Capital One Financial Corp. has joined the ranks of credit card issuers offering frequent-flier miles redeemable on any airline.
About two dozen such programs exist already, said Randy Petersen, editor of Frequent Flier magazine in Colorado Springs.
He said Capital One is "pushing all the right buttons with an aggressive interest rate and low fee."
The Falls Church, Va.-based lender, one of the card industry's top 10 companies in terms of receivables, is offering a platinum card, MilesOne, with a 9.9% fixed interest rate and $19 annual fee.
Capital One began offering MilesOne Visa to existing customers six months ago and more recently started selling it more widely. It is the only card from Capital One with its own Web site, www.milesone.com.
"We wanted to make this really accessible, really easy for people to find," said Capital One spokeswoman Diana Don.
Industry consultant Donald M. Berman, president of Cardholder Management Services in Plainview, N.Y., said programs such as MilesOne "are going to take market share away from the individual carrier programs." This type of program has come into vogue now that most major airlines are locked into cobranding card deals with single issuers.
Mr. Petersen estimated that five million people are enrolled in airline programs that let them earn free tickets on any carrier, and the total seems to be growing. Some of the 15 million people enrolled in single- airline programs may be lured away, Mr. Berman said.
On the MilesOne Web site, Capital One encourages people to click on a box to see its program compared favorably with the AAdvantage card from Citigroup and American Airlines, the Delta SkyMiles Optima card from American Express, and the United Airlines card from Bank One.
The $19 annual fee on MilesOne is shown alongside the $125 charged for AAdvantage, $100 for United Mileage Plus, and $75 for Delta SkyMiles. Those cards also have annual interest rates above 17% and require a minimum of 25,000 points to earn a free ticket, versus 18,000 with MilesOne.
Mr. Petersen said MilesOne's competitors offer more opportunities to earn points through partnerships with corporations.
"With MilesOne you have to spend $18,000 to get a ticket," he said. "But I might spend far less than that and earn a ticket faster" with the competition.
Travel in the MilesOne program must include a Saturday night stopover. There are limits on the number of miles that can be earned monthly, as well as ticket price limits.
Dedicated airline programs generally target business travelers, but programs like MilesOne are designed to appeal to a wider audience, Mr. Petersen said. "They are not really competing against each other."
In a separate product announcement for frequent travelers, Capital One said Monday that it will issue an Amtrak Visa.
The cobranded card has a rewards system, Smartrak, that lets people earn points toward free train rides. The program awards one point for each dollar spent on general retail purchases and two points for each dollar spent on Amtrak. Cardholders can earn a free ticket after accumulating at least 2,500 points.
Each card purchase also enters the holder into an Amtrak Smartrak Visa sweepstakes, which awards train tickets as prizes.
Though Capital One offers hundreds of cards in endless permutations, the Amtrak card is only its third cobranded product. Its other partners are Mercedes Benz Credit Corp. and World Championship Wrestling, a Time Warner company.