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Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard Review



This is a guest post by Elbyron – A credit card rewards fanatic.  I was in the process of writing about this new offering by Capital One when Elbyron contacted me with a detailed post on his thoughts.  Although this card has an annual fee, it’s perhaps the only card in the market that I’m considering paying for and this is why…

Earlier this month, Capital One launched a new MasterCard that has generated a lot of media buzz as it’s a real contender for being the #1 travel reward credit card -The Aspire Travel World MasterCard .

The Aspire Travel World card is very similar to phased out Capital One’s Miles Plus card, as they both earn 2 reward miles for every $1, which works out to a 2% return in most cases. These miles can be redeemed for any flights, hotels, vacations, car rentals, or travel of any kind that you charge to your card (much like the TD Infinite card). You can also redeem for cash, in the form of a cheque or statement credit, which will get you a 1.5% return.

The Rewards

  • Earn more reward miles – on everything you buy!
  • Earn 2 reward miles for every $1 – on all purchases
  • Get 35,000 bonus reward miles with your first purchase
  • Get 10,000 anniversary bonus reward miles every year
  • Redeem for travel, cash, merchandise and gift cards
  • World MasterCard benefits, including Travel Emergency Medical Insurance and Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Add an authorized user for $0

Please Note: A requirement of this card is a minimum personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000.

  • $120 annual fee is effectively offset by the anniversary bonus for a net annual cost of $20.

Best in Class Insurance Coverage

The Aspire Travel World MasterCard offers the most comprehensive insurance coverage in the premium credit card market.  In addition to the usual Travel Accident Insurance ($500K) and car rental insurance, this card also offers insurance for:

  • Travel Emergency Medical: For trips up to 22 days if younger than 65, or 8 days if over 65.
  • Flight Delay: Flight delay is $250 per day up to $1000 per trip (includes you, your spouse and your dependent children).
  • Trip Interruption: Trip interruption is max $25,000 per trip (includes you, your spouse and your dependent children).
  • Trip Cancellation: Trip cancellation is max of $5,000 per trip (includes you, your spouse and your dependent children).
  • Baggage Loss: $1000/trip.
  • Baggage Delay: Baggage delay only up to 3 days (includes you, your spouse and your dependent children).
  • Price Protection:  Refunds up to $100/item if a lower price is found in 60 days. Max $500/year.
  • Extended Warranty:  Doubles manufacturer’s warranty for up to TWO additional years (typically 1 year with other cards).
  • Purchase Assurance:  Insures most purchases against theft, loss or damage for 120 days (typically 90 days with other cards).

Redemption System

Any flights, hotels, car rentals, train, bus, cruises, or vacation packages that you charge to the card can qualify for redemption. All taxes and fees on the travel charge are also eligible. Miles must be redeemed within 90 days of the charge, and you can do so online or over the phone.

You can book your travel with any website or travel agency, and with no seat restrictions or blackouts. The “No Hassle Rewards” do have one hassle though, and that is the redemption tiers:

  • Travel charges up to $150 require 15,000 miles
  • Between $151 and $350 require 35,000 miles
  • Between $350 and $600 require 60,000 miles
  • Over $600 is simply 100 points per dollar

These tiers may seem like a real drawback, but there is a simple workaround to ensure you always get 2% return: when charging the travel to your card, split the total cost into two charges, making one of them exactly $150 or $350.

Or if you have over 60,000 points but not enough for the full travel cost, then split it so that one of them equals 1/100 of the number of points you have. Most airlines and hotels will let you use multiple credit cards to pay with, so simply request this and give them the same card number for both parts.

The policies for the various trip insurances state that in order for the trip to qualify, the “full cost of the common carrier travel must be charged to your Capital One card”. But as long as both charges are put on your card, you should technically meet this requirement. However, I am currently trying to get confirmation from MasterCard about this.

There is also an option in the redemption process that lets you specify the “number of tickets in the transaction” and “number of tickets you want reimbursed”. What this does is divides the transaction price by the first number and multiplies by the second one, giving you the choice of any ratios with the denominator between 1 and 10.

For example, if my flight costs $450, I could say there are 9 tickets in my transaction and I want to redeem for 7 of them. So 450 * 7/9 = 350, which is what I want to be able to get the full 2% reward. It may not always work out perfectly, and calculating the optimal ratio requires some math skills, but it certainly helps.

Here is a screenshot showing how a $133.42 purchase is multiplied by 9/10 to make the redemption amount $120.08, though in this situation it doesn’t help improve the redemption percentage.

Cash and Other Rewards

As an alternative to redeeming for travel, you can redeem for cash at a 1.5% return, with a minimum of 10,000 miles ($75) and in increments of 3,333 miles ($25). You can also redeem for gift cards, but the best one only gives you 1.4% return so the cash is still better. They also offer a tiny merchandise catalog, but the return is terrible, at approximately 0.5%.

Eligibility

The Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard requires a household income of $60k, and with a interest rate of 19.8% (as of June 15), this card is definitely not for those who carry a balance!  As well, if you have two Capital One cards, or have applied for a Capital One account within the last 45 days, you will not be approved.

For those who don’t meet the income requirement, and don’t want to pay the annual fee, there is also the Aspire Travel Platinum MasterCard. The Platinum version only earns 1 mile per $1, 5,000 point start-up bonus, and 1,000 point anniversary bonus. It has no annual fee, but lacks most of the higher end travel insurance benefits.  However, it does still offer travel accident, car rental, baggage delay, price protection, purchase assurance, and extended warranty.

How Does Aspire Compare to Other Travel Cards?

The closest competitor is the TD Infinite, which offers a similar hassle-free rewards program but without the redemption tiers, and has very similar benefits, except medical is only for up to 8 days. It only has a 1.5% return, but travel booked with their travel agency earns 4.5%. This means that if more than 16.7% of your credit card purchases are for travel through TD, you can get better than a 2% return. There is no option to redeem for cash though. The TD Infinite costs $120/year but if you have Select Service (keep $5000 in your account) you can have this waived.

It is difficult to compare with any other travel cards, because they have redemption systems based on the distance you fly. With these cards, the value of your miles varies widely due to the huge differences in ticket prices between different times of year or the size of the city you fly to/from.

Collecting Aeroplan or Air Miles may also result in redemption hassles, such as limited seat availability or blackout dates. RBC’s Avion card avoids those problems, but restricts you to using their travel agency. For those who are willing to put up with the hassles, and who frequently fly on dates or between locations that are more expensive, these cards can really pay off, with returns of 4% or more.

Most of the insurance coverages on Capital One cards are underwritten by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, and this same company is used by TD and RBC too.

Editors note: Here is an updated post on the top cash back credit cards and the top rewards credit cards, all cards listed have no annual fees.

Conclusions

The combination of 2% return, hassle-free rewards (well almost), option of 1.5% cash back return, and extensive insurance benefits makes the Capital One Aspire Travel World Mastercard one of the best travel reward cards ever. The net $20 annual fee is paid for if you just spend a mere $1,000 per year! And with the 35,000 miles sign-up bonus, they are effectively giving you a $230 bribe (after annual fee) to take this card.

For those of you who are also travel rewards enthusiasts, how does this new card stack up against your favorite program?

Sign Up Promotion

If you are interested in this card, check out Great Canadian Rebates (GCR).  If you sign up for the Capital One Aspire Travel World through your GCR account,  GCR will pay you $75 cash back (plus an extra $2 for new members).  More info here.

 





230 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1. Joseph

    I personally feel it’s hard to be the Aerogold Infinite card. The Hassle-Free cards do give you a better points earning power so that you can get more points faster but you have to consider the other side of the equation.

    Nothing beats Aeroplan for points redemption because of two things. Flight Zones and stopovers. While the other cards offer a points for dollar exchange with the Aeroplan you can do some pretty amazing things.

    Ex: I live on the east of Canada and for 80,000 points I can fly to Sydney Australia (as a stop over of several days) then fly to Hong Kong and back to Halifax. If you were “paying with points” that would be huge, but it’s a flat rate with Aeroplan.

    Hassle yes. But if you have the time, totally worth it.

  2. 2. PawDoc

    I currently have a Capital One Platinum No Hassle Rewards card. I have to say redeeming my points truly has been no hassle. I have only redeemed them once for booking a hotel stay. I clicked on redeem for rewards –> it gave me a list of possible purchases I had made that could be redeemed –> I selected the hotel bill and it was paid off the card.

    Any body know if 2 people have separate cards/accounts if they can pool their points? I would like to have my wife get this card.
    I have tried different reward cards in the past, but this one is super easy.

    I carry around a CIBC dividend card VISA and the Capital One M/C.

  3. 3. steve_jay

    I am completely clueless on travel reward cards. Can you buy a ticket, hotel room or vacation package on expedia or travelocity and still use the reward points on a card like this one?

  4. 4. Elbyron

    PawDoc, you can simply call Capital One and get a second card issued on your account for your wife to carry. If you want separate accounts, you can still transfer points between the accounts, though two accounts means two annual fees. Simply log in to the rewards center, click on the “Transfer Rewards” tab, and fill out the account number and name of the person you want to transfer to.

    steve_jay, the answer is yes. Absolutely anything classified as travel is eligible for redeeming points. I’ve booked a hotel with Expedia.ca and can confirm that they consider this to be travel. I haven’t tried travelocity, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t qualify.

  5. 5. Calvin

    Have been using the MBNA Smart Cash for quite a while but just applied for this new Rewards card. Thanks!

  6. 6. longtimereader

    how do you compare with the 2% american express gold card — I know it’s no longer offered but quite a few people have it . thanks.

  7. 7. PawDoc

    I could get a second card for my wife, but I use my card for business purchases only. I would like to have one of these for her personal purchases and have her redeem all of the biz reward points. My fear is otherwise CRA would view this as a taxable benefit with the rewards.

  8. 8. chuck

    I have had the CIBC Dividend platinum for years. the dividend rewards are pretty good – we get back about $800 / yr – don’t know how much we spend, but it’s insane maybe $50k/yr.
    BUT, it’s not really “fun”, and I’m cheap when it comes to travel so wondering about switching just to force me to spend a bit on travel or other things.
    When I’ve done the math in the past it just didn’t seem to add up though by how many points you get and what they are worth. Can anyone tell me if they’ve had the dividend and switched to points?

  9. 9. Elbyron

    Even if you redeem all the points on a personal-use card, it is still a taxable benefit, isn’t it?

  10. @ Elbyron, my understanding is that if the card is used for personal use, then the rewards are not taxable. However, an accountant should be consulted for the official word.

  11. 11. colin49

    I thought that I read that points must be redeemed within 90 days of charge, does this mean I can’t stockpile the points?

  12. 12. Elbyron

    chuck, your dividend platinum card only gives you 2% return once you’ve spent $35k on the card, and it gives you 0% (nothing) once you’ve spent 50k. Thus, if I did the math correctly, the highest you can possibly earn in a year is $656 cashback (after deducting the $79 fee). For someone who only spends 30k, this card would only pay you back $281 after fee. Furthermore, the only non-typical travel insurance is a 15-day medical coverage.
    If you switched to the Aspire card, you could get $980 (after fees) per year on 50k of spending, (30k gets you $580) and there is no limit on how much you can earn. But in order to claim this cashback, you have to travel and charge it to the card. And when you do travel, you’ll have much better insurance coverages, as listed in my review. About 1.5 years ago, I switched from CIBC’s crappy no-fee dividend Visa to the Capital One Miles Plus Platinum Mastercard, and have not regretted it! I still carry the old Visa as a backup though, since it’s free.

  13. 13. Elbyron

    colin49, you can stockpile unlimited miles for as long as you like. They never expire. The 90-day thing is that you can only redeem the points on a travel charge that was put on your card in the last 90 days.

  14. 14. chuck

    Elbyron, really? didn’t know there was some limit over $35k!
    What I’ve always been confused about is whether I would actually get better value from travel redemption than cash back? Would seem that it would be better to have $500 cash over a $500 credit towards travel. Or is my comparison wrong?

  15. 15. Elbyron

    I agree that $500 cash is better than $500 that can only be redeemed for travel. But the comparison here is $656 in cash vs $980 worth of travel. In that case, which do you think is better? I chose the latter.

  16. 16. chuck

    if that’s the case then I think I’m sold. that plus it gets me to start thinking about vacations rather than just seeing a small amount deducted once a year from my monthly bill. thanks for your help

  17. 17. Kevin

    Great review! Any information on how they determine which purchases qualify as “travel”? You mention in the opening that the reward miles can be redeemed for car rental, does this have to be associated with an airline ticket purchase? Can I rent a car locally and pay for it with reward miles?

    I attempted to find this information online but couldn’t find any specifics.

  18. 18. Elbyron

    SavingMentor, if your flights are always so expensive, then you’ll probably have plenty of them costing more than $600 after taxes & fees, right? In that case, you’ll never have to worry about tiers, as they disappear after $600 and the redemption becomes 100 points for each dollar of credit.

    Kevin, I’ve always wondered that myself, but I haven’t been able to find any specific criteria for determining what is considered “travel”. I’ve never tried renting a car locally (and probably never will), but I did stay at a local hotel on my wedding night and it was eligible for redemption.

  19. 19. Future Money-Bags

    Just to clarify:
    I have never been on any big trips or vacations where I needed to purchase travel insurance. I know that when I do plan one soon, I should purchase insurance for the entire trip correct? And that can cost hundreds $$.

    How can I check what insurance or coverage my current credit cards cover?

    I also am not really interested due to the fact this card gives points on dollars spent. Whenever I fly or stay in hotels, I ALWAYS find super cheap deals. This has made me stick with mastercards that offer airmiles for every few dollars spent.

    What is the best card to use to get points/mile travelled?

    Yes I lack much knowledge when it comes to this catagory. And since I am always eager and willing to learn anything about money and finances, I think this is important.

  20. 20. Henry

    Future Money Bags: I have been looking into Trip Insurance myself. I found buying trip interruption and trip cancellation insurance to be complicated due the huge number of exception clauses on the contracts. I would just use one from your credit card, but one should not be surprised if some of the claims are denied.

    On the other hand, travel medical insurance is pretty important and one must get it regardless of the situation. It is unlikely that one’s claim will be rejected like an emergency visit to the hospital. I found there were two competitive options for a single trip:

    1) Kanetix.ca: offers the cheapest travel insurance I could find with a 2 million dollar coverage
    2) Travel Cut travel agency: offers a 1 million dollar coverage that includes emergency medical services due to outdoor adventures

    Other options are more expensive due to high coverage limits like 10 to unlimited coverage. I find such high coverage limits are unnecessary in a single trip.

  21. I have been using the ScotiaGold Passport VISA card from Scotia Bank. It’s also points based but I only get 1 point per dollar spent. Redeeming has been really easy as well. No blackouts. They pretty much have a mini-travel agency. Anything you book through them using your credit card gives you an automatic discount.

    I will have a look at the MasterCard since it would appear that I could accumulate points at twice the speed. With ScotiaGold, the 50,000 points is 500$ (last time I used it anyways). Looks like the same applies to the Capital One but you get 2 points per dollar.

  22. 22. Play the odds

    100 points for $1 of credit seems quite expensive – no?

    That means that it would cost you $30,000 of spending for a domestic flight while something like Aeroplan would cost you only $24,000 worth of spending. I suppose though an advantage over an Aeroplan like program is that trips to Europe would offer greater value for your points – as those tickets cost 60,000 with Aeroplan while you can purchase such tickets for nearly the same price as a Canadian domestic flight.

    I’ve got the MBNA Platinum Plus Travel Rewards. $1 per point with a similar point system to Aeroplan. No blackouts. 2500 points on your anniversary. The fee is normally $89/year, but they waived it for me since I’ve been with them for nearly a decade.

  23. 23. Elbyron

    I haven’t been able to find out any details on the MBNA Travel Rewards card’s redeption system, but it seems like you can get close to 2% return. However, like the Avion card, you are restricted to using their travel agency to book your free travel. That means no hotwire or priceline, and so even if you get a $600 rebate from $30,000 of spending, perhaps that ticket could have been purchased for $500 elsewhere. Also, there is no travel medical insurance, no baggage insurance, and limited trip interruption insurance. No price protection either, but that’s a rare benefit: currently only available on Capital One and Citibank cards.
    Overall, there’s nothing about the MBNA Travel Rewards card that beats the Aspire card, even with the MBNA fee waived, since most people would argue that the medical insurance alone is worth the $120/year.

    Scotia’s card are hardly even worth comparing. Though it has good insurance coverage (almost as good as Aspire), it only earns 1% return and their travel agency is too expensive.

