Just a couple of years ago, Capital One cards functioned like cashback cards with miles valued at 1 cent toward travel purchases. That changed when Capital One added transfer partners and made the rewards that much more useful.

As a general rule of thumb, credit card points that can be transferred to airline or hotel partners would be a lot more valuable than “miles” disguised as cash back.

Using credit card points to reimburse travel charges or booking travel through the credit card portal has its place, but if your goal is to book business- and first-class flights, transferring miles to a partner is the way to go.

Let’s look at the best ways to use your Capital One miles to book travel in a premium cabin.

Redeem Miles Through Capital One Travel

Capital One runs its own travel portal, similar to Amex Travel or Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. It’s basically an online travel agency (OTA), similar to Orbitz or Expedia.

Capital One miles are worth 1 cent when redeemed through Capital One Travel. For example, if a ticket costs $1,000, you’ll redeem 100,000 Capital One miles.

If you find a good business- or first-class fare deal, it might make sense to book it through the travel portal, as you might need fewer points than transferring to a partner airline. You’re also not restricted by award space availability and can book any available flight on any date. And because portal bookings are viewed by the airline as revenue bookings, you’ll earn rewards and elite qualifying segments for the miles flown.

Keep in mind that booking flights through an online travel agency can come with a few issues in the event of a schedule change or cancellation. You’ll have to deal with an OTA instead of directly with the airline, and because there’s an intermediary, it might be harder to get timely support and customer service.

ANA First Class

Reimburse Travel Purchases with Capital One Miles

Capital One has a host of great transfer partners, but you also can use Capital One miles to reimburse travel purchases made with the card, which means you can apply rewards to eligible travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per mile.

So if you come across a great fare sale, you might need to redeem fewer points for travel purchases than by transferring miles to a partner airline and booking a similar ticket with airline miles and points. You also aren’t limited by award space availability and can travel on any airline, not only airlines bookable with one of the transfer partners.

As is the case with portal bookings, you’ll earn airline miles and elite qualifying credits on the ticket.

Capital One Airline Transfer Partners

Capital One has 15 airline transfer partners, 14 of which receive the miles at a 1:1 ratio.

When you transfer 1,000 Capital One miles to any of the partners below, you’ll receive 1,000 airline miles:

Aeroméxico Club PremierEtihad Guest
Air Canada AeroplanFinnair Plus
Air France-KLM Flying BlueQantas Frequent Flyer
Avianca LifeMilesSingapore Airlines KrisFlyer
British Airways Executive ClubTAP Air Portugal Miles&Go
Cathay Pacific Asia MilesTurkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
Emirates SkywardsVirgin Red

Capital One miles transfer to EVA Air Infinity MileageLands at a 2:1.5 ratio.

However, not all transfer partners offer good value. We can safely ignore some programs, such as Finnair and EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, either because of the poor award redemption values, extremely limited availability or high surcharges.

A few programs offer an exceptional value and are well worth exploring. Five programs among the Capital One transfer partners offer the best value for booking first- and business-class awards.

Keep an eye out for transfer bonuses. We’ve seen Capital One offer transfer bonuses of 15% to 25% to select airlines.

Transfer to Avianca LifeMiles

In spite of all its quirks, Avianca LifeMiles could be a great program for booking premium awards. Availability might be tight, but when you’re flying up front in international first or business class, you’d be happy that you invested some time learning about this program.

LifeMiles doesn’t pass on carrier-imposed surcharges, but you’ll have to pay the non-refundable $25 partner booking fee.

Lufthansa First Class to Europe for 87,000 Miles

 

Lufthansa airlines fist class cabin

Lufthansa’s first class might be on many travelers’ bucket lists, but depending on which program you use to book it, the huge surcharges could kill all the joy out of that redemption.

To book Lufthansa first class with small surcharges, you can transfer 87,000 Capital One miles to Avianca LifeMiles. There are a couple of caveats, though.

First, it could be quite tough to find award space because there just aren’t that many first-class seats on each flight. And second, Lufthansa rarely releases first-class award availability to its partners more than 15 days in advance, which makes planning ahead difficult.

TAP Air Portugal New York-JFK to Lisbon Business Class for 35,000 Miles

The LifeMiles program has another sweet spot. You can book a one-way award in business class from NewYork (JFK) to Lisbon, Portugal (LIS), with just 35,000 miles. This, unfortunately, works only in one direction and only from one airport in the U.S. You can book your return ticket from another city in Europe and turn it into a fun multi-country trip.

Star Alliance Business Class to Europe for 63,000 Miles or Fewer

One-way business class to Europe can be booked with just 63,000 miles. That includes all Star Alliance carriers that fly between the two continents. Our favorites include Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines, but you can also book flights on Brussels Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines and United Airlines.

And thanks to the quirks of the LifeMiles program, adding a domestic connection on either end of the business-class flight will bring the price down to about 60,000 miles.

