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Comparing The Capital One Miles Credit Cards

Author: Christopher Harris

If you're an avid TV watcher you probably know Capital One for one thing: the commercials that you wouldn't expect from a bank. Chase and Citibank have attractive 30-somethings going about their day flashing their credit card everywhere they go, but Capital One has Vikings and Samuel L. Jackson.

What makes these cards so popular is their simplicity. You won't find confusing rules and you don't have to be a math whiz to figure out how points convert to rewards. Capital One has two cards tailored to the traveler.

The Bank

Capital One is best known for its cards, but is one of the nation's top 10 banks, with 874 branches and more than $247 million in assets.

The Card

The VentureOne card is the more basic card. For every dollar you spend you get 1.25 miles. You might remember the days of double miles with this card, but tighter bank regulations resulting in lower profit margins wiped out the double miles. The card also offers bonus miles: If you spend $1,000 in the first three months of having the card, Capital One gives you an extra 20,000 miles.

The more premium Venture Rewards card has a similar name, but different rewards. It does offer double miles, plus 40,000 bonus miles if you spend at least $3,000 in the first three months.

Figuring out how many miles you need for a flight doesn't require complicated math or an online calculator. If the cost of your flight is $250, you need 25,000 points. Add two zeros to the cost of the flight and that's how many points you need.

You don't have to use the cards just for air travel. Hotels, rental cars, cruises and more – these are true travel cards, not just airline rewards cards.

Most of the other terms are identical with each card. There are no blackouts. In other words, you can use your miles any time you would like. If you want to use them for holiday travel, you can. You won't have to take the redeye to redeem your points.

The Fine Print

If your credit isn't in the greatest of shape, you might want to look elsewhere. Both of these cards are for people with excellent credit. The interest rate for the VentureOne card is variable, but as of early 2015, it's 11.9% to 19.9%. The Venture Rewards card is slightly higher at 13.9% to 20.9%. The VentureOne has a 0% introductory rate that will last up to one year, while the Venture Rewards does not.

You can transfer balances from other cards at the same interest rate, and cash advances come with a 24.9% rate and a transaction fee of 3% or $10, whichever is greater.

You have the standard 25 days after the billing period closes to pay your balance in full without incurring interest but don't pay late. A late payment will cost you $35 and might hike your interest rate to 29.4%, called a penalty rate in the credit card industry.

VentureOne has no annual fee; Venture Rewards has no fee the first year, then it's $59/year.

The Bottom Line

Credit cards work best for people with strong financial discipline. They are a great tool for people who can pay the balance in full each month, but if you find yourself always running up a balance, consider a prepaid or debit card instead. No rewards card perks can make up for the money you're throwing away if you pay interest on your credit card.

Finally, keep the rewards in perspective. You have to spend more than $18,000 to get that free $250 plane ticket. Don't make unnecessary purchases for the sole reason of gaining rewards points.

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