I’ve never been a fan of the Capital One program, but their 110,000 point signup bonus sure caught my attention Sure, 110,000 Capital One points aren’t really worth as much as 110,000 miles in most frequent flyer programs. I thought that the best I could do was an $1100 credit towards paid travel. Which is pretty good as a credit card signup bonus, of course! So I applied, and my wife did as well. We got instant approvals, and then after a week and a half or so yesterday morning we got the emails with special codes to enter to upload competitor frequent flyer statements and qualify for the signup bonus.
See, the Capital One offer isn’t a standard signup bonus. Most credit cards give you a specified number of miles as a bonus, usually after spending a certain amount on the card.
Well, presumably Capital One wanted to limit their exposure and also target high spending folks, they set up a ‘mileage match’. You have to prove your balance in a competing frequent flyer (note: not frequent guest) program and they will ‘match’ the miles you have, up to 100,000.
And they really want to match ‘credit card miles’ but it’s complicated to untangle miles earned via credit card spend vs. miles from other sources in an account. So you just have to show your balance in the mileage account that qualifies for the match. I chose ones where I could also show credit card spend, just in case, but reports are that any balance will work even without showing credit card earning. That wasn’t my strategy, but others have said it processes just fine.
So yesterday I uploaded our frequent flyer statements, and by last night they had verified and ‘reserved’ the miles. We have to spend $1000 on each card in order to get our mileage bonus now.
The point in reserving the miles is that Capital One did something clever, they limited themselves to awarding one billion miles. That’s a big number, it sounds like a huge promotion, but it’s potentially as few as 10,000 signup bonuses at 100,000 points apiece.
So while the credit card offer runs through mid-May, the miles may run out long before then. And you’ll have applied for your card (which in many cases generates a pull of your credit score from all three credit bureaus, ouch) before you know whether there are miles left for your match. That’s why you should jump on this offer now and not wait.
Well, having reserved the miles I started paying attention to redemption options. And it turns out you can do better than 1 cent of value per point. There are gift certificates with Hyatt, Fairmont, and Ritz-Carlton that yield 1.7 cents of value per point. Sweet!
So I’ve been looking especially at the Hyatt certificates. They come as a $900 certificate, and they can thus only be used at one hotel apparently. (It’ll be interesting to see whether they come as a single $900 certificate or perhaps a bundle of nine $100 certificates, but for now I’m assuming just one $900 certificate). A given certificate isn’t divisable, has to be used for a single stay at a single hotel. That has me looking at some pretty high-end properties…
My wife has been bugging me to go to the Maldives. MilesQuest is apparently there now. The Conrad looked to be the best option because it’s a great value redemption with Hilton HHonors points. Used to be you could almost never get a reservation there, even with a ‘diamond force’ for top tier elites, before Hilton HHonors adopted a no capacity controls approach to their awards. Now it’s bookable and is a great use of points.
Still, the resort didn’t quite hit on all cylinders for me. But the recent news is that one of what looks to be nicer properties in the Maldives, the Alila Villas, is rebranding as a Park Hyatt come April 1. (HT: Lucky.)
So between my wife and I we should be able to redeem for $3600 in Hyatt gift certificates as the best-value use of our Capital One points. Add in Hyatt Diamond status.
Now, I’ve seen the rates. That doesn’t go very far! Three room-types, and I can’t use a prepaid rate with gift certificates, I’m looking at $950 – $1150 per night depending on which villa I’d choose. But that should get me three nights, then we’ll have to see what the possibility of using suite upgrades at the property (considering it’s a paid rate, but on the other hand every room is a villa so this may not be an option). And we’ll see waht the points cost will be for additional room nights. Or signing up for a Hyatt Visa finally, I’ve been a big fan of the card for no foreign currency transaction fees and also for the two free nights as a signup bonus (with the two nights being confirmed in a suite for diamond members). As details emerge, I could see a plan developing…
Now, the Maldives is not the easiest place to get to. I thought about Emirates, in particular Continental Onepass allows you to combine Emirates with other Star Alliance airlines at relatively low prices through their standard award chart. The last bookable day for that though is tomorrow. The United partnership lasts two mote months but it would take two separate awards to get to the Maldives, and those are expensive awards. The Emirates award chart itself is quite expensive, a bit less would be redeeming via Japan Airlines (I could trnasfer Starwood Starpoints to either) but it’s still crazy high.
So my current thinking is an award to Columbo, Sri Lanka — perhaps Cathay Pacific first class via Hong Kong. Then it’s less than a 500 mile flight to Male, which is cheap to purchase even in a premium cabin out of Sri Lanka. Or I could even redeem Emirates Skywards miles as Emirates does fly Columbo – Male. Though that would probably be overkill, it wouldgive me a shot of flying Emirates first class finally, if only for an hour. Hah!
Who would have ever thought that Capital One would have me dreaming of an over-the-top luxury trip? I rather thought it would pay for some flights down to Florida.