The Best Capital One Credit Cards for Travel Rewards, Cash-Back, and More [2021]

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 Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, earns double miles every day on every purchase you make – making it a great travel rewards card option.

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

Hot Tip: Have more questions about it? Don’t miss our in-depth FAQ article on the Capital One Venture Card.

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 card and $250 in value from the VentureOne Card.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card - This is an excellent card for those looking to earn unlimited 1.25x miles on every purchase. With a 20,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $200 in travel) after spending $500 within the first 3 months and no annual fee, it's a strong choice.
Capital One Platinum Credit Card - This is an ideal card for those with Limited, Fair and Average Credit. Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 6 monthly payments on time. This card has no annual fee.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card - Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases and be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months. An excellent card for those with Limited, Fair and Average Credit. The annual fee is $39.


Restaurant Table Above
You’ll be picking up the dinner check often when you have the Capital One® Savor® Rewards card that earns 4% cash-back on dining purchases. Photo courtesy of

Best Capital One Credit Card for Dining

Often overlooked, but certainly worthy of consideration, is the CapOne Savor card.

If you’re a foodie, have a lot of business dining expenses, or dine out frequently, you can’t go wrong earning 4% cash-back on dining.

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 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 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

No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards for Average Credit

No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards for Rebuilding Credit

  • Secured MasterCard® from Capital One

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, which is waived for the first year, to do so on the Spark Cash for Business 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
  • 1.5x miles per dollar spent
  • 2x miles per dollar spent

Bottom Line: Don’t let an annual fee scare you away from a particular business credit card from Capital One. 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. 

Interest savings calculation
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

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.

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 6 months of on-time payments
  • Free credit score access
  • No security deposit
  • Reports to credit bureaus
  • An initial credit line of $200 upon making the minimum required security deposit
  • Access to a higher credit limit after the first 6 months of on-time payments; no additional deposits needed
  • Reports to the 3 leading credit bureaus
  • 1% cash-back on all purchases + .25 for paying on time for a total of 1.25% that month
  • Access to a higher credit limit after the first 6 months of on-time payments
  • Spark® Classic
  • 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 qualify with capital one banner
Image courtesy of Capital One

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 pre-qualification 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 CardMatch 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.

Hot Tip: For a more in-depth look at this topic, check out: The Best Ways to Redeem Capital One Miles [For Max Value]!

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. Use for Travel Purchases

You can redeem your miles for new travel with Capital One Travel.

2. Redeem for Gift Cards

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

3. 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!

4. 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.

5. Checkout With PayPal

When your eligible card is linked to PayPal, you can checkout with PayPal and redeem your miles at a rate of 125 miles to $1. We’d recommend this only if you can’t use your miles for travel or as a statement credit.

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.

Hot Tip: Are you curious about how Capital One credit cards stack up to their competitors? Check out our head-to-head comparison of Capital one cards to Chase cards.

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 there 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. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more details.
  • 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. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more details.

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.

The information regarding the Capital One Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business, Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business, Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, and Capital One® Savor® Rewards card, and the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 


Frequently asked questions

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.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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