  24. 24. Pete

    Does anybody know if they charge extra for a second card?

  25. @ Pete, there is no charge for supplementary cards.

  26. 26. Rico

    From what I understand, the best two options for a travel reward card are the Aspire World MasterCard from Capital One and the TD First Class MasterCard.

    Any thoughts on which has better value?
    Thanks

  27. 27. Elbyron

    I thought it was pretty clear in the section “How Does Aspire Compare to Other Travel Cards?” that the TD First Class Infinite Visa was a close competitor, but as it only offers 1.5% on most purchases, it gets trumped by Aspire. The only way Infinite beats Aspire is when more than 16.7% of your credit card spending is for travel booked through the TD travel agency. And since TD doesn’t give you points on your free travel (believe it or not, Capital One does), you actually have to have more than 18.7% of your annual expenditures to be for travel, in order to beat Aspire.

  28. Elbyron, you certainly know a lot about this card! Have you received yours yet?

  29. 29. Elbyron

    Most of what I know comes from having the Miles Plus Platinum card, plus a fair bit of research. I haven’t applied for the Aspire card yet, because they currently cannot upgrade my existing one. They told me I can still apply for the Aspire, but I would not get any credit for the annual fees that I have already paid on my current card. So, rather than paying fees on two cards, I’ll wait until my current card is up for renewal before I apply. Or, maybe they’ll fix their system and get the upgrades working before then! I am a bit worried that by going with an upgrade I won’t get the 35,000 bonus miles, and that once an upgrade process is in place I won’t be able to apply as a new customer anymore to get that bonus!

  30. 30. sourbh_b

    I have an Amex SPG card (free for the first year), an MBNA Travel Rewards Elite (from my previous MBNA SPG MC), and an RBC Visa Gold No Fee card. How does the MBNA and Amex compare to the Aspire?

  31. 31. Elbyron

    I gave a comparison of the MBNA Travel card in comment #24 above. Basically it lacks insurance coverages and forces you to use their travel agency.

    The SPG card cannot be compared directly because its points are usually converted to Aeroplan or other airline miles, and redeemed for flights based on distance, not cost. If you usually fly out of a small town or from the East coast, or if you fly during peak times then the costs can climb very high while the # of Aeroplan miles remains the same. First class flights usually have high value for the miles too. So if you are among the minority who can benefit from using airline miles (and are willing to put up with the hassles of such programs), then the SPG card is better for you than Aspire. It also has the nice bonus of a free weeknight stay at any Starwood hotel once you reach 40k spending, and you can get good value for your points by redeeming for Starwood hotel upgrades.

    I think most people fly economy and can get pretty good deals on their flights and hotels, especially if you use priceline. For these people, the Aeroplan miles don’t have as much value and thus the return from the SPG card would be less than 2%. And I personally don’t care much about the Starwood benefits, as I’ve never stayed at one (even though I’ve travelled to the U.S. many times) and I probably never will.

  32. 32. Steve

    A quick question about the tiers: I chatted online with a C1 rep (“Stan”) and asked him how many points a flight at $250 would be – would it require 35 000 pts? His reply: No, it would require 25 000, with the other 10 000 being credited back to my account. Have I misunderstood something here? It seems to contradict what was said above.
    Thanks,
    Steve

  33. 33. Elbyron

    Steve, that definitely contradicts the redemtion tier system that is clearly outlined on their website. I seriously doubt that you would get 10,000 credited back. My experience with the reps who handle “new sales” leads me to believe that they have not been very well informed about the products they are selling. Not once have they been able to answer one of my questions without putting me on hold and consulting with a supervisor or some kind of documentation. Fortunately, the customer service (for existing cardholders) is much better.

  34. 34. Steve

    Yes, I called this morning and the person I spoke to confirmed that the tiers are in effect. But while I’m at it, here are two other questions: (1) I will usually be buying several flights (usually 4) at a time, so the total cost will almost always be over $600 (the top tier). Does this mean that, in effect, I will never have to bother with that tier structure? And (2), do you know how competitive the TD travel agency is? 9x for points seems to be a pretty good deal (except, there is the pesky issue of the annual fee – see below). Here’s how I have worked it out as far as a quick comparison of the TD and Cap 1 cards go assuming annual spending of $30 000:

    Capital One

    • $1 spent = 2 points
    • Putting $30 000 on the card gets you 60 000 pts = $600 for travel (not including sign up bonus in first year, or the $20 fee in subsequent years, which makes it $580)

    TD First Class Travel Infinite Visa

    • $1 spent = 3 pts
    • 20 000 pts = $100 for travel
    • Putting $30 000 on the card gets you 90 000 pts = $450 for travel. But, if you buy your tickets with the TD travel agency (not required), you get 9 pts for every $1 spent. So, if you spend $4000 on travel out of the $30 000, that comes to 126 000 pts in total = $630 for travel (so, at first slightly better than Cap One, except that there is the $120 annual fee, which knocks it down to $510)

    Does this look about right to you?

    Thanks again.

  35. 35. LSO

    @steve – this is Laurel from Capital One. First, I want to apologize for the misinformation that you received from our call centre. I can confirm for you that you would need all 35,000 reward miles to redeem a ticket costing $250.

  36. 36. rookie

    Elbyron,

    good review. you have mentioned that the renewal bonus of 10000 points can be used up as 100$ towards annual fee. but 10000 points can be redeemed as only 75$. is annual fee treated different compared to cash back? how sure are you about this?

  37. 37. Elbyron

    I personally haven’t used the TD Travel Agency, but I’ve heard from others who have said that they can offer you any flight that you are able to find on Expedia or Kayak or an airline’s website. So they’re pretty flexible and can probably get you good value most of the time. You can’t use priceline via TD though, and it could potentially save you a fair bit on hotels (not so much for flights).

    I like your example, it makes the differences very obvious. The way the math works out, you have to spend over 23.4% of your total credit card expenses on travel with TD’s agency in order for it to beat the return of the Aspire card (with annual fees factored in). Actually, you need to have 25% of your expenses as travel when you include the free travel (the higher % is because you don’t get points on the free portion). Let’s say I spend $4000 each year on a vacation via TD and $26,000 on other stuff. After the first year I would have 126,000 points which I can use to reduce the price of the vacation to $3370. But now I only earn 3370*9 + 26000*3 = 108330 points, giving me only a $542 credit the next year (less $120 for the annual fee makes it only $422).

    With Capital One, you get points when you buy the travel, and you redeem for a credit later on. Unlike TD, you get to earn points on the free travel (the redemption amount). In the example above, I would get a $700 travel credit (counting the 10K annual bonus), for a net of $580, every single year!

    True, the redemption tiers do add some restrictions, but so does having to book everything through the TD travel agency. Everyone can have their own opinion on which is worse, but you can’t dispute the math: Aspire pays back more dough unless you spend more than a quarter of your annual expenses on travelling!

  38. 38. Elbyron

    Rookie, this is not a cash-back card. It does have the convenient benefit of giving you a 1.5% return in cash if you should want that, but really this is a travel card and most people are going to use it to redeem for travel. Those interested in cashback should look at Capital One’s other cards (you can get a “up to 2%” card whose earning tiers are better than most competing cards).

    Of course, 10000 miles by themselves isn’t enough to redeem on travel, but consider the example in my comment above. Spending $30,000 plus the bonus gets you a total of 70,000 points, worth $700. Minus the $120 fee, you have a net gain of $580. The formula is 2% – $20 no matter what your annual spending is. The only caveat is that the points are only worth 2% if you travel enough, and can work around the redemption tiers.

  39. 39. Steve

    A quick addendum: I got interested in all this because my CIBC visa aventura is up, and I am a little put off by the $170 annual fee (for two cards). Aventura also has a tiered redemption schema, but not annual bonus to offset the annual fee. Also, pts are accumulated on a 1 to 1 basis (except on groceries and gas, I believe). Suffice to say, it turns out it pretty much blows….

  40. Oops, I asked the question on RFD and it was here the whole time. My concern was that if I booked a really expensive trip, say a $2k cruise, and only had 100k points, would I be able to use the points?

    The answer is in the online redemption system where they’ll allow you to split the cost of travel up into “tickets”. So in this case, I can split the trip into “2 tickets”, thus allowing me to claim my full 100k points in exchange for 1 of the tickets.

    The more I look at this program, the more I like it!

    Thanks again Elbyron!

  41. 41. Dom

    Any worry that they will just cancel the annual bonus at some point in the future?

  42. Dom, since they created the program, they can always change it. However, if big changes are made, typically existing card users are grandfathered, meaning they retain all the benefits they signed up for, but new users would get the new rules.

  43. 43. Scott

    Have a membership at Costco? Try this combo:

    Aspire (1.5 cash back on all, or 2% on travel) + Smart Cash (3% cash towards groceries and gas) + Costco TrueEarnings American Express (3% cash for eligible restaraunts)

    Oh yeah there is nothing like going all out to save small amounts of cash. Haha.

    Cheers.

  44. 44. susandee

    What would be the best rewards card if you wanted to save up for a first class trip to europe or australia? It doesn’t seem that the TD first class or Capital One Aspire are the best for that…? thanks

  45. @ susan, if you want to travel first class, I think Aeroplan will give you the best bang for your buck.

  46. 46. susandee

    Thanks…so would CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite be the best choice? The Amex has a 499. annual fee… I am just around a couple of thousand a month shopper on my card…sometimes more, sometimes less, but will be putting more on it for sure.. Again, thanks so much for your input

  47. @susandee, I believe AMEX has a lower cost version as well (~$120 annual fee). Another option would be going with the AMEX spg card which can transfer 20k spg points for 25k aeroplan points. Personally though, I have the AMEX spg free for the first year, and there are a lot of retailers that do not accept AMEX. If I wanted to be dedicted to aeroplan, then Visa is probably a better bet.

  48. 48. Elbyron

    Though the Amex (either AeroplanPlus or SPG) has a potentially higher earning rate, it is much harder to accumulate large enough amounts of spending due to its limited acceptance. I agree that Visa Infinite is the best choice for Susan, because of her desire to redeem for first class travel. She could easily get 4% or better return.
    But Susan, please be aware that a round-trip flight to most parts of Europe requires 85,000 miles. If 10% of your charges are for gas, groceries, and drug stores, then you would need to spend $81000 to earn this much… about 2 – 3 years of saving up your Aeroplan miles based on your current spending.

  49. 49. susandee

    ok, so when one redeems through TD Infinite can you book first class? If so, then it sounds like the advice is to go with them. I agree that Amex is risky, given that not all merchants accept it, so I will rule Amex out. How is it to book through the TD Centre? Also, I currently bank with BMO and have accounts with RBC Dominion Securities… My plan is to save for a long time and take a nice trip overseas, so a couple of years of savings or more, is ok with me :) appreciate the advice…as it’s a tough decision to make.

  50. @susan, you can redeem for first class with TD and the Capital one card. The difference is your return on spending where you would get 1.5% or 2% respectively. With an aeroplan card, you’d get around 4%-8% return (from my experience) by using first class.

  51. 51. susandee

    So would CIBC aerogold be the best? How about Avion…. again, keeping in mind that I want to book a first class trip and am willing to wait.. i am also open to td infinite and capital one aspire…. decisions, decisions..

  52. 52. Elbyron

    Yes, I believe CIBC Aerogold (or Aerogold Infinite if you qualify) is your best bet. Avion has maximum prices on the tickets you can redeem for, so it’s no good for first class travel. And as FT said, TD and Cap1 won’t give you as high of a return as the CIBC Aerogold card will, when redeeming for first class travel.

  53. 53. susandee

    Well, I now have an Aerogold Infinite with CIBC on its way….but should I have gotten the Adventura Infinite? Again, looking for first class travel, when I can save up for it…. IT seems that Adventura points transfer into Aeroplan points, but not vice versa…. sigh…. thanks

  54. 54. Elbyron

    I’m pretty sure Aventura doesn’t have the 1.5 points for gas & groceries, so in terms of earning your first class travel sooner, you got the right card.

  55. 55. susandee

    It actually does give the 1.5 for gas/groceries and it transfers 1 point adventura to 1 point aeroplan…the only catch seems that points can only be transferred in 10,000 increments… not so bad? I wonder if I should call them and switch it? Not clear on the difference between adventura and aeroplan…?

  56. 56. Jerry Hung

    Just have both TD and Aspire cards, easy, I do

    I don’t pay TD annual fees due to Select Service, so that makes it easier. I do have to pay the Aspire annual fee though

    Use TD via TD Travel centres only (for 4.5% return)
    Use Aspire for everything else

    Shoot, now what do I do with my other cards.. AMEX 2%, TD Gold Elite, MBNA 0% BT (never used for non-BT anyway)…. ha ha

  57. 57. susandee

    hi again, any advice/info on aventura vs aerogold infinite cards? thanks
    suse

  58. 58. Elbyron

    Well, if they both have the 1.5 gas & groceries, then the differences are pretty minor. The advantage to the Aventura is that you have more flexibility in redeeming your points, but you probably wouldn’t want to use them because the best redeption value for you is to buy first class tickets with Aeroplan miles. The other slight advantage is that Aventura points don’t expire, whereas if you’re buliding up under AeroGold they will vanish 7 years from the date they are added. But if you plan to redeem every 3 – 4 years, it won’t matter. As you’ve pointed out, the disadvantage to Aventura is that you have to transfer to AP in 10,000K increments, and it may take a few days for the transfer to complete.
    So, by taking Aventura you can get some minor benefits that probably won’t apply to you, but have to put up with the hassles of transferring the points. I have no opinion one way or the other… you’ll have to decide this for yourself.

  59. 59. susandee

    THanks Elbyron, I think I will stick with the Aerogold as I have that specific goal, but I so appreciate your input. I had no idea a site like this existed.

    I wasn’t able to find the redemption schedule for Aventura and that’s exactly what I was wondering….Aerogold will do, I’ve decided and am done…perhaps a chick thing to want to know it all :) Thanks again

  60. 60. Joe

    Does the Aspire card redemption points have to cover the full cost of the ticket? So for example, if I had a $400 ticket, could I apply only 35,000 points (or $350) towards that purchase, leaving $50 unpaid? Is that a possibility?

    As a caveat to that, if I had 60,000 points, could I only apply 35,000 towards the $400 ticket? Leaving be 25,000 points for the future. Would that be allowed given the tier structure?

  61. 61. Elbyron

    As I mentioned in the article, you can redeem for a portion of the ticket price in two ways:
    1) split the ticket into fractions with a denominator of 10 or less. So if you chose a fraction of 7/8, this would reduce the $400 to $350 exactly. It takes a bit of math to determine the optimal fraction to use, but with 32 unique ratios you should be able to get close.

    2) When buying the ticket, split the charge into two amounts (most airlines and all travel agents will let you use multiple credit cards, just use the Aspire twice with two separate amounts). So you could have one charge of $350 and another of $50. Then you would only use 35,000 of your points on the first charge, and save the rest of the points (if any) for the future.

  62. 62. Kenny

    Has anyone confirmed this with Master Card or Capital One? Thanks.

    Excert from the artical.

    “…The policies for the various trip insurances state that in order for the trip to qualify, the “full cost of the common carrier travel must be charged to your Capital One card”. But as long as both charges are put on your card, you should technically meet this requirement. However, I am currently trying to get confirmation from MasterCard about this…”

  63. 63. LSO

    This is Laurel from Capital One. If all of the charges are put on your card, you should meet the requirements.

  64. 64. Elbyron

    Hi Laurel, is that just your opinion, or do you have an official source to back that up? Like a letter from the insurance company backing the policy, or a guarantee from someone at Capital One who has the power to decide what meets the requirements or not?

  65. 65. LSO

    Hi Elbyron,
    I speak on behalf of Capital One, but the insurance policy is managed by another company To assuage any additional concerns, I did speak to that insurance company, and they have provided the following information:

    For the Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance benefits, you are required to charge the full cost of the eligible trip to the Capital One MasterCard. If these charges are made over one or two instalments, that is not a problem. Please keep records such as MasterCard statements and travel itineraries confirming that the full cost of the eligible expenses were charged to the Capital One MasterCard.”

    Does that help?

  66. 66. Elbyron

    Thanks Laurel! This gives a definite answer to the concerns about splitting charges.

    FT, could you change the last sentence of the 4th paragraph of the Redemption section to something like “This has been confirmed with the insurance company providing these coverages”.

    Thanks.

