Travel rewards points come in many forms, and some are more restrictive than others. For that reason, consumers who are unsure of their travel plans may be hesitant to earn miles with a specific airline or points with a single hotel loyalty program.
That could be part of the reason travel credit cards from Capital One are so popular. When you sign up for a select travel credit card from this issuer, you have the option to transfer your miles to a handful of airlines or to redeem them for any travel purchase charged to your credit card.
The second option — redeeming miles to cover any travel purchase — is attractive for people who don’t want to deal with complicated loyalty programs or find themselves “stuck” booking their travel based on award availability. Fortunately, the Capital One Purchase Eraser program makes it easy to wipe purchases off your Capital One credit card account.
What is the Capital One purchase eraser?
The Capital One Purchase Eraser is a feature offered by the following travel credit cards from Capital One:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business
This feature actively “erases” travel purchases charged to your card, although you can only use it for travel purchases made within the previous 90 days. When you compare this redemption option to other travel programs offered by competing credit cards, it’s easy to see just how convenient this is. Instead of searching for award availability with an airline or hotel program, you simply use your credit card to pay for any travel you want. After the fact, you’ll “erase” all or part of your purchases using your Capital One miles.
This feature also makes it possible for you to book travel with miles you don’t quite yet have. Imagine for a moment you’re trying to earn the welcome bonus on the Venture Card, which is 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Thanks to the Capital One Purchase Eraser, you could charge a $3,000 vacation package to your credit card, earn the initial bonus, then redeem 50,000 miles for $500 off your vacation once the charge posts to your credit card account.
Be aware that you can redeem your miles this way in any increments you want, meaning you can use your Capital One miles to cover a $3,000 vacation package or a $12 taxi ride.
The information about the Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
Capital One Purchase Eraser: How to use it
To redeem your Capital One miles for travel using the Purchase Eraser, you’ll start by logging into your Capital One account via desktop or the mobile app or calling the Capital One Rewards Center. You’ll also want to make sure you have a travel purchase to cover with your rewards, keeping in mind that the Purchase Eraser feature only works for travel purchases made in the last 90 days.
Step 1: Find the purchases you want to cover with your miles. You can do this through the online account management page or Capital One’s mobile app.
Step 2: Click on “Redeem,” which will take you to a new page that shows how you can redeem your miles. At this point, you’ll want to select the option that lets you use miles to cover a purchase.
Step 3: Redeem your miles to cover a chosen travel purchase. Click on the travel purchase you want to cover, then make sure you are willing to part with the number of miles required.
Step 4: Wait for the credit to show up on your account. Once you’ve successfully redeemed miles for a travel purchase, all you have to do is wait for the purchase to be “erased” from your account.
What are the different types of purchases that qualify for the Capital One Purchase Eraser?
Generally speaking, most travel purchases charged to your card qualify for the Capital One Purchase Eraser. According to Capital One, this includes “purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and timeshares.” However, availability for redemption is based on the merchant category code assigned and Capital One is not responsible for how merchants categorize purchases you make with your card.
That being said, Capital One says you can also redeem your miles for various options including cash back, gift cards and purchases made through Amazon.com. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Capital One has made the following temporary change to this program: “Now through September 30, 2020, you can redeem miles for restaurant delivery/takeout, streaming services and wireless telephone services.”
To redeem miles using this promotion, Capital One notes you should use the “Cover Your Purchases” redemption option.
Since cards that offer this feature are geared toward people who travel, most consumers focus on using Capital One miles for travel purchases that are traditionally difficult to cover with airline miles and hotel points. For example:
- Disney vacations: Consumers often use Capital One miles to pay for rental condos or timeshare rentals near Disney resorts. You can also use Capital One miles to pay for airfare or a rental car to get there.
- Condo rentals: Rentals from Airbnb or VRBO.com are another category where it’s common to use miles from a Capital One travel credit card. You can cover your condo rental with miles, whereas other travel credit cards don’t offer this option.
- Cruises: Covering a cruise with rewards is notoriously difficult, yet the Capital One Purchase Eraser makes it easy to cover all or part of your cruise with miles.
- Vacation packages: If you want to book a vacation package through a third party like a travel agent or a discount site like Expedia.com, the Purchase Eraser feature makes this option a breeze.
What are points worth when redeemed through the Purchase Eraser?
Miles are worth one cent each when you redeem them through the Capital One Purchase Eraser, making a signup bonus of 50,000 miles (after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months) worth $500 right off the bat. Achieving one cent per mile in value is pretty typical among travel credit cards, although you might struggle to earn enough miles to pay for premium airfare or luxury travel at this rate.
Still, you should keep in mind that both the Venture Card and Spark Miles for Business let you earn 2X miles for each dollar you spend, which can help you rack up rewards faster than you could with other travel credit cards.
Purchase Eraser vs. statement credits: Is there a difference?
Generally speaking, “erasing your purchase” means the same thing as getting a statement credit to cover a purchase made to your credit card account. With that being said, the Purchase Eraser can be truly helpful if you’re someone who wants to book any travel you want without limitations or blackout dates.
The main difference between this program and other rewards is the fact that Capital One lets you redeem miles using the Purchase Eraser after the fact, whereas you might use other rewards (like airline miles) to book your travel ahead of time.
Either option can help you secure free or drastically discounted travel, so make sure to research all the top travel credit cards before deciding which one is right for you.