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Capital One discontinues popular Aspire Travel World MasterCard

Rumours had been floating around for several weeks that Capital One was about to discontinue its popular Aspire Travel World MasterCard – arguably the top travel rewards card on the market.

The card was pulled from affiliate channels like Rate Supermarket but remained listed on Capital One’s own website – that is until today when it was removed and replaced by something called the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard.

No word yet on whether existing Aspire Travel World MasterCard cardholder benefits will be grandfathered or if Capital One will look to move those members over to this new product.

When Capital One pulled its Aspire Cash World MasterCard in August 2013, existing cardholders kept their benefits intact, but the credit card issuer did not replace that card with a new one – opting instead to move forward with the watered-down Aspire Cash Platinum card in its cash back line-up.

The good news here, if any, is that Capital One has appeared to replace the Aspire Travel World MasterCard with a World Elite MasterCard that appears at first blush to offer similar benefits to that of the MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard, albeit at a slightly higher annual fee.

New Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard

Here’s a look at the new card and what it has to offer:

  • 2 reward miles for every $1 spent on the card
  • 10,000 bonus miles on your first purchase – a value of up to $100
  • Free supplementary card for spouse

You’ll get the same No Hassle Rewards that were offered with the old card:

  • Book your own trip – including the hotel, airline or rental car of your choice – then redeem your reward miles for your travel expenses
  • Pay for the taxes on your travel with your miles
  • No blackout dates or hidden fees

In fact, it looks like the tiered structure for redeeming travel reward miles will also remain intact:

Cost of Your Travel Rewards Miles Needed 
Up to $15015,000
$150.01 to $35035,000
$350.01 to $60060,000
$600.01 and greaterTravel cost x100

Cardholders can continue to redeem their miles for cash, merchandise, or gift cards at the same discounted value as before.

The World Elite brand means new applicants will need to have either personal income of $70,000 or household income of $120,000 in order to qualify (up from $60,000 or $100,000). The new card comes with the standard $120 annual fee for premium travel cards.

Loss for travel rewards market

This is a huge loss for the Canadian travel rewards market as the old Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard was in a class of its own – offering new applicants 35,000 bonus miles with their first purchase and 10,000 bonus miles each year on their card anniversary, which effectively reduced the annual fee down to $20.

RelatedHow to cut through the noise and choose the best rewards card

Here’s a look at what a new cardholder would have earned under the old Aspire Travel World MasterCard benefits if he or she spent $2,500 per month:

  • 60,000 miles on purchases
  • 35,000 bonus miles on first purchase
  • 10,000 bonus miles on card anniversary

105,000 first year reward miles = up to $1,050 in travel rewards

Now here’s what a new cardholder will earn with the new Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard on $2,500 per month spend:

  • 60,000 miles on purchases
  • 10,000 bonus miles on first purchase

70,000 first year reward miles = up to $700 in travel rewards

As you can see, it’s not even close. There’s a $350 difference in earnings between the two cards, not to mention the 10,000 annual bonus miles that are no longer offered by the new product.

Final thoughts

We figured there would be disruption in the rewards credit card space this year after Visa and MasterCard were “voluntold” to lower their interchange fees or face the wrath of the federal government.

Were the bonus miles simply too rich for Capital One to continue paying out to its new and existing cardholders? Will other premium travel rewards cards follow suit? Time will tell.

What do you think about this move by Capital One?

29 Comments

  1. Ron on February 10, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    At least the new card retains the 2% return and the same insurance package. Too bad about the demise of the annual 10,000 point renewal bonus. As far as I can tell, the card is no longer a better deal than the MBNA World Elite card, but it is still a pretty good card.



    • Robb Engen on February 11, 2015 at 7:00 am

      Hi Ron, it’s a big downgrade from the previous version and I think the rewards are now identical to the MBNA World Elite card, except that one comes with an $89 annual fee versus Cap One’s $120.



      • Ron on February 11, 2015 at 8:44 am

        Other than the lower signup bonus and the demise of the annual renewal bonus, what (if any) other downgrades do you see compared to the previous version?

        The MBNA card has lower annual ree, more flexible points redemption but a shorter extended warrantee (maximum one extra year versus two for the Capital One). Otherwise they seem similar as you say.



        • Robb Engen on February 11, 2015 at 10:01 am

          Hi Ron, that’s all I can see for now. I’ll do up a broader comparison of cards after the dust settles a bit.



  2. CanadianDaniel on February 11, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Interesting article, Robb. Not surprised, given the “voluntold” agreement to an avg 1.5% in interchange fees meaning that card issuers would either increase fees and/or cutback on rewards. Since AMEX was not privy to that interchange limit, it will be interesting to see if they up their rewards to capture more market share. A counterbalancing argument is that VISA and MC are more commonly processed at most checkouts than AMEX. I know this article was about a discontinued card, but another interesting question is whether Canadians will replace their rewards card when rewards are cutback. Not sure whether that’s the final straw for most Canadians.