  67. Article has been updated!

  68. 68. Rob

    It says that you can also redeem for merchandise and gift certificates. Where does it say what choice of merchandise and gift certificate you can get. I do not see a catalogue

  69. 69. Elbyron

    Rob,
    To redeem your miles, logon to your account at capitalone.com and click the “Rewards Summary” menu. Then click the green “Explore Rewards” button to visit the redemption site. From there, you can find the merchandise section under the “Redeem” menu. Currently the catalogue has only 107 items, mostly electronics and small appliances. The gift cards include 8 restaurants, 28 retail stores, and some travel vouchers.

    Unfortunately, you would be a fool to redeem for any of the merchandise or the gift cards. The cost of most of them is 150 miles or more per dollar of value, and since you earn 2 miles per dollar you spend, you’re getting $1 for each $75, or 1.3% return. Since this card offers you cashback at a rate of 1.5%, it seems absolutely absurd to consider redeeming for a blender or a Home Depot gift card when you can get more cash for the same number of miles!

  70. 70. Naynesh Patel

    Is there restrictions to ‘redeemable points’? Here is the scenario:
    Dec1: Have 20,000 points
    Dec2: travel eligible expense of $300
    Dec3- Feb28: have another 10000 points
    Mar.1: (ie. with 90 days), can I redeem 30,000 points?…or am I restricted to redeeming 20,000 points accumulated just prior to eligible expense on Dec. 2?

    Naynesh

  71. 71. Elbyron

    Naynesh, I am fairly certain you can use the points that you accumulate in the 90-day period following an eligible expense. I have done something similar, where I split my vacation package into two charges and made one of them $850 even though I only had about 80,000 points at the time. I had calculated that I would easily earn the remaining 5000 needed within the next 3 months.

    Note that due to the tiered redemption system, a travel expense of $300 would actually require 35,000 points. If you were to earn 15000 before March 2nd, you would then be able to get the $300 credited back.
    Your return on this redemption would be 1.71%. You could get 2% if you were to wait until you’ve got over 60,000 points and have a $600+ travel expense.

  72. 72. Ann Kuo

    Hi, I am Ann who emailed you minutes ago. I only have like 50340 miles and am going to purchase a 1025 air ticket. The online customer person told me that even i split my payments to three: 150, 350, 750. If those payments is in one receipt, it won’t work for reward mile which mean they have to be three separate bills.

  73. 73. Ann Kuo

    My first question didn’t get posted, so I will write it again..

    How can I split the cost of travel up into “tickets”? Where is this function? I asked the online chat customer person and he told me there is no such function and the screensot is not from Capital One. Please help me.

  74. 74. Elbyron

    Hi Ann,
    Please don’t believe the online chat representatives. They are not trained very well about the rewards redemption programs, and will either make a guess at how something works, or will have you call the rewards center. Read this forum posting for a great example of how those agents are misinformed about reward redemption: http://forums.redflagdeals.com/capital-one-aspire-world-mastercard-new-challenger-crown-best-travel-cc-897409/23/#post11972363

    The screenshot is from Capital One, but they’ve since changed the redemption website a little so it doesn’t look the same, and doesn’t quite work the same either. There were two main changes to the way it works that took effect as of mid-August 2010:
    1) now only airline tickets are eligible for the ticket splitting feature. You will not see any option for hotel & other travel charges, but it should give you some way to split it up after you select an airline ticket charge. The instructions on the page say: “If redeeming for airline tickets, select the number of tickets you purchased and how many you want to redeem for”. So this feature is definitely still available.

    2) The calculation for splitting used to be “Divide the charge by the number of tickets in the transaction, multiply by the number of tickets being redeemed, and then find the next highest tier to get the miles required”. Now the calculation is “Divide the charge by the number of tickets in the transaction, find the next highest tier to get the miles required, and then multiply this by the number of tickets being redeemed”. Basically what this means is that there are only 9 different amounts the charge can be split into, while it used to have 31 different amounts. So you’re likely to lose more on rounding up to the nearest tier.

    My advice would be to see if you can get the airline company or travel agent to break up the $1025 into two charges, $450 and $575 (tell them you want to use two credit cards, but give them the same card for both). These will show up separately on your rewards redemption screen. Pick the $450 charge and split it into 3 tickets, and redeem for all 3 of them. This gives you three $150 amounts for 15,000 points each, for a total of $450 credit for 45,000 points.
    Another option is to break the $1025 into $600 and $425, and redeem for the $600 charge when you’ve accumulated 60,000 points. Since you’re going on vacation, it probably won’t take long to get that many… the flight alone will get you another 2050 points. You have 90 days to save up enough.

    If you cannot break up the $1025, you can still use the ticket splitting feature but some points will be wasted. Dividing it into 3 tickets and redeeming for 1 will give you a credit of $342 in exchange for 35,000 points (a 1.95% return).

  75. 75. Audree

    Just when I got all excite about this card, I read it’s not for Quebecers! Sucks!

  76. 76. Ryan

    I currently use the CUETS Platinum Rewards Mastercard, but have applied for the Aspire card. They are very similar to each other, but the $150 annual fee for the card I currently have plus the $40 fee for the additional card my wife has is a hard pill to swallow every year. The biggest reason I’m switching is because of the net $20 annual fee. I now only need to spend $1000 annually to recoup the cost of my annual dues instead of the $9500 I had to on the previous card. The additional $170 toward travel each year, plus the 35,000 bonus points on my first purchase will go a long way toward paying for my next trip!

  77. 77. Elbyron

    I’ve done a lot of research on credit cards, so I’m surprised that I’ve never heard of CUETS (a division of MBNA). Their platinum card is indeed very similar to the Aspire card, but in addition to the higher fees there are also a few other differences. As far as I can tell, the CUETS card requires that you redeem your points through their “exclusive” travel agency, so you may not have access to all flights and promotions (and certainly can’t use PriceLine). They also have a earning cap of 400,000 points per year, but that’s pretty hard to reach for most people. The benefits are very similar as well, but CUETS offers a 31-day medical coverage for up to age 75. That beats Aspire’s 22-day coverage, and is especially good for those who are 65 – 75 and would only get 8 days coverage on Aspire. And that’s the age when you’re most likely to need it!

    So, it’s a bit of a trade-off. With CUETS you don’t have to deal with redemption tiers, but are restricted to their travel agency. They charge $130 more per year (and $40 for extra card), but that may be worth paying if you frequently travel for periods longer than 22 days, or if you’re between 65 – 75.

  78. 78. Ray

    whats the minimum monthly payment? I can’t seem to find it.

  79. 79. Elbyron

    Ray, your question implies that you would not be making full payments. This is not a good card for carrying a balance, because of the 19.8% interest rate (subject to change). You might want to instead consider the Capital One SmartLine card, which has a guaranteed 5.99% rate for 3 years. I don’t know if it’s the absolute best low-rate card out there, as I haven’t researched these very much, but it seems pretty good from what I’ve heard.

    But to answer your question, my minimum payments shown on my statements are always 3% of the total balance.

  80. @ElByron, I think Capital One should hire you as a consultant!

  81. 81. Tyler

    Is it possible to redeem points to pay for a percentage of a travel expense?

    i.e. If I have saved 65,000 points, which can be redeemed for a $650 expense, can I apply that $650 against a trip purchase of $1000, and just pay the remaining $350 on the credit card bill? Or does the full purchase price of the transaction need to be credited with points (i.e require 100,000 points to pay for the full $1000 travel expense)?

  82. 82. Jerry Hung

    @Tyler
    Aspire only redeems at each block level, so answer is NO to your question.
    so what you can only do is to split the expense in their online banking and multiply it to get the best return possible. I still don’t understand why they make it this difficult..

    If you hold TD First Class Travel, then yes, you redeem your points for whatever amount you like and pay the rest on CC

  83. 83. Elbyron

    @Tyler
    The answer to your first question is YES, but the percentage has to be a ratio with a denominator lower than 10 (because you can split the charge into up to 10 tickets). Jerry said no because in your example, it would not be possible to redeem $650 of $1000 since there is no ratio that would work for that. But if you have 65,000 points and the travel expense is $1300, then you can simply use 1/2 ratio and get a $650 credit.
    Also, you generally don’t want to use the ticket splitting feature in a way that results in less than $600, because then the points required is rounded up to the nearest tier (as mentioned in the review above). For example, if you have 65,000 points and the charge is $1500, it is not good to split this into 1/3 as this would cost you 60,000 points for a credit of $500. This would only give you a 1.67% return, instead of the 2% that would be possible if you save up longer. However, this is still better than the 1.5% that TD Infinite or First Class Travel cards will get you! In fact, since you can always get 1.5% back in cash with the Aspire (no tiers), it’s almost always going to be better than TD – the only exception being if your travel costs comprise 20% of your total annual expenses and you book it all through TD’s travel agency… only then you could you get better than 2% return.

  84. 84. Joe

    I have the Capital One Aspire World card. I called about details on my Travel Emergency Medical coverage. The agent told me my card did not have that. I asked what card had it, and he told me none of the Aspire cards did.

    It’s clearly on thier website that the card has Emergency Medical coverage. But I can’t get a verbal confirmation of that, let alone figure out how I would make a claim should I need to. Has something changed with the card? Has anyone come across this issue?

    The Travel Emergency Medical is not to be confused with MasterAssist Travel Assistance or Travel Accident Insurance.

    Can anyone shed some light?

  85. 85. Elbyron

    Of course I like the benefits this card, but the one thing that’s really bad about it is that there are very few intelligent and knowledgeable people working in their call center. It’s usually a waste of time to try and inquire about any details of your various insurance coverages. But usually they at least know which coverages you’re supposed to have! This one agent is truly stupid… he could just go to the website, or any of his documentation, and see that Emergency Medical is included.

    Hopefully you kept the booklet of insurance coverages that came with your card. It has a section for Emergency Medical. It’s very tiny print, but if you read it all it will likely answer the question you wanted to ask the agent.

  86. 86. Ryan

    I’ve found that each month, when I make my full payment, my statement for the next month always says that Capital One will waive my minimum payment for the next month (though interest will keep accruing, of course). Is this typical for everyone else who has this card? Not that I’ll ever take them up on that, since I don’t ever want be charged 19.8% interest on ANYTHING that I buy, but it’s a good ploy to get uninformed people to carry a balance for a month and get dinged with some extra interest!

  87. 87. Elbyron

    My statement mentions that I can “take a payment holiday” and my account will not become delinquent if I don’t make a payment. They don’t make it sound very tempting, as they finish the paragraph with “it will take more time to pay down your current balance and your account balance will continue to accrue interest”.
    I see it as a good feature, in case I were ever to accidentally miss a payment then at least I wouldn’t be reported delinquent to the credit bureaus! I don’t really see it as a ploy to trick stupid people into not paying their balance off, because they pretty clearly state that you will pay the interest.

  88. 88. LSO

    @Elbyron This is Laurel from Capital One. I’m see you’ve recently had a bad experience with one of our call centre associates. I’m sorry we were unable to meet your needs and have shared your feedback with our customer service team.
    Here’s the link where you can find more information about our World MasterCard’s travel benefits: http://www.capitalone.ca/documents/ca/World_MasterCard_Benefits.pdf

    I hope that helps.

  89. 89. Cliff

    I travel to the US frequently and wanted to know if it made more sense to use the Aspire card or a US credit card like the BMO US Dollar MC? I’m trying to avoid the extra percentages tacked on for the currency exchange.

  90. 90. Elbyron

    The Aspire card, like the majority of credit cards, has a 2.5% currency exchange fee. When you purchase something in another currency on your card, the credit card company will create a multiplier from the current exchange rate as provided to them by Mastercard (usually a tad bit higher than most banks) and then increase that multiplier by 2.5%. The resulting number is shown in the description for that charge, and the charge amount shown is your original purchase amount multiplied by this number.
    So back to your question… since Aspire can give you a 2% return, it does help to offset some of that exchange fee, but you’re still losing a bit. In fact, no matter what you do, there’s going to be some cost to changing Canadian money into USD. If you use a US Dollar credit card (watch out for high annual fees), then you still need to pay off that card in USD. If you pay it from your CAD chequing account, your bank is going to charge you for the currency conversion, which will likely be a 2 – 2.5% fee.

  91. 91. Elbyron

    To answer the question “how do I get the best USD exchange rate for amounts under 10K”, I would suggest checking out the forums at Red Flag Deals, since there are a variety of methods and some work better for some people than for others. My Dad uses xe.com for his small foreign exchanges. If you can find a way to exchange cheaply enough, then the USD credit card might make sense – provided that your method of exchange lets you easily get the resulting funds to be applied to your credit card (a USD chequing account might be needed).

    If you can’t obtain USD funds cheaply and easily, then you’re probably better off just using a CAD credit card, and the Aspire is the best one for most people who travel!

  92. 92. Cliff

    @ Elbyron,
    Thanks for the details. I actually ran a few scenarios with similar RFD CC tools and the BMO US Dollar MC came up as the best solution. But wanted to compare with the Aspire 2% return.
    Your explanation was quite thorough and so I am still on track to use the BMO US MC.
    It has a $25 US fee, but refundable if you buy $1k a year
    For payments you need to pay in US funds as you say or lose out on the conversion at the bank. What I’d do is go to my local foreign exchange place in Ottawa (rate is 1.4% buy/sell range) and then go into the BMO (it’s right next door) and pay by cash. I don’t have a BMO account so I can’t pay online from my institute.
    btw – capital one world approved me as did the BMO US dollar MC so I’ll be cancelling a few cards in the upcoming weeks :)
    Cheers
    Cliff

  93. 93. Dawn

    Hello Elbyron

    You seem to be very knowledgable on this subject, I have enjoyed reading this…my questions is my husband & I want to get a new credit card, as we travel to Hawaii every other year, plus travel other places also. Apporoximately 1 air travel trip/year, and one driving trip a year. (2 Adults, 2 young children). We spend approx. 25,000/yr on credit, and could try to pump that up by adding bills, etc….to it. We do collect areoplan, air miles whenever possible, but currently have RBC rewads visa & PC Financial MC. And I feel we need to be collecting some sort of reward points/miles to more wisely benefit from them. I don’t mind paying an annual fee if it financially makes sense…can you help? I like having the extras like extra yr. warranty or auto rental insurance.

  94. 94. Elbyron

    @Dawn
    If you frequently fly first class, or fly out of a remote location, then you can get a lot of value out of Aeroplan points. The CIBC Aerogold Infinite might be the best choice in this case, although be aware that blackout periods and limited seat availability can make it hard to redeem for the vacation at the times you want. Also it would take you about 2 – 3 years to save up enough Aeroplan miles for 1 first class round-trip ticket (80K points for Hawaii).

    But I’m guessing that you fly economy and like to find the best deals when booking your flights – and probably don’t want to have any restrictions on when you can fly. So in that case, this Aspire Travel World card is your best option. The PCF card is getting you 1% return, which is not bad for a free card but you should replace it with Aspire. Also ditch the RBC rewards card, it is truly crappy with a return well under 0.5%. Once you and your husband have the Aspire card and start getting 2% of your spending back as travel credit, you’ll have a free flight in no time.

    The annual fee may be $120, but with $100 worth of annual bonus points it doesn’t cost you much in the long run. It only takes a mere $1000 of spending to earn that $20 difference, so it definitely makes financial sense for you.

  95. 95. Andrew

    Laurel, thanks for your helpful information. Could you tell us where your call centre(s) are located?

  96. 96. Mansbridge

    How does the Capital One Aspire World MasterCard compare to the American Express Gold Rewards Card?

    for someone who flies a) business class b) economy

    Thanks

  97. 97. Elbyron

    Well, the rewards for the Amex Gold card is structured very similar to the Aspire card, with the same 100-1 point to dollar ratio, and you can redeem against any travel charged to the card. But the big difference is the amount of points. Where Amex gives you 1 point per dollar and 2 points on gas, groceries, drugstores, and travel, the Aspire card just gives you 2 points for everything.
    The annual fee on the Amex is $150, though they waive it for the first year. Aspire is $120, and gives you $100 worth of points as a renewal bonus. The insurances are similar but Amex only gives you 15 days of travel medical, vs 22 for Aspire, max 1 year of extended warranty instead of 2, and has no price protection.
    But possibly the worst thing about the Amex Gold card is that it’s Amex. You can use it everywhere that major credit cards are accepted, except the ones that only accept Visa and Mastercard. Lol. How can you ever accumulate enough points to justify the huge annual fee when you can only use it at half the places you shop?