Star Alliance Business Class to Europe for 63000 Miles

Transcontinental Business Class in the U.S. on United Airlines with 25,000 Miles

Finding availability on the transcontinental flights could be a challenge, but if you’re lucky, 25,000 miles for a lie-flat Polaris business-class seat is a great price. Look for flights departing from New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO).

U.S. to Africa in Business Class with 78,000 Miles

Scoring one of United’s nonstop flights to Africa could be challenging, but not impossible. The availability is better on other Star Alliance carriers, so it’s possible to get a great redemption in business class with 78,000 LifeMiles.

US to Africa in Business Class with 78,000 Miles

Transfer to Air Canada Aeroplan

Air Canada Aeroplan has completely revamped its program. You can now book all Star Alliance and many non-alliance partner airlines without paying the surcharges and add a stopover on one-way awards with just 5,000 points.

Here are some of the best uses of Capital One miles transferred to Aeroplan for flights on Aeroplan’s partners. Air Canada’s own flights are dynamically priced, and sometimes it’s possible to find business-class tickets for lower rates than what’s listed in the award chart.

Etihad Business Class from the U.S. to Abu Dhabi with 90,000 Points

Aeroplan is great for booking partner awards. Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world, but it also has individual partnerships with a few non-alliance airlines, such as Etihad.

Etihad charges 120,000 miles for a one-way flight to Abu Dhabi in business class through its own program, so Aeroplan for 90,000 points is the way to go. Aeroplan also doesn’t pass the carrier-imposed surcharges, so you’ll be saving cash as well as miles.

Air New Zealand Business Class from the U.S. From 75,000 Points

Air New Zealand has a fantastic business class, but availability might be hard to find. Nevertheless, if you get lucky, using Aeroplan points transferred from Capital One is a great way to get to New Zealand using just 75,000 points to fly one way from the West Coast and 87,500 points to fly from Chicago.

EVA Air with 75,000 or 87,500 Points

Taiwan’s biggest airline EVA Air has a great business class that can be booked with 75,000 Aeroplan points from the West Coast and 87,500 points from the East Coast per direction.

First Class to Japan with 110,000 Points

Japanese largest airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) has a fantastic first-class product that you can book with 110,000 Aeroplan points each way. This isn’t the cheapest way to get to Japan, but if you’re flush with Capital One miles and want to travel in a well-regarded first class, this is a good option.

South Korea or China in Business Class with 75,000 Points

Aeroplan’s award chart has South Korea and China in the same region, and a one-way flight in business class to either of these countries will set you back 75,000 Aeroplan points.

Africa in Business Class from 90,000 Points

Aeroplan has Africa, as well as Europe, in the Atlantic zone, and flights between 6,001 and 8,000 miles cost 90,000 Aeroplan points in business class per direction. Flights longer than 8,001 miles cost 110,000 points each way in business class.

Air Canada Business Class

Air Canada Business Class

Transfer to Etihad Guest

Etihad isn’t part of an airline alliance, but it does have non-alliance partnerships with a few airlines. Some of the best ways to use Etihad miles include booking American Airlines and Brussels Airlines flights.

American Airlines Flagship Business Class between the U.S. and Hong Kong with 55,000 Miles and Flagship First Class with 67,500 Miles

Etihad has an incredibly advantageous award chart for American Airlines-operated flights.

etihad guest
Etihad Guest North America

AA operates its Flagship Business and Flagship First class on select routes from/to its main hubs, for example Los Angeles to Hong Kong (HKG). By transferring Capital One miles to Etihad, you can book a one-way flight in business class with just 55,000 miles, which is fewer miles than American charges its own AAdvantage members.

Flagship First Class can be booked with 67,500 miles per direction.

American Airlines Flagship Business Class between the U.S. and Europe with 50,000 Miles and Flagship First Class with 62,500 Miles

If you’re visiting Europe, using Etihad Guest to book a business-class flight will cost 50,000 miles and 62,500 in first class one way.

American Airlines Flagship Business Class between the U.S. and Southern South America with 50,000 Miles and Flagship First Class with 62,500 Miles

Etihad’s also has excellent rates for AA-operated flights from the U.S. to South America.

Etihad Central South America Zone1 and South America Zone 2

You can fly to far-flung places like Brazil and Argentina with 50,000 miles in business class and 62,500 miles in first class one way. These are long flights, so you’ll be happy flying in comfort, in a lie-flat bed.

Brussels Airlines between the East Coast and Europe in Business Class for 44,000 Miles

Etihad also partners with Brussels Airlines and has a separate chart for flights operated by the Belgian carrier. Brussels Airlines operates nonstop flights between Brussels (BRU) and three airports in North America: New York (JFK), Washington-Dulles (IAD) and Toronto (YYZ).

This could be a great way to get between the East Coast and western Europe for just 44,000 miles each way in business class.

