Top Travel Tips From The Points Guy & Capital One Venture

Alec Baldwin Capital One Venture Credit Card

Earlier this week I joined Capital One Venture for their #YesMiles lunch at the Guggenheim for a chat on the latest travel trends, new research and insights on and tips from top travel experts. Moderated by  credit card/travel expert, Brian Kelly of the blog, The Points Guy, panelists included Wendy PerrinAudrey McClellandDan Trepanier, and Christina Brown.

Brian Kelly, The Points Guy
Brian Kelly/The Points Guy

Earlier this week I joined Capital One Venture for their #YesMiles lunch at the Guggenheim for a chat on the latest travel trends, new research and insights on and tips from top travel experts. Moderated by  credit card/travel expert, Brian Kelly of the blog, The Points Guy, panelists included Wendy Perrin, Audrey McClellandDan Trepanier, and Christina Brown.

Capital One panalist

While we lunched, we had a Q&A with the panelists and probably one of my biggest takeaways (and why I’ll likely be ordering a Capitol One venture card) is because I always thought the points counted for airline miles. Turns out it includes all forms of travel, from Amtrak to AirBNB and as a big traveler of all different mediums that fits my lifestyle on a whole other level. (Plus they waive the first year of $59, which is considerably cheaper then my AMEX card). And they don’t have blackout dates!

The other key takeaway is how all of these airlines are consolidating and with it a lot of the flexibility and protection of your miles. If an airline decided to change their policy tomorrow or cancel their perks program you’re completely at their mercy (even if you spent the last year saving up enough perks to get to your selected destination. There’s literally no protection when it comes to miles. The other trend I’m not a fan of is  are many airlines will be calculating how many miles you get based on the ticket price instead of the distance. As someone that flied to LA a lot (where there’s still cheap flights to be found), that’s a big downer! The other helpful tip was to call airlines when it comes to your miles and using rewards or their airline partners for booking. If you solely work in the online space you may be missing a deal. And as Brian Kelly explained that’s simply because a lot of these airlines have archaic websites that doesn’t have the optimal functionality to list all of the rewards of their partners and affiliates.

Here are some additional #YesMiles Travel Tips:

  • Find a rewards credit card that offers the best all-around value:  The earn rate is important but consumers should also pay attention to the barriers that could prevent them from earning more (for example, the cap on how many rewards they can earn) or the ability to redeem their rewards when and where they want to (for example, blackout dates for travel cards).
  • Don’t let their fees fool you: Consumers can avoid sticker shock post vacation by accounting for any extra fees charged when booking travel with other rewards programs, or foreign transaction fees for overseas travelers.
  • Don’t let vacation expire: Rewards programs differ, so consumers should read the fine print to make sure they redeem for their vacation before they lose rewards.
  • Make sure everyday purchases are getting consumers a step closer to their vacation: If looking for a rewards card, consumers should find one that offers more miles/cash back per dollar spent on every purchase, every day – without any restrictions.
  • Redeem on the go: When traveling this summer, mobile devices can be a traveler’s best friend from finding local hot spot coupons to using rewards for last minute travel deals. Find a rewards card that lets consumers redeem straight from their mobile device anytime, anywhere.
  • Pay attention to the extra perks: Beyond rewards, consumers should also take note of extra perks that come with their rewards card such as no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection, travel accident insurance, rental car insurance and fraud liability.

Key #YesMiles Data

  • Summer Travel is on the Rise: This year 48 percent plan to redeem their rewards toward summer vacations, up from 30 percent in 2013. This correlates with a steady increase in people planning summer travel (67 percent in Q2 2012, 70 percent in Q2 2013, and 76 percent in Q2 2014).
  • Americans aren’t afraid to use their rewards cards, as 61 percent of card holders spend $5,001 or more on their rewards credit card each year – and 22 percent spend $15,001 or more.
  • Vacation Deals are Priority: The highest priority for those booking summer getaways is finding the best deal (38 percent) which trumps going to their preferred destination (34 percent) and staying loyal to a particular airline or hotel chain (9 percent).
  • Value of miles is changing; airlines are flying with less seats available with rewards

o    Blackout Dates Continue to be a Top Barrier: 20 percent cite blackout dates as a barrier for redeeming travel rewards.

o    16 percent say they couldn’t redeem travel rewards because the value of their miles changed.

o    23 percent state that they wouldn’t be surprised if the value of their miles changed.

  • Venture is empowering customers to travel without boundaries and hassles

o    30 percent state that they don’t want their rewards card to dictate where they shop.

o    Travelers are using their phones to do more than the simple on-the-go booking. They’re using their smartphones for mobile hotel-related searches, such as finding things to do nearby or places to eat near their hotel.

o    Tracking Rewards via Mobile is on the Rise: A growing number of rewards card holders report that tracking rewards on a mobile device would improve their experience earning credit card rewards (from 3 percent in Q2 2012, to 18 percent in Q2 2014).

  • Demand for Simple and Flexible Rewards Programs: Nearly one-third (32 percent) of rewards card holders want to have maximum flexibility when it comes to redeeming for travel. This would prove helpful for the 48 percent of survey respondents who typically use their rewards to book a vacation within a month or less of their trip.
  • Switch cards: According to the survey, 39 percent of respondents would most likely switch cards to earn better rewards for every dollar spent. In fact, the number one improvement rewards card holders would like to see is a consistent earn rate across all purchases (52 percent).
  • Forex Fees Awareness: According to the survey, one-fourth of rewards card holders are planning to travel abroad this summer yet many aren’t aware of foreign transaction fees (56 percent in Q2 2014). In fact, more consumers are unaware of these fees than they were last year (50 percent in Q2 2013)

Another reason I like Capital One (besides Alec Baldwin was their spokesperson), they hired artists to paint us our dream vacation spot. Needless to say, I got to take Paris home with me:)

lara eurdolian, Bryce Gruber & Audrey McClelland,
Lunch with two of my favorite blogger, Bryce Gruber & Audrey McClelland,


Learn more about the Capital One Venture card at While we lunched, we had a Q&A with the panelists while a team of artists drew our