The Best Capital One Credit Cards For Travel Rewards, Cash-Back & More

Capital One Credit Cards

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Well known for their advertising slogan: “What’s in your wallet?,” Capital One presents a compelling case for always having one of their cards on hand for earning rewards on every purchase you make.

Capital One cards typically don’t come with fancy quarterly bonus categories, airline or hotel perks, promotions needing registration, or a long list of bonus categories you have to memorize. But they are a solid collection of credit cards that earn unlimited rewards and offer no-hassle redemptions.

Add the fact that J.D. Powers recognized Capital One as having the highest in customer satisfaction among mobile banking apps of all financial institutions, and you’ll start to understand the company’s delivery commitment.

If you’re looking for a credit card that earns travel rewards, cash-back, or a chance to build or rebuild your credit history, there’s bound to be a Capital One card that fits your needs.

Let’s take a look at the rewards, benefits, and credit-building solutions offered by some of the best Capital One credit cards.

Best Capital One Credit Cards for Travel Rewards

Capital One’s flagship credit card, the Venture® Rewards credit card (learn more), earns double miles every day on every purchase you make.

That strong marketing message has made the Venture® Rewards Credit Card a popular choice, and with simple earning and redemption options, it’s an easy card to have in your wallet.

The VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card (learn more) also earns miles on every purchase but has no annual fee.

Which card is right for you depends on your level of annual spending.

If we value miles at 1 cent each, and you spend $20,000 annually in non-hotel purchases on each card, you would net $305 in value (after subtracting the cost of the annual fee) from the Venture® Rewards card (learn more) and $250 in value from the VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card (learn more).

Best Capital One Credit Card for Travel RewardsCard Benefits
  • 2 miles per dollar on every purchase
  • 10 miles per dollar on hotel purchases with hotels.com/venture
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA Pre✓®credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase
  • 10 miles per dollar on hotel purchases with hotels.com/venture

 

Restaurant Table Above
You’ll be picking up the dinner check often when you have the Capital One Savor card that earns 3% cash-back on dining purchases. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Best Capital One Credit Card for Dining

Often overlooked, but certainly worthy of consideration, is the Capital One Savor® Dining Rewards card.

If you’re a foodie, have a lot of business dining expenses, or dine out frequently, you can’t go wrong earning 3% cash-back on dining with no annual fee.

You earn at least 1% cash-back on every purchase and 2% at grocery stores, so there’s plenty of earning potential for everyday spending.

Best Capital One Credit Card for DiningBenefits
  • Earn a cash bonus after meeting specific spending levels within 3 months from account opening (sign-up bonus varies)
  • 3% cash-back on restaurant purchases, 2% cash-back at grocery stores and 1% cash-back on all other purchases

Hot Tip: With an initial 0% APR period of 15 months for both purchases and balance transfers, the potential savings in interest charges alone is reason enough to consider the Capital One Savor® card. The fact that it has no annual fee and earns 3% cash-back at restaurants are further reasons to keep the card even after the 0% APR period expires. 

Best Capital One Credit Cards for Cash-Back

Capital One cash-back credit cards lack excitement. But simplicity may be more important when it comes to everyday earnings, and that’s what you’ll get with Capital One cash-back credit cards.

You’ll earn cash-back on every purchase, but you’ll also have the opportunity to take advantage of the 0% APR periods for purchases and balance transfers that come with all of these cash-back credit cards.

Best Capital One Credit Card for Cash-BackBenefits/Annual Fee
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card (Learn More)
  • 1.5% cash-back on every purchase
  • For average credit
  • Credit line increase after 5 on-time payments
  • Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • 1.5% cash-back on every purchase
  • 3% cash-back at restaurants
  • 2% cash-back at grocery stores
  • 1% all other purchases

Best Capital One No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Capital One has 10 credit cards in its lineup that do not charge an annual fee. The collection of no-annual-fee Capital One cards includes a credit card for every spending profile and credit history.

You’ll find rewards-earning credit cards, 0% APR credit cards, cash-back credit cards, and a card for rebuilding your credit.

No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards for Excellent Credit

  • VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card (learn more)
  • Savor® Dining Rewards
  • Quicksilver® Rewards 0% APR for 15 Months (learn more)
  • Quicksilver® Rewards $200 Bonus Offer (learn more)
  • Spark® Select
  • Spark® Miles Select (learn more)

No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards for Average Credit

  • Platinum (learn more)
  • Journey® Student Rewards
  • Spark® Classic

No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards for Rebuilding Credit

Bottom Line: Regardless of your credit history, Capital One has a no-annual-fee credit card that can match your financial profile. 

Best Capital One Credit Cards for Business

Earning 2% cash-back or 2 miles per dollar on all of your business expenses can be a respectable return, but you’ll have to pay a $95 annual fee to do so on the Spark® Cash and Spark® Miles cards versus the no-annual-fee business credit cards.

