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Best credit card for air travel rewards

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  • Sep 17th, 2014 12:51 pm
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[OP]
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Jul 17, 2008
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Best credit card for air travel rewards

I am planning to start traveling more often via airlines.

I am looking at a reward comparison by applying to whichever credit card has the best rewards, either cash back or traveling vs my current constantly used MBNA smart cash (2% on petrol/grocery, 1% on everything else).

Anyone has any feedback which cards would fit me the best? I am looking at somewhere around 1 flight per year to Europe and back mostly, but other vacation flights as well + whatever purchases I make when living in Canada.

As of now, I only know about Capital One Aspire Travel World MC. However, not sure what the reward miles equivalent in cash back is vs my MBNA smart cash. Some said it's 0.75$ cashback for every point, but then I also heard 10000 points gets you 100$ back, which is a 1$ per point ratio.

Cheers
18 replies
Deal Expert
Feb 29, 2008
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If you are consistently flying to Europe, the RBC Avion card is pretty good. You need to wait for the promotion for 50% bonus in winter and transfer to british airways executive club. IF BA does not serve your city, don't bother and get the Cap One, MBNA World Elite or BMO World Elite.
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Jan 2, 2012
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You need to make up your mind, do you want to use rewards on travel purchases or on cashback?

For Cap One Travel card, the straight cashback reward is 1.5%

But if you use your reward points on travel purchases you can get full value of 2% rewards. It's best if you redeem the rewards for travel purchases of $600 or over.

With this card you get $350 worth of points (at 2% value) for signing up, and then $100 worth of points every anniversary date so it makes the $120 annual fee effectively a $20 fee... which is the cheapest card out there for the amount of rewards and insurance products the card provides.
[OP]
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I see, so Cap one travel is still the best option it seems factoring in that annual would only be 20$. My tickets are always pretty much 1000$+ for round-trip so I guess I can take full advantage of that. So is each point equivalent of 2 cents when using the points for travel?

With this card, am I eligible to use the points through any company or travel site? For example, my last flight ticket was booked via flighthub
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Sep 15, 2008
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rob444 wrote:
Sep 11th, 2014 1:38 pm
You need to make up your mind, do you want to use rewards on travel purchases or on cashback?

For Cap One Travel card, the straight cashback reward is 1.5%

But if you use your reward points on travel purchases you can get full value of 2% rewards. It's best if you redeem the rewards for travel purchases of $600 or over.

With this card you get $350 worth of points (at 2% value) for signing up, and then $100 worth of points every anniversary date so it makes the $120 annual fee effectively a $20 fee... which is the cheapest card out there for the amount of rewards and insurance products the card provides.
+1 for the Capital One Travel World.

Op, if you decide on the Capital One, GCR has $75 Cashback right now for signing up making this card a little more attractive.
Penalty Box
Apr 16, 2012
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Greely
If you have Cap One World giving 1.5% cash back,


how do you apply for Cap One Travel World (1.5% + 2% travel option) ?


1. If you cancel the cap one world and then dont get approved for Cap One Travel...then you are out 2 great cards

2. If you don't cancel the cap one world...then I don't think Cap One will approve you getting the travel card
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Sep 15, 2008
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techcrium wrote:
Sep 11th, 2014 2:19 pm
If you have Cap One World giving 1.5% cash back,


how do you apply for Cap One Travel World (1.5% + 2% travel option) ?


1. If you cancel the cap one world and then dont get approved for Cap One Travel...then you are out 2 great cards

2. If you don't cancel the cap one world...then I don't think Cap One will approve you getting the travel card
Why not keep the older Cap One World and then apply for the Capital One Travel World as well. I wouldn't think there are restrictions about having more than 1 Captal One product. Its too bad they don't allow product transfers.
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Messerschmitt wrote:
Sep 11th, 2014 1:55 pm
I see, so Cap one travel is still the best option it seems factoring in that annual would only be 20$. My tickets are always pretty much 1000$+ for round-trip so I guess I can take full advantage of that. So is each point equivalent of 2 cents when using the points for travel?

