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2020's Best Capital One® Credit Cards

Below are our staff ratings of 2020's best Capital One® credit cards. As one of the nation's leading issuers, Capital One® offers credit cards for virtually every use and credit history.

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The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which CardRates.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers.

15 FAQs About Capital One Credit Cards

Adam West
By: Adam West
Updated:
15 FAQs About Capital One Credit Cards
CardRates.com Guide: Capital One®

You’ve likely heard about the best Capital One credit cards through the bank’s extensive television and internet advertising. While various celebrities have asked “What’s in your wallet?” over the years, you still may not know much about the cards they are promoting.

That’s why we are here. After years of research and first-hand use of different Capital One credit cards, we’ve been able to compile a list of the bank’s best offerings — which we’ve posted above.

We’ll get more in-depth below and answer some of the questions the commercials won’t so you can get a better idea of what you’re putting into your wallet before you submit your application.

1. What is Capital One?

Capital One was founded in 1988 — a far cry from the more than 100+ years of history most of the largest banks and credit card issuers boast. But while that lack of experience may seem like a bad thing, it’s actually quite impressive.

Capital One LogoAs a bank, Capital One has managed more growth in fewer than four decades than what many banks have in over 100 years. And with more than 62 million active credit cards in the market — which accounts for nearly 11% of credit card issuer market share in the U.S. — the bank only seems to be growing with time.

Capital One started out solely as a credit card company. By the mid-1990s, the bank expanded into auto loans and grew its business into Canada and the United Kingdom. Capital One Bank currently operates more than 750 branches, including dozens of café style locations, and 2,000 ATMs in the U.S.

Although Capital One may be best known for its credit cards and catchy commercial slogans, the bank offers several financial instruments that make it one of the most profitable institutions in the world. For example, Capital One Auto Finance owns a 5% market share of the used auto loan industry and ranks as the second-largest U.S. lender in that sector.

Through a series of acquisitions and mergers, Capital One has emerged as a fintech pioneer and should continue to innovate the space for many years to come. That includes improving reward rates and structures to its existing and upcoming credit cards.

Despite the changes throughout the years, today's Capital One holds true to its original ideal of offering diverse credit cards to suit a range of consumers and credit types. The bank offers a number of great rewards cards for good-credit consumers, competitive entry-level cards for those just getting started, and an upgradable secured card for consumers who need to rebuild.

2. How Does a Capital One Credit Card Work?

Consumers turn to Capital One’s vast portfolio of credit cards because they all offer easy and reliable access to a revolving credit line without any hidden fees or loopholes.

After all, you don’t get to be as big as Capital One if you don’t offer a good product and superior customer support.

You will find that your Capital One credit card works like any other personal credit card. You can use it to pay bills, rent cars or hotel rooms, or shop online or in person with any retailer that accepts your card’s processing network (either Visa or Mastercard).

The first step in finding your perfect Capital One credit card is to decide which card best fits your needs. The bank is most known for its cash back and travel rewards credit cards, but you can also find some great options for low-cost credit cards that don’t offer rewards but instead provide low interest rates and no annual fees.

The list of the best Capital One credit cards above should help you narrow your choice. By following the link in the list, you can attempt to prequalify for your choice of cards. This is an important process because it only requires a soft credit check and won’t result in an inquiry on your credit report.

While prequalifying won’t guarantee your approval should you decide to formally apply (which will add an inquiry to your credit report), it is typically a good indicator of future success.

If you qualify and the bank approves your application, you will receive your new credit card in the mail within seven to 10 business days. You can activate your card online or over the phone and begin using it immediately.

If your card charges an annual fee, that amount will be deducted from your available balance as soon as you activate the card.

3. Which is the Best Capital One Card?

Capital One offers three main types of credit cards — cash back, travel, and low cost. It is nearly impossible to state which is the best because they each serve a different type of consumer.

