Capital One Credit Cards – Which Is Right for You?
The catchphrase “What’s in your wallet?” may be stuck in your head if you’ve seen too many of Capital One’s credit card commercials or received its credit card offers in the mail. The question is a legitimate one if you don’t think you’re getting enough from your credit cards and want to check the many features Capital One cards offer.
Here are some of the best Capital One credit cards that may make opening your wallet a lot more rewarding.
- Overview of the best Capital One credit cards
- Summary of the best Capital One credit cards
- The bottom line
Overview of the best Capital One credit cards
|Card name||Best for|
|Quicksilver One||Fair credit|
|Quicksilver Rewards||Excellent credit|
|SavorOne Rewards||Dining and entertainment|
|Savor Rewards||4% on dining, entertainment|
|VentureOne Rewards||Good credit|
|Platinum Mastercard||Fair credit|
|Secured Mastercard||Rebuilding credit|
|Spark Classic||Business owners with fair credit|
|Spark Cash||Business owners with excellent credit|
|Spark Miles||Business travel|
Capital One cash back credit cards
Getting a credit card with cash back rewards if you have fair credit can be difficult, but Capital One makes it easy with the Capital One Quicksilver cash rewards credit card.
The card pays unlimited rewards of 1.5% cash back on every purchase. The cash you get back can be rewarded for any amount at any time. It can be sent to you as a statement credit or check, or on gift cards.
A slider on the card’s website allows applicants to see how much money they could earn through their spending. Spend $500 each month and you’ll get back $90 every year, for example.
The Capital One Quicksilver Rewards credit card is two steps up from the Quicksilver One, with no annual fee and a welcome bonus that the entry card doesn’t offer.
This card is meant for people with excellent credit and has a lower annual percentage rate, or APR, than the Quicksilver One or the mid-level card called Quicksilver Rewards for Good Credit.
However, its rewards rate of 1.5% cash back on all purchases is the same as the other two cards, so the biggest benefits may be the new cardmember bonus and no annual fee. It also has a lower interest rate, starting with 0% APR for 15 months before going to 15.49% for customers with the best credit.
Capital One dining and entertainment credit cards
Capital One has three types of Savor credit cards that offer great cash back rewards on dining and entertainment. Two of them, the Savor Rewards and the SavorOne Rewards cards, are for consumers with excellent credit scores.
Savor Rewards has a $95 annual fee, while the Capital One SavorOne rewards credit card doesn’t have an annual fee. The SavorOne’s rewards are a little lower, but the new member cash bonus offer is easier to reach, and APR is 0% for the first 15 months.
This cash back card pays 3% on dining and entertainment purchases, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% elsewhere.
Along with the normal benefits you might expect from a cash back card, such as extended warranties, a free concierge service, and using your rewards through PayPal, it offers access to events. These include premier culinary experiences, concerts, and sports events.
If you have excellent credit and want to earn a little more in cash back for dining and entertainment, the Savor Rewards card pays 4% on those purchases, plus 8% on tickets at Vivid Seats.
The card has a $95 annual fee, however, but the one-time cash bonus is $50 more than the previous card, at $350 after $3,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening.
To make the annual fee a little more palatable, you should consider how many entertainment events you go to in a year, and how often you eat out. The 1% higher cash back rate isn’t limited to restaurants and a few concerts and dining in restaurants, which may be limited during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dining purchases include cafes, bars, lounges, fast-food chains, and bakeries.
Entertainment purchases include:
- Movie theaters
- Pro and semi-pro live sports events
- Collegiate sporting events
- Live theater
- Amusement parks
- Tourist attractions
- Dance halls
- Record stores
- Pool halls
- Bowling alleys
- Golf courses
- Cable TV
- Digital streaming
Capital One travel rewards credit cards
Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards card is the only one of the three Venture Rewards credit cards among its travel and miles rewards credit cards that has an annual fee. The $95 annual fee may be worthwhile if you travel often, with enough perks and bonus miles for new cardholders that the other cards either don’t offer or are at lower levels.
The Venture Rewards credit card starts by paying unlimited double miles for every $1 spent on every purchase. That’s 0.75 miles more than the other Venture cards.
New cardmembers earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which should be enough miles to earn you a free roundtrip flight. It also gives up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck fees, which start at $85.
This travel rewards card has no foreign transaction fees, auto rental collision damage waiver, and miles can be transferred to more than 10 travel loyalty programs. Redemption options include the online shopping tool called Capital One Shopping, and using rewards to pay for Amazon purchases.
VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit
If you have good credit instead of excellent credit, you can still earn travel rewards through Capital One. The VentureOne Rewards Credit Card for Good Credit offers lower miles than the Venture Rewards card that has a fee, but it allows a lower credit score and has no annual fee.
Some of the redemption options for miles earned at 1.25 miles per $1 spent on any purchase include:
- Hotel stays and flights when transferred to more than 10 loyalty programs.
- Capital One experiences such as VIP tickets and five-star meals.
- Redeem rewards for Amazon purchases.
- Redeem rewards at online stores with PayPal.
Capital One credit cards for building credit
For people with fair credit, the Capital One Platinum Card is an entry-level credit card meant to allow people to have a credit card that they may need for daily life and to help them improve their credit score.
An okay credit history can cause credit scores to drop and can make it difficult to be approved for a credit card. Capital One realizes this and gives consumers a chance to still have a credit card. Applicants can check on the Capital One website if they’re preapproved for a card, which won’t impact their credit score.
The card has no annual fee. Cardholders can be considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months. To improve their chances, they should pay their bill on time and in full each month, which will help them avoid the 26.99% APR.
Through a program called CreditWise from Capital One, it gives users free, unlimited access to their credit score and tools to monitor their credit profile. The card has $0 fraud liability if it is lost or stolen and used for fraudulent purchases.
People with high balances and high APRs on other credit cards can do a balance transfer to the Platinum Mastercard, which could save them money if the new card’s rate is lower than what they already pay.
Getting a credit card as a student can be difficult. The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card aims to help students get their first credit card by not charging an annual fee, while still giving them some cash back benefits.
The card pays 1% cash back on all purchases and goes up to 1.25% for each month that on-time payments are made. The card has no foreign transaction fees, so traveling around the world is possible without paying extra fees for using a credit card.
Cardholders earn $5 per month for 12 months, or up to $60 per year, on select streaming subscriptions when paid on time.
If you’ve been declined for a credit card in the last three months or defaulted on a loan more than once, then you may qualify for the Secured Mastercard from Capital One, a secured credit card designed to help people trying to rebuild their credit.
The card has no annual fee, and it also doesn’t offer a welcome bonus to new cardholders or pay rewards for charges. But it’s a credit card, and if used properly it can help users improve their credit score. The interest rate is high, so paying the card on time each month, and in full if possible, can help keep users from gaining debt or worsening their credit history.
The card requires a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200 that Capital One says can be earned back as a statement credit by making on-time payments. Access to an authorized bank account is required to make the security deposit.
Once the security deposit is received, cardholders get an initial credit line of $200. A higher credit line is allowed for depositing more money before your account opens in two to three weeks after the deposit is received.
Capital One small business credit cards
Small business owners come with many kinds of financial backgrounds. For those with a fair credit score, the Spark Classic credit card allows them to build their credit with a card that helps them do it responsibly, while still having access to a credit card they may need to get their business going.
It also offers 1% cash back on every purchase, with no expiration date for using rewards as long as the account remains open.
There’s no annual fee, and free employee cards with spending limits are available. Purchase records can be downloaded quickly and securely into formats such as Quicken, QuickBooks, and Excel.
Small business owners with excellent credit earn 2% cash back on every purchase with the Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card. There’s no application fee for the first year, then the annual fee costs $95 after that.
New cardholders earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 within the first three months of account opening.
The card doesn’t charge fees for spending over your credit limit, which can be good for small business owners who need supplies to arrive quickly. The monthly minimum payment is 10% of the balance up to their credit limit.
Some small business owners may prefer to earn miles instead of cash back for the business expenses they charge to their company credit card. The Spark Miles cards do that, with one offering 1.5X and the other offering 2X miles for each $1 spent.
Our focus is on the Spark 2X Miles card, which has a much bigger bonus than the other card. The 2X card has a $0 annual fee for the first year, then rises to $95 annually, though cardholders should check that the extra 0.5 miles per card from the 2X Spark Miles card are worth the extra cost.
Spark miles can be transferred to more than 10 airlines that Capital One works with. Also, a $100 statement credit is given for Global Entry or TSA Precheck to get the cardholder through airport security faster.
