14 Best Ways to Earn Lots of Capital One Miles and Rewards

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Every purchase you make, every swipe you take, you’ll be earning miles or cash-back with your Capital One credit card.

No, that’s not their new advertising slogan — it’s more of a statement on the simplicity of earning rewards with Capital One credit cards.

Simplicity translates into earnings with no requirements to register for quarterly bonus categories. You won’t have to memorize lengthy lists of which purchases earn extra rewards either.

Simplified earning also provides a fast track to easily accumulating lots of Capital One miles or cash-back.

When it comes time to redeem your Capital One rewards, you’ll find several options, including travel statement credits or the potential for greater value when transferring miles to airline partners.

Whether you have personal spending on which you’d like to earn rewards, or you run a business with unrewarded business expenses, there’s a Capital One credit card that can fit your spending profile.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • What are Capital One Miles and why you’d want to earn them
  • Which Capital One credit cards earn miles
  • How to earn lots of miles with Capital One cards (and why you’d want to!)
  • Which Capital One credit cards earn cash-back
  • How to earn lots of cash-back with Capital One cards

Since Capital One rewards can be earned as either “miles” or cash-back, we’ll focus on each reward separately to highlight the best ways to earn lots of these rewards and the best cards for making that happen.

Why Capital One Miles?

Flexibility of Capital One Miles

Capital One uses the term “miles” only to correspond with the fact that you can use them for statement credits for previous travel purchases — and that you are able to use the miles toward travel purchases directly.

Although Capital One miles are not real airline miles, the most flexible and valuable redemption option of Capital One miles is that you can turn them into real miles! This is done by transferring Capital One miles to airline partners!

This option elevates the value of earning miles on Capital One credit cards and is a major consideration for jumping on the bandwagon.

Let’s sum up the value of Capital One miles:

  • No blackout dates or devaluations like traditional airline frequent flyer miles
  • Can use miles to “erase” previous travel purchases
  • Potential of greater value when transferring miles to airline travel partners
  • Book travel directly through Capital One
  • Transfer miles to other Capital One accounts for no charge
  • Redeem for gift cards, charitable donation, or receiving a check (at a reduced value)

Hot Tip: Capital One miles are valuable because you can use them like cash-back toward travel purchases or transfer them to airline partners for potentially more value!

Ease of Earning Capital One Miles

As we mentioned at the start of this article, Capital One credit cards are known for their simple earning structures.

There are no fluctuating bonus categories, periodic registration requirements, or annual spending levels to meet — you simply make a purchase and earn rewards.

You’ll also earn miles on every purchase you make.

Let’s take a look at which Capital One credit cards earn the most miles.

Bottom Line: Capital One miles are earned on every purchase, with extra earnings in bonus categories. Although Capital One miles are not airline miles and cannot be used to book award flights directly, you can use the miles as a statement credit toward previous travel purchases, transfer miles to airline partners, or book travel directly with Capital One.

Chilis dining
Capital One personal credit cards offer rewards-earning sweet spots, such as restaurant purchases with the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. Image courtesy of Chili’s.

Capital One Credit Cards That Earn Miles

Personal Credit Cards That Earn Capital One Miles

Capital One personal credit cards earn miles on every purchase and have bonus spending categories to earn even more.

Business Credit Cards That Earn Capital One Miles

Every prudent business owner knows the importance of keeping personal and business purchases separate.

Business credit cards facilitate that objective, but they also allow you to earn rewards on all of those business purchases.

The following business credit cards all earn Capital One Miles.

Bottom Line: Capital One personal credit cards offer more bonus category earnings than their business credit cards, which offer their own solid flat-rate earnings on every purchase. 

Earn Lots of Miles with Business Capital One Credit Cards

Getting back to simplified earnings, it’s a good reminder that Capital One business credit cards have no bonus spending categories.

You’re going to either earn 2 miles per dollar spent or 1.5 miles per dollar spent, depending on the credit card.

Fortunately there are a few ways to leverage those earnings and also score some upfront bonuses.

Earn a Sign-up Bonus

The fastest way to build a bank of Capital One miles is through sign up bonuses.

After selecting the business credit card that best fits your spending profile, just complete the required initial spending in the first 90 days to receive a generous bonus of Capital One miles.

Earn Bigger With Tiered Spending Bonuses

Beyond the initial sign-up bonus, Capital One may offer another spending tier for an additional bonus.

For example, an initial sign-up bonus may require you to spend $5,000 in the first 3 months after card approval to receive a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus.

But there may be an additional tiered spending bonus after that too. For example, you might earn 150,000 miles if your business spends $50,000 in the first 6 months after card approval.

Offers vary, but currently the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business card offers an additional tiered spending bonus.

Purchase Travel

The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business card — which earns unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase, including travel — will be the best Capital One business credit card for these purchases.

Pay Business Expenses

Whether you’re paying for business dinners, remodeling the office, or purchasing office supplies, you’ll be earning miles on every business purchase with either of these 2 business Capital One cards.