Instead, we’ll look at our choice of which card is the best in each category plus an honorable mention:

  • Best Cash Back — Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card: This has long been a flagship card in Capital One’s portfolio and the credit card that kicked off the “What’s in your wallet?” campaign. The card offers a flat cash back percentage with unlimited earning potential and virtually no red tape or bonus category spending to earn your rewards. Your cash back will never expire as long as you keep your account open and in good standing. The account charges no annual fee or foreign transaction fee and regularly provides lucrative sign up bonus opportunities that pay out bonus cash back when you meet certain spending thresholds during your first three months with the card. Aside from the easy-to-earn rewards, the card also sports a lower-than-average interest rate that makes it one of the most affordable cash back credit cards on the market.
  • Honorable Mention — Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card: We like the generous cash back rewards on food purchases with no annual fee.
  • Best Travel Rewards — Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: The Venture line of travel rewards credit cards is extremely popular among frequent travelers because the card doesn’t enforce blackout dates or other travel restrictions. Instead of using accrued reward miles to pay for parts of an upcoming trip, you can redeem your miles to “erase” all or part of a recent travel-related expense. As such, you won’t have blackout dates, carrier restrictions due to airline partner deals, or other annoying rules that can sometimes make it difficult to redeem rewards through any other credit card issuer. Your accrued miles can help cover the cost of airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, ride-sharing services, and several other expenses related to travel — but that’s not all. Capital One also allows cardholders to exchange their miles for their choice of a gift card or use them to shop directly with Amazon.com. You can even exchange your miles for points with several popular airline loyalty programs. For a limited time, cardholders can also redeem their miles to cover the cost of eligible restaurant delivery, takeout, and streaming service purchases. This card charges a small annual fee, but travel fanatics can quickly recoup the cost when they use the $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Honorable Mention — Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: It’s the closest you’ll get to its Venture® sibling sans the annual fee.
  • Best Low-Cost Credit Card — Capital One® Platinum Credit Card: You won’t find any bells or whistles with this card, but that’s the point. If you tend to carry a balance on your credit card each month, the interest charges can quickly offset any rewards earnings you accrue. Instead, you may consider a low-cost credit card such as this Platinum offering that charges no annual fee and tacks on an affordable variable APR. This card was designed as an entry-level offering, as it considers applications from consumers who have fair or limited credit. As such, you can use this card as a springboard to more lucrative rewards cards as you build — or rebuild — your credit history.
  • Honorable Mention — Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®: If you’re a student, it’s worth checking out this fairly low cost card that can help you build credit and earn cash back rewards for your purchases. Pay your balance in full each month if you can to avoid the not-so-low regular purchase APR.

Capital One also regularly offers handsome signup bonus opportunities on its cards. These offers can provide a large boost to your cash back or miles stash when you meet certain spending thresholds during your first three months with your new card.

These offers are only available to new cardholders and change regularly, based on the marketplace and competition. Be sure to check your cardholder agreement before applying to see if you will qualify for a welcome bonus.

4. What is the Best Capital One Card for Beginners?

Capital One makes this answer easy, as its Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is tailor-made for consumers who have no credit or limited credit. While many banks tailor their credit card options to those who have a good or excellent credit score, Capital One has an all-inclusive card portfolio that allows consumers to scaffold their financial journey from one card to another.

The Platinum card does not offer rewards, but you also will not pay an annual fee for membership — something that is rare in the average credit and fair credit space. You will also receive fraud coverage for if your card is lost or stolen and you won’t have to pay egregious financing charges, as this card starts all new cardholders out with a single, competitive variable APR.

And there’s of course the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® for students who are looking to open their first credit card.

If you do not qualify for either of these cards, consider the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®. As a secured card, you will need to make a refundable security deposit for approval, but your deposit will lessen the bank’s dependency on a credit score during its decision-making process.

This is one of our favorite secured credit cards because it has far more forgiving deposit standards. While most secured cards match your card’s spending limit to the amount of your deposit, Capital One bases your required deposit on your credit score.

You will have to pay a deposit amount that will vary based on your credit score to access your initial credit limit.

And both cards offer free enrollment in Capital One’s Automatic Credit Limit Increase program, which checks your account every six months to see if you qualify for a credit limit increase or card upgrade. If you do, Capital One will process the change immediately at no cost to you.

5. Which is Better — the Capital One Platinum or the Quicksilver?

This depends on your credit score and financial goals. Both cards offer many of the same perks, but the Quicksilver gains the edge by offering cash back rewards to your account.

This means that you will receive a percentage of every qualifying purchase back — similar to a rebate — as cash back. You can redeem your cash back as a statement credit to erase part of your current balance or you can transfer the money to a linked checking account or receive a paper check.

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card does not offer such a reward, but that’s because this card is intended for consumers who have little or no credit history. To qualify for the Quicksilver cash rewards line of cards, you will need good credit or excellent credit, which roughly equates to a FICO score of 670 or higher.

