PHOTO: iStock

CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through The Points Guy affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.

Our quick take: If you value travel rewards and you’re focusing on no-annual-fee credit cards, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card hits the mark. It offers an above-average 1.25x flat earnings rate and a compelling array of transfer partners, making it an ideal entry-level travel credit card.

Pros:

  • Earn 1.25 miles for every dollar you spend on everything
  • Earn 5 miles per dollar for hotels and car rentals booked with the card through Capital One Travel
  • Stout welcome bonus for a no-annual-fee card
  • Great introductory APR on purchases for 12 months
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons:

  • No travel credits or airport lounge access
  • No opportunity for bonus categories beyond Capital One Travel
  • No cell phone insurance

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

Best for: Casual travelers who appreciate simplicity when earning travel rewards, but want to explore the possibilities of free travel when leveraging transfer partners.

Digging into the Capital One VentureOne

The Capital One VentureOne is a no-annual-fee credit card directed at casual travelers, defined by an impressive list of perks and benefits that are traditionally only associated with cards that carry annual fees.

You’ll rack up an unlimited 1.25 miles for every dollar you spend on every purchase, regardless of category. For busy professionals who may not have the bandwidth to carry an assortment of credit cards to maximize every purchase they make, this feature stands out.

Plus, most no-annual-fee cards have weak or nonexistent sign-up bonuses, while the Capital One VentureOne’s 20,000-mile bonus — available once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months after opening the account — is worth at least $200 in travel.

You’ll rarely find a no-annual-fee card that carries no foreign transaction fees paired with a strong list of transfer partners, but both help define the VentureOne. In many ways, the VentureOne sets the bar for perks on a no-annual-fee credit card, though the overall earning rate isn’t quite as strong as our benchmark card, the Citi® Double Cash Card.

Advantages of the Capital One VentureOne

By far, the most compelling individual feature of the Capital One VentureOne card is its no-nonsense approach to earning miles. It’s 1.25x miles on every purchase, everywhere, with no cap. It even includes overseas transactions, and with no foreign transaction fees, you can use this card while traveling internationally and earn miles without being dinged for each purchase.

While there aren’t any broad bonus categories, there’s one avenue for scoring even more miles on the VentureOne. You’ll earn 5 miles per dollar for hotel and car rental purchases made with the card through Capital One Travel. Just note that hotels can be difficult about providing elite member benefits for stays booked through third-party portals such as Capital One Travel.

The Capital One VentureOne offers a simple redemption path as well. All miles can be redeemed to cover any travel purchase at a value of 1 cent per mile. Through a tool lovingly dubbed Purchase Eraser, you simply apply your miles to any travel purchase when you get your statement, and what you owe is reduced accordingly.

On the other hand, for those curious about the potential of transfer partners — moving miles and points from a credit card to various airlines or hotels in order to book award travel — the VentureOne opens that door as well.

As with its big brother, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (which has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year), the VentureOne allows all its miles to be transferred to 17 airline and hotel partners while still having no annual fee. It’s a great card for dabbling in advanced award travel strategies while minimizing your costs.

The Capital One VentureOne card also includes 24-hour travel assistance services, auto rental collision damage coverage, travel accident insurance and an extended warranty program. That’s a very impressive suite of travel and purchase protections for a no-annual-fee card.

The Capital One VentureOne
The Capital One VentureOne's auto rental damage coverage is there if you need it. PHOTO: iStock

Finally, new cardholders will get a 0% introductory APR on all purchases for the first 12 months that your account is open (after 12 months, the rate jumps to a variable 14.49%-24.49%). In other words, those who have large purchases in their immediate future — engagement ring, anyone? — may want to take advantage of this card in order to minimize interest while paying down those assets.

Disadvantages of the Capital One VentureOne

It’s all about perspective here. While you can criticize elite credit cards for lacking perks that are expected alongside a lofty annual fee, it’s tough to knock the Capital One VentureOne given its annual fee of $0.

With the exception of earning 5 miles per dollar for hotels and car rentals booked with the card through Capital One Travel, there are no opportunities to earn more than 1.25 miles per dollar on the VentureOne. For those who like bonus categories, this may be seen as a disadvantage.

However, you could pair the VentureOne with a credit card like the Chase Freedom to unlock even more potential. For example, you could use the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom card when its rotating bonus categories make sense for your spending habits, and then the VentureOne for all other purchases.

It’s also worth noting that while the list of Capital One transfer partners is growing, most of the airlines are based outside of North America (the exception is JetBlue). The list feels a bit less compelling when contrasted with some of the American Express or Chase transfer partners.

The most notable omission from the Capital One VentureOne’s various protections is cell phone insurance, which is available on select cards from Chase and Wells Fargo, even some without annual fees. It’s definitely more of a “would be nice” than a “must have” feature, but with cell phone insurance expanding onto more cards in recent years, it would be a great addition to the VentureOne in the future.

Stacking up the Capital One VentureOne against our benchmark

CNN Underscored has chosen the Citi Double Cash Card as our “benchmark” credit card. That doesn’t mean it’s the best credit card on the market — rather, it means we use it as a basic standard to compare other credit cards and see where they score better, and where they’re worse.

Here’s how the Capital One VentureOne scores against our benchmark. The features of each card in the below chart are colored in green, red or white. Green indicates a card feature that is better than our benchmark. Red indicates the feature is worse than our benchmark, and white indicates the feature is either equivalent or cannot be directly compared to our benchmark.

When reviewing other credit cards, we use this format and these criteria to compare them with our benchmark. You can read our credit card methodology for more details on what we take into account when it comes to perks, protections and redemption value.

Other credit cards similar to the Capital One VentureOne

Those considering the VentureOne should cast a glance at Capital One’s other travel rewards card, the Capital One Venture Rewards. While it carries a $95 annual fee, that fee is waived for the first year, and the Venture earns an increased 2 miles per dollar on all purchases (in addition to the same 5x on hotels and car rentals booked with the card through Capital One Travel).

That extra 0.75x miles on every dollar spent can really add up, and could easily offset the annual fee once it kicks in at the start of your second year. Plus, the Capital One Venture offers up to a $100 credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, as well as a sizable 50,000-mile sign-up bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Related: New hotel partners improve the already-strong Capital One Venture credit card.

Our benchmark card, the Citi Double Cash, is also worth considering. It offers a more generous 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay it off — and also has no annual fee.

But the Double Cash lacks most of the travel-related perks of the VentureOne card, and you can’t transfer Double Cash rewards to airlines or hotels without adding either a Citi Prestige® Card or a Citi Premier℠ Card to your wallet. In other words, the best of these two will be determined by how valuable the ancillary perks are to you, and how much you want to earn transferable rewards for no annual fee.

Related: Earn 2% cash back on everything with the no-annual-fee Citi Double Cash credit card.

Should you get the Capital One VentureOne?

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. PHOTO: iStock

The Capital One VentureOne credit card is a great starter card for those who want to explore the possibilities in the world of points and miles. With no annual fee, there’s no downside to holding the card. It also includes a litany of perks that are more commonly found on credit cards with annual fees — benefits like no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection and travel accident insurance.

For those seeking to maximize their rewards, consider pairing the Capital One VentureOne with a card like the Chase Freedom. Use the other card when you’ll earn a bonus in the categories it offers, and keep the VentureOne at the top of your purse or wallet for everyday purchases that aren’t covered by a bonus category. Then you’ll have a sound credit card strategy that can give you the best of both worlds.

Learn more about the Capital One VentureOne Credit Card.

Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2020.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.