Daily Drop's Guide to Capital One Miles

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My first memories of Capital One involve the overwhelming number of commercials that Jennifer Garner was churning out several years ago. Anyone else?

Seriously. She was dominating that Capital One commercial space LIKE A BOSS.

And I was always like, “Earning unlimited double miles? What do you mean, Jennifer?”

But I was also 17 back then, so I shrugged it off as another silly bank with silly credit cards for silly adults.

BUT now I’m one of those silly adults who is into this whole miles and points thing… and I get it. Capital One is dope.

What are Capital One Miles?

Capital One miles is the rewards program for Capital One and is also the currency you can earn when you use a qualifying Capital One credit card to make purchases.

This is perhaps one of the most user-friendly rewards programs due to its “pay for anything with miles” concept. This allows Capital One to offer a ton of flexibility and valuable redemption options.

What are Capital One Miles Worth? 

This valuation ebbs and flows like many other things in the miles and points world, but most sources you will find on the interwebs like to place a value ranging from one cent up to two cents per Capital One mile.

And that all depends on where and how you redeem them (more on that later). So you will not always get just a single cent for your miles, but it’s also not saying that their value will always be capped at two cents.

But a trusted, somewhat consistent point valuation would land these miles around two cents a pop—generally speaking. 

Remember, redeeming miles and points at all is a win… because that is a travel experience you didn’t have to pay for.

But if you want your miles to be worth closer to the two-cent mark (or even much higher!), there are ways to optimize how you redeem points, and we’ll touch on that later.

But for starters, if you want to know whether you are getting a good deal by using miles on your next travel purchase, we have a simple calculation that we swear by:

(cash price) - (taxes and fees) / (points cost) = value per points

This holds up across all point programs, not just Capital One. If we want to put it to use, let’s look at an example of debating whether to use miles or pay cash for an airline ticket 👇

If we plug our numbers in, it’ll look like this:

($1,017) - ($86.50) / 12,750) = .073 

With this example, you are getting a fantastic deal at 7.3 cents per Capital One mile. This is more than 3x the “standard” two cents per mile valuation, so this far outweighs the cash price!

But in order to make this deal happen, you need some Capital One miles in the first place…

How to Earn Capital One Miles

We’re so glad you asked, because this stuff is important. This is how you play the travel game, my friends.

Take a peek at some of our most tried and true methods for earning miles 👇

1. Sign up for a Capital One credit card

Give yourself an honest look in the mirror, and if you feel like you can use a credit card responsibly, this is going to be your fastest means at getting a tasty stack of Capital One miles.

Most travel credit cards will come with a welcome offer worth thousands of miles, and this is an excellent way to kickstart your earnings.

These are a few of Daily Drop’s personal favorites:

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card consistently remains in the number one spot on our top cards’ list month after month.

It may have a higher annual fee ($395), but it’s a premium card with TONS of premium perks.

If you want something with a lower annual feel ($95), another one of our other absolute favorites in this family is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

You may not get all of the premium travel perks that the Venture X tempts you with, but you still get a solid group of benefits, including 2x miles per dollar spent on EVERYTHING.

This card also proudly stays on our top cards’ list every month, and for good reason.

2. Strategize your purchases with card pairing

Not all spend categories are created equally. The two Capital One cards mentioned above may be able to get you 2x miles on all purchases (which is great), but the Capital One Savor Rewards card could get you 4x miles on dining and 3x miles on groceries.

If you build a portfolio of cards that maximize certain spending categories, you can allocate your spending to certain cards in order to best accelerate your earnings.

Why only earn 2x miles on a purchase when you could earn 4x, right?

If you want to learn how you can maximize and accelerate your earnings by holding more than one card, check out our resource on the power of card pairing.

3. Refer a friend/family member/stranger

From time to time, Capital One will run a “Refer a Friend” promo that will reward you with additional miles if your referral is approved for that card upon signing up with your specific referral link.

In general, if you refer to a credit card that earns Capital One miles, you will get your referral bonus in the form of Capital One miles.

If that referral is for a cash-back card, you will earn a cash-back referral bonus. Simple 😎

Sometimes these offers are targeted, meaning if you are a cardholder in good standing, you might get an email with a specific invitation to refer someone and get a healthy bonus.