With this card, am I eligible to use the points through any company or travel site? For example, my last flight ticket was booked via flighthub
You purchase your travel any way you want, as long as you charge it to your Cap One card. As long as the purchase is classified under "travel" category (so can be airfare, hotel, train tickets, etc) then you would go into your Cap One rewards page to "erase" the purchase.

You get 2 points for every dollar spent. So 1 point = $0.01. The big downside is you are supposed to redeem for full value of the purchase, or nothing. i.e. if you buy a $1200 airfare ticket, you would need $1200 worth of points (so 120,000 points) to redeem anything. If you had only say 100,000 points, you wouldn't be able to redeem anything on that particular ticket, unless you stated it was for 2 tickets and they would split it into 2x $600 charges, 1 of which you could erase. I'm not sure if they actually check if you bought 2 tickets or not.
techcrium wrote:
Sep 11th, 2014 2:19 pm
If you have Cap One World giving 1.5% cash back,
how do you apply for Cap One Travel World (1.5% + 2% travel option) ?
I used to have the Aspire World Cash card, and simply applied for the Travel card. They approved it no problem so I had both at once.

If you have a huge limit on the Cash card though, that available credit will be factored into the decision on how much credit you get on the Travel card.
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Where do you live and where are you planning on going to, because it matters. Because the mileage level is fixed for rewards, The % ROR for Aeroplan rewards depends a lot on average flight prices in the place where you live to destinations you care about. It could be as low as 1% - 1.5% or as high as 5% or more.
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Jun 21, 2013
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In the middle of now…
RBC Avion > 1.5x BA Avios scheme is great if you fly with One World airlines
BOS-LAX roundtrip on AA is 25k Avios or ~16.5k Avion + $4 in tax and fees. Also works great on shorter legs from YYZ.
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Feb 29, 2008
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Messerschmitt wrote:
Sep 11th, 2014 1:55 pm
I see, so Cap one travel is still the best option it seems factoring in that annual would only be 20$. My tickets are always pretty much 1000$+ for round-trip so I guess I can take full advantage of that. So is each point equivalent of 2 cents when using the points for travel?

Be careful. If your tickets are 1000$, you need at least 100000 points to redeem on capital one. You cant do partial redemptions. Hitting the "tiers" can be difficult.
[OP]
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Well, when I plan to travel I always use sites as kayak and orbitz to try and get the best price, so I don't have a "specific airline" I usually fly with. And I'm planning to do trips to Europe, Carabean, South America and Japan/Australia. Most of which it would be Europe.

So I can expect the ticket prices to vary between 750 to 2000$ depending where.

Thanks for the tip that I can only claim the entire price of the ticket and not partials for the Aspire Travel Rewards. And if I'm not mistaken, that would be in increments of 100 points, so for a ticket costing 1212.78$, I would need to claim 121200 points correct? And would need to spend 1000$ to cover the remaining 20$ annual fee after the 10000 points annual bonus?
brunes wrote:
Sep 11th, 2014 7:00 pm
Where do you live and where are you planning on going to, because it matters. Because the mileage level is fixed for rewards, The % ROR for Aeroplan rewards depends a lot on average flight prices in the place where you live to destinations you care about. It could be as low as 1% - 1.5% or as high as 5% or more.
Not sure what you mean by % ROR.
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If your tickets are $1000, you can split them, so you don't need $1000 in credit. But that's the pain with the Capital One card.. it's difficult to get exactly 2% back in redemption value.. and with the $100 annual credit.. sure, it's a credit.. but you can't use it until you travel, so you're still paying $120 in cash every year.. basically pre-paying for your vacation, $100 a year and you get it back when you can finally redeem. Of course, with the cash option, you'll never lose out less than 1.5% cash back.. but then you're paying an annual fee for that versus just having the Aspire Cash card which was free/is free if you own it (and you can have both- I do). It's still a good card, but it's very well engineered by the Capital One folks to make sure only a few people can maximize their return on the card.

