Capital One Aspire Travel’s Curious Redemption Levels

One insidious feature of the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard is the tiered structure when it comes to redeeming your miles for travel.

With Capital One’s purchase eraser, you can get a statement credit on previous travel purchases.  But in order to get the maximum benefit from your points, you need to take care and follow the schedule closely.

Capital One Aspire Travel redemption levels

Miles Needed For Travel That Costs…
15,000 Up to $150
35,000 $150.01 – $350
60,000 $350.01 – $600
100x cost $600+

Redemptions must be made within 90 days from when the travel purchase posts to your account. The statement credit is then applied within 5 to 7 business days.

On the plus side, any purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and time shares are generally considered to be travel purchases.

Related: Capped earnings on cash back cards

Unfortunately, separately itemized travel transactions on your statement can’t be combined for a single redemption.

For example, you can’t combine breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a hotel into one transaction for the purpose of maximizing your reward miles.  So it’ll take 15,000 miles to “erase” your $25 breakfast, and another 15,000 miles to “erase” a $50 lunch.  Not a great deal.

To make sure that you always get a 2 percent return on your points you’ll need to get one of the charges to equal exactly $150 or $350.  This isn’t a problem for most retailers.  The problem is remembering to ask.

Let’s say you stayed at a hotel and you have 15,000 miles to redeem.  Your stay came to $288.36.  At check-out, simply ask the front desk agent to split your charges so that one of them equals $150.  Pay with your Capital One Aspire Travel card and then you’ll be able to redeem your 15,000 miles at the full 2 percent rate.

Related: So you’re ready to dump Aeroplan. Now what?

Note that you’ll always qualify for the 2 percent redemption on purchases over $600.  A flight or lengthy hotel stay can easily exceed that amount, and so if you have enough points to cover the cost then you will get the full redemption value.

The key is that you need enough points to cover the entire purchase.  For example, if you have 73,000 miles and you book a flight that costs $778.50, you won’t be able to use your miles to cover a portion of the flight cost.  The flight would have to cost $730 or less to qualify for the purchase eraser.

Final thoughts

The Capital One Aspire Travel redemption level tiers are a bit puzzling for what is otherwise considered the top travel credit cards on the market.  But with careful planning you can find creative ways to work around the problem.

For Aspire Travel cardholders, have you encountered any problems with the purchase eraser?  How do you get around the redemption level tiers?

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