A guide to Capital One credit cards
Capital One offers some of the best credit cards on the market across all major categories, including rewards, business, student and secured credit cards. Their products, which often tout reasonable fees, straightforward rewards programs and/or notable credit-building features, have definite mass appeal. So how can you determine which specific Capital One credit card is best for your wallet? Here, we take a look at:
Editor’s picks: Capital One credit card details
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for cash back
Why we picked it: The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is great for people who want the freedom of cash back without having to worry about rotating categories. It offers unlimited 1.5 percent back on all purchases. Plus, there’s a sign-up bonus that lets new cardholders earn $200 after spending $500 in their first three months.
Pros: Unlike the QuicksilverOne, which accepts people with lower credit, the Quicksilver has no annual fee. This card is a prime choice when you’re looking for a no-annual-fee credit card that has across-the-board boosted ongoing rewards.
Cons: If you are willing to pay an annual fee, you can get a better welcome bonus and better tiered ongoing rewards, as with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ($0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95). Learn more about the best cash back credit cards.
Who should apply? Anyone put off by complicated rewards programs and rotating categories is likely to appreciate the simplicity of this flat-rate cash back card. This card is also ideal for frequent travelers thanks to its lack of foreign transaction fees.
Read our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for dining rewards
Why we picked it: It’s practically unheard of to find a no annual fee cash back card that offers 3% cash back on dining and entertainment with an unlimited spend. If you’re a foodie, the SavorOne is a great option.
Pros: There’s a $200 bonus after a $500 spend within the first three months. In addition to the great dining rewards, you get 3% cash back on popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®) and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Cons: Although there’s no annual fee, this card’s sign-up bonus is in the middle of the pack when compared to other cash back cards.
Who should apply? If you’re eager to begin dining out again after a year of eating at home, that unlimited 3% cash back rate on dining could really add up. Plus, the lengthy 15-month 0% introductory APR makes this a great option for anyone hoping to finance a large purchase over time.
Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for travel rewards
Why we picked it: If you are looking for rewards and don’t want to be tied down by a specific travel brand, the Venture Rewards is perfect. As one of the best credit cards for travel rewards, it’s worth your while if you do a fair amount of traveling, even with a $95 annual fee.
Pros: The Venture Rewards’ 2X miles on all purchases are solid, as is the sign-up bonus of 100,000 miles if you spend $20,000 in your first 12 months or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. Plus, as with all Capital One credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees.
Cons: While the Venture Rewards card now has airline partners, the 2:1.5 transfer ratio is less than that of some other competitor travel cards.
Who should apply? The Venture Rewards is perfect for frequent travelers who want to rack up rewards without having to fully commit to one specific travel brand.
Read our Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.
Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Best for building credit
Why we picked it: Need a leg up on your credit? Look no further. The Platinum is a great first card or a solid option if you’re trying to build credit with responsible card use.
Pros: This card accepts people with average, fair or limited credit. There is no annual fee, unlike the QuicksilverOne, but like the QuicksilverOne, you may be considered to increase your credit limit after the first six months of on-time payments.
Cons: There are no ongoing rewards with this card, unlike the QuicksilverOne.
Who should apply? If you have limited credit history or your credit is just average, this card can help get you stay on track. Plan on carrying a balance? This card’s high interest rate (26.99% APR, variable) is probably not the best fit for you.
Read our Capital One Platinum Credit Card review.
Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best for business cash back
Why we picked it: If you are looking for a cash back business card, the Spark Cash for Business has some great features, such as the sign-up bonus. And if you want the convenience of a card that grants you employee cards at no charge, this card delivers. See more of the best business credit cards.
Pros: This card’s 2% cash back on all business purchases makes it a challenge to ignore. Also, rewards don’t expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem for any amount.
Cons: Although it’s waived the first year, there’s a $95 annual fee. The sign-up bonus’ required spend may also feel a bit high, at $4,500 within the first three months for a $500 bonus.
Who should apply? The flat-rate cash back rate is perfect for high-spending business owners who can take advantage of the large welcome bonus and prefer to keep things simple without sacrificing value. Also noteworthy is the lack of foreign transaction fees, making this a good match for those who regularly do business abroad.
Read our Capital One Spark Cash Business review.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best for no annual fee
Why we picked it: The VentureOne is a solid first travel card, with no annual fee as well as no foreign transaction fees and a decent sign-up bonus.
Pros: The VentureOne is an option if you’re looking for a travel card with flexibility in redemptions and partnerships with a handful of airlines. Cardholders can earn 20,000 miles if they spend $500 in their first three months.
Cons: The ongoing rewards of 1.25X miles on all purchases and the sign-up bonus could be better, depending on your spending habits. In fact, the Capital One Venture Rewards offers higher base rewards (2X miles on all purchases) in exchange for a $95 annual fee. Learn how to determine whether the Venture Rewards or the VentureOne Rewards is right for you.