  98. 98. Gerard

    My RBC Avion Card is up for renewal in January. If I do not renew and switch to Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard willl the points I earned still be good to use later?
    Can you transfer the points to Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard?

  99. 99. Elbyron

    @Gerard
    If you cancel your Avion card, you will have 90 days from the cancellation date to redeem the points. You cannot transfer the points to Aspire, as they are not even close to the same point system, and are two different competing banks. However, if you want to preserve your points, you could call RBC and ask to switch your Avion for a no-fee RBC Gold Rewards card. Your Avion points would then get transferred to the new card as RBC Rewards points, which are less valuable, but at least you wont lose them.

    If you’ve saved up a lot of points, and you’re not planning any travel in the next 4 months, it might be best to keep the Avion card until you have a good opportunity to use them up, then switch immediately to Aspire. It really all depends on a variety of factors:
    How many Avion points do you have right now?
    Do you have any plans to fly somewhere between now and 90 days from your renewal date? If so, please indicate where you plan to fly from & to.
    How much do you spend on your credit card per year?

    If you answer these questions, I can give you a cost-benefit analysis to help you make your decision.

  100. 100. Gerard

    Elbyron,

    Thanks for your speedy reply.

    I opened the account around Jan. 7th 2011. So my renewal will be around Jan. 7th. 2012.
    I have 64,000 points.
    I was planning to continue collecting points for another couple of years before using.
    I am planning on booking a trip from Halifax to Cancun, Me. in the next couple of weeks. I would be traveling April 7 to April 14th. 2012. The best deal I have found is with Hotwire or Bookit.

    Should I or could I use the points I have on this trip and pay the extra with a new Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard? I know I have to go through their travel agents. Can they book through Hotwire for me?

    Thank you,
    Gerard

  101. 101. Elbyron

    Your Cancun trip could use up 45,000 Avion points, but of course as you mentioned you have to book through RBC’s agents (Capital One doesn’t make you do this). I don’t know about Hotwire, but presumably they could get you the direct Westjet flight for $767, of which the points would pay for $658 since they won’t cover taxes & fees. That gives you a return of about 1.5¢ per dollar spent, which is not bad for Avion. I believe they also let you use points at 100 / $1 to pay for the taxes and fees, so the remaining $109 could be paid for using 10900 points; a return of 1¢ per dollar. That leaves you with 8100 points. If you’re buying a second ticket, maybe they will let you use them up at the 100/$1 rate. If not, you could just use them as RBC Rewards and get a $50 gift card. Overall, using your 64000 points this way would get you $817 (1.28% return).

    If you were to fly to Europe instead, you could use 65,000 points for an approximate redemption of $900. But since you would have to hold on to the Avion card until you buy that trip, you would be continuing to collect more points, creating a bit of a cycle that’s hard to break. If you’re tired of just getting 1 – 1.5% return and paying $120/year for it, you should probably use up the points for Cancun, and switch to the Capital One Aspire card. Then your future rewards will be 2% and you can book through Hotwire or anyplace you like!

  102. 102. shaheem

    How does Capital One Aspire Travel World card compare to MBNA Alaska Air Platinum card?

  103. 103. Ryan

    Just booked a trip to Mexico through itravel2000. I only had enough points to cover one person, not both of us, so I had the travel agent put it through as 2 transactions on the same card, each for $1085. The charge showed up in my online banking 2 days afterwards, and I put in the claim that day for travel redemption. 2 days after that my account had been credited the $1085. Nice and easy! I love this card.

  104. 104. Elbyron

    @shaheem
    While Alaska Air Platinum might be better than Aeroplan (mainly due to the $99 companion ticket feature), it is still subject to all the limitations of a airline mileage club. The biggest drawback to that type of card is having a very limited selection of seats – or else pay even more points to get better selection. And while Alaska Air is partnered with AA, BA, Delta and Cathay, you cannot use the points with Air Canada or Westjet, meaning no flights between Canadian cities.
    In terms of rewards, mileage club cards like this do have the potential to produce better than 2% return. For example, flying Edmonton to Miami on Mar 24 – Apr 1, 2012 could cost as much as $700 plus taxes and fees, but only requires 25,000 miles (plus taxes & fees). If you also use your once-per-year option of getting a companion ticket for $99, then after subtracting $25/ticket for booking with a partner airline, your total savings is $1251. For $25,000 spending, this works out to a return of 5%! But this is a rather extreme example, where I chose one of the most expensive destinations that a continental US flight can go, and chose dates that are more costly.
    In terms of benefits, the Aspire World card has travel emergency and luggage insurances that are not available on the Alaska Air card, which doesn’t come in a “World” level.
    In summary, if you’re willing to put up with the limited availability of mileage clubs, the AA Platinum card can likely earn you better than Aspire’s 2% return if you take advantage of the $99 companion ticket feature each year.
    I think Ryan just gave us a good example of why Aspire is such a great card: he booked through itravel2000, got the dates he wanted, got help from a travel agent, and had no trouble claiming his reward. If he tried to fly to Mexico using AA points, he would have had a lot more trouble, and might have needed flexibility in his travel dates. However, he might have saved a lot by getting the companion ticket for $99. It is difficult to put a price on convenience, so each person needs to make their own choice.

  105. 105. Mansbridge

    elbyron, you’re awesome.

  106. 106. Dawn

    Elbyron:
    I want to thank-you for your reply…..I never saw it until today! I thought this site would email me when you replied….and I never received an email, & forgot this websites’ name….so I just found it again…..duh….I appreciate your help…we do not (unfortunately) travel 1st class:( Anyhow, we are re-reading your site to choose between CIBC Areoplan Visa Gold Infinite and Capital One Aspire Travel world…leaning towards Capital One. we travel out of Toronto Pearson or Buffalo (which ever is cheaper). Since we travel to Hawaii, our Areoplan cards earn over 9,000 miles just for that trip (when on Air Canada flights), so we are trying to weigh that in too. (if even to factor that into it)….thanks for this website, truly helpful!!!!

  107. 107. FrugalTrader

    @Dawn, you can subscribe to this comment thread below which will send you updates when new comments are made here.

  108. 108. Elbyron

    @Dawn
    I’ve run some numbers for you, using a couple of key assumptions: that your annual spending is about $30,000, and that about $6000 of that is for gas & groceries. Thus with the Aerogold Infinite you would earn 33000 aeroplan miles per year.
    Currently, aeroplan requires a minimum of 45000 miles for 1 round-trip ticket to Hawaii. Running a quick search on Kayak.com, a flight from Toronto to Hawaii costs about $827, but about $109 of that is taxes & fees, which aren’t covered by your 45000 miles redemption. So the value, to you, of those miles is $718, or 1.595 cents per mile. By earning 33000 miles on your card, you are, mathematically speaking, getting a reward of $526.53 each year, or 1.75% return. In practice however, you aren’t going to have exact multiples of 45000 when it comes time for your Hawaii trip, and there will always be some leftover points sitting around. And when booking flights using miles, certain days do not qualify for their “classic” system and require you spend nearly 3x the miles for “classicPlus” seats. So depending when you like to fly and how much flexibility you have, you might encounter some difficulties in using the points.
    In regards to the 9,000 miles you earn for flying to Hawaii, keep in mind that you don’t earn those when you redeem miles for a free flight! So by using an aeroplan credit card, you are actually reducing the number of miles you might otherwise accumulate.
    Now, the Aspire rewards hardly need repeating, but obviously getting a 2% return is better than 1.75%. And since you can book any flight you want, anytime, through any source, it makes things a lot easier for you. Each round-trip ticket to Hawaii is going to be over $600 (unless you get some amazing deal), so you need not worry about the tiering.
    I’ll skip discussing the benefits, but Aspire’s are better. And finally, the annual fee is an important consideration. Aerogold Infinite costs $120 per year and offers no annual bonus. Aspire also costs $120, but gives you back $100 worth of points each anniversary.
    Overall, counting rewards and annual fees, over the course of 10 years you would be $1750 richer by using Aspire World Travel, versus using Aerogold. But, if you were to always buy first class tickets, it could be an entirely different story!

  109. 109. Sve

    Great thread!

    Having read this and other reviews of the Aspire card it sound much better than my current BMO AirMiles Gold + BMO US cards (plus a BMO US account) except for the fact that a large part of my travel expenses are paid for through US agencies together with many trips and purchases in the US. I should also meet the qualification requirements. If we assume that 20-40% of annual credit card purchases are in US funds, will Aspire still deliver value considering the 2-2.5% fee for converting purchases to Canadian funds? As I find returns on AirMiles reducing every year even if cost of flights remain almost constant (and they are now introducing a 5 year limitation on using the points), another option would be to switch to another BMO premium card (or the Aspire for Canadian purchases?) and retain the use of the BMO US card for US payments?
    Recommendations/comments please!

  110. 110. riamo

    hi all,

    Just wanted some clarity on redeem rewards.

    I am planning on purchasing some airline tickets worth $1300 from westjet for our family.

    I currently have 60000 rewards. I understand that I can ask wesjet to charge me $600 and then $700 so I can redeem the 60000 rewards.

    But I also understand that I have 90 days to claim my rewards. So, if I anticipate in the next 90 days getting another 20000 rewards – have to make some big purchases. Can I go ahead and charge $800 and $500 so that in approximately 90 days when I hope to have another 20000 rewards I can claim 80000 rewards or is the rewards based on how many points you have on the date of purchase?

    Sorry if this has been asked already but could not find the post by searching.

    thanks!

  111. 111. Elbyron

    Sorry for the late response… for some reason I didn’t get an email when you commented. Maybe I need to re-subscribe.

    @Sve Unless you have some form of US dollar income (or are familiar with Norbert’s gambit maybe?), you’re going to have to convert CAD to USD at some point in the process, which always has a cost. It sounds like you’re currently doing this conversion with BMO, but is their rate any better than Mastercard’s? By using Aspire you’re paying a 2.5% fee, but getting back 2% of that in rewards. The BMO US card’s only reward is not having to pay the annual fee if you spend over $1000. So to determine which one provides the best value, you’ll have to see if Mastercard’s rate + the 0.5% difference is higher or lower than BMO’s rate.
    For Canadian purchases, you should probably lose the AirMiles Gold card and get something better. Maybe Aspire, maybe SmartCash; that depends on how much you spend annually on Canadian purchases and of that amount, how much is on gas & groceries.

  112. 112. Elbyron

    @riamo
    The amount you can redeem is based on how much you have in your account at the time of redemption, not at the time of purchase, so you can wait up to 90 days to collect more points to use. I have actually done the same myself, knowing that the trip would incur a lot of charges (including the very flight I intended to redeem upon) which would earn me more points. When choosing the split amount to be higher than what you can redeem for, just be sure that you’ll be able to earn enough points in the next 90 days, and leave a large margin of error, in case you don’t end up charging as much as planned.

  113. 113. Darin

    After reading the fine print of Laurel’s document of the travel insurance ( page 9 Benefits) , am I correct in saying that when it comes to trip medical coverage that my personal extended health and any other travel medical insurance I have will have to pay their maximum and then Cap One’s insurance provider will pay the remainder?
    Another question is say I have 70 000 points and purchase $2000 worth of flights.Do I still have to break the charge up into $700 and $1300 ?
    Elbyron, thanks for all your time you have given for this topic.

  114. 114. Elbyron

    @Darin
    You are correct about the insurance being secondary. They will only cover amounts that aren’t paid by a GHIP, any group or individual health plans, insurance policies or reimbursement programs. So if something has 50% coverage under your employer’s health plan, you can still submit the other half to Capital One (after first submitting to your spouse’s plan, if applicable).

    The only way you can redeem for a portion of a travel charge is to use the ticket splitting feature (which only works on airfare AFAIK). This lets you break it into as many as 9 equal pieces. So one way to handle the $2000 charge is to divide it into 3 pieces of $666, and redeem 66600 points. If the airline is willing to break up the charges, you could also just do as you said, and have them split it into $700 and $1300.

  115. 115. Ryan

    @ Elbyron

    When I booked an all-inclusive vacation in December I was given the option of splitting it when I went to redeem. Because the travel agency had already done the splitting for me I didn’t need to do it, but it was an option available to me.

  116. 116. Elbyron

    The last time I had a hotel charge, I was unable to split it even though it was available to redeem against, so it does seem like only certain transactions can be split. It’s good to know that it works on travel agency charges.

  117. 117. reg

    hi, elbyron
    i’ve had RBC’s infinite avion for many years now, two cards @ $170 per year. i’ve been able to find flights on my own and book through RBC with no problem, but there’s been at least one instance when flights dropped in price dramatically after i redeemed my points and i don’t like the steep fees. i believe i read in your article that the aspire card has a 60 day price protection plan up to $500/year?

    currently i earn approx 40,000 points per year with RBC ($1 per point). my annual expense for flights is approx. $3000. if the flights are cheap i’ll pay and save the points for more expensive fares. my current balance with RBC is 115,000 points. based on this can i expect to earn roughly 125,000 points on the aspire card after a year (40,000 x 2 + 35,000 sign up + 10,000 after the first year)?

    if so how would i work the point splitting to maximize my $3000 (roughly six airline tickets per year @ $500 each). thanks for your expertise.

  118. 118. Elbyron

    First, the price protection doesn’t cover flights or tickets of any kind – that would be too good to be true. It also excludes phones, computer-related things, vehicles, animals, food/perishables, and a few other things.

    Your math is correct, with your current spending you would earn 125K miles after the first year, and 90K at the end of each subsequent year. Now tickets at ~$500 each are not ideal, as they would still require 60K miles due to the redemption tiers. But if you buy them together in 1 charge, or occasionally buy tickets over $600, then you won’t have to worry much about splitting. Just redeem for your charge of $600+ every time you have enough points to do so. If it’s a really big charge, like all $3000 at once, then use the ticket-split feature to reduce that down to smaller chunks that are still over $600, and you’ll be able to maximize your benefit.

  119. 119. Conor

    Can you please explain how you can get up to 4% rewards with RBC avion??

    I’m trying to figure out which card to go with, the Capital One Aspire World or RBC Infinite Avion…

    Maybe its because I’m tired, but as best as I can tell the Capital One card gets you 2% for $20 per year… or $17500 spent on your card = 35000pts = $350 off travel

    The RBC infinite avion gets you 2.3% for $120 per year…
    or $15000 spent on your card = 15000pts = $350 off travel

    So to make back your $120/yr fee with RBC card you must spend $5217.39 on your card before you start to net points for the year… Where as with Capital One you only have to spend $1000 to offset the $20 fee…

    My wife and I mostly travel from Calgary to Toronto or Calgary to Halifax a couple of times per year during peak travel times (summer, christmas and march break) because she is a teacher. Every other year we like to take a vacation which may be to Hawaii or Caribbean, etc.
    It looks to me like the Capital One card has the best value, but I am intrigued by the comment in your blog stating if you fly to places that are more expensive or in peak times that an RBC Avion card may yeild up to 4% rewards or more. How is this possible?

    Thanks for your time and help. Your article is VERY helpful.

  120. 120. Elbyron

    First of all, let me apologize for including Avion with the other mileage club cards – due to their maximums, it is never possible to get better than a 2.3% return. And even getting that maximum can be difficult, as most short-haul flights (same or adjacent province/state) cost less than $350 before taxes. So if your flight from Calgary to Vancouver is $200 before tax, you are redeeming 15,000 points and only get back $200, which is only a 1.3% return. Same problem with long-haul: I doubt your flights to Halifax or Toronto ever cost more than $750 before taxes, except maybe on very specific departure and return dates.

    The 4% I referred to is generally obtained by collecting Aeroplan points, and then using them for business class seats to Europe or Asia. For example, flying business from Calgary to Berlin costs about $4900+tax, or requires 90,000 Aeroplan miles. Using the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite card with 10% of spending on gas, grocery, and drug stores, one would have to charge $85715 to earn those 90K points. So that works out to a reward of 5.7% without taking the annual fee into account.
    But most people fly economy, and the reward isn’t so high for that. Calgary to Jamaica over March break might cost $600+tax, or 40,000 Aeroplan miles obtained by spending $38096 on Aerogold with 10% gas/grocery/drug. So that works out to only 1.5% return. This flight using Avion would require 55,000 points which is only a 1% return.

    Given your travel plans, and assuming you typically fly economy, you will get a better return (and lower net annual fee) by going with Aspire.

  121. 121. Lynn

    Wow! This has been incredibly helpful. Thanks! Would you happen to know if a vacation at a Muskoka resort booked directly with the resort would qualify?

