Cap One makes big offer to match your miles: fine print here

March 10, 2011

The entrance to a Capital One Bank is seen in New York  August 17, 2009.   REUTERS/Shannon StapletonCapital One just laid down a deal that is worth reporting: Sign up for its Capital One Venture Card, and the company will give you as many airline miles as you already have. The company kicked off its “Match My Miles Challenge” this morning (March 10) by offering to match as many as 100,000 miles per customer, on a first-come, first-serve basis, until it has given out one billion miles.

“This is an especially good offer,” says Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com, a card comparison website. It’s “one of the most generous new offers to emerge during a season when credit card companies have significantly intensified their marketing efforts.”

Here’s the fine print: You have to apply for the card, get accepted, and then spend $1,000 on it within 90 days. Then you must supply proof of your existing miles in other programs. You have to move fast enough to do that before the offer ends. There’s a $59 annual fee that is waived for your first year. You’ll also get 10,000 extra free miles once you post that $1,000 in charges over the first 90 days.  The card typically offers two miles for every dollar spent on it, which will continue.

And here are the risks: You could accumulate a whole bunch of miles that you don’t use, and end up having to pay $59 a year (or more, if Cap One raises its annual fee) to keep them. Airlines could eventually downgrade the value of your miles, by requiring more for flights and upgrades, or add blackout dates (the Cap One program currently doesn’t have them).  And, you could sign up for the card and then find the deal has expired before you win your points.

Bottom line? It still sounds like a good deal for frequent flyers who already have fat mileage accounts. Despite tougher legislation and regulation, credit cards remain lucrative for issuers, and so competition will continue. If the Cap One card ends up less rewarding than you hope and expect, you can always switch to some other card down the road.

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[…] misleading. The flight DID cost $590, but I was reimbursed for that cost from Capital One due to an extremely lucrative promo THEY were running earlier this year, (one which netted me 200,000 miles FOR […]

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