The 4 Best Capital One Credit Cards

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Those of us who are points obsessed are generally 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.

Historically Capital One has offered excellent cards offering cash back rewards, though they haven’t offered a transferable points currency. That’s finally changing as of this month, as Capital One is introducing a transferable points currency for some of their Spark and Venture products.

I wrote a post in August about what I consider the best Capital One cards to be, though wanted to update that post in light of the recent news, as this very much changes up my list. So in this post I wanted to share what I consider to be the four best Capital One credit cards, two of which are business, and two of which are personal.

These cards have big welcome bonuses, flexibility, and some great bonus categories.

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 up to $2,000 cash back — this includes $500 cash back after spending $5,000 within three months, and $1,500 cash back after spending $50,000 within six 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 massive welcome bonus and a reasonable annual fee that’s even waived the first year is excellent.

There aren’t many business cards I know of that offer 2% cash back, making this a great option.

Given the welcome bonus, you also earn the equivalent of 6% cash back when you spend $50,000 within the first six months. That’s because the welcome bonus is for $2,000 cash back, and that’s in addition to the $1,000 cash back you’d usually earn for spending $50,000.

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 up to 200,000 Spark miles — this includes 50,000 Spark miles after spending $5,000 within three months, and 150,000 Spark miles after spending $50,000 within six months
  • Offers unlimited 2x Spark miles
  • Has no foreign transaction fees

In the past I always used to think that the Spark Cash was a better option than the Spark Miles, but that’s no longer the case.

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, which go live this month, 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.

Given the welcome bonus, you also earn the equivalent of 6% back towards travel or 4.5 airline miles per dollar when you spend $50,000 within the first six months. That’s because the welcome bonus is for 200,000 Spark miles, and that’s in addition to the 100,000 Spark miles you’d usually earn for spending $50,000.

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 75,000 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

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

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.

If you’d prefer a no annual fee version of this card, consider the Capital One® SavorOne(SM) Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

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. Add in the massive 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 recently picked up the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and 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 would never recommend the Capital One cards, when one could get the same 2% back with no annual fee using the Citi DoubleCash.

  2. Other than the embarassment of having to whip out a pinkish/orange piece of plastic with Savor stamped on it a few time a day, I see no reason why you wouldn’t recommend that card for everyday non business spend, if the goal is straightforward penny per point redemptions. Which card is going to get you better than 4% Dining and Entertainment plus 2% Grocery (probably three significant non-biz categories for a lot of people) on straightforward points?

  3. I signed for the Venture card specifically to use it for a hotel that’s not part of a major chain. It was for a friend’s wedding, and I didn’t feel like driving to a Hilton/Hyatt/IHG/Marriott afterwards. I could have easily booked it through a Amex/Chase/Citi travel portal but I’d rather save those points for transfer partners.

  4. I agree that a cash back credit card has a specific place in a well-rounded card strategy. I earned the $500 cash back bonus on the CO Spark Card last year and it proved to be very useful. It’s possible to quadruple dip on travel spending while still redeeming the cash back rewards. Virgin Atlantic’s shopping portal has Expedia among several travel sites as an earning partner. It’s possible to book a flight through Expedia by first going through the shopping portal and using a travel rewards card like the Sapphire Preferred. With this method you’d earn VS points, Expedia points, Airline miles, and UR points. I can see getting over $50 back in travel rewards on a $150-dollar ticket by booking a cross country trip on a carrier like Alaska. Capital One has a feature where you can transfer a balance free of charge and then get a statement credit by redeeming cash back. The charge on a $150 airline ticket paid with your Chase Sapphire can be transferred to CO for free. This charge can be offset by redeeming cash back from your account. There’s lots of value to be had with CO cards. My strategy for them is usually for bonus earning opportunities.

  5. Hey Lucky, perfect summary with the blank stare lol. I’m always trying to help out friends and family but it can be very confusing of course.

  6. Ummmmmmm. No.

    Pure cashback (just earn points then spend them, no transfers), Chase Sapphire Preferred + Freedom Unlimited earns 2.5% for dining and traveling, or 1.85% for everything else, for the same money as either Venture or Savor.

    Now, if you pay $55 more ($450 – $300), Chase Sapphire Preserve + Freedom Unlimited earns whooping 4.5% for dining and traveling or 2.25% for everything.