Brunes and his Aeroplan talk can be summed up with this article:
https://www.creditwalk.ca/aeroplan-shor ... ckers-bet/

I just jumped on two Amex cards this year just for the sign-up bonuses.. the Aeroplan Amex is just awful, there's really nothing special about it. The Gold Rewards card however, is decent. The annual fee is hefty but there are ways around it through churning/referrals. The card on its own is probably not worth it as your miles are worth anywhere from less than 1c/mile to around 2c/mile -> translates to around 1-2% cash back when it comes time to redeem (crap for having to pay $150/year). I'm under the opinion now that Avios is a better program depending on where you live and where you're going and Gold Rewards lets you redeem at 1:1 for either program (just don't ever fly BA because the fees alone are worth the price of a cash ticket). But here's the catch with both reward programs: availability and route. You fly the weirdest segments when you book with Aeroplan.. one flight I saw doubled the time it would take me to get to Australia.. which at its shortest is already 15+ hours of flying from Vancouver.. It's also $80,000 (Avios, btw.. Star Alliance/Aeroplan partners can't get you to Australia on points) in spending before you qualify to fly there + fees.. basically killing your return. $80,000 is a lot of money to earn a flight I paid $1600 cash for and that's without ridiculous 30 hour routing. The return here is 2% or 2c/mile.. but factor in the taxes/fees (which I believe were about $800) and you've just halved your return. The redeeming quality is that Membership Rewards is so flexible! Avios domestically can be great, like as long as 9k/$9000 + $10 in taxes/fees versus 15k + $150+ in taxes/fees on Aeroplan. And if you do the math, say the flight was cheap on a discount agency site, if the points are worth more than the dollar value, you can pay and redeem the full dollar value off your points (at 1%)! This card would not even be in consideration if you weren't able to earn referral bonuses and sign-up bonuses... there's just far too much spending involved to end up with a) a longer flight b) fight to find availability c) paying high fees anyway d) just the general loss of flexibility.

I read on another website the Avion card is not as good as it would seem because (don't quote me on this) there is a cap on the value of your flight. At 1pt/$1, $65000 earns you a flight to Europe but only up to $1300.. if you can find a flight for that, you'd get 2% back.. but again, annual fee and.. there's deals all the time when you're paying cash! I can probably find a flight for $700-800 if I'm not in a hurry, which almost halves the return.

In summary, I think that paying cash is still king for airline tickets as deals are so abundant.. and even with the cheap tickets, flexibility is greater than redeeming reward points! So, find a card that matches your style, probably the Aspire Travel card.. it's not perfect, but it's close to being one of the best. I have accumulated many MR points with Amex (enough for a few years worth of travelling depending on where I'm going) but they're so hard to use I believe that the Capital One card still holds value.. I just haven't quite determined if the hassle is worth the premium over the simple 1.5% Aspire Cash card I also own which has no strings attached.
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lhsonic wrote:
Sep 12th, 2014 2:09 am
If your tickets are $1000, you can split them, so you don't need $1000 in credit.
Do you know if Cap One actually checks the number of travelers to see if you split charges correctly? i.e. if I buy a $1400 ticket for myself but only have say 100,000 points, I can split the $1400 into 2 x $700 and use 70,000 points on $700 to get full 2% value. But if Cap One actually checked with the airline, they'd see it was for a single ticket and could cancel the redemption?
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Sep 9, 2003
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No, they don't check.

A ticket of $1212 can be split to 606x2 and use 60,600 points. If anything, that's the best scenario. 1k is painful because it doesn't split cleanly (although 1050 exactly would be 350x3).

1000 split into 3 would be spending 35k points for $333... 1.9% overall, which isn't bad, and depends you care about that last $17. Obviously if you had 100k points you'd just redeem it straight up for 2%

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