Who should apply? Budget travelers and moderate spenders on the hunt for a no-foreign-transaction-fee rewards card with no annual fee will be pleased with this flat-rate card.
Read our Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review.
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One: Best for secured credit
Why we picked it: This secured credit card is designed to help people with thin to no credit establish a payment history. Given the Secured Mastercard from Capital One accepts people with bad or limited credit, it’s also an option for people looking to repair their credit scores.
Pros: Secured credit cards require a security deposit, but the barrier for entry with this Capital One card is quite low: $49 to $200. Higher security deposits may qualify for up to a $1,000 credit limit. Cardholders can be considered for higher credit lines by making their first six monthly payments on time.
Cons: As we mentioned, you are required to put down a refundable deposit that you will be borrowing off of for your credit limit. Plus, if you do carry a balance, the annual percentage rate is rather high (26.99% variable). There is no sign-up bonus or ongoing rewards.
Who should apply? The super-low $49 security deposit requirement makes this a good card for someone on a limited budget who is trying to establish credit through responsible card usage. In this case, that means paying your monthly balance in full. One misstep, however, and the high variable APR could potentially derail your attempt at building good credit.
Read our Secured Mastercard® from Capital One review.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for limited credit history
Why we picked it: We love this card’s generous rewards rate which really stands out from other credit-building cards and makes it easy to recoup its annual fee.
Pros: This card has the same ongoing rewards as the Quicksilver Cash Rewards, making it a compelling choice for your wallet.
Cons: The QuicksilverOne doesn’t have the sign-up bonus of the Quicksilver, and it carries an annual fee of $39, which isn’t waived the first year.
Who should apply? QuicksilverOne is a great option for someone with fair credit hoping to earn rewards. It also will automatically consider you for access to a higher credit limit after you make your first six payments on time.
Read our Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One: Best for students
Why we picked it: The Journey Student Rewards card incentivizes healthy credit habits with built-in features like a 25% boost to your rewards earnings for paying your bill on time each month – instead of 1% cash back on general purchases, you’ll get 1.25%. Also, cardholders are automatically considered for a credit line increase after six months of on-time payments.
Pros: For those just dipping their toe into the world of credit, this is a great card for learning healthy financial habits and earning rewards with responsible use. Plus, students who study abroad will love the fact that there are no foreign transaction fees.
Cons: One possible disadvantage for young cardholders is the high APR, at 26.99% variable. If you think you may not be able to pay the balance in full each month, you’ll keep more money in your pocket by pursuing a card with a low interest rate.
Who should apply? For those just dipping their toe into the world of credit, this is a great card for learning healthy financial habits and earning rewards with responsible use. Plus, students who study abroad will love the fact that there are no foreign transaction fees.
Read our Journey Student Rewards from Capital One review.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards for Good Credit: Best for everyday purchases
Why we picked it: This uncomplicated cash back card offers an unlimited flat rate of 1.5% on every purchase, which, depending on your spending habits, can add up in a hurry. There are no spending categories to keep track of here.
Pros: There’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, no cap on how much you can earn and rewards don’t expire.
Cons: Some may find the 1.5% cash back rate a little low when compared with what you can earn with other cards out there. With a variable 26.99% APR, this isn’t exactly a card you’ll want to carry a balance on, and there’s no intro APR offer to sweeten the deal.
Who should apply? Moderate spenders in the market for a pared down cash back card will likely enjoy this card, particularly those looking for a secondary card for everyday purchases not included in the bonus categories.
Read the Capital One Quicksilver Rewards for Good Credit details
Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit: Best travel rewards with no annual fee
Why we picked it: This flat rate travel card lets you earn unlimited miles on every purchase at a rate of 1.25X. There’s no annual fee and no bonus categories to keep track of.
Pros: Redemption is relatively easy with no minimum required, no blackout dates and no expiration dates. Plus, there’s no cap on miles earned.
Cons: The list of airline partners doesn’t include any of the big three legacy carriers which may be a deal breaker for some airline loyalists.
Who should apply? Frequent travelers searching for a decent rewards rate on a no annual fee card will find a lot of potential value in this card.
Read our Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit details.
Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for business travel
Why we picked it: The Spark Miles for Business is similar to the Spark Cash, except you get miles instead of cash back, making it a good choice for frequent business travelers.
Pros: Like the Spark Cash for Business, the Spark Miles card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year, and the ongoing rewards are the same, making it a good card to have for travel.
Cons: The Spark Miles earns you 50,000 miles after a $4,500 spend within the first three months of card membership, making the required spend a potentially high barrier.