Initially, that may seem like a high annual fee. But if you spend $50,000 a year on your business, you’ll still net $905 on the Spark® Cash and $750 on the Spark Cash® Select.

Add the fact that the fee is waived the first year on the Spark® Cash and you’ll come out even more ahead.

Best Capital One Credit Card for BusinessBenefits
  • 2% cash-back on every purchase
  • 1.5% cash-back on every purchase
  • 2 miles per dollar spent
  • 1.5 miles per dollar spent

Bottom Line: Don’t let an annual fee scare you away from a particular credit card. Estimate your annual spending on the card and calculate the value you’ll receive in return. You may find that paying the annual fee increases your bottom-line earnings. 

A 0% APR credit card that offers a period where no interest is charged on new purchases or balance transfers can offer significant savings. Image courtesy of Greenpath.com

Best Capital One Introductory 0% APR Credit Cards

It would be wishful thinking to find a credit card that doesn’t charge interest, but the next best thing is a credit card that doesn’t charge interest for a specific period of time.

A window of interest-free purchases or balance transfers allows you to make large purchase(s) and pay the balance off over time, — or transfer balances from your high-interest credit cards and receive temporary relief from interest charges.

Although transferred balances do not incur interest charges, there is a 3% transfer fee based on the amount of the transfer.

If you’re transferring a balance from a high-interest credit card, however, there may still be significant savings.

You’ll want to manage your 0% APR transactions well, and make sure all balances are paid off in full prior to the expiration of the 0% APR period to avoid incurring any interest charges. Once the 0% APR period has expired, you’ll be subject to normal interest rates on the card, which can exceed 20%.

Recommended Capital One cards choices:

Bottom Line: A 0% APR period can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars on interest charges. Fortunately, Capital One makes it easy to secure a credit card that offers a 0% APR period for purchases and balances transfers, as none of these cards charge an annual fee.

Best Capital One Credit Cards for Building Credit

Have you had past credit challenges and want to get back on the right path? Or are you just starting out and need a credit card to help you build a solid credit history? Perhaps you’re even an entrepreneur with less-than-stellar credit trying to get your business up and running.

These are all situations that Capital One addresses with its credit card offerings for building or rebuilding credit.

Capital One Credit Card for Building/Re-building CreditBenefits
  • Access to a higher credit limit after the first 5 months of on-time payments
  • Minimum initial  credit limit $300
  • Free credit score access
  • No security deposit
  • Reports to credit bureaus
  • Initial credit line of $200 for a refundable deposit of $49, $99, or $200 determined by creditworthiness
  • Access to a higher credit limit after the first 5 months of on-time payments
  • Reports to the 3 leading credit bureaus
  • Journey® Student Rewards Card
  • 1% cash-back on all purchases + .25 for paying on time
  • Access to a higher credit limit after the first 5 months of on-time payments
  • 1% cash-back on all purchases
  • Business credit card with employee cards, annual statements

Bottom Line: Even with less-than-perfect credit or no credit, you can qualify for a Capital One credit card and get started on the path to building a better credit history. 

Everything Else You Need to Know

Pre-qualifying for Capital One Credit Cards

Applying for a credit card can be intimidating, as you’re never 100% sure you’ll get approved. Fortunately, you can diminish that stress with Capital One credit cards, as they have a user-friendly pre-qualifying process designed to let you know upfront if you’re likely to qualify for one of their credit cards.

You’ll simply complete the short form and submit it to see if you’re pre-qualified for any of their cards.

The prequalification form is not a credit card application, so there’s no hard credit pull and no guarantee you’ll ultimately be approved. However, it is does give you an idea which cards you’re likely to be approved for.

To read about the pre-qualifying process for Capital One and other credit card issuers, you can access our complete guide to credit card pre-qualification.

Another option is to use the Card Match Tool which lets you know if you’ve been targeted for any credit card offers. Capital One is one of the participating financial institutions on the site.

Redeeming Rewards on Capital One Credit Cards

Once you sign in to your Capital One online account, you’ll have the option to easily redeem your miles for travel

Redeeming Miles

Capital One miles are generally worth 1 cent each, are easy to redeem, and you have several redemption options. Just log in to your Capital One online account for access to several redemption options.

1. Purchase Eraser

You can redeem your miles to offset previous travel purchases that have posted to your account within the past 90 days.

2. Use for Travel Purchases

You can redeem your miles for new travel with Capital One Travel. Keep in mind that you also earn 10 miles per dollar when booking hotels through the hotels.com/venture link using your Venture® Rewards or VentureOne® Rewards Card.

3. Redeem for Gift Cards

Use your miles to purchase gift cards at the value of 1 cent per mile

4. Redeem for Cash

Not a good option as your miles are only worth 1/2 cent when redeemed for cash. Avoid this choice if you can!

5. Donate

Redeem your miles for a charitable donation by selecting from a long list of organizations such as the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. Be sure to select an option that gives you at least 1 cent per mile in value.

