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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.

 

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?

Update Feb 2015

Unfortnately, this card has been grandfather, and replaced with their new World Elite card.  Basically the same card with the same annual fee, but without the 10,000 ($100) annual bonus.
The bright side is that there is still a $75 cash back rebate offered here.

 

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About the author: This is a guest post. You can read more about the author in the biography above.

{ 247 comments… add one }

  • Ryan December 12, 2013, 1:47 pm

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

  • Linda January 4, 2014, 10:29 pm

    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.

  • Ronald March 1, 2014, 1:36 am

    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)

  • Dan Patterson May 18, 2014, 1:48 pm

    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!

  • Jerry November 14, 2014, 6:57 pm

    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

  • Jerry November 14, 2014, 6:59 pm

    thats 25000 bonus

  • Elbyron November 17, 2014, 2:05 pm

    @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).

  • Considering C1 Card November 28, 2014, 2:33 pm

    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!

  • Ryan November 28, 2014, 3:41 pm

    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!

  • Elbyron November 28, 2014, 3:47 pm

    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.

  • Anrew November 28, 2014, 4:22 pm

    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

  • Considering C1 Card November 28, 2014, 4:44 pm

    @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?

  • Roger3592 November 28, 2014, 4:48 pm

    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

  • Elbyron November 28, 2014, 6:00 pm

    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.

  • smayer97 November 28, 2014, 6:18 pm

    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.

  • smayer97 November 28, 2014, 6:32 pm

    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.

  • Elbyron November 28, 2014, 8:10 pm

    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.

  • smayer97 November 28, 2014, 9:29 pm

    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.

  • Ryan November 28, 2014, 10:09 pm

    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.

  • Rob November 29, 2014, 1:45 pm

    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?

  • Mark Hoffmann November 29, 2014, 5:57 pm

    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?”

  • smayer97 November 29, 2014, 9:32 pm

    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.

  • Mark Hoffmann November 30, 2014, 1:29 pm

    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!

  • Mark Hoffmann November 30, 2014, 2:21 pm

    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…

  • Elbyron November 30, 2014, 5:49 pm

    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.

  • Lynn November 30, 2014, 8:49 pm

    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!

  • Mark Hoffmann November 30, 2014, 9:28 pm

    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.

  • Elbyron December 1, 2014, 8:11 pm

    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.

  • Considering C1 Card December 1, 2014, 8:39 pm

    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.

  • Dr. Evil's Advocate January 7, 2015, 7:52 am

    Firstly, LOTS of great posts.

    Secondly, I haven’t seen this mentioned yet, so I will add this other tip to help people get the maximum 2% value out of their points … take advantage of the points transfer feature!

    Convince all of your family & friends to get this card – it is the best after all.

    Then when you are “short” of points for that next trip, find someone else who wants to cash in some of their points at full value and buy the points off of them.

    e.g. You have 55,000 points ($550 value) and a nice juicy $650 charge that could be erased if only you had 65,000 points.

    Your friend/family member has 10,000 points ($100 value) but no travel charges to use this against.

    You buy the $100 of points off your friend and PRESTO – you both have earned FULL value on your points.

    You get to redeem 65,000 points against $650 of travel. It cost you $100 to get those points, so you really got $550 of value out of your 55,000 points!

    Tiers? What tiers?

  • SST January 7, 2015, 10:32 am

    re: “Convince all of your family & friends to get this card…”

    Yeah, cuz what we need in this world is even more credit cards.

    Perhaps a more intelligent strategy would be to convince all of your family & friends, assuming you actually do care about their well-being, to investigate and learn exactly what role credit card companies play in the economy.
    Unless “free” money means more to you.

  • Dr. Evil's Advocate January 8, 2015, 8:44 pm

    @SST

    LOL, where the heck did that come from?

    “free” money, in the form of 2% earned on all of my bills/purchases certainly is worth recommending to your family and friends who are already using credit cards properly and may only be earning lowly air miles, or 1% cashback.

    Why not tell them about this card that earns 2%?!

    I found out about it from a friend. I told others about it. They have now switched. I now know at least a half dozen people with this card, all who pay it off each month.