Who should apply? Small business owners who frequently travel will find a lot to like about this flexible easy-to-use rewards card.
Read our Capital One Spark Miles for Business review.
Comparing the best Capital One credit cards
Capital One’s exciting lineup includes business, cash back and travel rewards credit cards, as well as vehicles for credit building. Here is a comparison of the best Capital One credit cards of 2021:
|Credit Card||Best For…||Annual Fee||Review Score|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Cash back||$0||3.2 / 5|
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Dining rewards||$0||4.0 / 5|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Travel rewards||$95||4.4 / 5|
|Capital One Platinum Credit Card||Building credit||$0||4.0 / 5|
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||Cash back on business purchases||$0 first year, then $95||3.7 / 5|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||No annual fee||$0||3.6 / 5|
|Secured Mastercard® from Capital One||Secured credit card||$0||3.7 / 5|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Limited credit history||$39||3.5 / 5|
|Journey Student Rewards from Capital One||Students||$0||2.8 / 5|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards for Good Credit||Everyday purchases||$0||N/A|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit||No annual fee travel rewards||$0||N/A|
|Capital One Spark Miles for Business||Business travel||$0 first year, then $95||3.9 / 5|
How we picked the best Capital One credit cards
We analyzed Capital One’s credit cards to identify the top products in popular credit card categories. The criteria considered in our analysis include:
- Rewards program: We considered whether a card’s base rewards program was competitive for its category (travel, dining, cash back, etc.) to assess long-term value. We also factored in any sign-up bonuses that might sweeten offers in the short-term.
- Special features: For credit cards for fair credit, we considered whether there were unique features, such as the ability to increase your credit limit after a series of on-time payments, that could prove helpful to someone who is trying to establish or repair their credit history. For rewards credit cards, we considered whether there were ancillary benefits, like extended warranties or travel assistance, that might add more value.
- Rates and fees: We considered whether an annual fee was justified by a card’s rewards program, unique features or less stringent credit requirements. We also factored in whether the card’s purchase, balance transfer and/or penalty annual percentage rates were competitive for its card category.
Many of Capital One’s cards are well-suited to a general audience, so, ultimately, the right card for you will hinge on what you’re looking to use it for. If you’re still torn between a few offers, check out this guide to choosing a credit card.
What is Capital One?
Capital One, formally known as Capital One Financial Corp., is the fifth-largest consumer bank and the eighth-largest bank overall in the U.S. Founded by now Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Fairbank, it reported a total net revenue of $28.5 billion in 2020. Per the Nilson Report, Capital One held a 10% market share of purchase volume among credit card issuers as of 2019.
Services offered by Capital One
Capital One currently offers a wide breadth of consumer and commercial financial services. These services include:
- Credit cards – from credit building to rewards and cash back
- Banking – from checking and kids savings to CDs and IRAs
- Auto – for new or used car loans, or refinancing
- Invest – through Capital One Investing
- Credit cards – Spark Cash and Spark Miles
- Banking – checking and savings
- Borrow – includes business loans
- Invest – includes creating 401(k) plans
- Manage – merchant services and cash management
- Commercial lending – from term loans to lines of credit
- Depository services – commercial checking, savings or CDs
- Treasury management – digital tools and automated solutions
- Capital markets – from foreign exchange to public finance
- Private banking & wealth management – from asset management to trust services
- Corporate card – The One Card from Capital One* simplifies expenses, accounts payable and billing processes
Which Capital One card is best for you?
The best Capital One credit card for you will vary, based on your spending habits, credit profile and financial goals. However, here are some more specifics about who can benefit from certain Capital One products:
The foodie who loves dining out
There are two cards to choose from for experiences. There’s little question that the Savor Cash Rewards card’s 4% cash back on dining out and entertainment is unbeatable, but if you want to avoid the annual fee, the SavorOne offers a competitive 3% cash back for the same categories.
There are two options for the traveler, both great for domestic and international, and they are the Venture Rewards and the VentureOne Rewards. The VentureOne is best for the occasional traveler who just can’t justify an annual fee, and the Venture is great for the traveler who wants to max out spending.
The seeker of convenience
Want a cash back card that you don’t have to think about to get great rewards back? The Quicksilver and QuicksilverOne cards have the same across-the-board cash back offer, although the QuicksilverOne has an annual fee and no sign-up bonus in exchange for only recommending fair credit.
Compare Quicksilver cards…
|Card||Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards||Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards|
|Sign-up bonus||$200/$500 spend in first 3 mths||N/A|
|Rewards||1.5% cash back||1.5% cash back|
|Spend||$500 a mth/12 mths||$500 a mth/12 mths|
|Recommended credit||Good, excellent||Fair, Good|
|Total end of first year||$200+$90=$290||$90-$39=$51|
The consumer just starting out
If you have thin or fair credit, Capital One offers two cards to choose from. The Capital One Platinum is a good choice for the consumer with fair credit, while the Capital One Secured accepts consumers who have no credit history. Neither has an annual fee.
