This article was originally published when the CardName launched in late 2021. The card details have been maintained to represent Capital One’s most current offerings.
Capital One entered the premium credit card space with its introduction of the CardName. With a mega welcome bonus, annual travel credits and elite perks, it has current CardName holders asking, “Should I upgrade my Venture account?”
As a Venture cardholder, I am currently asking myself the same question. One of the things I love the most about my Venture card is the flexibility in how I am able to redeem rewards. Instead of being limited to redeeming rewards for traditional travel like airfare and hotel stays, I can redeem miles to cover the cost of more unique travel purchases such as the campervan rental I booked for a trip through California’s Death Valley National Park, or the campsites I reserved so I had a safe place to park the van each night.
And in the height of the pandemic, I loved how I could use my miles to cover non-travel purchases, like my streaming services and food delivery orders (an option that’s no longer being offered by Capital One, but sure was nice at a time when few people were traveling).
Now that travel has largely returned to normal and I start to plan upcoming vacations, the perks offered with the Venture X card are appealing to me. Lounge access, in particular, is sure to be a nice oasis in the height of summer travel. Kicking my feet up in a Capital One Lounge as I wait to board my flight to Europe sure beats an airport salad at gate 40D.
But with all that said, is the AnnualFees annual fee worth it in comparison to the Venture Card’s AnnualFees fee? Here’s what I’m considering in my decision process:
The welcome bonus
When this article was originally published, the Venture X card was offering a whopping 100,000 bonus miles to new cardholders, earned by spending $10,000 in the first six months of opening an account. Worth $1,000 towards travel, this bonus was incredibly enticing for me. Furthermore, new cardholders could earn a $200 statement credit for vacation rentals charged to the card in the first year. This includes rentals made through Airbnb and VRBO, which are platforms I book through often. As I knew welcome bonuses are never a guarantee, this offer was a big motivator in my decision-making process.
Though those offers have expired, the current welcome bonus is still solid: new cardholders can earn 75,000 miles, worth $750 towards travel, once spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening an account. Having $750 to use towards travel is still substantial, and the spend threshold required to earn it is much more manageable. Let this be a lesson, though, if you’re considering a card with a nice welcome bonus; that welcome bonus offer could suddenly change, so plan accordingly.
Annual travel credits
One nice feature of the Venture X card is that it offers up to $300 in annual credits for bookings made through Capital One Travel. This is a perk that I expect to be ongoing and is valuable in helping to offset the cost of the card each year. Additionally, Capital One offers an annual 10,000-mile card-anniversary bonus for this card, worth $100 towards travel, which also helps to offset the cost of the annual fee each year moving forward. If not for these credits, I don’t think I would consider upgrading my account.
The problem is, though, I don’t often use the Capital One Travel portal. This is partially because, like I mentioned above, I tend to book more “obscure” travel. It’s not obscure, really, but often falls outside of the typical realm that travel credit cards usually allow redemption options for. Train tickets in France, boat tours in Italy, National Park cabins… that sort of thing. For accommodations, I love a homey Airbnb or a boutique hotel, and for flights, well, because of the pandemic, most of my trips the last two years have been by car.
However, as I start searching for flights for upcoming trips, I find myself drawn towards the Capital One Travel portal for a couple of reasons:
- To start, the Capital One Travel Portal offers free price drop protection, so if I book a flight when Capital One recommends, and that price later drops, I will receive a refund for all or part of the price difference (depending on the terms of my booking). Furthermore, if I find a better price for a flight, hotel or rental car on another site within 24 hours of booking with Capital One Travel, I’m eligible for a refund for the difference. Finally, when booking through the portal, I can “freeze” the price of a flight I find, for a small fee. This will allow me some extra time to continue searching, without worrying about the price going up.
- Additionally, with the Venture X card, bookings made through the Capital One Travel portal earn extra rewards: 10X miles on hotels and rental cars and 5X miles on flights. With my Capital One Venture Card I can only earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through the portal.
If for nothing else, I think using the portal for my flight bookings would be beneficial. Plus that $300 credit is nice motivation.
Airport lounge access
The Venture X card offers unlimited free visits to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, but because most flights that I take are direct, my time spent in the airport is usually minimal. I have Global Entry membership (see next point), so I no longer stress about arriving at the airport super early, and truthfully, my home airport (Austin, Texas) has such an impressive lineup of food and entertainment that I am not sure I would even spend time in a lounge before my flight anyway. In fact, the Austin airport currently doesn’t even have any Capital One, Plaza Premium, or Priority Pass lounges. Currently, the only open Capital One Lounge is at Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW). Lounges at Dulles International (IAD) and Denver International (DEN) are expected to open sometime in 2022.
Lounge access will certainly be nice for trips with multiple legs, or during an unwelcome layover, but as the possibility of me using a lounge would roll around maybe only once or twice a year, I must consider how valuable this perk actually is for me.