    I think most of the people reading this are savvy enough to be using credit cards “properly” – as in pay them off in their entirety every month, and like it or not, credit cards are not going anywhere – at least not any time soon – so they are going to be a part of the retail economy whether I use them or not … so why not take advantage of the most beneficial one to me and my family/friends?

    That’s my point of view. It’s not like I am supporting child labour or blood diamonds by using a credit card vs Interac or cash.

    The merchants are paying interchange fees as a cost of doing business. If they had to deal with 100% cash they would have other costs associated with handling that, like extra security and more frequent trips to the bank, etc.

    Credit cards also protect you the customer from shady sellers. With cash or bitcoin you have little or no recourse in trying to get your money back in the event of a bad transaction.

  • RJ January 8, 2015, 9:21 pm

    I am looking forward to hearing from anyone who recently used the travel insurance benefit from this card. How fast do they respond? Do they make it difficult to receive compensation?
    I am trusting that I will have no problem but I have not heard from anyone who has had to put in a medical or travel cancellation claim.
    Thanks,

  • SST January 9, 2015, 1:29 am

    It’s near impossible to argue with credit card fanatics.

    Here’s a couple papers you can peruse whilst you ponder the meaning of “earn” and dream of abolishing monetary sovereignty in favour of Visa and MasterCard as the only form legal tender(s):

    http://www.gao.gov/assets/300/298664.pdf
    http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d17a/d1709.pdf

    Never forget, it’s the credit card companies who are using ALL of us properly, not the other way ’round.

    :)

  • Elbyron January 9, 2015, 4:05 pm

    Both these links just confirm what nearly everyone already knows: the use of credit cards incurs costs for the merchants that result in increases prices on the goods. Nobody is arguing with you there – the only debate is whether this price increase is “evil”, and that’s a matter of personal opinion of what is good and what is evil. But most people don’t have a problem with this, because credit card companies and banks are rendering a service, that being the convenience of paying by a card, and someone has to pay them for that service. In this case, everybody who buys things from stores that allow credit cards pays for it (built into the prices). Whether you use a card or not – you pay for it. That may seem evil to you, that all should have to pay for the convenience of a few (well maybe not so few…), but boycotting the use of credit cards is not going to change that. Pressuring governments to put limits on merchant fees is not going to change it either – Australia’s government tried that and guess what? The merchants didn’t reduce their prices at all! They just kept all the extra savings and stopped whining about the fees for a while.

    So it’s a fact of life that cash users will suffer from the higher prices caused by non-cash users. There’s nothing you can do. Telling everyone on a financial forum how evil it is won’t accomplish anything but cause useless off-topic debate. And, none of us wants to be in the group who suffers, and I certainly don’t want my friends to suffer, so I sure won’t recommend they cut up their credit cards and boycott Visa & Mastercard. Who, by the way, are not “using” anybody – they are simply selling a service, which merchants can choose to purchase or not. To encourage consumers to use their cards more, they offer rewards. If you choose not to take the rewards, on the grounds that it’s somehow causing “evil” in the world, then you’re a fool. Have fun suffering from the higher prices the rest of us cause with our 2% cashback cards like this one!

  • FrugalTrader FrugalTrader January 9, 2015, 4:19 pm

    @SST, as Elbyron mentioned, if Visa/MA/AMEX went away today, it is very doubtful that merchants would reduce their prices. As well, as you’ve mentioned in another comment, if you can’t beat em, join em, buy V, MA and AXP!

  • SST January 10, 2015, 11:38 am

    @Elbyron — it’s obvious you didn’t read the Yale study — absolutely nothing to do with merchant fees — so I’ll try to strip out the essence of it for you in as few sentences as possible.

    The thesis is focused on the inflationary effects caused by credit cards greatly outstripping the benefits of transaction efficiency. Even if merchant fees were zero, CCs would cause inflation — even on things which cannot be purchased with a credit card.

    In Canada there is over $95 billion in just outstanding credit card debt alone, equivalent to 6.25% of GDP. Add that to the annual growth of credit card debt issued (8.25%/yr) and hopefully you can figure out what that means (hint: it’s similar to how debt fueled the last 35-years of stock market advances, or how the rise in student loans has pushed the cost of education ever higher).