  122. 122. Elbyron

    @Lynn
    Anything that gets classified as a flight, hotel, car rental, vacation package, or travel agency will qualify for redeeming points. The classification is done by Mastercard based on the merchant code used by the merchant. I would expect a vacation resort would get classified as hotel, but if it doesn’t, you can simply phone Capital One and explain that it should be eligible, and they have the power to make it available for redemption (or so I’ve heard).

  123. 123. Larry

    Regarding eligibility: I am interested in know whether the two cards limit is still in place (as mentioned in this article.)

    Currently, I have 2 cards from Cap1. I wish to apply for the Aspire Travel World card. Will I be able to do that given that I already have 2 cards from them?

    Any info will be appreciated.

  124. 124. LSO

    @Larry – This is Laurel from Capital One. We do allow customers to have more than two products with us, but it really depends on the cards you currently hold and the card you’re applying for. Based on the information you’ve given, you wouldn’t be able to apply for Aspire Travel since you already have two cards, but you might be eligible to apply for our Delta SkyMiles MasterCard or Priority Club Rewards MasterCard.

    If you’ve decided that Aspire Travel is the right fit for you, you will have to cancel one of your current cards, wait 45 days, and then apply for Aspire. I’d suggest calling one of our customer service reps as they’d be able to advise you on the best option, based on your personal situation.

  125. 125. Larry

    @LSO – Thanks for the info. I have chatted with Cap1 and was told that I can most likely apply after 45 days for another CC since I currently only have 1 “reward” card, while the second one is not. The 2 card rule applies to “reward” card only so I was told. Is this the case?

    Also, I am wondering whether Cap 1 will offer same kind of promo like it did last year for the Aspire Travel World card in the near future?

    TIA

  126. 126. Elbyron

    Great news for Capital One users: they have now added a Pending Transactions section to the web interface! This lets you see purchases that haven’t posted yet, as well as pre-authorizations like you might get from gas stations.
    You can now also filter by spending category, and if you have multiple cards, you can set a filter to see only the charges on one of the cards. Finally, you can “expand” a transaction to see more details, such as Mastercard’s category name and the transaction date (normally it’s just the posted date shown).

    Thanks Capital One!

  127. 127. Tom

    “The policies for the various trip insurances state that in order for the trip to qualify, the “full cost of the common carrier travel must be charged to your Capital One card”. But as long as both charges are put on your card, you should technically meet this requirement. However, I am currently trying to get confirmation from MasterCard about this.”

    — Did you ever find an answer to this?

  128. 128. Elbyron

    Yes, I was able to confirm that the cost of the flight can be split into multiple transactions and still qualify for the insurance coverage. This is what a representative from the insurance agency told me on the phone, but I have not actually tested this out myself, since I’ve never had anything to claim.

  129. 129. Ryan

    I recently booked a flight for $284. Once the transaction had posted, I went into the ‘redeem rewards’ section and split it into 2 tickets, then redeemed 15,000 points for $142 of travel credit. The credit was posted to my account a few days ago, and today I went back into the rewards centre. The flight still appears there, so I spilt it into 2 tickets again and redeemed 15,000 for $142 again. I’ll let you know if it goes through or not, but if it does it would appear that you can redeem up to $300 in flights for 30,000 if done in separate transactions, rather than using the 35,000 points it would take if done in one single transaction.

  130. 130. Elbyron

    @Ryan
    When you split it into 2 tickets, you could have actually just set the “Number to be reimbursed” to 2 and I believe it would have calculated 30,000 points for a $284 redemption. It’s a neat trick, and thank you for pointing it out. Of course, if your flight instead cost $301 – $350 then this doesn’t work so well… you’d have to pay 70,000 points by splitting it, versus just 35,000 for not splitting it.
    Personally, I wouldn’t have settled for 1.89% return, since I travel often enough and accumulate points fast enough that I can usually redeem on a $600 – $800 flight each year, and get a full 2% return. Actually my flight was a bit too expensive this year for the points I have, but it turns out that a $674 charge for pre-booking some scuba diving is eligible for redemption!

  131. 131. Ryan

    Look at that…you are right and I feel like a bit of a fool! Well, at least it’s good to know for next time. In regard to settling for the 1.89% reward, this is one instance where we could really use the cash now rather than getting the extra $16 at some point in the future. I felt like getting that close to the 2% reward was worth it in this case.

  132. 132. Roger

    I’m wondering if I can exchange aspire world points for delta points and what is the exchange rate ?.
    On a related topic I have a America express delta skymile gold card(I have zero credit history in the states but apply and was approved got to love corporate incompetence hehe) and would like to know the best way to earn delta skymiles in Canada ( I know I can get 1.5 from Amex gold but with a high fee and pretty much just at gas stations).
    By the way I don’t have any really problem paying my us bills all you need is a Canadian bank account a PayPal account and a US account( bank of America or TD America’s trusted bank are good) transfer to PayPal then your US bank takes about two weeks

  133. 133. Elbyron

    @Roger
    The reward miles on the Aspire card cannot be exchanged for points on any other airlines. They are typically exchanged for an account credit, either at a rate of 1.5% any time you want, or up to 2% if you have a suitable travel charge to redeem against.
    In regards to Delta Skymiles, I agree that the Amex Gold is pretty expensive at $150/year, but it could be the best one depending on your spending patterns. You get 1.5 Skymiles per dollar on gas/grocery/drugstore but only .75 on the rest. Capital One also has some Skymiles Mastercards: a no-fee Gold version that gives you 0.5 point per dollar, or $120/year World version that gives you 1 point per dollar. Both of these offer double the points on Delta purchases. Thus to determine the best way to earn Skymiles in Canada, I would need to know a bit more about your spending:
    1) How much do you typically spend on gas, groceries, and drugstores on your credit card each year?
    2) How much do you typically spend on Delta flights each year?
    3) How much do you typically spend in total on your credit card each year?

  134. 134. Roger

    @Elbyron

    Thanks for the quick reply I currently have a smart master card and a Td first class( I’m no longer at Td so thinking of a new card)
    spend

    $300 on food
    $300-400 on gas
    I go on one trip a year with delta
    And spend $25000 total

  135. 135. Roger

    @Elbyron

    Thanks for the quick reply I currently have a smart master card and a Td first class( I’m no longer at Td so thinking of a new card)
    spend

    $300 on food each month
    $300-400 on gas each month
    $ 25 on pharmacy each month
    I go on one trip a year with delta( mostly domestic flight for the free companion ticket I go to Europe one or twice every five years )
    And spend $25000 total on all my credit cards each year

  136. 136. Elbyron

    @Roger
    I’m a bit confused about your spending. If those amounts are per year, then that’s not very much food (but I asked for just groceries, so I suppose if you eat out a lot then $300/year is possible). If those are per month, then the gas amount seems pretty high, but again is possible if you do a lot of driving. For now I’ll assume they are per year since that’s what I asked for. And I’ll assume $650 for grocery & gas combined.

    Amex Gold will earn you 19237 Skymiles and cost $150. Capital One Skymiles Gold will earn only 12500 but has no cost. The World version will earn you 25000 plus an annual bonus of 2500, with a cost of $120. So it’s clear that for you, the Cap1 World card easily beats the Amex card, especially once you consider all the benefits of the World card, and the fact that Mastercard has much better acceptance than Amex. But in order to evaluate the Cap1 Gold card, you have to assign a value to the points to see if it’s worth $120 for 15000 more points. In your situation, the value per point would have to be at least 0.8 cents. I’m going to discuss the point value of Skymiles (and whether or not you should even bother collecting them) in another post later today, as this one is getting long and I’ll need to do some research.

  137. 137. Elbyron

    Like all airline reward miles, the value of Delta Skymiles will vary depending on how and when you use them. Delta actually has different redemption costs depending on demand for a particular flight. From looking at a few samples, it appears most Monday – Thursday travel dates have at least some “Low” tier flight times for many U.S. destinations. But there are also some destinations where only “Medium” and “High” tiers are available regardless of what dates you choose. My system for determining value of the points was to lookup a selection of different destinations on the Delta rewards redemption site (to determine least # of miles required) and on Kayak.com to find the cheapest flight to the same place. Then I follow the booking link from Kayak to find out what the before-tax cost is (because Delta will charge you all taxes, so the points only pay for the base cost). Delta’s site tells you an amount of taxes/fees you might have to pay in addition to the miles, but it is way off and shouldn’t be trusted. I only compare cheapest price to cheapest points, which means it applies to those with lots of date flexibility and who are willing to travel mid-week. It also means you need to be willing to fly with whatever airline happens to be cheapest – obviously if you normally pay more for “nicer” airlines and you consider Delta to be among those, then you would assign Skymiles value based on the price of flights on “nicer” airlines.

    Here’s my findings (all based from Toronto), in the form of Destination/Base Cost/Skymiles (tier)/Value in cents:
    Hawaii / $817 / 65000 (Med) / 1.26
    New York / $235 / 25000 (Low) / 0.94
    Punta Cana / $473 / 50000 (Med) / 0.95
    Orlando / $293 / 25000 (Low) / 1.17
    L.A. / $573 / 25000 (Low) / 2.29
    Moscow / $880 / 60000 (?) / 1.47
    Paris / $456 / 75000 (Low) / 0.61

    Average value: 1.24

    Very few of the international flights had dates where you could get the Low tier, and most Moscow trips were actually 115K or 125K (none of the Moscow numbers seemed to follow the tiers on the chart though). Paris seems like poor value because of charter companies (Air Transat and Sunwing) selling their seats for less than the major airlines – and this may not apply to other source cities.

    So what does this mean to the credit card comparisons? Well, if we use the average value of 1.24 cents/mile, then the return on the Capital One Skymiles Gold card is 0.62%. The World card return is 1.24% with the $120 fee being offset by $31 worth of bonus miles (net cost $89). Now take a moment to go back to the top and read this article again. Aspire has a return of 2% with its $120 fee being offset by $100 worth of points! And, you’re not restricted to the flights offered by Delta’s reward system, you can redeem on any travel no matter who you book it with. Thus, for someone like me who flies economy on the cheapest flight I can find, the Delta Skymiles just aren’t worth collecting. But as I said before, some people may give them higher value because they like Delta better, or perhaps because they fly between Toronto and L.A. where the value is 2.29 cents per mile!

  138. 138. Rick

    Hey,
    Im considering this card. I currently have a petropoints mastercard from CIBC. 2 cents off per litre (doesnt really add up to much because I dont spend tons of money on gas really) and its 10 cents per point i believe. I only use the points for travel. Recently used 250 000 points for 250 doller return on a flight. Im not a moth whiz but sounds like a bad return. What I like is that there is no point tiere process. This is really the only thing that is holding me back. Sounds like a pain trying to split up transactions to actually get your 2%. I usually book online. Is this even an option? Can you suggest the easiest/best way and give me your advice on this siutation? Thanks

  139. 139. Elbyron

    I think what you mean about “10 cents per point” is that you earn a point for every 10 cents you spend, or 10 points per dollar. So for the $250 flight, you had to spend $25000. That alone is a 1% return, which isn’t great, but not bad either. After looking at the card more closely, I saw you get 15 points/dollar at grocery stores, drug stores, and petro can. And there’s also a 5000 point bonus each month you spend over $1K. So let’s say you spend $20K per year with $5K of that on groceries and $1K on gas, then you could earn a total of 290000 points worth $290. Add in the gas discount savings of $20 and your total reward on 20K spending is $310, which works out to a 1.55% return. Running these same numbers on the MBNA Smart Cash card (3% gas & groceries) you earn $320 so it’s fairly similar. For the Aspire Travel World card used to redeem against travel, you could earn $400, if you can get the full 2%. That really isn’t that hard for most frequent vacationers, as you’ll probably have charges exceeding $600, so the tiers don’t apply (all redemptions over $600 are always 100 points per dollar). You can book your travel online, over the phone, with a travel agent, it doesn’t matter. All travel expenses on your card are eligible for redemption regardless how you purchase them. But if you rarely have travel charges over $600, and don’t want to worry about the tiers, you can still redeem for cashback at 1.5% rate. It’s still worth paying the annual fee on the Aspire Travel for the awesome travel insurances (in my opinion). But if you don’t care about those, there’s also the MBNA Worldpoints card that I reviewed here: http://www.milliondollarjourney.com/mbna-worldpoints-mastercard-review.htm
    It offers a non-tiered 2% cash-back return with a $89 annual fee, but the insurance isn’t as good.

  140. 140. Rick

    Thanks for the quick and informed reply! The only question I have left is this: If the flight is under 600..but with the hotel and car rental the cost of the vacation is over 600..Can i redeem this all at once so it’s excempt from the tiere system? Generally my flight is JUST over 600..anywhere from $580-$615. I think I may pursue this card for the insurance as well. Also with the petropoints card I can only redeem the travel dollars through one specific travel website. But it usually has good prices. How likely are they to wave the annual fee with some pressure?

    Thanks again for your help. Greatly appreciated!

  141. 141. Elbyron

    No, you unfortunately cannot combine small charges into a bigger one for redemption. If you were booking through a travel agent they could probably put it together into one charge for you, but of course it’s usually a little easier on the wallet if you book online. If your flight is only $580, redeeming 60,000 miles for it would still work out to a 1.93% return, so I think if you’re usually in that range for your travel charges then you’ll still get a pretty good return.
    It’s very unlikely that Capital One will waive the annual fee, unless they screw something up and want to compensate you for the hassle they caused.

  142. 142. Carm

    Elbyron,
    Hi,
    what do you think of the The BMO World Elite MasterCard?

  143. 143. Elbyron

    @Carm
    The BMO World Elite card offers 1.9% return, but it costs $150/year plus $50 for each additional card. Its insurance coverages aren’t quite as comprehensive: medical emergency is 21 days (only 1 day less, no big deal), no baggage delay coverage, no price protection, max of 1 additional year warranty (vs 2 for Aspire), purchase assurance for only 90 days (vs 120 for Aspire).
    Besides the high annual fee, the other deal-breaker for many people is that you don’t have the freedom to book anywhere you want, you have to use their reservation system. Though they claim they have “highly competitive rates – similar to those at other online booking sites”, I’m a bit sceptical that they would always have the absolute best rate (or best flight connections) of anywhere on the internet.
    Really the only thing that they do better than Aspire is that you can redeem a small number of points toward travel and still get the full 1.9% benefit.

  144. 144. Big Monthly Spender

    Very helpful blog. Thanks. Based on other blogs I’ve read the big catch to this card appears to be the low credit limit that is extended to applicants. I called the contact centre and was told that the credit limit could be anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, but they could not tell me what I would get until after I had applied. Challenge is that once you apply they automatically send you a card (if you qualify) and if you don’t like the credit limit they give you you have to call and cancel the card (which hurts your credit rating). Other bloggers have stated that when they call to increase their credit limit they’ve been denied – even though they have a strong credit rating. In effect it appears that c1 wants to extend as little credit as possible to limit their cost (which is offset by the $120 annual fee and vendor charges).

    The other challenge I’ve heard is customer service at C1 is poor.

    I’d be interested to hear from people who have the C1ATWMC card – have people been able to get close to the $20K limit that C1 states is possible and has anyone been able to increase their credit limit?

    I generally spend >$10K per month on my card (includes my wife’s spend) and would prefer to not have to carry around multiple cards. However, if that’s inevitable what do you think of getting this card and the Scotia Momentum Visa to get 4% cash back on groceries and gas spend?

    Thanks.

  145. 145. Ryan

    I was only given a $10k credit limit. I have called a couple of times to try and increase the limit and keep getting told that I am “not currently being evaluated for a credit limit increase” and that I will be notified when I do qualify for one. It is quite frustrating, as I am currently building a home and would like to do more of my purchasing on my card to get my rewards, but run out of space really quickly.

  146. 146. Kevin

    I was given a $20K limit right away. The few times I had to call customer service I found them to be helpful.

  147. 147. Big Monthly Spender

    Thanks for the responses. I’m going to go ahead and apply – I’ll let everyone know how things go.

  148. 148. Elbyron

    When we applied for my first Capital One card, which was Aspire’s predecessor known as the “Platinum Plus Miles” card, my wife and I were given a 50K credit limit! But at the time, we had no mortgage or debts of any kind, and we both had full time jobs. When Aspire came out, I had to go through the application process because they couldn’t (and still can’t) upgrade their customers. The new card came with a 20K limit, but the old one was still active so for a while they were allowing me 70K of credit! Presumably, having an existing high credit limit as well as now having a mortgage on our home and on a rental property, they were a little more conservative… but 20K is still way more than I need (most I’ve ever charged in 1 month is 12K, for a trip to Africa). So my experience with the credit limits has been great. But it’s an entirely different story for my parents.

