About 11 months ago, Capital One ran that ridiculous promo where you could earn up to 110,000 Capital One Venture points by showing them (kind of) that you had 100,000 miles accumulated in another frequent flyer program. My wife and I both did it, and we had 220,000 of those Venture points.
Many of you did the same thing. I’m hoping many of you did not do what I did: I promptly forgot to add those accounts to Award Wallet, then I promptly forgot that I had those points (well, I used a few of them for a trip a little while back, and I’m not sitting on about 80,000 of those points).
I wouldn’t really care about it, except the way I found out was that I was going to cancel those cards, as it’s been 11 months, and I’m not going to be paying the annual fee for year 2. When I went into my account (which I haven’t done in about 10 months), I saw that balance sitting there. Good thing – I would’ve lost those points had I closed the account.
I then freaked out a bit, because they give you a horrible redemption rate (about half a penny per point) if you just take the points and convert them to cash. I thought about using them for an upcoming trip to Miami, but you cannot redeem for a partial award (ie, if your room costs $800, you cannot apply 78,000 points and put the balance on a credit card).
What can you do to get those points out if you find yourself in a similar situation? (which isn’t a crazy thought, as most people are now approaching the point where they need to decide whether to keep the card…in just about all cases, you’re better off getting rid of the card):
2 words: gift cards. They’ve got a really broad selection of gift cards where you get 1 penny in value for 1 point, which is in-line with (or better than) Membership Rewards. You’re much better off redeeming the points for a Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton or other hotel gift card to use as you see fit than to book through their restrictive Travelocity-powered booking engine.
We took out our points in the form of Target gift cards, which never expire. I felt like I just tripped across $780 (primarily because I’m such a moron that I forgot about these points in the first place).
In short, if you’ve forgotten about those Venture points, and you’re coming up on your 1 year anniversary, just take the points out in the form of gift cards, and consider it a Valentine’s Gift to yourself.