One cool thing Priority Pass offers though that’s not heavily discussed is airport restaurant and bar dining credits. This is something I might benefit from more than a visit to a lounge. These credits (usually $28-$30 a person) also extend to guests, so if I am traveling with my husband and we don’t quite have enough time for a lounge visit but want to grab a quick snack and a drink before our connection, with this credit, we’re covered.
And speaking of guests, Venture X cardholders can bring two guests to Capital One Lounges and Plaza Premium Lounges, and there is no specified cap on the number guests that can accompany cardholders to Priority Pass lounges. This means if I were to take a couple’s retreat with my husband and our best friends, or if I were to travel with my parents and siblings for a family vacation, they could all join me in a Priority Pass lounge, free of charge. That’s both convenient and alluring.
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application reimbursement
The Venture X card offers up to $100 to cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application, but so does the Venture card. Because of this, I already have Global Entry membership, and it’s not set to expire for three more years. Furthermore, a lot of other cards offer Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application reimbursement, so if you’ve already utilized that perk through another card, or if you already paid for membership out of pocket, this perk doesn’t help to offset the cost of the card – not for several more years, at least.
Authorized user benefits
One area where the Venture X card really shines is that you can add up to four authorized users, free of charge. This is unusual in the premium-credit-card space.
This means that at no additional cost, any authorized user I add to the account has access to the same Visa Infinite benefits as me, such as travel, purchase, luggage, and car rental protections, as well as complimentary access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges. Authorized users also receive Hertz President’s Circle status.
In my case, this is enticing as it means my husband can enjoy the same great travel benefits and protections as me, even if we aren’t traveling together. Maybe in your case you have kids in college who travel often, and you want to offer them some extra travel perks and protections. Because there are no extra annual fees to worry about, adding trusted users to your account not only helps you to earn rewards more quickly, but it can potentially save you and your authorized users money.
Cell phone protection
I currently pay out of pocket for my cell phone insurance. With the Venture X card, however, I could save money each month on this expense by paying my cell phone bill with the Venture X card. If my phone is stolen or damaged, I’m eligible for up to $800 in coverage. A handful of other credit cards offer this perk, but I am happy to finally see this offered with a Capital One card.
With the exception of bonus rewards that can be earned when booking through Capital One Travel, the Venture X card earns the same rewards on everyday purchases as the Venture card: 2X miles on all purchases. Personally, I would feel more motivated to upgrade my card to the Venture X if everyday earnings were upped a bit, but, the annual cardholder bonus rewards and the annual statement credit earned on Capital One Travel bookings are nice incentives. Overall, though, it’s the added perks that tempt me, not the rewards.
Finally, redemption options are the same for both cards. I can still redeem miles for all sorts of travel purchases or transfer my miles to leading travel partners with both cards. Again, like the above point, I wish there were some extra bonuses for reward redemption, but it’s nice to know that with the Venture X I still have the same flexibility I love about the Venture card.
Should you upgrade your Venture card to Venture X?
First off, it’s very important to note that there’s a difference between upgrading your Venture card to Venture X, and applying for the Venture X card.
Depending on your credit score and your standing with Capital One, as an existing Venture cardholder you may have the option to upgrade your account to Venture X. If you do this, though, be aware that you won’t be eligible for the welcome bonus. The upside of upgrading instead of applying for a new card is that it shouldn’t impact your credit score. However, keep in mind that credit card applications usually only cause a small, temporary dip in your credit score, so honestly, you’re still probably better off applying for a new account if your credit score is in good standing.
Applying for a new account has a couple of main advantages. For one, you’re eligible to earn the welcome bonus. The welcome bonus is a major player in offsetting the cost of the card, so for me, the ability to earn the welcome bonus heavily influences my decision of whether to apply for Venture X. Two, you’ll have a new line of credit, which in the long run should help your credit score as it can help your credit utilization ratio.
If you do decide to apply for the Venture X card, is it necessary to keep your Venture account open? I don’t think so, but instead of closing the account altogether, it makes sense here to consider a product change, downgrading your card to CardName. The Venture X earns the same (plus some extra) rewards as the Venture card, so there’s no real incentive to keep your Venture account open, especially because it charges an annual fee. By downgrading your account to the VentureOne card you’ll avoid a second annual fee, while maintaining your line of credit and account history length.
Whatever you decide, make sure that you transfer or redeem any existing rewards before canceling your Venture account or doing a product change. This can easily be handled in the Capital One rewards redemption center.
The decision of whether to upgrade your Venture account and apply for the Venture X card will vary person by person. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you think you’ll utilize the perks of the card enough to offset the annual fee.
At the end of the day, the Venture card is still a great card. It offers some really nice travel perks, easy-to-earn rewards, and flexible redemption options. For some travelers, that’s all they need. The CardName just elevates the experience that Venture already offers. You must ask yourself if you’ll utilize the card’s perks enough to offset the cost of the card.
As for me? So far I am loving my new Venture X card.