    • Robb Engen on February 11, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Hi Daniel, I expect a big push from American Express to capture market share if MasterCard and Visa issuers continue to devalue their cards.

      I have the Cap One Aspire Travel card and don’t plan on cancelling it as long as they continue to honour the existing benefits.



  3. Joel on February 11, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Robb, for the last few years I have had a Cap One Aspire Cash Mastercard which I believe was discontinued a while back for new applicants. It has no fee and offers a permanent 1% cash back plus an additional half percent bonus annually (1.5% rewards total). Any word on whether this card will also be cancelled? I sure hope not as there doesn’t seem to be anything comparable out there in the no fee cash back category. (I realize there are no fee cards with higher temporary promotions that result in a lower long term reward) Thanks, Joel



    • Robb Engen on February 11, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Joel, it doesn’t sound like anything will change with that card – unless you hear directly from Capital One to the contrary.

      Here’s the answer I got back from Capital One media relations in regards to the change to this card:

      “From time to time, we review our products and make changes where necessary. We made the decision to change the World product to MasterCard’s enhanced World Elite product, which offers enhanced Concierge Services. The Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard continues to offer very competitive rewards, and cardholders will enjoy the ease of flexibility of our redemption program. We don’t have any news to announce regarding current Aspire Travel World customers. In event that we decide to make changes to our products or services, we’ll let our customers know first, as always.”



    • Bryan on February 11, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      I’m with you Joel. I have the same card and it expires in October. My hope was to transition to travel rewards with the card Robb just wrote about once it expired. Too bad. Hopefully something will come up before my card expires, but I’m not optimistic.
      Visa and MC interchange fees drop, rewards drop. Companies accepting Visa and MC save on fees, but don’t pass those savings on to their customers.
      At least we can rely on Robb and others to provide some good insight when choosing a new card. Appreciate the update and look forward to future articles outlining the next best cards for travel and cash back.



      • Robb Engen on February 11, 2015 at 8:51 pm

        Hi Bryan, thanks for the kind words. I’ll do my best to keep everyone posted on these changes and then try to sort out and compare the best cards afterwards so we can all maximize our rewards.

        For those of you looking for a cash back card, have you considered the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite? With this current promotion you can get the $99 annual fee waived, plus get a free $100 gift card – https://rewardscardscanada.com/goRSM$100



  4. Gerry Surtees on February 12, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Hello Rob: Thanks for the info, I just received my renewed “Aspire Travel World MasterCard” this past Monday the old one was due to expire in 03/15. No attached info regarding changes so perhaps I dodged a bullet for the time being.



    • Robb Engen on February 12, 2015 at 7:20 am

      Hi Gerry, that’s great to hear. I know a few people who managed to get their applications in under the wire, too, so it sounds like things will continue on as is for existing cardholders. If anything changes, Capital One says its customers will be the first to find out.



  5. Paula on February 12, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    I am more concerned to know if we are ‘grandfathered’ if that means we still get our 10,000 bonus each year. I am not paying $120. each year without any incentives. Why should I when I can get NF and FYF cards that are just as good of a value, if not better?



    • Robb Engen on February 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Paula, it sounds like nothing will change for existing cardholders (for now). When they discontinued the cash back card, for example, they still honour the 50% cash back bonus at the end of each year.



  6. Derek on February 12, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Robb, thanks for the article. It is hard to find information that provides some context explaining the changes in the Aspire card. I have the Scotiabank Momentum Infinite Visa and was planning to get a Mastercard rewards card to maximize my rewards (Costco purchases and non gas/grocery/pharmacy/bills). Unfortunately it looks like my timing is horrible. I’m looking at the new Aspire and MBNA card. MBNA has a lower fee than the new Aspire card, but the MBNA website is maddeningly sparse. I can’t find any information about redeeming rewards or insurance details. Is there a place where that information can be found? Is there a Mastercard rewards card (travel or cash-back) with 2% returns on all purchases you would recommend?



    • Robb Engen on February 12, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Hi Derek, I’m glad you found the article useful. I have the MBNA Rewards World Elite card and redeeming rewards is fairly straightforward. You can set it so that every 5000 points gets credited to your statement ($50), or get a cheque sent in the mail, or even have it deposited into your bank account. You can also redeem for travel but you’d have to use the MBNA Rewards centre to book everything. As of right now, it might be a toss-up between this new Capital One card and the MBNA card.

      I think my next article will have to be an MBNA Rewards World Elite review – or maybe a comparison between these two.