    Plus, both Sapphire cards provide excellent travel coverage (saved my skin a few times). Again, this is *without* any complicated transfer or scheming. What’s the point, again?

  7. “I would never recommend the Capital One cards…”
    Really, what’s the signup bonus on the Citi Double Cash? It would take over six years before the two cards are on equal footing and I’m not even including the $100 Global Entry refund and no foreign transaction fees. Oops, and the hotel.com benefits.

  8. I recently applied for the Capitol One Venture card and got declined, because it says I have opened too many credit cards in the past 24 months. Is Capitol One now also implementing a rule similar to Chase? I have excellent credit, have had a Capitol One Quicksilver card for years, and have several bank accounts with them. Curious if anyone else has had this experience or heard of others being declined for too many new accounts opened in the past 2 years.

  9. A lot of bloggers are talking about Cap One cards the past few months after years of ignoring them. I guess Cap One has entered the affiliate world finally. Gary actually posted a couple times stating how useless they are in the travel world. If he starts selling them now, we can pull up the old posts to call him out.

  10. What about Bank of America cards? If you combine the no AF Cash Rewards with that of Premium Rewards card (AF $95), you have most of the main bonus categories covered. You’ll get a minimum of 3% on Gas, 2% on Grocery and Wholesale Stores, 2% on Dining and Travel, and 1.5% on non-bonus spending. If you meet their highest requirements for Preferred Rewards, you can get 5.25% on Gas, 3.5% on Grocery/Wholesale/Dining/Travel and 2.62% on non-bonus spend. Like, CapOne Venture, get a statement credit on travel (or, in the case of BofA, any expense).

  11. These travel cash back cards (Venture, Barclays, etc) would be much more interesting if they offered bonus categories, particularly dining or travel.

  12. And you did not mention that Capital One pulls from all 3 credit bureaus?! Pimping the cards I see…yuk!

  13. I strongly agree with @Dave. I am 99.9% sure that Lucky is only discussing these cards in the past few months because of affiliate links. It shows that he cannot be trusted, unlike Doctor of Credit, because Lucky follows whatever feeds his mouth. He used to strongly criticize Capital One for calling its reward points “miles” even though they’re only worth a pathetic 1 cent in value per “mile,” but now he’s painting them in a positive light. Really sad.

  14. For anyone who has been using the Savor card, I hope you looked at the recent Capital One mailing that explained the new terms of the card. The restaurant cash back went up from 3 to 4%, and the $95/yr fee does not apply “forever”, at least until the card terms change again.

    BTW Daniel M, you sound like one of the deplorables that Hillary mentioned with your rude second sentence.

  15. I don’t understand how or why they call their points “miles”. You can’t use them like miles.

  16. Do we know what rule CapOne uses for too many recently opened cards?
    I applied for a Venture card when they added the hotels.com bonus and was rejected due to too many recent new cards. (For reference, I have a FICO of 800+ and had a 10+ year CapOne relationship through a savings account and a Quiksilver card. I would have been at 4/12 and 8/24 when I applied.)

    It’s a shame because I use hotels.com quite a lot and would honestly like the card for that even if they weren’t willing to give me the signup bonus.

  17. Wife and I just applied for Cap One and were denied because we don’t carry a credit balance.
    Seems like they don’t want to do business with you if you don’t carry a balance and pay the interest

  18. @Jenny, @Sco
    My profile was similar to yours: CapOne banking and Quicksilver for several years, score in the 800s, 3 new accounts when I applied for the Venture. REJECTED! I really wanted it for the Hotels.com return, since I use them for all my hotel stays. I hope Captain Obvious moves to a new bank someday! (And I don’t expect to EVER apply for a CapOne card again.)

  19. I hope you will remember to remind us every few days. I tend to forget and the relentless pushing of the cards helps me.

  20. Bloggers talk about CapOne again since the miles cards include partner transfers. Otherwise, aside from the random mention, nobody has said anything for a decade, back when the Venture card have away 100,000 miles ($1000 redeemable on travel expenses) by virtue of a screenshot showing you had 100,000 airline miles.

  21. Stay away from Capitol One Savor, I was sent a invitation by mail to apply , I had a 801 credit score but was denied because of to many credit cards open (9) & don’t carry a balance on them (churner). My credit score dropped 10 pts. after I was denied.

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