    To make it clear — in addition to inducing merchant fees, credit cards inflate the base cost of ALL goods across the economy.

    You are correct in that “none of us wants to be in the group who suffers”; so I guess it’s the innate weak human psyche to blame and not the companies who feed our greed and fear for profit (created from the ether). Kudos to everyone for frugally keeping up with the Jones. I’d much rather just detach from the cause of suffering.

    @FT: “…if Visa/MA/AMEX went away today, it is very doubtful that merchants would reduce their prices.”
    Of course not, prices never retreat. Just like when shippers instituted a ‘Fuel Surcharge’ when oil hit $150…and still collecting on $50 oil.
    Then again, many American merchants already have a CC price and a cash price, Canadians are just slow adapters. But we can eliminate the credit induced inflation.

    Not only that, there is a massive discrepancy between merchants and consumers. With over 90% of consumers utilizing credit cards but only 5% of merchants actually preferring credit card purchases.

    BoC analyzed the different transaction costs: cash 0.6%, debit card 0.5%, credit card 2.2%. So if you’re addicted to credit, better hope your card “earns” you at least 2.2% in cash, then you’ll only be paying for the pre-POS inflated cost.

    “…if you can’t beat em, join em, buy V, MA and AXP!”
    Buying CC stocks would be worlds better than using their product, but I still highly disagree with your disappointing view point (along with Elbyron’s “there’s nothing you can do” — wrong; there’s nothing you WANT to do. Who wants life to be challenging, right?).

    If you can’t beat them does that mean you MUST participate? Where’s the gun to your head? We’ll never beat the drug cartels either so why not start using drugs? Hundreds of millions of people all over the globe use(d) drugs responsibly (e.g. Obama, Steve Jobs, Moses, etc.), far more than those who succumb, so cue up!
    (And don’t forget to deal a bit on the side, too, to get your 2% back)

    Education over capitulation.

  • Tom March 1, 2015, 11:18 am

    Are they not offering this card anymore to new subscribers?

  • Linda March 1, 2015, 12:47 pm

    It looks like they have changed the name to ASPIRE TRAVEL WORLD ELITE MASTERCARD®?

  • Linda March 1, 2015, 12:52 pm
  • Andrew March 2, 2015, 5:02 pm

    I spoke with a Capital One representative on the phone today. She told me that the company does not plan to change any terms or conditions for existing holders, which I was surprised to hear–and happy, since the terms of the new card are far less attractive. Thought for sure they would convert existing holders to the new card. But who knows, maybe eventually they will…

  • Doug March 2, 2015, 8:12 pm

    I just did a cursory look but what is the difference between the two? From a quick glance, the new card seems pretty similar in benefits to the old card…

  • smayer97 March 2, 2015, 8:26 pm

    Main differences are that the first time use bonus is down to 10,000 pts (from 35,000) and the 10,000 pts annual bonus has been eliminated.

  • Lencyloo July 6, 2015, 3:34 pm

    I have had this card for 2 years now and have been happy with it until recently. I was also lead to believe that rewards would stay the same for current users however was really disappointed to see they have changed the way you can redeem travel rewards. They have taken out the ability to split the tickets. You now have to have the set number of rewards to redeem your travel rewards. While you can still make multiple charges on your card to receive the full 2% it makes it more of a hassle since some online companies don’t give you the option to charge your card multiple times to pay for a vacation.

  • smayer97 July 6, 2015, 7:42 pm

    This is EXACTLY why I have learned to stay away from reward cards that do not have cash back or equivalent. Live and learn.

  • Elbyron July 6, 2015, 8:27 pm

    @Lencyloo If you log in to your online banking for the card and go into Rewards Summary they now let you redeem points directly from this page, but doing it that way does not have the virtual ticket option. Instead you choose the “View Rewards Activity” link from the Rewards Summary page. This takes you to a different rewards website where you can split into tickets and redeem as before.

    @smayer97 your negative response was not helpful at all. If you don’t care about the travel insurance benefits, then maybe a cash back card is better for you (if you can find one with at least a 2.04% return rate). Smirking about it when a card that you don’t have changes their website and loses a feature is just being disrespectful to this great community.

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