    My Dad earns a lot more than I do, and probably has less mortgage debt (just guessing though). My parents’ credit scores should be excellent, as they never miss payments on anything. And yet, for some odd reason, when they applied late last year, they were only given a credit limit of 7K. Lately they’ve been needing to spend over that amount, and have to constantly be making payments and waiting for them to clear so that they can spend more. And of course, customer service was of no help. Last I heard, my parents were being contacted by an escalated rep to see about getting at least a temporary credit increase.

    So, it seems to be somewhat hit & miss regarding how much you initially qualify for, and getting an increase can only be done by waiting for them to re-evaluate your account. Customer service is friendly, but their hands are tied by their crappy policies on upgrading cards and credit increases. They are also not very knowledgeable about the rewards and benefits, but for the most part they do a decent job.

  149. 149. Carm

    Thanks Elbyron,
    I went and spoke to my bank rep at BMO today re: BMO World Elite card. They advised me since I have business there they can credit me half the yearly fee including any additional cards (I can get this yearly). Also, my rep who uses the travel service advised that if you find a more competitive price elsewhere (expedia, travelocity etc.), they will match it. Also, they waive any of the booking fee’s over phone to accommodate this. Furthermore, they have eliminated any fees to book online as well. I like the fact you get automatic included membership to VIP Lounge and no redemption tiers. I think at the end of the day this card seems to be more hassle free, also taking into consideration what I’ve read above regarding the credit limit issues with C1.

  150. 150. Carm

    ….just a footnote, BMO World Elite is also affiliated with National/Alamo car rental for discounts and double earning on points. They also offer promotional exclusive packages to members. I appreciate C1′s offer, but surprised they dont have any affilitations for discounts etc.

  151. 151. George

    I’ve had this card since it was first announced, and like Kevin was given a 20k limit. It is still my primary card, although it is MBNA Smart Cash for gas/groceries.

    One tip: commuter train travel is regarded as a travel expense, so I just add $150 to my pass and it can be used for the full 2% reward.

  152. 152. Big Monthly Spender

    Quick update on my earlier post – I had been worried that the way Capital One provides such good value is that they provide a low credit limit (see post 144). Well, I applied for the card and just received it with a $25,000 limit. This limit is perfect for me so I’m going to go ahead and start using this as my primary card. (I’m going to cancel my Aerogold card – I found Aeroplan points are impossible to use).

  153. 153. Lynn

    Hi again!

    I have the card now and will redeem points at the end of the summer. Initially, I thought that because I would have more than $600 worth of points, I didn’t have to worry about splitting the charges. But, I won’t have enough to cover the whole cost, so do I still need a charge matching my redemption value?

    Thanks!

  154. 154. Elbyron

    Unfortunately, you cannot redeem points against an arbitrary portion of a travel charge, but if it’s airfare and you don’t have enough points for the whole charge, you can split the amount into equal parts and redeem for one or more pieces. But be careful with this: you still want to ensure that the pieces are over $600 each (or exactly $150 or $350) in order to get the full 2% return.
    For example, if you have an airfare charge of $1350 but only have 70,000 points, you can split the charge into to two pieces of $675 and redeem for one piece (67,500 points). But if the charge was between $1400 and $1799 there is no split that would allow you to get a full 2%, as dividing by 2 is still to large for 70K points and dividing by 3 makes it less than $600.

    I’d also like to note that if you save up to 90K points, then any airfare over $1200 (up to $90,000) can be redeemed against as there will always be a split that will work. And while the splitting feature is intended for airline tickets only, it often works for tour companies, travel agencies, and some online bookings (like hotels.com).

  155. 155. Linchan

    What happens if you pay by “PayPal”? We are booking a vacation home rental by owner.

  156. 156. Elbyron

    @Linchan
    Well, as usual, you’ll earn 2 points for every dollar charged, even on the rip-off currency conversion that Paypal charges.
    I doubt it would automatically qualify as a charge you can redeem against, but I’m not positive about this as I don’t think I’ve ever charged a travel-related expense via Paypal. I do know that you can call in and ask customer service to make it eligible. They have the power to do this, but you may have to convince them that it should qualify.

  157. 157. Tom

    I’m about to go on a trip to Europe for 20 days. I’m wondering if anyone has ever had a travel medical insurance claim that was covered by the travel medical emergency insurance provided by these credit cards? I have this credit card and am still a little paranoid about whether the insurance would cover me in the event of a medical emergency. I’ve read the insurance coverage and it sounds good. Do you think it’s safe to travel with this credit card as my travel insurance or should I buy supplemental insurance?
    I believe it also covers my family?
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  158. 158. Tom

    In followup to the above – if you’ve had to make a medical insurance claim to the underwriters of the travel insurance provided by these credit cards – how was the process? was it smooth or painful? Was everything covered?

  159. 159. Elbyron

    @Tom
    No need to be paranoid, as long as your account is in good standing, your cardholder agreement with Capital One guarantees that you get the insurance coverages described. Of course, it’s only for emergency medical care: if you get sick or injured such that it is medically safe for the treatment to be delayed until you return home, they won’t cover it. I’m not sure if buying supplemental insurance would cover non-emergency situations, but it may be worth investigating. If you do buy any other insurance, its coverage will apply first, and only non-covered expenses can then be submitted to the Cap1 insurance company (American Bankers Life Assurance Company of Florida), assuming its an expense they cover. You may also have some coverage already from your employer’s health plan or your spouse’s employer’s health plan. And most, if not all provinces provide some degree of out-of-country coverage, though it’s too limited to depend upon.

    The cap1 Emergency Medical insurance will cover your spouse, if you are legally married or have lived with them for at least a year. It covers your natural/step/adopted children provided they are unmarried and under 21, or under 25 if they are full-time post-secondary students. The child must be travelling with you or your spouse to be covered.

    Personally I have never made a claim, and even if I did need emergency medical treatment while travelling I have pretty good coverage already from my employer and my spouse’s employer. Of the other people I know that have this card, none of them have used this coverage either (that I know of). There’s a thread on RFD that you may want to post your follow-up questions to: http://forums.redflagdeals.com/showthread.php?t=897409

  160. 160. Tom

    Thanks Ebyron!
    One other question. I am going on a trip costing about $5200. I put a downpaymentnof $700 months ago on another card (didn’t have the capital one then). It’s time to pay the balance. If I pay the remaining balance on my capital one, will all of th insurance coverages be in effect? Ie if the total amount has been paid in 2 different cards, will capital ones insurances be null and void or will it still cover me as I’ve charged the majority of the amount to the capital one aspire MasterCard?

  161. 161. Ross

    How well does the security features of Mastercard compare to the security features of Visa? For example, if my Visa card gets compromised, Visa security is on the phone right away and calling me to say that there is an unusual spending trend/pattern on my card. Does Mastercard have an equally impressive system? Thank you in advance. Ross

  162. 162. Elbyron

    @Ross
    Neither Visa nor Mastercard handles the fraud monitoring of your card, that is done by the bank providing the card to you. So if your Visa was with CIBC, then the security department that called you was working for “CIBC Visa”, not “Visa”. Similarly, Capital One will provide the fraud monitoring on their cards, and so I will answer “does Capital One have an equally impressive system?”.

    Answer: Yes, they do freeze your card and call you when they detect a suspicious charge. However, in my experience, they are somewhat slow at making that phone call – sometimes it can be as slow as an hour or two later. Also, some people have said that Capital One freezes your card more frequently (and often for dumb reasons) as compared to other companies. There’s also complaints about having the card frozen while travelling abroad even though you notified them about your travel plans (this even happened to me on 1 of 3 trips in the last couple years). They definitely need some improvement in the fraud department, but at least the protection is there. Though really, they are only protecting themselves, since you are never liable for fraudulent charges on your card.

  163. 163. Ryan

    @Ross
    One feature Capital One has that I really like is you can set up text alerts with the online banking. I have mine set up so that any time a purchase of over $200 is made I get a text message, and that I get a text message anytime a purchase is made out of country. Honestly, my phone buzzes within 30-60 seconds of one of these transactions occurring on my card, which has really helped my peace of mind.

  164. 164. Ross

    Great info guys and thank you Elbyron on the security lesson. All very useful and helpful tips!
    Cheers

  165. 165. Elbyron

    @Tom
    Sorry I missed your follow-up comment. The travel emergency medical insurance will cover you regardless how you pay for your travel, but most of the other insurances do require 100% of the trip cost to be charged to your card. If you paid $700 on another card, you will not be covered for Trip Cancellation/Interruption and Lost Baggage insurance.

  166. 166. New Traveller

    Elbyron, I’m thinking of getting this credit card but mymath skills are just so poor. If I buy 4 tickets from Toronto to Vancouver and it costs me $2000 for example, I’m guessing I don’t need to worry about the tier system. Is this correct? Would it make sense to just use whatever points I have to redeem for $2000 worth of travel.

  167. 167. Elbyron

    @New Traveller
    Yes, if you had 200,000 points saved up ($100,000 worth of spending) then you could select that $2000 charge and have it credited back to your card. But if you only have, say, 80,000 points then you cannot choose an arbitrary portion of the charge to redeem against; in other words, you cannot use up all 80,000 points for a $800 credit. However, you can split those big charges by an integer number, and redeem for just one piece… but make sure that the piece is over $600 or it will be subject to the tier system. For example, dividing your $2000 by 4 would result in $500 pieces, which would each require 60,000 points due to the tiering. But if you choose divide the $2000 charge by 3 instead (even if you actually bought 4 tickets you can lie about it), then each piece is $666 and you could then redeem 66,600 of your 80,000 points to get a credit of $666.

    The key to avoiding the tiers is to always save up to at least 60K points before redeeming, and ideally to around 90K so that by using the “split” feature you’ll have enough points for any charge over $600.

  168. 168. AJ

    I got the Capital One Aspire credit card in large part due to your comments and review. I am glad that I have not as yet given up my RBC Infinite Avion card, which, I will reinstate as my travel credit card (a much superior card I might add in contrast to the Aspire Capital One M/C)! I just redeemed 45,000 points on the RBC Infinite Avion card towards a $900 flight whereas 45,000 points under the Capital One M/C only provides a credit of $450 — and that too is restricted by the tier system in a BIG way! In my case since I only had 50,000 Capital One points I could not use these points to offset my $900 air ticket. Over $600 is NOT simply 100 points per dollar; it is travel cost (i.e., in my case $900 X 100); which means that I would need 90, 000 points (compared to the 45,000 for RBC) to get a $900 credit. As for the concept of splitting – this is NOT always possible; try booking a flight on the internet with Westjet– you are not always provided with the opportunity of using multiple credit cards! Not as simple as your directions sound! The redemption tiers on the Capital One M/C are a definite drawback – like I said I’m glad I didn’t give up my RBC Infinite Avion card which has my vote of confidence!

  169. 169. Ryan

    @AJ – You do realize that you have to spend $45,000 do get 45,000 Avion points, and you also have to spend $45,000 do get 90,000 Capital One points, right? You can’t compare point totals without comparing the cost per point.

    Additionally, if that same long haul flight that you used 45,000 Avion points for was on sale at WestJet for $700, it would still cost you 45,000 Avion points, whereas with Capital One it would have cost you 70,000 points (equivalent to 35,000 Avion points).

    Add to this that the Capital One card costs $120 per year, but you get 10,000 points (or $100 in travel value) added to your account every year, the net cost of the card is $20, and additional cards are free. The Avion card costs you $120, you get no bonus points every year, and additional cards cost you $50.

    If you book a $900 flight online with WestJet and pay with your Capital One card, it will show up as a $900 airfare purchase. When you go into your online statement to redeem your points for travel, it is here that you can split that $900 transaction into multiple tickets. In your case, you wouldn’t have been able to get the maximum reward for your points because you were between tiers, but you still could have split it into 6-$150 tickets and redeemed 45,000 points to cover $450 of the cost.

    You also cannot use your Avion points toward the purchase of an all-inclusive vacation or a hotel stay, if I recall correctly. With the Capital One card, I can purchase an all-inclusive vacation from any travel provider, and then redeem my points for that purchase. It has far more flexibility than the Avion card does.

    I wanted to make these things clear before people who haven’t done much research read your comment and use this mis-information in their decision.

  170. 170. Elbyron

    @AJ
    Ryan has already demonstrated the reasons why Aspire is better than Avion, but I really wanted to emphasize his second point, and show you why Avion really does have a tiered redemption system as well. Just because the “best” deal the Avion travel centre could find you for your long-haul flight was over $900 before taxes, doesn’t mean that you actually saved $900 by using Avion points. Pay a visit to Kayak.com and search for your trip dates & destination. Find the cheapest one and *important* click on it to go to “book” that flight so that you can see the breakdown of flight cost & taxes. I’ll bet that flight cost before taxes is under $900. Well guess what, you just got tiered! Let’s say the pre-taxes cost was $700 (using Ryan’s example), with $200 taxes. Let’s say you told Avion’s travel centre about this cheaper flight and they say “oh yeah, I guess we could give you that cheaper flight” (though they might also say “I’m sorry, we can’t book with that airline”). So they still charge you the $200 taxes, and you still get the flight for free, and you still need 45,000 points for it. In fact, no matter how low the best economy long-haul flight would cost, you always need 45,000 points. Sounds like a tiered redemption system to me!
    Now, let’s take a closer look at your reward percentage with Avion. From first appearances, it seems like you got a 2% return because $45,000 spending got you a $900 credit. But did redeeming those points really save you $900? Remember, you still had to pay the taxes (or redeem more Avion points at a 1% rate of return). If the flight would only have cost you $700 plus taxes outside of RBC, then you really only saved yourself $700 by using up 45,000 points ($45,000 spending). That’s only a 1.55% return. You can only calculate the return on Avion by considering what the before-taxes cost would have been if you didn’t use their travel centre. I’ve found that any long-haul destination (Bermuda, Hawaii, Mexico, Alaska, or Carribean) is under $900 before taxes for the lowest-priced flight. So my return using Avion would usually be under 2%. But I live in Edmonton, so perhaps other cities would cost more to fly out of. Even if I could regularly get 2% return off Avion, it’s just not worth the extra $150 per year in fees that I would pay to have the card plus a supplementary card for my wife. For me, waiting until I’ve spent $45,000 on my Aspire card (90,000 points) and then redeeming for a flight between $600 – $900 at a 2% rate of return is by far the best reward I can get. And I believe this is the case for most people as well.

  171. 171. AJ

    It doesn’t matter if each $1 gives me 10 points; in my ACTUAL EXPERIENCE it’s the redemption that matters! Similarly the fact remains that my 45,000 RBC Avion points paid for a $900 ticket and Capital One could NOT DO THAT! FACT IS FACT!

    How many points I get at the end of the day mean little when there are restrictions on how I can redeem these points. I tried splitting the Westjet transaction and could not do so (at least not over the internet).

    YOU CAN use Avion points toward the purchase of an all-inclusive vacation or a hotel stay.

    For your information I purchased the exact same 2 tickets – one using my 45,000 RBC points and the second (mirror) ticket using my Capital One M/C and from my experience the RBC Avion Infinite card had no hassles; I didn’t have to try and juggle points (which didn’t work anyway for the Capital One M/C as I needed 90,000 points–I only had 50,000 points).

    I’m letting my actual concrete experience guide me as opposed to hypothetical theories/calculations….

  172. 172. Ryan

    @AJ – your 45,000 RBC points paid for a $900 ticket. 90,000 Capital One points will pay for a $900 ticket. Since you have to SPEND THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY to get 45,000 RBC points as you do to get 90,000 Capital One points, the reward in this case is the same using either card. So please do not say that Capital One can’t do what the Avion card can, as that is simply untrue.

    It is also clear that you do not understand how to split your transaction when purchasing airfare. Though, since you do not plan on using the Capital One card anymore, I won’t try to explain it again. Let it be known, however, that I have purchased airfare from West Jet without having enough points to cover the total price, but was able to split the transaction on the MasterCard online banking site later.

    If anyone has questions arising from what AJ has posted, feel free to ask them. I’m sure Elbyron can answer them for you in a clear and understandable way.

  173. 173. New Traveller

    Hi there, I currently have the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite and I’m thinking about switching to the Aspire card. Can you give a quick comparison on the two cards in terms of which reward system is better? I don’t usually collect any status miles so the majority of my collection is through daily use (about $2500-$2700 per month). My one beef with Aeroplan is that so many seats are blacked out when I want to travel. Thanks again.