Hot Tip: You would only need to spend $4,750 annually to offset the annual fee on the Spark® Miles card, which provides a greater level of earning potential. 

Earn Lots of Miles With Personal Capital One Credit Cards

Earn a Sign-up Bonus

Welcome sign-up bonuses are the fastest way to accumulate Capital One rewards.

Just complete the required spending in the first 90 days after you are approved for the card, and your sign-up bonus will be credited to your Capital One rewards account.

10X miles hotels
A Capital One rewards-earning sweet spot is receiving 10 miles per dollar spent at Hotels.com/venture (ends January 31, 2020). Image courtesy of Capital One.

Purchase Travel

You’ll earn well when you purchase travel with certain personal Capital One credit cards.

Capital One defines travel quite generously; this category includes:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Car rental agencies
  • Limo and taxi services
  • Bus tickets
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agencies
  • Timeshares

Although not officially listed, cardholders have also reported that Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb purchases have been reimbursable with Capital One miles.

Here’s how these Capital One credit cards reward travel purchases.

Hot Tip: Every travel purchase earns rewards with Capital One credit cards. Venture and VentureOne Rewards cards, however, earn big with 10 miles per dollar spent when booking hotels through Hotels.com/venture (ends January 31, 2020). 

Pay Household Expenses

Whether you need to fill up the car with gas, pay your heating bill, or pay your auto insurance, you can earn more Capital One rewards by paying household expenses with your Capital One credit card.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase, including those everyday household expenses.

(To see more benefits of this specific card, check out our piece: 34 Benefits of Using the Capital One® Venture® Card, or our in-depth FAQ on the Venture Card)

Buy Groceries

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s 2 miles per dollar spent at the supermarket may mean it becomes your everyday spending card!

Hot Tip: Use your Capital One® Venture Rewards card to purchase no-fee gift cards at supermarkets to use for non-bonus category purchases, such as entertainment and gas. Note that not all stores allow purchasing gift cards with credit cards, but many do. 

Spark credit cards
Capital One business credit cards offer simplified earnings on every purchase. Image courtesy of Capital One.

The Value of Capital One Cash-Back

Flexibility

It’s hard to deny there’s a more flexible rewards currency than cash-back!

With Capital One, cash-back is also allowed to accumulate in your account so you can save for a large statement credit or significant purchase.

Additional redemption options for miles and cash-back include gift cards, making a charitable donation, or receiving a check (at a reduced value).

Ease of Earning Cash-Back

Capital One also makes it easy to earn cash-back. With multiple bonus spending categories on Capital One personal cards, your cash-back earnings will add up fast.

On the business side, you won’t have to keep track of special earning categories at all with flat rate earnings across the board.

Capital One Cards That Earn Cash-Back

I think we’ve established the fact that Capital One has a simple rewards earnings structure — but nothing gets quite as simple as earning rewards on Capital One business credit cards.

First, there are no bonus categories whatsoever.

Additionally, you’ll either earn 2% cash-back, 2 miles per dollar spent, 1.5% cash-back, or 1.5 miles per dollar spent depending on the card. That’s it.

With this easy formula as a foundation, we’ll take a look at how 2 Capital One business credit cards fare when it comes to earning cash back.

Capital One Business Credit Cards That Earn Cash-Back

Capital One has 2 solid business credit cards that earn cash-back.

Capital One Personal Credit Cards That Earn Cash-back

Earn Lots of Cash-Back on Business Capital One Credit Cards

Earn With Sign-up Bonuses

Capital One business credit cards (especially the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business) earn generous sign-up bonuses after completing initial spending requirements in the first 90 days after card approval.

Earn Bigger With Tiered Spending Bonuses

In addition to the initial sign up bonus, there are sometimes tiered spending bonuses that allow you to earn more. Check the current offers for tiered spending bonuses.

Pay for Business Expenses

Because of the simple earning structure, all purchases receive the same level of rewards: the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business earns 2% cash-back on every purchase, and the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business earns 1.5% cash-back.

Whether you purchase travel, office supplies, or shipping, you’ll earn the same level of cash-back rewards on every purchase with your Capital One business credit card.

Bottom Line: Capital One business cash-back credit cards offer simple earnings of either 1.5% or 2% cash-back (depending on the card), with no bonus spending categories. 

Earn Lots of Cash-Back on Personal Capital One Credit Cards

Earn Big With Sign-up Bonuses

Meet your minimum spending requirement within the first 90 days after card approval and earn a sign-up bonus.

Purchase Travel

The best Capital One cash-back card for travel purchases is the Capital One QuickSilverOne® Rewards card, which earns 1.5% cash-back per dollar spent on all purchases.

Dine Out

You won’t hesitate to pick up the tab at that next group dinner with these Capital One credit cards. Earning 3%-4% cash-back makes figuring out who owes how much worth it!

Here are the best Capital One credit cards for earning cash-back at restaurants.

Buy Groceries

With 2% cash-back, these Capital One credit cards earn rewards on every purchase you make at the grocery store.