New York to Belgrade, Serbia, in Business Class on Air Serbia for 64,000 Miles

Air Serbia flies between New York (JFK) and Belgrade (BEG), so it’s a good way to get to Europe, and especially the Balkan countries. You can book Air Serbia’s business class with 64,000 miles each way.

U.S. to Casablanca in Business Class on Royal Air Maroc for 44,000 Points

Another sweet spot of the Etihad program are the nonstop flights between New York (JFK) or Washington-Dulles and Casablanca, Morocco (CMN). You can book a one-way business-class flight on Royal Air Maroc with just 44,000 miles.

Transfer to Air France-KLM Flying Blue

The combined frequent-flyer program of Air France and KLM has some great award rates for business-class flights. The program offers dynamically priced awards, and the best way to find out how much the cheapest award should cost is to use the Mies Price Estimator.

Air France airplane landing
Transfer to Air France-KLM Flying Blue

Booking Flying Blue Promo Rewards is a great way to save a good chunk of miles.

Europe in Business Class from 53,000 Miles

Award prices for one-way business-class flights to Europe start at 53,000 Flying Blue miles. For example, you can book a flight from Los Angeles to Rome (FCO) with a connection in Paris (CDG) with just 53,000 miles.

Europe in Business Class from 53000 Miles

Flying Blue Promo Rewards

Every month, Air France-KLM releases a small list of routes called Promo Rewards that can be booked with Flying Blue miles for 20% to 50% off the lowest rates, and you can often find unadvertised routes that are also discounted by at least 25%.

Transfer to Turkish Airlines

The Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles program also has a few gems. You’ll need to pay the carrier-imposed surcharges, which are quite reasonable on Turkish-operated flights, but the award rates are so good that you won’t mind paying $100 to $200 on top of an award ticket. Surcharges are higher on partner airlines awards.

Turkish also opens a good number of award seats to members of its own program and has decent availability on Star Alliance partners. You can put an award on hold by calling Turkish while you wait for the Capital One miles to transfer over to Miles&Smiles.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines

Istanbul or Europe from the U.S. for 45,000 Miles

You can fly from the U.S. to Istanbul or to Europe for just 45,000 miles one way in business class. This is a great way to get to southern or eastern Europe, for example Athens, Greece (ATH), or Budapest, Hungary (BUD).

U.S to Central Asia for 52,500 Miles

Turkish Airlines award chart puts such far-flung countries as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the Central Asia region. A one-way business-class award will set you back just 52,500 miles plus reasonable taxes and fees.

Not many airlines fly to these countries, so if you’re looking to go somewhere off the beaten path, definitely consider Turkish Airlines.

U.S. to Israel and Middle East for 47,000 Miles

Turkish Airlines has some of the lowest rates between the U.S. and Middle East. At 47,000 miles per direction, it’s a great redemption for this long journey.

U.S. to Israel and Middle East for 47000 Miles

U.S. to Africa from 60,000 Miles

Turkish has great award rates to North Africa on Star Alliance carriers and decent award pricing to Central and Southern Africa. North Africa can be booked with 60,000 miles; Central Africa with 72,500 miles; and Southern Africa with 85,000 miles for a one-way flight in business class.

U.S. to the Far East for 67,500 Miles in Business and 100,000 Miles First Class

Turkish has good rates for both business and first class to what it calls the “Far East,” or what we’d just call Asia. This includes popular destinations like Maldives, Thailand and Vietnam.

One-way in business class can be booked with just 67,000 miles in business class and 100,000 miles in first class. Beware of surcharges on some partners, especially for first-class awards.

Mainland U.S. to Hawaii for 12,500 Miles

Turkish Airlines has the entire United States, including Hawaii, listed as one region. Turkish doesn’t fly U.S. domestic flights, but you can book United-operated flights with the Miles&Smiles program. Finding award space on the flights to Hawaii, especially in business class, isn’t an easy feat, but it’s possible with some luck and perseverance.

Cards to Help You Earn Capital One Miles

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card comes with a great welcome bonus and has a reasonable $95 annual fee. The card earns unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, making it a great everyday spending card.

The Capital Venture X Rewards Credit Card also earns 2X on all purchases, and its $395 annual fee can be offset with the $300 Capital One Travel credit, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit and 10,000 miles anniversary bonus every year, starting on your first anniversary.

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card is a great card for a business owner. It earns 2X on every purchase, has a reasonable annual fee of $95 and comes with a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit.

Final Thoughts

Capital One miles could be extremely valuable when booking awards in a premium cabin. Not only does Capital One have a great roster of transfer partners, but you also can book any flight through Capital One Travel, earn airline miles on your flights and then “erase” the purchase.

Capital One miles are easy to earn with a few consumer and business credit cards, and no matter what your destination is, Capital One transfer partner airlines can take you there.