  174. 174. Elbyron

    @New Traveller
    Well, as I wrote in the original review, it can be difficult to compare reward systems because the value of your Aeroplan miles varies widely due to the huge differences in ticket prices between different times of year or the particular cities you fly to/from (this also applies to Avion by the way). And if you regluarly fly business or first-class, then redeeming Aeroplan miles for these flights gives those points a lot more value than they would have for people who only fly economy (does not apply to Avion).

    To determine the value of my Aeroplan miles, I looked up the before-tax costs of various flights (all economy) that I might consider buying in the future, and divided by the number of miles needed for each flight. Average value per mile worked out to $0.0156. If I didn’t live in a major city, or if I were buying first-class seats, my value would be higher.

    Next you need to figure out how many Aeroplan points the Aerogold Infinite card would earn you per dollar spent. Because you get a bonus on gas & groceries, this is going to be different for each person depending on their spending habits. For me, about 15% of my credit card charges are for gas & groceries. So if that card were Aerogold, it would earn me 32250 miles, or 1.075 miles per dollar. To calculate this for yourself, take the percentage of your credit card spending that is for gas & groceries, expressed as a decimal. Divide this in half, and add 1. Eg) 15% –> 0.15 / 2 + 1 = 1.075.

    Now you have the average points earned per dollar, and the reward value of each point. To evaluate the reward in terms of dollars earned per dollar spent, simply multiply the two numbers together. Eg) 1.075 * $0.0156 = $0.0168, or expressed as a percentage, 1.68% return. But I repeat, this is the return that I would get – yours may be higher or lower.

    For me, the decision is easy. Aspire offers me a 2% return with no flight restrictions, better benefits, and a net annual fee of $20. Aerogold Infinite would only be worth 1.68%, has a lot of black-outs and limited quantity of seats available for redemption, and costs $120/year. And when you redeem those Aeroplan points, you don’t earn points on the free flight. With Aspire, not only do you get the Aeroplan miles on the “free” (credited afterwards) flight, you also earn Aspire points on it!

  175. 175. AJ

    I just got back from Cancun and could NOT use my Capital One Aspire card in many places, whereas, I could use my RBC Infinite Avion visa card everywhere. This alone is a reason for me to dump the Aspire card, however, given the fact that you have to split transaction (which in certain cases you cannot do) this makes me very unimpressed with the Aspire card…good bye aspire card – back to the RBC Infinite Avion….

  176. 176. Elbyron

    Business Travel News did a survey of Visa and Mastercard acceptance in 2009, and found that Mastercard was accepted by 28 million merchants in 210 countries and Visa had 30 million in 170 countries. They’re fairly similar, with maybe the slight edge to Mastercard for covering more of the small countries. I’ve visited 9 different countries on 3 continents in the last five years, and never once did I see a merchant who accepted just one of these two major cards. I’m sure such merchants must exist, but I have yet to find one in all my travels. For even one of them to be found in Cancun is quite surprising, given how tourist-oriented that town is.
    Also, I’ve not once needed for a merchant to split a transaction, because I’m patient enough to build up enough points for a $600+ redemption. So to say “given the fact that you have to split transaction” is absolute bull. You always have the option to just save up a little more – the points never expire.

    @AJ please go back to using Avion and quit complaining here. You clearly aren’t willing to read and/or understand how Aspire works. Despite our efforts to demonstrate why Aspire is superior, you seem to feel otherwise and you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but please don’t make false statements here in an attempt to mislead others.

  177. 177. AJ

    I think you need to re-visit your own misleading comments and yes I am entitled to my opinion and no Aspire is not a superior card. Not too worry, I won’t be wasting my time with additional postings here. Have only one more comment before I go, “buyer beware”

  178. 178. Chris

    So I run about 80K per year through my personal card (currently aerogold visa) and about 200K to 250K per year through my business aerogold visa (a nice perk to my small business).

    But I have grown exasperated with Aeroplan’s duplicitous ways and am looking to hedge my programs. My issue with AP is 2 fold: one short haul travel in north america is always a pain the butt–if it’s available at all they usually structure such an unattractive itinerary that you’d rather just pay then deal with all the layovers. And two, they seem to be hedging their redemption costs with these outrageous fuel surcharges. A recent search for my mother-in-law for a Toronto-London flight, came back at 60,000 pts + $660 in fees! $400 of which was “fuel surcharge”. Even more incredulous: the same flight in business class they wanted to levy 1125$ in fees. (apparently you burn more fuel in business class!?) …In short it’s a scam and it is devaluing all the miles that people have worked hard to earn. If flying with AC and most of their partners, they equate to “discount miles” and nothing more. (a similar flight to London could have been bought on the same date for $910.) The exception is United and a few others in the star alliance who don’t yet charge fuel surcharges. For this reason and because we travel to the far reaches of the globe, i will keep a business aerogold visa for long haul executive class tickets. When you do nail down the ticket you’re after (after all the work) it’s worth it!

    However, for short haul I’m thinking the C1 would be an excellent choice and good fallback. A question: Can I use it to book on expedia? Direct with an airline/hotel? Or do I need to book through C1. They’re customer service when i called seemed a little inept.

    I generally use expedia for all bookings…would this TD card you’ve mentioned be better. My goal is to get in and around the best value…but ease of purchase (last minute and so on) is a factor as well. Your thoughts on all of the above would be appreciated.

  179. 179. Chris

    Also I am seeing issues in their comments section about lack of substantial credit limit. Many people are complaining about a $5000 limit inspite of good credit. Can you comment on this? The visa infinite I carry has a limit of 20K and i would be expecting and needing something in that range as I have several purchases per month in the 8K-12k range.

  180. 180. Ryan

    I was only able to get a 10k limit on my card, and I’ve never been offered an increase even after having the card for 2 years and paying it in full every month. I tried calling customer service but apparently their hands are tied and only ‘the computer’ can determine who is eligible for an increase.

    In regard to booking travel, you can book using any method you wish, i.e. calling the airline, Expedia, itravel2000, etc etc. The charge gets posted to your card, and then you go online to the rewards center and apply your points to that purchase, and then your card get rebated that amount. So you don’t actually deal with C1 customer service at all when it comes to booking travel.

  181. 181. Chris

    Thanks.

    I’ve been seeing tons of comments on their site in the review section lamenting the lack of credit limit. I thought there may have been a catch…always is. What good is a travel rewards card if you only have 5K to 10K. I don’t have time or patience to be paying the thing off every 6 days. Otherwise, I liked the card pretty much across the board…this is dissapointing. I’m curious as to whether this is to limit the rewards miles they are giving out and make it more difficult to accumulate (also limiting their take on purchases and potential interest return on carried balances) or whether they are just tight fisted with credit. Either way, if people with a combined income of half a million (as per many comments on their site) cannot get a card for more than 10K, I think this card would then be a non starter for me…any other recomendations from anyone? Thanks

  182. 182. Kevin

    I was given a 20K limit on my Aspire immediately,

  183. 183. Chris

    Hmmm. That would do it. Was that requested?

  184. 184. Kevin

    Nope, that was automatic. Granted I applied shortly after the card first became available, so things may have changed since then.

  185. 185. Chris

    Yeah…well it seems a lot of people are having issues with credit and that C1 reps can’t wipe their bums without so so from “The computer” let alone raise credit limit. Tis is the opposite of Aerogold where I had to put a freeze on my limit cause they kept raiseing it on me without my say so. Just looking for an even 20K starndard for a higher end fee-rewards card.

  186. 186. Chris

    *say so

  187. 187. FrugalTrader

    @Chris, if you have high income (and household income) and a good credit score, then I don’t see why they wouldn’t give you a decent credit limit.

  188. 188. Chris

    Nor do I…However I am just going off the comments that I am seeing in their website review secton. Check out complaints from people who rated it 1-3 stars…almost across the board it is an issue of credit limits. Many of these people note superior credit and income in their complaints.

  189. 189. Andrew

    Informative thread. My question is about splitting. I can see how one would be able to ask to have their bill split up at ahotel desk, a rental car company desk, or through a travel agent. But what about for flights for those of us who book predominantely online?

    In my case, I fly out of Calgary, often to Vancouver, Seattle, California, Mexico, Hawaii, and less often, to Europe. For flights within Canada I’m limited to AC and WJ. Have you ever tried to call and speak to a CSR at one of these places? WJ is the worst, usually a 2 hour wait. I just don’t have the time to sit on the phone just to have a CSR split my bill. That seems quite inconvenient in itself (assuming they can even do it, and also assuming a phone booking won’t be more expensive then an online booking). I would imagine the same goes for many of the American carriers. Travel agents aren’t any better. I usually find better deals then they do, though they do match them–but still, an inconvience.

    So is the only way to split an airline ticket to do it through a human CSR (because you can’t do this on the airline websites)?

    Can anyone share their “splitting experiences” both good and bad?

  190. 190. Ryan

    @Andrew – you’ve actually misinterpreted the splitting of airline fees. You simply book online as you normally would. When the charge shows up on your online statement, you can then go into your rewards center. In the rewards center it allows you to split the charge for your airfare into how many ‘tickets’ were purchased. For example, let’s say you have $700 worth of points, but your airfare was $965. In the rewards center you can say it was 3 tickets, so it would break it down to 3 tickets at $321.67 each. You can then use your points to get rebated for $643.34, getting the full value of your reward. You should see your credit card refunded this amount within a few days.

    I did the splitting when purchasing an all-inclusive travel package online. I didn’t have enough points to cover the entire purchase, but I was able to split it into 6 tickets, I believe, which allowed me to use my points to get rebated for approximately 80% of the full fare, utilizing most of my points.

    Let me know if this isn’t clear and maybe Elbyron can take a better stab at explaining it than I have done.

  191. 191. Elbyron

    @Ryan
    While everything you said is correct, you did miss an important point about the rewards center split feature: each “piece” that you break it down to is subject to the redemption tiers. In your example of 3 tickets at $321.67 each, you would have to redeem 35,000 points for each ticket. So redeeming for 2 pieces will get you $643.34, but at a cost of 70,000 points. This results in a 1.84% reward. While this is still better than most credit cards, many people would prefer to maximize the value of their points. So if Andrew were able to get the airline to split the charge into chunks of $700 and $265, then he could redeem the 70,000 points for a $700 reward and thus earn a full 2% return. Or, if you can’t get the ticket split by the airline, you do still have 90 days from the date of purchase to do the redemption. So if you can accumulate the extra 26,500 points (spend $13,250) in that time, you would be able to redeem all your 96,500 points against the $965 charge. And if you don’t earn enough, no big deal because the points never expire. Just use them on the next trip instead.

    @Andrew
    I shop around online for flights too, but often get better deals through a travel agent – at least in cases where my requirements are complex (like adding a 5-day stopover into the itinerary). Many agents can split the credit card charges, but usually I don’t bother. It’s just less hassle to let the points build up until I have enough to cover the full cost of a flight that is over $600. Or, if it’s over $1200 then using the reward center split feature that Ryan mentioned and redeem for one of the $600+ pieces. I have done the merchant split only once, when booking a vacation package with Transat Vacations. Their website lets you use multiple credit cards, so it was easy to just put in my Aspire card twice.

  192. 192. Rob

    We recently received 2 Capital One Aspire travel cards based on reviews we saw in a local newspaper. We still have to pay for our Gold Preferred RBC card for a few months before it will be cancelled. We just cashed in the points for $650 ESSO gift cards. However, we know we will do better with Capital One. I am concerned about the Travel Insurance. We have used RBC insurance for many years and we know Capital One’s travel insurance looks comprehensive. However, it is based in Florida and we don’t know how reliable it would be if we ever need to use it for a medical emergency abroad. Any feedback?
    Thanks,

  193. 193. Larry

    Not sure if it is allowed to post a link, but you may want to take a look at this thread:

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/canada/1378509-capital-one-aspire-credit-card-any-real-world-experience.html

  194. 194. Rob

    Thanks, Larry! I read the few responses and I am concerned that the insurance may not be as easily accessible if needed as RBC insurance. I know there were only 2 negative problems, but I wouldn’t want to be on the end of a bad situation for insurance esp. if having experienced a very stressful trip (e.g., health related). No one needs that added stress. I am hoping others might reply that they have had a positive experience using the trip insurance. I was completely comfortable with my RBC Gold Preferred card. However, I didn’t take the time to research it either if anyone had difficulty with it since we used to purchase RBC insurance before having the card for many years.

  195. 195. FT

    I’ve had a friend use the capital one flight delay insurance with relative ease. Cap one requires the reason for the delay, so you need to get the airline desk to print off a statement to submit alongside the claim.

  196. 196. BigBob

    I’m looking to change my CIBC for C1. And their is one more advantage to C1 vs CIBC that have not been discussed:

    If you travel with your Aeroplan points, you don’t get points for the mileage of the trip.

    But, if you use your C1 points to book a trip with Air Canada, you use your C1 points AND get your Aeroplan points for the mileage of the trip.

    :-)

  197. 197. Ryan

    Elbyron, I’ve read other places that if you have a travel charge, say, a hotel stay for $150, that you can claim your points against that charge multiple times, essentially using your points as a way to pay off your credit card at the full 2% return, rather than the cash reward of 1.5%. Have you any experience with this or do you know if this is valid?

  198. 198. Elbyron

    I believe that is possible, as I don’t think the charge is removed from the list of options after using it the first time. But I haven’t ever tried it myself because I always save up my points and redeem for amounts > $600, which always leaves me with too few to attempt redeeming against the same charge again. So, I really don’t know for sure.

  199. 199. Ryan

    Well, I have confirmed it. I recently had two hotel stays, one where I had them charge $350 to the card and one where I had them charge $150 to the card (I paid the remaining ~$15 on my debit card). I was able to claim each of the charges multiple times, eliminating $5700 from my card. Yes, I would rather have taken a nice trip, but circumstances made it to be that this was my best option. But for anyone who looks on here, be aware of this if you’re ever tempted to use the 1.5% return when using your points as a straight cash-back option. This is much better!

  200. 200. Bob Miller

    I cannot understand how the annual fee is effectively $20 when you only get 10,000 anniversary points – excluding for the first year purchase when you receive 35,000 points. Please explain.

    I currently have a RBC Avion VISA Infinite card.

  201. 201. Kevin

    10,000 points can be redeemed for up to $100 in travel rewards. Therefore you pay $120 but get 10,000 points which you can then redeem for $100 credit making your net annual payment $20.

  202. 202. Ryan

    10,000 points is worth $100 in travel credits (100 points = $1).

  203. 203. Linda

    We were travelling in August and our flight was cancelled. We were delayed along with hundreds if not more in Chicago and could not get home for two days. I have completed the claim for this expense as it was paid for on C1 Aspire Travel MC and just received a cheque. I wasn’t aware of a limit of 250/day on the flight cancellation information – our expenses were about 800US (4 of us travelling) and 635CAN was paid to me. There wasn’t a statement to describe what was covered, just the max of 250/day for the first two days and then 135 for the third partial day. I guess my question is are you aware of this limit and also to recommend users to make sure that you look at any receipts you get when purchasing food at the airport – I absentmindedly put receipts into my wallet not reading them to be sure they had enough information on them – some had no business name and no date which was frustrating. Having said all of this, I am glad we had some coverage for this delay in Chicago.

  204. 204. Ronald

    A lot of these cards are waiving the annual fees for the 1st years and giving points as a sign up bonus worth anywhere from 100$ to 350$ like the Aspire. Someone could make easy cash by applying for more than one of these cards just to take advantage of the bonus points at sign up.

    As for this card, they should do away with the tier point as obviously people are working around it. People appreciate simple redeeming process without being gouged their points, (Ex. 35,000 miles for 151$ purchase if you don’t split)

  205. 205. Dan Patterson

    Worst customer service I have ever experienced ANYWHERE! Not an exaggeration. Received my Capital one card an used it on a recent trip to England. Called the customer service redemption number to ask questions regarding point redemption. I had received 35,000 sign-up post. The CSR provided an incomplete description of the acquisition rate. Red flag. Expert CSR’s do not know the difference between acquisition and redemption???
    Informed me that each point was worth one DOLLAR in rewards. My response was “I don’t think that is correct, but if it is I’m the happiest guy on the planet because I now have over $35,000 in rewards”….No light bulb wen on. I tried to explain this 3 times unsuccessfully then asked for a manager. After an extended wait I spoke to a supervisor who was better informed, but rude and unhelpful. I sent my complaint to the ombudsman over 2 weeks ago and continue to await a reply. I made a another call and asked another CSR why the redemption rate on travel is higher than other types of rewards. His response was ANYTHING YOU TELL US IS TRAVEL WILL BE REDEEMED AS TRAVEL. I asked SO IF I BUY 4 PAIRS OF JEANS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH TRAVEL THEN LIE IT WILL BE REDEEMED AS TRAVEL…….. I will be converting the points to cash and returning the card. This card is promoted as a high service, upscale vehicle. Not my experience. I have had other credit cards for over 40 years including a gold AMEX card and never had any experience remotely close to this. BEWARE!

