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How to Get $1,000 Free From Capital One

Jason Steele

One of my 5 Credit Card Predictions for 2012 was that we’d see a return of large sign-up bonuses. So far 2012 has brought us a mild winter and some rather unremarkable credit card promotions – until today.

This morning Capital One resurrected last year’s “Match My Miles” promotion with one called the “Double Miles Challenge.” Play your cards right (pun intended) and this deal is worth up to $1,000 as a statement credit toward any travel-related expense.

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How it works

Last year I earned an easy $1,000 by applying for Capital One’s new Venture Rewards card. This year, they have a slightly different twist on the promotion, but the same potential to earn a $1,000 statement credit. Here’s what you do…

Step 1: Get the Capital One Venture Rewards card. You can be a new or existing Capital One cardholder, as long as you don’t already have the Venture Rewards card. When I took advantage of this promotion last year, I simply called customer service and switched from another Capital One card to Venture Rewards. There was no credit check, and I immediately qualified for the promotion.

In short, you can participate unless you’re already a Venture cardholder. But apply soon because this deal expires when 1 billion miles are claimed or May 1, whichever comes sooner.

Step 2: Register for the challenge and submit a 2011 year-end summary from a competing travel rewards credit card.

Capital One will then give you two miles for every dollar you spent on that card, up to 100,000 miles. For example, show them a statement proving you spent $30,000 last year on a competing rewards card, and they’ll credit you with 60,000 miles. Show them you spent $50,000 and your reward is 100,000 miles.

Eligible rewards cards include all major cards offering rewards that can be redeemed for travel purchases (flights, hotels, rental cars, etc.)

Step 3: Spend a minimum of $1,000 on your new card within three months.

Step 4: Receive your miles and convert them into cash. If you’ve got 100,000 Capital One miles, they’re worth $1,000 toward any travel-related expense.

Simply purchase any airfare, hotel, cruise, car rental, or vacation package with your new Venture Rewards card. Then go to your account online and select the purchases you would like to be reimbursed for. It’s that simple!

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If you feel a particular expense is travel-related and they say it’s not reimbursable, try asking someone in customer service to overrule the computers and issue a statement credit. I’ve heard this sometimes works.

The bottom line

Capital One is essentially giving you 1 percent cash back on another company’s credit card just to get you into their Venture Rewards card. And as you’ll see when you check out the card, it’s also a decent deal anyway, since cardholders also earn 2 percent cash back as statement credits on all their spending.

“With this promotion we really want consumers to experience firsthand the value of earning double miles on every purchase, every day,” Capital One spokeswoman Sukhi Sahni told me. Sometimes, reality matches the hype.

As 2012 progresses, we’re bound to see more mega-sign-up bonus opportunities. But this first one out of the gate may actually be the winner.