Aside from the rewards, The Quicksilver card also offers a variable APR range that, at its highest point, is still more than one basis point below the Platinum card. As a rewards card, the Quicksilver offering typically also has a signup bonus that can net you bonus cash back when you reach certain spending thresholds during your first three months with the card. Capital One® Platinum Credit Card has no such welcome bonus.

Still, you can find great utility with Capital One® Platinum Credit Card if you are new to the credit game. This card is one of the best entry-level credit card options on the market. And since you join the Capital One network with this card, you have the capability of upgrading to other cards — including the Quicksilver card — as you improve your credit history.

6. Which Capital One Card has the Highest Credit Limit?

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card not only offers great travel rewards, but it can easily cover the cost of a dream vacation with reported credit limits as high as $50,000.

Your credit limit will depend on your individual creditworthiness, and most reviewers report receiving lower limits than the highest reported of $50,000. Many cardholders seem to receive limits in the $30,000 range, while the average reported limit ranges between $5,000 and $10,000.

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business has reported credit limits as high as $30,000, which can help you build business credit if you are a business owner and need an entry-level card that uses your personal credit history for approval.

Aside from the potentially high credit limit, the Spark cash card also provides solid cash back potential for cardholders as well as rotating signup bonuses and free employee cards.

Keep in mind that reports of high credit limits do not guarantee that you will receive a high credit limit if you apply for the card. Capital One bases its credit decisions on a proprietary method and settles on credit limits based on your creditworthiness and market norms.

And while you may not start off with the highest possible credit limit, you could work your way there through a series of credit limit increases as you prove your financial responsibility over time.

7. What is the Minimum Credit Score for a Capital One Card?

As with almost every other credit card company, Capital One does not publish its minimum approval threshold, but it does tell you the general credit score is needed to qualify for its cards. The bank uses a proprietary formula that judges each application on the amount of risk the consumer poses to the issuer.

Capital One offers multiple credit card options for consumers who have limited or bad credit scores. You can check your credit score for free from numerous sources if you’re unsure where you stand.

FICO Score® Ranges

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card promotes itself as a card for those who have limited or no credit. That could mean a score at or above 580.

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a refundable security deposit for approval, but that deposit means that you will likely qualify for the secured card, even if you have bad credit (lower than a 580).

Secured credit cards typically are less discerning when it comes to your credit score because your security deposit acts as a backup if you default on your credit card debt. And since Capital One will report your payment history to each credit reporting bureau, your on-time payments and low balances can help improve your credit score over time.

You may still struggle to be approved when applying for a secured credit card if you have a recent or pending bankruptcy, a recent default or collections account, or if you have current late payments reported to your credit history.

8. Does Capital One Build Your Credit?

With responsible use

, you can absolutely build your credit score with a Capital One credit card. Your credit score comes from information provided by one or more of the three major credit reporting bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The bureaus receive this information from lenders who report monthly data on all of their customers.

Capital One reports to all three of the bureaus. If you maintain your account in good standing and keep your balance low, you can add positive information to your credit file every month and improve your credit score over time.

If you don’t have a credit score at all (also known as being credit invisible), it can take up to six months of Capital One reporting to the bureaus to generate a reliable credit score that other lenders will use when considering your loan or credit applications.

If you have previous financial mistakes that are holding down your credit score, the time it takes to repair those errors and get your credit score into good territory will vary. As negative items on your credit report get older, they lose some of their impact on your credit score. This is especially true if you replace negative items with positive data.

Chart Showing Negative Account Credit Report Lifespan

With monthly positive reports from Capital One, previous negatives will move further down your credit file, boosting your recent history — which most lenders consider more than past data.

Keep in mind that one slip up can negate all of your progress. One single 30-day late payment alone can drop your credit score by as many as 100 points.

9. How Often Does Capital One Increase Your Credit Limit?

Capital One allows cardholders to receive a credit limit increase every six months. The clock restarts whenever you receive a higher credit line.

You can request a credit limit increase online or over the phone. If you are not in a rush, you can wait until Capital One examines your account — typically once every six months — to see if you qualify for a higher credit line. If you do, the bank will process the change immediately at no cost to you.

Before you request a change to your credit limit, be certain that you have not received an increase within the last six months. You likely will not qualify if you have recent late payments or a currently high balance.