  206. 206. Jerry

    HI, anyone, looking for a rewards travel card having been readinyr advice re td infinite and aspire, last yr only spent about 20000 at amex gold got about 400, and thats with the 250000 bonus whaty would be my best best thgis year. Jerry

  207. 207. Jerry

    thats 25000 bonus

  208. 208. Elbyron

    @Jerry The Amex Gold is a great card with 2% cashback – it’s too bad it’s not available anymore. Of course, the main drawback with it is that it’s Amex, which isn’t accepted everywhere. If you travel a lot, as in 1/5th of your annual credit card purchases are for travel, and you don’t mind booking everything through a particular travel agency, then the TD Infinite will get you the highest return, even though it costs $120/year unless you’ve got a Select Service account. If you don’t travel that much, or want the freedom to book your travel anywhere, then Aspire is the best card for you. Just watch out for the redemption tiers when you’re redeeming the points – the easiest way is just save up until you have about 90,000 points and then redeem on a travel purchase that is over $600 (if it’s over $900 then split it into 2 or 3 “tickets” so that it’s between $600 and $900).

  209. 209. Considering C1 Card

    Thinking about this card. Three questions:
    -Any recent experiences with credit limits? This will be for business travel and so the many comments (on C1′s site) about C1 giving very low limits (even with good credit/income) is a concern (especially as there seems no way to ever request an increase).
    -Again, as will be for bus travel, any recent experiences with C1 locking account b/c of ‘potential fraud’ alert when abroad? I often have to take customers out for lunch etc. when traveling and, well, while 2% is nice, having my transaction declined would look pretty bad (and would alone mean I wouldn’t dare use this card at least in those situations)!
    -The tiers are annoying, but doable. I thought I read somewhere else that one way to get the full 2% is to get an airline or hotel gift card for the exact max amount in a given tier–if you get it directly from hotel/airline so it categorizes correctly (e.g. $150 if you have only enough points for that), as an alternative to splitting charges. Has anyone tried this (e.g. aircanada.com, etc/) to see if that actually works?

    FWIW, the other card I’m considering for work is Amex’s new Simply Cash (flat 1.25% return; yes below Aspire, but simple and I’ve used Amex in past and *never* had the card stop working when travelling. They will call/e-mail if unusual charges, but I’ve found that card still kept working in interim, though I did call them back within a day or two). If anyone has had experience with this Amex card (good or bad), would also love to hear. BTW, very helpful review and great comment thread!

  210. 210. Ryan

    I’ve had this Aspire card for a few years now. Here are my experiences with it:

    - We were given a 10k credit limit. I use this card with an average of nearly 5k per month and have never missed a payment, yet I still can’t get an increase. That part is definitely frustrating.
    - I’ve never had my card lock out, but I’ve always notified C1 prior to any travel.
    - I booked travel through itravel a couple years ago. I had them charge exactly as much as I had points for in one transaction and then the remainder in another transaction. Worked like a charm. I’ve also done the same with hotel stays many times.
    - You can set up online to get a text message and/or email when certain things happen with your card. I have mine set to message me anytime a transaction over $200 is made, and anytime an international transaction is made. If I get an unexpected message of this kind, I immediately log into my online account and check the purchase. I really like this feature.

    Hopefully this helps!

  211. 211. Elbyron

    Credit limits: Has been a major problem with them, and though they gave me plenty (my limit is about 13% of my annual household income at the time I applied), my parents got screwed with a mere 4% and cannot get it increased no matter how many times they complain. I don’t know if they’ve fixed this yet, but they recently put out a survey to select panel members regarding credit limits so I think they will probably do something soon.

    Freezing while abroad: They did freeze my card when I tried to use it to purchase a flight in the Johannesburg airport, even though I notified them via phone of my travel to the various African countries that I was visiting. I only tried to use it that once, and the airline did not tell me it was rejected so I didn’t even know it was frozen till I got home and found out my pre-authorized bill payments weren’t going through. I really don’t use it out of country very much because, like most Canadian cards, it has a 2.5% foreign-exchange fee applied to all foreign currency transactions. I would recommend you sign up for the free Chase Amazon.ca Mastercard, which only offers 1% cashback but has 0% foreign exchange. Never had issues with that one freezing my account. If you pre-pay the card so it has a positive balance, you can get local currency at foreign ATMs for $5 per withdrawal (cash advance fee) and not pay any interest. Depending on the ATM’s max, this usually ends up cheaper than converting CDN$ at a currency exchange. And you don’t have to carry as much cash on you.

    Tiers: you could buy gift cards, and most would probably categorize correctly but there’s no guarantee of that. The easier way to ensure you get the full 2% is to just wait until you’ve got enough points to redeem on a charge greater than $600. But if you never have flight or hotel charges that high I suppose this alternative could work – though having a hotel split up a charge usually works pretty good too.

    I would never consider an Amex card for travel as it has a horrible acceptance rate, but then, I mostly travel overseas for my vacations. I guess if you’re doing business only in North America, and having the card not get frozen is your primary concern then it might be a good card. It has only the very basic insurance benefits though, and charges 2.5% foreign currency fee. So you might want to think about getting Aspire and Chase instead, and use the Chase card for business lunches and such while charging your travel and less-risky expenditures to Aspire.

  212. 212. Anrew

    Ok, so here’s my review after a year and a half with this card:

    - was approved for a $20K (surprised, as many comments above complain about this)

    - Tier system sucks! Yes as many have illustrated with examples, above, you can break things into “tickets”. However, it’s more complicated than it needs to be and I agree with most– wait until you hit $600 worth and points and redeem at face value. If you’re not hitting $600 in points a year (or more), this card may not be for you (see: annual fee)

    -Otherwise, no complaints. Online login and email alerts are super user friendly and convenient (I suspect most cards have these features, but had only experienced PC Mastercard prior to switching). Never been locked out, and has worked everywere I’ve travelled except Cuba (Cuba doesn’t accept US cards, despite it being a Canadian arm)

    -And especially now that Costco is switching to Master Card, I think I’m sticking with this until something better comes along that can beat 2% rewards with no travel redemption restrictions

  213. 213. Considering C1 Card

    @Ryan: Thanks!

    @Elbyron: Thanks for the tip on the Chase Amazon.ca card! That seems a good deal for foreign purchases (2.5% saved is > 2% earned!). Any issues with credit limit on that one?

  214. 214. Roger3592

    You might look at the marriot card if your booking flights and renting cars …the free night whips the yearly fee and if you book five nights then you get one for free

  215. 215. Elbyron

    I got a fairly small credit limit on it, a bit less than half of that of my Aspire card. But that’s probably because they take into account how much total available credit you have on all your currently open cards. It’s never been an issue for me as I seldom need to make large foreign purchases, and if I do I’ll usually know about them in advance and can make a pre-payment to the card first to avoid exceeding the limit.

  216. 216. smayer97

    Alternative to the Chase Amazon.ca card is also Chase Sears Mastercard. Since both are offered by Chase, both cards have the same no foreign exchange fee.

    Both cards can be seen here:
    http://chase.ca

    Each card provides 2% on purchase at their respective store, 1% on all other purchases. Sears provides extended return policy to 90 days instead of 30 days using other forms of payment.

    I’ve done a review of these cards before, in another discussion thread here. Here are some considerations:
    - no electronic statements
    - no way to download transactions electronically (e.g to Quicken)
    - no way to set up automatic payment of minimum or total balance
    other than that, they are decent cards.

    BTW, I find cards that deal with points systems too much trouble as there are often too many rules and hoops to jump through, points value can change at any time, so you can never be sure of the actual savings you are getting-UNLESS they have a simple conversion to cash, e.g. PC Mastercard, MBNA Reward Elite Mastercard.

  217. 217. smayer97

    BTW, a card that I think might actually be better than Captial One Aspire card is the MBNA Reward Elite card.

    It provides 2% on everything, its annual fee is only $89 vs $120 (with 10,000 points=$100 bonus on first use). and the points can be converted to cash, 100=$1.

    The cash conversion rate is new as of Sep 24. This is the first positive surprise I have seen since TD took them over (all other cards have gotten worse). So worth considering.

    Find it here:
    http://www.mbna.ca/credit-cards/overview/rewards/mbna-rewards/index.jsp

    Finally, another card worth considering is the Laurentian Bank Visa. A new product that offers 3% on all recurring charges, 2% on gas and groceries, 1% on everything else, cost $49/yr, with $49 credit after 3 months, extra cards are free. Find it here:
    https://www.laurentianbank.ca/en/personal_banking_services/my_ideas/ideas_visa_dollars.html

    Good card to combine with another just to get the 3% on recurring charges.

  218. 218. Elbyron

    Hmm, I hadn’t heard about the new points conversion option on the MBNA card. So it’s essentially a true 2% cashback card? Not too bad then. Many people might be willing to pay an extra $69/year to not have to deal with Aspire’s redemption tiers (based on Aspire costing a net $20/year after redeeming the annual bonus). I really like the insurance benefits on Aspire though so I certainly won’t be switching.

  219. 219. smayer97

    Good point about the travel related insurance. But also the 10,000 points annual bonus is subject to the same redemption issues. Cash equivalent is $75.

  220. 220. Ryan

    There is a work-around for the cash redemption. I had two hotel stays one month, which I had the hotel put through as a $150 transaction for one (and another for the remaining balance), and a $350 transaction (and another for the remaining balance) for the other stay. I had over 500,000 points at that time but really needed the cash rather than to go on a vacation. I claimed each transaction as a travel reward benefit 10 times, so I essentially paid off $5000 on my credit card by claiming that same transaction multiple times, which gave me the full 2% reward.

  221. 221. Rob

    I use the Capital One Aspire Card esp. for travel and getting the insurance. However, I have never had to access their insurance following any incident. Is it as good as RBC or other insurance polices that are also available through credit cards?

  222. 222. Mark Hoffmann

    I have been using this C1 Aspire Card for about 3 years now. I like this card and intend to keep it, but the hassles you have to go through to redeem your points for travel really sucks. We have slightly over 170,000 points on it, and a couple of weeks ago I bought 4 air tickets for our family travel for $1,700 at cheapoair.com. I booked them all at once, the total amount showed as $1,700 and I happily hit the “Submit” button on that travel website. So you’d think I met all the C1 redemption requirements outlined above, right? Well, not so fast. For some reason, the website split it into 4 separate transactions, 4x $420 tickets and 1x $30 website’s fee. After several follow up calls to the website and C1 customer service, I have not been able to either merge these charges into one transaction or convince C1 that it should be treated as such. I still have a few more things to buy for this trip (hotel / car rental / amusement park tickets) and I am going to find the best deals for these online, then have my trusted travel agent book them for me and split the bill into two charges, one for $1,700 and the other one for the rest.

    The bottom line is, BUYER BEWARE, you have to be very careful and be prepared to walk an extra mile to REALLY get your 2% back. And beware clueless C1 agents too: when I called them and explained my situation, their CSR rep said, “OK no problem, we’ll redeem it for you without you losing any points” — and then a minute later he said, “You only have enough points for 2 of these transactions, and for each of these $420 charges you will be redeeming 60,000 points, do you approve me going ahead with this?”

  223. 223. smayer97

    Thanks for sharing your experience. This just supports what I said about points plans…it can get complicated, and frustrating. That is why I avoid them and look for the best cash or cash equivalent based cards only.

  224. 224. Mark Hoffmann

    A quick update: I just tried a trick described above, when you go to redeem rewards on the C1 website (aka “Purchase Eraser”). I selected my transaction for $419.55 and selected Number of tickets in transaction = 6 and Number of tickets to be reimbursed = 5. Their webpage calculated Amount = $349.60, but for Miles Needed it shows 75,000! Does somebody know why? On the same webpage, in the Travel Rewards Program Overview table it clearly shows that for travel costs between $150.01 and $350 Miles Needed are 35,000!

  225. 225. Mark Hoffmann

    I just figured out why the C1 rewards site wanted to take 75,000 points for 5 “tickets” worth $349.60. Their system figured each of these “tickets” was worth $69.92, therefore each was worth 15,000 points; multiplied by 5 it comes down to 75,000. So the best I could do with my transaction for $419.55 is to say it is for 3 tickets, then it would cost me 3 x 15,000 = 45,000 points. Still, I will go with my original plan and work with my trusted travel agent who can split my next $1,700+ travel purchase exactly the way I tell her…

  226. 226. Elbyron

    A few years ago they used to calculate the points as:
    roundUpToNextTier(chargeAmount * 100 * ticketsReimbursed / totalTickets), but I think it was around August 2013 they implemented a new interface and it switched to using a formula of:
    ticketsReimbursed * roundUpToNextTier(chargeAmount * 100 / totalTickets)
    So basically, they’re preventing people from abusing the ticket splitting feature in the way you were hoping to use it, to bring the transaction closer to $150.

    If you’re planning a travel purchase of at least $1800 though, you don’t need to use a travel agent and have them split it for you. Because even with the new formula above, you can always find a way to choose ticketsReimbursed and totalTickets such that the number of points is between 60,000 and 79,999 and is therefore eligible for the full 2%. For purchases between $600 and $1800, you might need as much as 89,999 points to be able to optimize.

    Personally, I really don’t think it’s that complicated. All you have to do is:
    1. Save up your points to at least 60,000 (or better yet, wait till 89,999)
    2. Only redeem on travel purchases over $600
    3. If purchase amount exceeds your available points, use the ticket splitting feature to make the cost per ticket somewhere between $600 – $900, and if you still don’t have enough points, see #1.

    Trying to work around the tiers by having hotels or travel agents split up charges for you is just too much hassle, and could even incur additional costs (travel agents are never truly a “free” service!). Keep it simple, have some patience, and just follow the above strategy, and you’ll get your full 2% redemption value.

    Regarding cheapoair.com and other online booking systems, I have noticed that the majority of them will now place separate charges on your credit card for each ticket you buy. Air Canada’s website does it too, and probably other airlines. This is really annoying when the tickets are under $600 each, as they don’t follow rule #2 above. I don’t think there’s much you can do about it though, as booking through an agent is the only way to merge them into one charge and they likely won’t book them at the same price for free. For me it’s not a big problem though, as I usually vacation overseas which is usually >$600/ticket. And if I stay a few nights at the same hotel it’s usually going to be over $600 too. For others, you might just have to settle for less than 2%, but because of the insurance benefits it’s still better than any other travel card out there.

  227. 227. Lynn

    I used this post and these comments to decide to get the C1 Aspire and have been folllowing since. But, now I’m a little confused. The post indicates that redemption is the same after $600. The most recent comments indicate that something happens at $900. Just wondering if something has changed with the tiers? Thanks!

  228. 228. Mark Hoffmann

    No, the tiers are still the same, with 60,000 points / $600 being the highest. Elbyron was just using 90,000 points in his mathematical proof that “For purchases between $600 and $1800, you might need as much as 89,999 points to be able to optimize.” This optimization is only needed if you don’t have enough points to cover your entire travel purchase, ie if you have 95,000 points and a single $1,300 charge on your card you can say that it is for 2 tickets worth $650 each, then only redeem one of them for 65,000 points. You will still have to pay the other $650 in “real” money, with 30,000 points left on your card.

  229. 229. Elbyron

    Exactly. The only thing that makes $900 special is that all purchases over $1200 can be divided in some way that makes them less than $900, but still over $600.
    I was actually wrong about 89,999 being the most points you’d need… if it’s under $1200 you might require as many as 119,999 since you can’t divide it by two and have it be over $600. Even still, if your annual spending is $50,000, then you only need to save up for 2 years (including annual bonuses) to be able to redeem for ANY trip over $600. That doesn’t seem like such a big hassle to me. I guess the tier trouble is really just for the people who are either too impatient and/or don’t spend enough, or those who never have any expensive travel.

  230. 230. Considering C1 Card

    Thanks everyone for your feedback!! I’m going to look at some of the options people have suggested that I hadn’t considered (esp. Chase cards and the MBNA) and go from there.

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