Hot Tip: Grocery stores sell more than just groceries! It is possible to utilize your Capital One® Savor®One Cash Rewards Card or Capital One® Savor®One Cash Rewards Card to purchase no-fee gift cards (earning 2% cash-back) to use for non-bonus category purchases, such as gas and department stores.

Ticketmaster brands
Earn elevated rewards when purchasing entertainment with your Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Card and Capital One® Savor®One Cash Rewards Card. Image courtesy of Ticketmaster

Get Entertained

In addition to earning rewards on dining, your entertainment purchases can earn cash-back as well.

Capital One defines entertainment quite broadly:

  • Movies and live theater
  • Record stores
  • Video rental/digital streaming services
  • Tourist attractions
  • Zoos, amusement parks, aquariums
  • Bowling/billiard establishments
  • Concerts & sports
  • Ticketed events

Here’s how Capital One credit cards reward entertainment purchases.

Pay Household Expenses

Rewards earned on everyday household purchases add up quickly when every purchase you make earns cash-back.

Bottom Line: Sign-up bonuses are the fastest way to earn lots of Capital One rewards.

Everything Else You Need to Know

Rewards that you earn on your Capital One card never expire as long as you have a Capital One account open and in good standing. If you close your account, unused miles/cash-back will be forfeited.

Capital One miles can be transferred to other Capital One accounts, and Capital One credit cards do not charge foreign transaction fees.

Occasionally, Capital One runs refer-a-friend promotions that reward you with statement credits for referring a friend who is subsequently approved for the credit card. These promotions are usually targeted to specific cardholders who receive an invitation email with the terms of the referral program.

There’s no need to feel left out if you have bad credit or no credit — Capital One issues several credit cards for building or re-building credit. They also offer the opportunity to find out if you’re pre-qualified or pre-approved for one of their credit cards.

Final Thoughts

While simplicity can be a positive thing, when it comes to earning rewards, some added analysis is worthwhile.

There’s no doubt that Capital One cards offer decent (and sometimes lucrative) sign-up bonuses that deliver great value. Ongoing value will depend on whether your spending matches their few sweet spots.

For example, if you’re booking a lot of hotel rooms and don’t have a loyalty preference, earning 10 miles for each dollar spent is a decent reward level. Earning 4% cash-back on dining and entertainment with the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Card is also a good reward level.

But Capital One rewards basically have a fixed value, so if you’re only earning 2 miles per dollar spent (or 2 % cash-back) on your purchases, you might do better on those purchases with a card that earns Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards points.

The American Express® Gold Card, for instance, earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on dining — and Membership Rewards have the potential to deliver value far greater than 1 cent per point.

However, a big positive is that Capital One miles can now be transferred to airline partners, which opens up new possibilities for receiving increased redemption value.

Look long and hard at Capital One options — but don’t fall in love unless it’s the perfect match of a generous sign-up bonus, ongoing earnings that match your spending, and redemption value that you can use.


*Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

FAQ

How do Capital One miles work?

You earn Capital One miles on several Capital One credit cards by making purchases.

The miles are deposited into your Capital One account and are ready to redeem after your credit card statement closes.

It’s best to think of Capital One miles as cash-back to use toward travel, because they’re not miles you can use to book an award flight with an airline.

You can, however, redeem the miles to erase previous travel purchases (including flight purchases) on your credit card statement. Each mile is worth 1 cent toward a travel statement credit.

You can also transfer Capital One miles to airline partners and receive real miles that you can use to purchase an award ticket. Resulting value and transfer ratios vary.

In addition, you can redeem the miles toward travel purchases directly with Capital One.

How does cash-back work?

When you make a purchase on your Capital One cash-back credit card, the amount of the purchase will earn the applicable percentage of cash-back.

For instance, if you use the Capital One Savor card for dining and spend $50, you will receive $2 cash-back deposited into your Capital One account.

To redeem your cash-back, simply log in to your Capital One online account, view your rewards balance, and choose the redemption option you prefer.

You can request a statement credit that will be applied to your credit card balance.

Cash-back rewards can also be redeemed for gift cards, a charitable donation, or as cash sent to you in the form of a check (at a reduced value).

How much are Capital One miles worth?

Capital One miles are generally worth 1 cent each if you redeem them for travel or gift cards.

If you choose to redeem the miles for cash and have a check sent to you, you will receive as little as 1/2 cent per mile (which is not good value).

You can also transfer miles to airline partners, where it is possible to exceed 1 cent per mile in value.

Which is the best Capital One credit card?

The best Capital One credit card for you will depend on your spending habits and whether you want to pay an annual fee.

This is because personal Capital One credit cards have bonus categories that offer higher rewards for spending in those categories. Higher reward categories include hotels, dining, and entertainment.

If you have high spending in these categories, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card the best for hotel purchases. The Capital One Savor and Capital One SavorOne credit cards are best for dining and entertainment purchases.

All other spending earns between 1-2 miles per dollar or 1%-2% cash-back depending on the card.

You’ll also want to make sure that the redemption options on the card you choose are those that deliver value for you or your business.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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