Rumours had been floating around for several weeks that Capital One was about to discontinue its popular Aspire Travel World MasterCard – arguably the top travel rewards card on the market.

The card was pulled from affiliate channels like Rate Supermarket but remained listed on Capital One’s own website – that is until today when it was removed and replaced by something called the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard.

No word yet on whether existing Aspire Travel World MasterCard cardholder benefits will be grandfathered or if Capital One will look to move those members over to this new product.

When Capital One pulled its Aspire Cash World MasterCard in August 2013, existing cardholders kept their benefits intact, but the credit card issuer did not replace that card with a new one – opting instead to move forward with the watered-down Aspire Cash Platinum card in its cash back line-up.

The good news here, if any, is that Capital One has appeared to replace the Aspire Travel World MasterCard with a World Elite MasterCard that appears at first blush to offer similar benefits to that of the MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard, albeit at a slightly higher annual fee.

New Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard

Here’s a look at the new card and what it has to offer:

  • 2 reward miles for every $1 spent on the card
  • 10,000 bonus miles on your first purchase – a value of up to $100
  • Free supplementary card for spouse

You’ll get the same No Hassle Rewards that were offered with the old card:

  • Book your own trip – including the hotel, airline or rental car of your choice – then redeem your reward miles for your travel expenses
  • Pay for the taxes on your travel with your miles
  • No blackout dates or hidden fees

In fact, it looks like the tiered structure for redeeming travel reward miles will also remain intact:

Cost of Your Travel Rewards Miles Needed 
Up to $15015,000
$150.01 to $35035,000
$350.01 to $60060,000
$600.01 and greaterTravel cost x100

Cardholders can continue to redeem their miles for cash, merchandise, or gift cards at the same discounted value as before.

The World Elite brand means new applicants will need to have either personal income of $70,000 or household income of $120,000 in order to qualify (up from $60,000 or $100,000). The new card comes with the standard $120 annual fee for premium travel cards.

Loss for travel rewards market

This is a huge loss for the Canadian travel rewards market as the old Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard was in a class of its own – offering new applicants 35,000 bonus miles with their first purchase and 10,000 bonus miles each year on their card anniversary, which effectively reduced the annual fee down to $20.

RelatedHow to cut through the noise and choose the best rewards card

Here’s a look at what a new cardholder would have earned under the old Aspire Travel World MasterCard benefits if he or she spent $2,500 per month:

  • 60,000 miles on purchases
  • 35,000 bonus miles on first purchase
  • 10,000 bonus miles on card anniversary

105,000 first year reward miles = up to $1,050 in travel rewards

Now here’s what a new cardholder will earn with the new Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard on $2,500 per month spend:

  • 60,000 miles on purchases
  • 10,000 bonus miles on first purchase

70,000 first year reward miles = up to $700 in travel rewards

As you can see, it’s not even close. There’s a $350 difference in earnings between the two cards, not to mention the 10,000 annual bonus miles that are no longer offered by the new product.

Final thoughts

We figured there would be disruption in the rewards credit card space this year after Visa and MasterCard were “voluntold” to lower their interchange fees or face the wrath of the federal government.

Were the bonus miles simply too rich for Capital One to continue paying out to its new and existing cardholders? Will other premium travel rewards cards follow suit? Time will tell.

What do you think about this move by Capital One?

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