Capital One cash back guide (2019): How it works, best cards

You'll find great flat-rate, dining and entertainment rewards.

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Capital One offers a few of the best cashback credit cards on the market. It’s particularly strong in flat-rate cash back, as well as bonus rewards in dining and entertainment. And with straightforward redemption options — such as statement credit and gift cards — you won’t have to worry about complicated reward calculations.

Capital One cash back: A brief overview

Capital One designates eight of its cards as cashback products. These include:

  • Five personal credit cards, including one student card.
  • Three business credit cards.

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You can also redeem miles for cash back with Capital One’s travel cards, which include the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business and Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business. But cash back from these cards comes at a poor redemption rate, so you should avoid it when possible.

Capital One cashback credit cards at a glance

Card Best if you want … Annual fee
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Flat-rate cash back $0
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Flat-rate cash back, but you have fair credit $39
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Rewards on dining, entertainment and groceries $0 for the first year, then $95
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Rewards on dining, entertainment and groceries with no annual fee $0
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® A student credit card with rewards $0
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Flat-rate cash back for business $0 for the first year, then $95
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business Flat-rate cash back for business with no annual fee $0
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business Flat-rate cash back for business, but you have fair credit $0

Best credit cards for Capital One cash back

Quick look at cashback credit cards from Capital One

Best cashback credit card for fair credit: Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card can be a solid choice for those with fair credit. You get to earn unlimited cash back on all of your purchases, and there’s also the potential for upgrading your card with timely payments.

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything you buy.
  • You can apply with a fair credit score of 580 or higher.
  • Pay your balance on time for five consecutive months and you’ll be eligible for a higher credit line.

Best cashback card for dining and entertainment with no annual fee: Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you’re a socialite looking to earn accelerated cash back, consider the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

  • Earn 3% back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores and 1% back on all other purchases.
  • Earn a signup bonus of $150 when you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months of your account opening.
  • Enjoy an intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
  • No annual fee.

Best cashback card for unlimited cash back: Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card can be a great choice if you’re looking to earn unlimited cash back on everything you buy.

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Spend $500 on purchases within your first 3 months of card membership and earn a $150 cash bonus.
  • Intro APR period on balance transfers and purchases.
  • No annual fee.

Best cashback card for dining and entertainment: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you mostly spend on dining and entertainment and you’re looking to get the highest signup bonus, Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card could be a solid choice.

  • Earn a cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases during your first 3 months of card membership.
  • Get 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, 2% at grocery stores and 1% back on all other purchases.
  • Your credit line depends on multiple factors. However, with this card, you won’t get a lower credit line than $5,000.

Best cashback card for students: Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

This is one of the best student credit cards on the market, in part because it offers rewards. You can also get a higher credit line after you make your first five monthly payments on time.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase. When you pay you card bill on time, your cashback rate goes up to 1.25% for that month.
  • Get a higher credit limit after you make your first five monthly payments on time.
  • No annual fee.

Best cashback card for business: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

The best feature of the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is its flat-rate rewards. No matter what you spend on, you can be sure you’re earning solid cash back.
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase.
  • Earn a signup bonus of $500 when you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months of your account opening.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Other cashback cards for business

If you don’t want to pay an annual fee, consider the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Earn a signup bonus of $200 when you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of your account opening.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% intro APR for 9 months, then 14.74% to 22.74% variable.

The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business is an option if you’re a business owner with fair credit. It’s a unique product in this sense, as most unsecured business cards are targeted at consumers with good to excellent credit scores.

  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • Get free employee cards.
  • No annual fee.

How we selected our top cards

We compared cashback credit cards by Capital One by looking at a variety of perks that might suit someone based on their particular spending habits. For example, we found a card that offers the best cash back rewards for a person who spends most on dining and entertainment.

What’s changed in 2019

Capital One made no changes to their cashback credit cards in 2019.

How to earn the most Capital One cash back

One of the first things to do when looking for a cashback card is to evaluate your spending. This will help you find the product that offers ideal rewards.