To check for this, navigate to Capital One’s Refer a Friend page to sign in and see how much you could be rewarded with if you divvied out your unique link to someone else.

4. Add an authorized user

If the person you have in mind is not eligible for their own card (maybe they are a minor, have poor credit, or just don’t want a card), you could add them as an authorized user on your card.

They would get their own card, but all of their spending would go onto your account… which means you would earn the miles for not only your spending, but for theirs. Which is a huge perk.

However, a potential risk is that person is going to be spending with your card, and you will be responsible if they do not pay it off.

So choose wisely who you want to grant this access to, but if they’re a trustworthy person, you will easily double your miles earned with two people swiping your card.

How to Redeem Capital One Miles

Alright, folks. You’ve spent months strategizing your spends, analyzing your progress in a spreadsheet, and pacing your living room waiting for those miles to hit your account.

Maybe you weren’t that aggressive about the whole process (or maybe you were) 👀

Either way, you’ve made it. You’re here. You’re ready to TRAVEL.

Here are your options for redeeming those precious miles for free or significantly discounted travel.

1. Redeem for a statement credit or through the Capital One Travel portal

This is by far the most simple and straightforward means of redeeming Capital One miles.

Your first choice within this method is using these miles to “cancel out” a travel purchase made within the last 90 days—travel could be defined as an airline ticket, hotel stay, Uber, Airbnb, etc.

When you make a travel purchase, like booking an Airbnb, for example, you can opt to use your Capital One miles within your account, to pay for that purchase as a statement credit at one cent per mile.

Did you book a hotel night for $200 and want to cancel out that purchase? You could choose to use 20,000 Capital One miles from your account to do so.

And boom, you just got a free night 🤜

Here’s a walkthrough of how to actually pay for any travel with Capital One miles:

STEP 1: Log into your Capital One account and click on your mileage balance from the homepage.

STEP 2: Select Cover travel purchases from the menu.

STEP 3: You’ll then be prompted with a list of eligible purchases that could be “paid” for in miles. You can see I have some recent purchases on KLM. Select the item and desired number of miles, click Continue, and you’re good!

You could also redeem miles at the same rate of one cent per mile by booking through the Capital One Travel portal (keep in mind, this isn’t the same as the Capital One Shopping portal or browser extension).

I think, in general, if you are going to keep your miles in your account and redeem in one of these ways, most people prefer to convenience and flexibility of booking directly with a travel provider versus going through the portal.

But remember, neither are wrong. It’s your choice!

These methods are quite popular because of the convenience of not having to deal with transferring points out and coordinating with an airline’s program, for example.

But, we can do much better than one cent per mile by utilizing Capital One’s transfer partners 👇

2. Utilize transfer partners to book travel

If you want to increase the value that you will get for each Capital One mile, then transferring to an airline (and sometimes a hotel) partner is your best bet.

As you saw in my earlier example of figuring out the point value for a flight, we were able to get over seven cents for each mile! That’s incredible!

Point redemptions may not always be that high, but they will typically be higher than the one cent per mile you will get by keeping your miles within your Capital One account.

Capital One currently has an impressive list of airline and hotel transfer partners which you can see here. Plus, the majority of these will transfer at a 1:1 ratio, which is important.

And here’s a walk through of how to transfer your miles 👇

STEP 1: Log into your Capital One account, select View Rewards underneath your card balance and recent transactions.

STEP 2: Select Convert rewards.

STEP 3: You’ll see a list of Capital One’s transfer partners. Simply scroll to find the program you want to transfer miles to and select Transfer Miles to proceed.

If you don’t have your Capital One and (in this case) your FlyingBlue account linked, you’ll be prompted to input your membership number to link those two accounts. From here, you can add in your desired number of miles to transfer, and boom. You’re all set!

Bottom Line

Capital One miles are easy to earn and easy to use. They are also the only program that allow you to pay for any type of travel using miles—even retroactively!

They have some of the best travel cards on the market and a solid list of transfer partners, so there’s really no reason not to love Capital One and get involved with their rewards program.

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