The business owner
Whether you travel often for work or you have a fair amount of business expenses, Capital One has two business cards to choose from – the Spark Cash for Business offers cash back on all purchases, and the Spark Miles for Business offers miles on all purchases. Both cards’ $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
What are the benefits of having a Capital One card?
From no foreign transaction fees to travel accident insurance, Capital One cards offer a plethora of benefits, including travel and retail; apps and digital services; and security. Here’s what this bank issuer offers:
Travel and shopping
- No foreign transaction fees: Capital One cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees, saving you about 3% to 5% per purchase outside the U.S. As such, its cards are among the best credit cards for no foreign transaction fees.
- 24-hour travel assistance: You can get an emergency replacement card and a cash advance any time, along with emergency, medical, travel and legal referral services. The extent of services available (like roadside assistance) varies by card.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: An eligible rental vehicle is covered for damage due to theft, collision or possibly towing charges. Further coverage may depend on your card and whether it’s a domestic or international rental.
- Travel accident insurance: When the entire travel fare is purchased using your card, eligible losses are covered at no extra charge.
- Extended warranty: At no extra charge, you could receive an extended warranty of up to three additional years on eligible items purchased with your card for up to $10,000.
- Mile transfer: Venture and VentureOne miles can be transferred to any of Capital One’s 15+ travel loyalty programs for the adaptability your trip needs.
- Experience Access: Foodies, travelers and sports fans get access to cardholder-exclusive premium experiences, including dining, music, sports and entertainment events.
- Capital One Shopping: This browser extension from Capital One saves online shoppers money by scanning the web for lower prices on your item.
- Paribus: This online shopping service from Capital One tracks your online purchase confirmation emails from over 25 major retailers to monitor price changes and helps you get refunds for retail price drops, late deliveries and returns.
- Mobile app: The Capital One Mobile app allows you to manage your account on the go with activity and credit monitoring features, mobile check deposit, rewards redemption, Zelle® mobile payments and Card Lock to freeze your stolen or lost credit card.
- CreditWise: CreditWise™ is a comprehensive, free credit monitoring resource that scans the dark web for your Social Security number, alerts you to any changes from two credit bureaus, and guides your next steps. This service is available to cardholders even if they aren’t Capital One customers.
- Eno: The Capital One assistant tool allows you to keep tabs on your account with the ability to text a Capital One associate, check your balance, review transactions and pay your bill. Online shoppers can also use Eno to generate virtual credit card numbers for each merchant in order to keep your real credit card number secure.
- Security and account alerts: Capital One monitors your account and can notify you through text, email and phone if they notice possible suspicious transactions.
- Fraud coverage: In case your credit card was stolen, Capital One’s $0 fraud liability means you won’t even have to pay the Federal Trade Commission’s $50 liability limit for verified unauthorized purchases.
What is the Capital One Membership Rewards program?
It’s relatively easy to earn and redeem with the Capital One rewards program. With the cash back program, you log in and follow the prompts. You can even set it up to automatically get your cash back. You can use your cash back for statement credits, a check, gift cards or charitable donations.
With the Capital One travel rewards program, you earn miles for all purchases and you get a sign-up bonus as well. A big advantage to the Capital One travel rewards program is that you aren’t tied down by loyalty to brands, and you aren’t limited to rewards for specific types of purchases. And you can also transfer your miles to a number of airline partners and travel loyalty programs.
You can use your miles for travel in the past 90 days, new travel through Capital One, gift cards, a check or you can transfer them to another account. One plus about Capital One Venture cards: You always get 1:1 for travel redemption of miles. Redemption even includes spending on Airbnb and Uber.
What credit score is needed for Capital One?
Capital One offers cards across almost every major credit card category, so its credit score requirements will vary, depending on the specific card you’re applying for. Generally speaking, rewards credit cards require good-to-excellent credit. Secured credit cards or student credit cards often only require fair credit. Secured credit cards may be available to people with bad credit as well. For reference, here is how major credit scoring model FICO classifies its scoring ranges:
- Exceptional: 800-850
- Very good: 740-799
- Good: 670-739
- Fair: 580-669
- Very poor: 300-579
Capital One actively markets some of its cards, including the QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards and Journey Student Rewards, to people with fair credit. Applicants with poor credit may be eligible for the Secured Mastercard from Capital One. Many of Capital One’s rewards credit cards, conversely, require good credit. Learn more about the best credit cards for good credit.
Remember, credit card issuers consider other factors, like income and debt levels, before making their final approval.