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I got a pleasant surprise on a recent flight — right as I got on the plane, in fact. While checking my email, I saw that Capital One had issued me a $69 travel credit.

That was thanks to Capital One’s free price drop detection. I booked tickets for me and my wife using Capital One Travel, paying $163 a ticket ($326 total). When flight prices dropped, Capital One issued me a credit for the difference, saving me over 20%. If you have any Capital One credit cards, here are the details on this useful benefit.

How Capital One’s price drop protection works

Price drop protection is a complimentary benefit of Capital One Travel. To use Capital One Travel, you need a U.S.-issued, eligible Capital One card. Most cardholders have access to it, and it’s available with Capital One’s cash back cards, not just its travel cards.

Here are the rules for price drop protection:

  • Eligibility: When you search for flights, Capital One Travel will let you know if it’s a good time to buy based on flight prices. If Capital One Travel recommends buying a given flight at that time, then it will automatically apply price drop protection to that purchase.
  • Price monitoring lasts for up to 10 calendar days: Once price drop protection is applied, Capital One will monitor the price of that particular itinerary for 10 calendar days after the purchase.
  • Price difference is issued as a travel credit up to $50: If Capital One identifies a price drop of at least a certain threshold, it will issue a credit for the maximum difference in price up to $50. This is issued in the form of a travel credit you can use through Capital One Travel.

You may be wondering how I got a credit for $69 if the maximum is $50. I was, too. From what I’ve found, it’s because I had two tickets on my reservation. That would mean I was eligible for travel credits adding up to a total of $69.

Pros and cons of Capital One Travel

Before you use Capital One Travel, you should know about the drawbacks. There are a few notable ones when using Capital One Travel or any other travel portals available through credit cards:

  • It doesn’t always have the lowest prices. Sometimes flight and hotel prices are cheaper when you book directly with that airline or hotel, or through another platform. To be fair, Capital One Travel also has a price match feature, which I’ll get into below.
  • It can be harder to resolve issues. When you book directly with an airline, hotel, or rental car company, you can contact it directly for any issues. When you book with a third party, it’s more complicated. The travel provider may tell you that you need to contact Capital One Travel because you booked there.

Capital One Travel also has its perks. One is the price drop protection — airlines generally don’t do this for you. Here are the other benefits of booking travel this way:

  • Many Capital One cards include extra perks with Capital One Travel. Several earn bonus rewards (often 5 to 10 points per $1) on Capital One Travel bookings. Some Capital One cards also include an annual travel credit usable in its travel portal.
  • It has a price match guarantee. If you book through Capital One Travel and find a cheaper itinerary within 24 hours of booking, you can submit a price match claim. You’ll need to make sure that your claim meets the price match terms and conditions, including that both itineraries are an exact match.

Should you use Capital One Travel?

Capital One Travel is a good option for travel bookings, and especially low-cost bookings. I probably wouldn’t use it for anything too expensive. If I’m booking business-class airfare or a $2,000 hotel stay, I’d rather book directly just in case anything goes wrong. I don’t want to be going back and forth between the travel provider and Capital One Travel in that situation.

Make sure to compare prices before you book. As mentioned, Capital One Travel isn’t always the best deal. If it isn’t, you can book elsewhere or submit a price match claim.

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