      • Am on February 13, 2015 at 7:06 am

        Hi Robb; thanks for the article. I’m in the same boat as Derek—was going for a MC and likely the old Aspire World, but just missed it! Their new ‘Elite’ does not seem nearly as good, and so was considering the MBNA RWE. Like Derek, I found their (MBNA) web-site to be low on details. Given the lower cost, leaning towards the MBNA RWE, but would certainly look to read a comparison between these two, or another 2% option.



        • Derek on February 17, 2015 at 9:30 am

          I’m trying to decide between Aspire & MBNA. I was leaning toward MBNA; a cheaper fee and based on comments here- an almost identical insurance package. On the MBNA website, there is little info, but a brief list of insurance coverage which mentions 1 mil. common carrier, car rental protection, and delayed baggage but no emergency medical and a few other items I was expecting. I called MBNA to get a copy of the actual insurance documents (easily found on other card websites). It was a disaster! I called the application line, and they were confused that I would ask about the insurance before applying for the card, (odd, but OK, if ALL that department does is applications…). They gave me the MBNA customer service line. Customer service was confused as to why I would want more info than I found online. He quickly referred me to Mastercard customer service, insisting that THEY manage the insurance. He gave me the number but also forwarded my call. Both the forward and number they gave me were a marketing firm trying to give me a “scam” free vacation for answering a short survey. It was NOT Mastercard customer service.
          Looks like Aspire gets my business! If anyone knows how I can find out some details regarding the insurance offered with the MBNA RWE card, please post a link or some details. Thanks.



          • Am on February 23, 2015 at 8:30 am

            Hi Derek,

            That’s good to know. I was looking all over on the MBNA site for more details on the insurance (beyond the very basic ‘chart’ they have online) and could not find anything! Glad to know it wasn’t just me. I’m still leaning towards MBNA due to lower fee and easier/no tiered redemptions, but since I may want to have some of the insurance benefits, it may be worth the extra $31 in annual fee/hassle of redemption.



  7. Sheryl Smolkin on February 13, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Not happy! We’ve had the Capital One card for just under a year in part on your say-so. Hope I get my 10,000 points next month.



  8. Tawcan on February 13, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Sad to see Aspire Travel World MasterCard being discontinued, we really like using this card. Hopefully Capital One will grandfather the annual bonus for existing card holders. We’ll continue using this card for now. If the annual bonus is gone we’ll be looking for another card.



  9. N on February 19, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    I called Capital One last week to apply for the Aspire Travel Card. I needed a few days to think about whether I was going for that one or the new Costco card. The agent never mentioned that there might be changes coming. I called back today and it’s discontinued! The replacement product is terrible in comparison, and definitely not worth changing credit card company for. Very poor service from Capital One. Will never work with them again.



  10. Feegus on February 19, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Gah, I was just finishing my homework on which card to sign up for and now this. Can’t wait for a new updated review of today’s cards once the dust settles?



  11. Ronny on March 30, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    just got letter from Capital one, my Aspire Travel World MasterCard will be upgraded to new Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard. all account terms, fees and benefits will remain he same and i will continue to receive an anniversary bonus of 10,000 reward miles remains on my account.



  12. Joe on March 31, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I have the old card as well, and like Ronny, I received a letter saying they have improved on the concierge service. All other benefits and fees are the same as before and that includes the 10,000 anniversary bonus.



  13. Robb Engen on April 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Ronny, Joe – just got the same letter. Will post some details about it soon, including what to expect from World Elite.



  14. Fred on May 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I have the old aspire travel world, valid until 06/17. I called capital one the day I received the letter telling me that I would get a new card. They never told that the 10,000 annual bonus would be gone.

    I received the new card today and was just about to activate it when I decided to do more research.

    What is the status, are we grandfathered until the current card expires or indefinately? Should we activate the new card or not?

    Thanks for your help



  15. Jake on May 10, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    How can you tell the difference between the new “World Elite” card vs. the old “World” card?

    I got my replacement card on my original “World” card and they both seem to look identical. I just want to ensure I get my 10,000 annual bonus.



    • Robb Engen on May 16, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Hi Jake and Fred – I got the new card as well. The 10,000 anniversary miles are grandfathered for existing users and will be handled behind the scenes by Capital One (similar to how old Capital One Aspire Cash cardholders still receive their 50% cash back bonus annually). I’m under the impression that we’ll be grandfathered indefinitely. Again, I’ve received confirmation from old Cap One Aspire Cash cardholders who have received new cards after their old ones expired. See this comment on my other blog from Andrew at Capital One confirming this – http://www.boomerandecho.com/finding-the-right-card-to-reap-the-rewards/#comment-354425



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