Once upon a time there was a credit card that ruled the land. The Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite Mastercard was king. There was almost no matching it, it ranked as the number one travel points card in our annual rankings for years on end (even its predecessor the Miles Plus card won our rankings in 2009!) as it offered a nice simple 2% back towards travel, had an amazing insurance package and provided an annual anniversary bonus worth $100 towards travel. In the end the card aspired to be too much (no pun intended) and proved to be too expensive for Capital One to maintain. They stopped issuing the card several years ago but original cardholders were grandfathered the anniversary bonus and all cardholders were able to keep earning that 2%.
Thanks to our Twitter follower Dan Donovan we now know that all changes on August 5th. Grandfather Capital One Aspire World Elite Mastercard holders will no longer get the anniversary bonus but even worse the earn rate is dropping to 1.5% from that trend setting 2%. Why Capital One is doing this. I believe it is still an expensive card for them to offer as Capital One has shifted their focus in the market to new credit (Students, newcomers to Canada, etc) and secured credit. Those type of card offerings bring down the average interchange rate fees they are collecting and would eat away at what is earned on the World Elite card. We know the card wasn’t making the company money when it was an active card in the market so one has to assume it’s not making it any money now. By making these changes the reward rate of 1.5% will closely match what Capital One is earning but not only that I’m pretty sure they know that by making this change people will cancel the card which means the company will have less cardmembers carrying a card that doesn’t make them any money.
So that brings us to the question for those of you who still have the card – should you keep it or switch to another card? For the most part, I’d say switch, I mean 1.5% isn’t a bad earn rate but there are a lot of cards that also earn that much but also have accelerated rates in certain spend categories where you can earn more. For example, if you want to keep earning and redeeming for travel at 2% the MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard is a good alternative option since it provides that straight 2% towards travel booked via MBNA and 1.67% towards cash back rewards (which can be used to book any travel from any provider). Both of those rates are higher than the Capital One card but know that the MBNA card doesn’t have as strong of an insurance package. You have the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard which earns 1.5% on all spending, so the same as the new Cap One earn rates but then it earns 2% on WestJet purchases, has the first bag free benefit and of course the companion vouchers. Another really good card to consider would be the HSBC World Elite Mastercard. It earns 1.5% on all spending except travel which is 3% but then the card also has No Foreign Transaction fees, annual travel credits and you can choose to convert those points to several airlines including British Airways and Cathay Pacific. The list goes on from there with cards like the BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard, the Rogers World Elite Mastercard and so on. There are lots of options out there and in my mind the front runners are the first three I mentioned.