  • Do you have high spending in dining and entertainment?
    If so, you’ll earn great cash back with one of the Savor® cards. These products also offer solid rewards at grocery stores, but consider other grocery credit cards if this category consumes most of your spending.
  • Do you spend relatively evenly across many categories?
    If so, you might get more out of Capital One’s flat-rate cashback cards — that is, the cards that offer the same rewards rate on every purchase. Instead of having to modify your spending to earn bonus rewards in certain categories, you can spend normally and earn solid cash back.

Our pick for a Capital One cashback card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that. Pay just 3% fee on balances transferred within the first 15 months
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
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Compare credit cards for Capital One cash back

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
1.5% cash back on all purchases
26.46% variable
$39
Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.
3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
$0
Earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
16.24%, 21.74% or 25.24% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn $300 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.

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Other factors to compare for Capital One cashback cards

While rewards might be your top priority for your Capital One card, these considerations might tip the scale:

  • Do you have fair credit?
    If you have fair credit, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card might be the right choice. If you’re a business owner with fair credit, consider the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business.

Capital One cash back - For fair credit

  • What annual fee do you want to pay?
    Capital One doesn’t have any premium cards that cost hundreds of dollars a year. Rather, your choice is whether you want to pay a $0 or $39 annual fee, or a $95 annual fee starting the second year.If you’ll pay an annual fee, consider whether you’ll get enough value from the card to justify the cost. For example, you might want the card for its rewards, or simply because it’s one of the few cards available to someone with your credit profile.
  • Do you want a signup bonus?
    Capital One’s personal cards have signup bonuses of $150 to $300, while its business cards have signup bonuses of $200 to $500. Keep in mind some cards have annual fees that will eat into these rewards.

How to redeem Capital One cash back

Redeeming your Capital One cash back is simple:

  1. Log in to your Capital One account.
  2. From your dashboard, navigate to the Rewards section.

Now, you can choose what you want to redeem your cash back for.

How much is Capital One cash back worth?

Capital One cash back is worth face value, whether you redeem it for a check or statement credit or to offset a purchase. If you have $50 in cash back, for example, it’s worth $50 in statement credit.

The same goes if you redeem your cash back for gift cards. A $50 gift card will cost $50 in cash back.

Pro tip

While gift cards deliver decent value for your cash back, you can buy them in a more lucrative way.

For example, if you want to buy a $100 Starbucks gift card with cash back you’ve earned with your Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can buy one at face value through the Capital One rewards portal. That’s perfectly fine — except you won’t earn rewards from that transaction.

Instead, you could use your card to buy the gift card at a Starbucks store. You’ll earn 4% cash back on that transaction, which is equivalent to $4 in rewards.

Alternatives to Capital One cashback cards

Capital One isn’t the only cashback game in town, and you’ll find great options elsewhere. Here’s a quick breakdown of cards to consider based on what you’re looking for.

Flat-rate cash back

Capital One offers very competitive cards with 1.5% flat-rate cash back — some of the best on the market, in fact. The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is also an uncommonly good option if you have fair credit, as you’ll get an unsecured card with rewards from a reputable provider.

Here are a few great alternatives for flat-rate cash back:

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®. A very similar card to the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Also, earn a $150 signup bonus after you make $500 in purchases within the first 3 months after opening your account.
  • Citi® Double Cash Card. Considered by many to be the best no-annual-fee flat-rate cashback card. Earn 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% as you pay them off.

Citi Double Cash

Cash back on dining and entertainment

The Savor® products are excellent choices for dining and entertainment rewards, especially for cards that cost $0 and $95 a year.

Entertainment rewards, in particular, aren’t very common. The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is a competitor that offers 5% cash back in two categories each quarter on up to $2,000 in spending, then 1% after that. Bonus categories might include movie theaters, fast food and gyms or fitness centers, though these may change.

Capital One does have stiff competition in the dining category. For cash back, one of its biggest rivals is the Uber Visa Card. This card offers a great 4% back on dining, and you’ll pay no annual fee.

Uber Visa Card

Cash back on groceries

While the Savor® cards offer accelerated cash back on groceries, you’ll find better rewards rates with other cards, such as:

For more options, read our guide on picking the best credit card for groceries.

Bottom line

Capital One offers excellent cashback credit cards, with strong rewards rates and low annual fees. As always, there are many other great options out there. Compare cashback credit cards to eventually find the perfect one for you.

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