The 4 Best Capital One Credit Cards [2019]

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Those of us who are points obsessed have historically been focused on American Express, Chase, and Citi cards. That’s because they’ve generally offered the best welcome bonuses, and also have offered transferable points currencies, which is my favorite way to maximize points through credit card spend.

In the past Capital One has offered excellent cards offering cash back rewards, though they haven’t offered a transferable points currency. That finally changed in late 2018, when Capital One introduced a transferable points currency for their Spark and Venture products.

Since many people into points may not have considered Capital One cards in the past, in this post I wanted to provide a rundown of what I consider to be the four best Capital One credit cards, two of which are personal, and two of which are business.

These cards have great flexibility, and in one case some useful bonus categories. I’ll also share some alternatives along with each card, in the interest of being thorough.

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

The Capital One Spark Cash for Business is ideal for any business looking for a straightforward cash back rewards card. The card:

  • Has a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year
  • Has a welcome bonus of $500 miles after spending $4,500 within three months
  • Offers unlimited 2% cash back
  • Has no foreign transaction fees

A lot of businesses just like to get cash back rewards that they can invest back into their business, so getting unlimited 2% cash back with a big welcome bonus and a reasonable annual fee that’s even waived the first year is excellent.

While there are a good number of personal cards offering 2% cash back, this is much rarer with business cards, making this a great option.


Earning 2% cash back on a business card is an excellent return

Alternatives to consider

There’s not really a direct cash back business competitor that’s as straightforward, but I’d say the closest comparison in terms of a card offering a great return on non-bonused spend is The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, which offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year. I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s the equivalent of a 3.4% return.

The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business is now a very well rounded travel rewards business card, that gives you the option of earning transferable miles, or miles that can be redeemed as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase. The card:

  • Has a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year
  • Has a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $4,500 within three months
  • Offers unlimited 2x Spark miles
  • Has no foreign transaction fees

The card earns 2x Spark miles per dollar spent, and you can redeem them in one of two ways:

  • You can redeem them for one cent each towards the cost of a travel purchase, meaning that each dollar spent on the card gets you two cents towards travel
  • You can transfer them to airline partners at a ratio of up to 2:1.5, meaning that you’re earning up to 1.5 airline miles per dollar spent

The transfer partners are as follows:

Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
Aeromexico (Club Premier)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Air Canada (Aeroplan)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Air France KLM (Flying Blue)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Alitalia (MilleMiglia Program)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Avianca (LifeMiles)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Emirates (Emirates Skywards)2 : 1 | 1000 : 500
Etihad Airways (Etihad Guest)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
EVA Air (Infinity MileageLands)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Finnair (Finnair Plus)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Hainan Airlines (Fortune Wings Club)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Qantas (Qantas Frequent Flyer)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Qatar Airways (Privilege Club)2 : 1.5 | 1000 : 750
Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)2 : 1 | 1000 : 500

That’s some nice flexibility to have, especially for a business that spends a lot in non-bonused categories.


Transfer Capital One miles to Emirates for redemptions in first class

Alternatives to consider

I’d say the best alternative to this would be to get the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card.

The Preferred offers 3x points on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.

Meanwhile the Unlimited offers 1.5x points on all purchases.

If you have the Ink Preferred and Ink Unlimited, then points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase, or can be transferred to airline and hotel partners.

I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that means the Ink Unlimited offers ~2.55% back, while the Ink Preferred offers ~5.1% back in bonused categories.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Card is probably Capital One’s most popular card, and for good reason. It’s a great option for anyone looking for straightforward travel rewards. The card:

  • Has a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year
  • Has a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within three months
  • Offers unlimited 2x miles per dollar spent, and 10x miles per dollar spent at hotels.com/venture
  • Has no foreign transaction fees
  • Offers a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit once every four years

Much like the Capital One Spark Miles for Business, the card offers 2x miles per dollar spent, and you can redeem those in one of two ways:

  • You can redeem them for one cent each towards the cost of a travel purchase, meaning that each dollar spent on the card gets you two cents towards travel
  • You can transfer them to airline partners at a ratio of up to 2:1.5, meaning that you’re earning up to 1.5 airline miles per dollar spent

Note that while the miles on the Spark and Venture cards are branded differently, in reality they’re very similar, and you can actually combine them easily between accounts.