Summary of the best Capital One credit cards
|Card||Annual fee||Welcome bonus||Reward rate||Credit level||APR|
|Quicksilver Rewards||$0||$250 / spend $500 in 3 mos||1.5% every purchase||Excellent||0% 15 mos; 15.49-25.49%|
|SavorOne Rewards||$250 / spend $500 in 3 mos||$0||3% on dining, entertainment||Excellent||0% 15 mos; 15.49-25.49%|
|Savor Rewards||$95||$300 / spend $3k in 3 mos||4% dining, entertainment||Excellent||15.99-24.99%|
|Venture Rewards||$95||60k / spend $3k in 3 mos||2x miles||Excellent||17.24-24.49%|
|VentureOne Rewards||$0||None||1.25x miles||Good||21.99-26.99%|
|Spark Cash||$0 / $95||$500 / spend $4,500 in 3 mos||2%||Excellent||20.99%|
|Spark Miles||$0 / $95||50k / spend $4,500 in 3 mos||2x miles||Excellent||20.99%|
How does Capital One define credit levels?
FICO Scores, which range from 300 to 850, are typically used by lenders in deciding what credit cards borrowers qualify for. A score of 670 or above is typically considered a good score, while 800 or above is excellent.
Another credit score provider, VantageScore, has the same score ranges, but the numbers are lower to be in each category. Capital One explains this more on its website.
It also offers some guidelines to help applicants decide which cards they may qualify for. Meeting the criteria can still lead to being declined because credit history and other factors are considered.
Here are the four ways Capital One describes the types of credit scores needed for its credit cards:
- Never declared bankruptcy or defaulted on a loan.
- Not more than 60 days late on any credit card, medical bill, or loan in the last year.
- Have had a loan or credit card for three years or more with a credit line above $5,000.
- Haven’t declared bankruptcy or defaulted on a loan in the past five years.
- Have a credit card or loan and haven’t been more than 30 days late in any payment in the last year.
Defaulted on a loan in the past five years.
- Have limited credit history.
- Have had own credit card or other credit for less than three years.
Defaulted on a loan more than once.
Declined for a credit card in last three months.
Can I earn credit card rewards if I have fair credit?
Yes, but you’ll likely pay the highest variable APR of 26.99% on balances and you won’t get an intro APR of 0%.
That makes balance transfers from other credit cards so you can consolidate debt difficult, and highlights the importance of paying off a credit card bill fully each month.
Few credit cards give rewards points to cardholders with fair or worse credit. As Capital One defines it, fair credit means you’ve defaulted on a loan in the past five years, or have limited credit history with some type of credit for less than three years.
Capital One offers credit cards to people rebuilding their credit or who are new to credit and are just starting to build a credit history.
Students can use the Journey Student card to build credit without paying an annual fee. They won’t, however, earn rewards points on purchases.
Of the cards we reviewed, probably the best for people with fair credit who want to earn rewards is the QuickSilver One card. It has an annual fee of $39 and pays 1.5% cash back on purchases.
Pros and Cons
With excellent credit, you may qualify for some of the best rewards cards around. Sign-up bonuses go as high as $500 in cash or 60,000 bonus miles after spending a certain amount of money in a few months.
Redemption options range from free flights and hotel stays to free dining and concert tickets. Statement credits can be applied to online shopping.
Some cards offer an intro APR of 0% for 15 months. That can be enough time to consolidate credit card debt by transferring balances from other cards to the new card, and then paying the total bill off within 15 months.
After that, cardholders with excellent credit may get the lowest variable APRs, starting at 15.49%.
One of the potential downsides to having a rewards credit card, or any credit card, is that it can encourage cardholders to spend more money. Having $50 in cash in your pocket seems more valuable than charging $50 on a credit card, so you may be more likely to spend more with a credit card.
If credit card charges aren’t paid by the card’s due date each month, they can add up with high-interest charges of 15% APR or higher. If the minimum monthly payment is made, no late charges will be added, but the interest paid will still be high.
High annual fees for credit cards are another potential downside to owning credit cards. Do the math and make sure the rewards you earn are much higher than the fee. There’s little point in having a card with an annual fee that you don’t use enough to earn rewards miles or cash back for things you wouldn’t buy anyway.
The bottom line
Having a credit card that earns you points or miles for a free vacation somewhere down the road can be an exciting way to plan a trip. Make a few big purchases to earn a welcome bonus, and you may have enough miles for a free flight.
But don’t let the “free” rewards fool you. Hopefully, you’re buying things you’d normally buy with your new credit card, and you’re paying the bill off on time and in full each month. If you’re not, then subtract the interest you’re paying from the rewards. Also, subtract an annual fee for the card if you’re paying one.
Capital One and other credit card providers have plenty of rewards cards to entice consumers to apply for their credit cards. With financial discipline and spending on bonus categories at the right times, you can have a rewards card do the hard work of paying you for spending your hard-earned money.