Elite?  What have you learned since obtaining it?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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8 COMMENTS

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t find any info on employee card benefits.

    Are authorized users/employee cards able to get their own Priority Pass membership like the AUs on the Venture X?

  2. Capital One has the worst customer service of any major card issuer. If you have a dispute with a merchant or fraudulent use of your card Capital One will side against you every time.

  3. We’ve started cancelling all of our CapOne cards, the Customer Service is horrific on good days. When the portal went down for 2 plus weeks customer service straight out denied that the transfer portal ever went down for maintenance, then they lied to the CFPB. They are a terrible run company with the worst customer service, worse than BoA.

  4. I was pleasantly surprised to get a $19 credit on my bill when the flight I purchased through the portal decreased in cost a few weeks after I purchased it.

  5. I had never been approved by CapOne, however, on another site there was a reference to a Cap One manager whom I emailed. He sent me back an application which I completed and was approved immediately for 20K. The bonus was 10K points for $4K in spending and then an additional 200K points if you hit the $50K spend in 6 months. I’ve kind of moved past the $50K spend point – I am not going to spend just to reach a target. I don’t think I can get there. But, I’m using the card, so they are getting what they want, and I’m getting the daily points.

    Purchased a ticket to Miami and the $300 credit was about 5 days out on processing. On the travel portal you can freeze the price if you want and see if it lowers. I’ve been very immersed in the AMEX system, so this has been a change. We’ll see what happens moving forward.

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