I’d also note that the hotels.com benefit is potentially really valuable, especially if you’re not usually loyal to a single hotel brand. You can earn 10x miles on the card for booking with hotels.com, and you can combine that with earning rewards through hotels.com’s loyalty program.


Transfer Capital One miles to Flying Blue for redemptions in KLM business class

Alternatives to consider

I’d say the best alternative to this would be to get either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, and complement it with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

The Preferred offers 2x points on dining and travel, and the Reserve offers 3x points on dining and travel, while the Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5x points on all purchases. For example, if you have the Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited, then points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase, or can be transferred to airline and hotel partners.

I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that means the Freedom Unlimited offers ~2.55% back, while the Sapphire Reserve offers ~5.1% back in bonused categories.

The Savor® Rewards from Capital One®

The Savor Rewards Card is ideal for anyone who spends a lot on dining and entertainment. The card:

  • Has a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year
  • Has a welcome bonus of $500 cash back after spending $3,000 within three months
  • Offers unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% back on all other purchases
  • Has no foreign transaction fees
  • Offers a Postmates Unlimited subscription, and 8% cash back on Vivid Seats purchases

While this isn’t a card I’d recommend using for everyday spend, earning 4% cash back on dining and entertainment with no caps is a useful category for someone who eats out a lot and isn’t looking for travel rewards. When you balance the reasonable annual fee (waived the first year) with the big welcome bonus, this is a card that could definitely be worth acquiring.

For anyone wondering, dining includes purchases at restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges, fast-food chains and bakeries. Then entertainment includes purchases like tickets to a movie, play, concert, sporting event, tourist attraction, theme park, aquarium, zoo, dance club, pool hall or bowling alley, as well as purchases made at record stores and video rental locations.

This card also comes with some other unique benefits, like a Postmates Unlimited membership through December 2019, which usually costs $9.99 per month, plus 8% cash back on Vivid Seats purchases.


Earn 4% cash back on dining

Alternatives to consider

If you’re looking for a straightforward cash back card that’s good for non-bonused spend, consider the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and then an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases. The card has no annual fee, so is an excellent option.

Otherwise, something like the Uber Visa Card is a great option, as it offers 4% back on dining, 3% back on hotels and airfare, 2% back on online purchases, and 1% back on everything else, and has no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee.

The downside of both of these cards is that they don’t have welcome bonuses that are nearly as good.

Things to be aware of with Capital One credit card applications

If you’re applying for a Capital One credit card, there are a few general things to be aware of:

  • Capital One typically pulls credit from all three bureaus when you apply for a card; this shouldn’t be a huge deal, but is something to be aware of
  • Applying for a Capital One business card counts as a card towards the 5/24 limit (just as most personal cards would), since it shows up on your personal credit report
  • Generally Capital One will approve you for at most one card every six months, so you’ll want to select your card carefully
  • Anecdotally many report that Capital One business cards are easier to be approved for than Capital One personal cards

Bottom line

In the past, Capital One was known for their straightforward cards that earned either cash back or miles that could be redeemed towards travel purchases.

Capital One is really reinventing themselves, though, as they create a transferable points currency and also increasingly offer valuable partnerships. Add in the big welcome bonuses that they’re offering on cards at the moment, and there has truly never been a better time to pick up a Capital One card.

Personally I picked up the Capital One Spark Miles for Business late last year find it to be a great option, but you can’t go wrong with any of these cards.

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Comments

  1. I recently picked up a Capital One Venture for the sign up bonus and have been impressed with the app and how easy it is to redeem for travel with the “purchase eraser.” It seems like it would be a good card to keep long term if you do a lot of shopping while traveling overseas. It’s also a relatively attractive card. I’ll likely keep long term. May pick up a Savor later this year as well.

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