Hot Tip: Look for special offers when redeeming miles for gift cards as there are frequently options to redeem for far better than 1 cent per mile. 

Collecting Your Cash-Back Rewards

It’s easy to collect the cash-back you’ve earned on your Capital One cash-back credit card.

You’ll simply log in to your Capital One online account to view your rewards balance and choose the redemption option you want.

Take your cash-back as a statement credit that will be applied to your credit card balance, or you can request that a check is sent to you.

Cash-back rewards can also be redeemed for gift cards or for a charitable donation.

Cardholder Benefits and Protections

Your specific Capital One credit card will have its own travel protections, shopping benefits, and additional features and benefits. This list comprises most of the benefits and protections available. However, your card agreement will determine which ones apply to your individual credit card.

You will receive a cardholder agreement in the mail accompanying your new credit card, or you can access any Capital One benefits guide online.

Visa® and Mastercard® Protections and Benefits

  • Visa Benefits®: Capital One Visa credit cards, of which their are 5 different types, come with an entire suite of benefits including Visa Concierge services, expanded travel benefits and additional shopping benefits. You can view all the Capital One Visa account types and their associated benefits on the Capital One website.
  • Mastercard® Benefits: Capital One offers 6 different types of Mastercards, each having its own collection of protections and benefits. Access a list of the types of Mastercards offered and all the Mastercard benefit guides here.

You’ll find that most Capital One credit cards offer the following protections and benefits:

Travel Protections and Benefits

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver: Use your card to rent an eligible vehicle and be covered for collision damage or theft.
  • Travel accident insurance: Insurance for up to $100,000 for covered accidental personal injury loss while riding in a common carrier when you use your Capital One credit card to purchase your fare.

Shopping Protections and Benefits

  • Extended warranty protection: Additional warranty protection on eligible items purchased with your Capital One credit card.

Other Card Benefits

  • Award-winning Capital One mobile app – Manage your account with J.D. Power’s 2017 pick for the best mobile banking apps.
  • CreditWise® app: Monitor your credit with free CreditWise® access.
  • Eno: Manage your account via text messages with the Eno app.
  • 24-hour customer assistance: Card assistance whenever you need it.
  • Fraud coverage: $0 liability if your card is lost or stolen.

Final Thoughts

While the varied collection of Capital One credit cards ensures there’s an appropriate card for many consumers, frequent travelers may wonder: “Where’s my complimentary lounge access?”

When it comes to premium travel perks such as airline or hotel perks, airline credits, a faster path to elite status, and lounge access, you won’t find those high end travel-related amenities on Capital One credit cards.

Business owners looking for related bonus purchase categories such as office supplies, shipping, travel, and internet or phone services won’t be too impressed with the Capital One credit card offerings, either.

But overall, Capital One knows its market well and does a good job of avoiding the bells and whistles to deliver a solid credit card product that offers simple-to-earn rewards that are also easy to redeem. And 10 of their cards do not charge an annual fee.

No identity crisis here, Capital One knows exactly what it’s doing.

FAQ

Will pre-qualifying or using the Card Match tool hurt my credit score?

Neither the Capital One pre-qualifying tool nor the Card Match tool will hurt your credit score.

Although you do have to provide a partial or full Social Security number when completing the forms, neither does a hard credit pull on your credit report, so your credit score is not affected.

Both are helpful tools for a no-risk look to see if you have any targeted credit card offers.

Which is the best Capital One credit card?

The perfect Capital One credit card is the one that matches your spending habits, offers rewards you can use, and has an annual fee you can live with, or no annual fee if that is your preference.

For example, if you don’t travel, you may want to select a credit card that earns cash-back. You may also want a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee. These 2 factors narrow the choices significantly.

You’ll also want to select a credit card for which you’ll have a chance of getting approved. If your credit history has some blemishes, you may want to start with one of the credit cards suited for rebuilding your credit.

How does the secured credit card work?

The Secured MasterCard from Capital One functions like a normal credit card. You charge a purchase and then pay it off at the end of the billing period.

However, applying and getting approved for the Secured MasterCard is different than a normal credit card in that you’ll need a security deposit to secure the card. The security deposit for the Secured MasterCard will range from $49 to $200 depending on your credit worthiness to receive a credit limit of $200.

This is because a secured credit card is designed for consumers who have no proven credit history or have bad credit. Once you’ve made 5 consecutive on-time payments, you will be considered for a higher credit limit.

Even with these restrictions, a secured credit card is a good vehicle for building or rebuilding your credit history because it reports your activity to all 3 credit bureaus.

Do Capital One miles expire?

Capital One rewards, whether cash-back balances or miles, do not expire as long as you have an active account open. If you close your account, any miles or cash-back that have not been redeemed will be forfeited.

Capital One miles can be transferred to other Capital One accounts, which can be an option for preserving your unredeemed balance.

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