You may qualify if you have recently received a raise or have a positive change to your income that could cover the potential increase in credit. When you personally request a credit limit increase, Capital One will require you to submit income information to show that you can afford more credit. The bank will not perform a hard credit check — with a resulting inquiry — unless you request a credit limit increase that is substantially more than what the bank offers.

10. Can I Have Two Capital One Cards?

Yes, you can have two active Capital One cards at the same time, but you cannot have more than that.

Capital One only allows consumers to have two of its credit cards at one time. This rule typically does not include secured credit cards or co-branded credit cards, such as Bass Pro Shops CLUB Card, Cabela’s CLUB Mastercard®, and the Capital One BuyPower Card® GM Extended Family Card BuyPower Business Card™.

The bank does not actively mention this rule in its advertisements, but it has been in place since 2011. Even if you easily qualify for a third Capital One credit card, the bank will reject your application if you have two active card accounts.

If you had more than two Capital One credit cards before 2011, your accounts were grandfathered into new rules and you are able to keep your cards for as long as you remain in good standing. If you close one of your accounts, though, you will not be able to open another, unless you are under the two-card rule.

11. Can I Transfer a Balance to a Capital One Card?

Capital One allows balance transfers from other banks to its cards, but you cannot transfer a balance from one Capital One credit card to another Capital One credit card.

Quite often, Capital One provides promotional offers to new customers that allow them to enjoy 0% interest on new purchases and balance transfers over a set amount of time (typically between six and 12 months). These offers change often based on the current market and competition.

Although you may not have interest charges on your balance transfer during that time frame, you will still have to pay a balance transfer fee to initiate the transaction. This usually equates to a percentage of your total transferred amount — typically between 3% and 5% — similar to a cash advance.

Balance Transfer Fees

While it’s always great to avoid fees, you are often better served paying a balance transfer fee if it means having a long period of time without finance charges on your existing balance.

Let’s say, for example, your balance transfer fee is $75 for transferring a $1,500 balance with a 5% fee. At 17% APR, you’d pay over $1,100 in interest over the life of the card if you just paid the minimum each month.

Not only will that save you money, but it could eliminate your debt and improve your credit utilization ratio — making it a great way to improve your credit score and increase your financial freedom.

12. Does Capital One Offer Business Credit Cards?

Capital One maintains its line of Spark® small business credit cards to meet the needs of businesses at just about any stage of growth. Cardholders can earn unlimited 2X miles or 2% Spark cash back, depending on the card they qualify for, while also enjoying free employee credit cards and a competitive interest rate.

A majority of the bank’s Spark cards require excellent credit for approval. The lone exception is the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business, an entry-level business credit card that accepts applicants who have fair credit while still providing cash back rewards with no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.

Excellent business credit is not a requirement for these cards, as Capital One will also consider the applicant’s personal credit score and credit history when viewing an application.

13. How Can I Increase My Capital One Credit Limit?

You can request a credit increase with Capital One online or over the phone by calling 1-800-955-7070.

To qualify, you must have at least three months of account history with no late payments and a low balance. You must wait at least six months if you have already received a credit limit increase.

To request a Capital One credit line increase online, log into your account online or in the bank’s mobile application. Click on the “Card Services” link and select “Request Credit Line Increase.”

After you complete the form with information about your income, employment status, and rent or mortgage payment, click “Submit.”

Capital One uses an automated underwriting algorithm to determine your eligibility for a credit limit increase. You should receive a decision within seconds. If approved, you will see the change to your credit limit take place immediately.

If you are not in a hurry, you can wait until Capital One reviews your account every six months to see if you qualify for a credit limit increase. If you do, the bank will boost your credit immediately at no charge to you.

14. How Do I Prequalify for a Capital One Card?

Capital One makes prequalifying for a credit card fast and easy — and it will not affect your credit score.

By following any of the links in our list of the best Capital One credit cards above, you will be directed to Capital One’s website where you can fill out a short form and see if you prequalify for its cards. This form typically requires you to submit your basic identifying information — including your name, Social Security number, address, and income data.

Capital One uses this information to perform a soft credit pull under your name. This does not place an inquiry on your credit report and will not harm your credit score.

Capital One Prequalify Application

You can prequalify for any of Capital One’s credit cards without hurting your credit score.

If you prequalify, Capital One will invite you to officially apply for the card. This will require a hard credit pull and inquiry.

The whole process takes fewer than five minutes to complete.

Prequalifying does not guarantee that you will receive the card when you officially apply. Occasionally — although rare — the bank may see something on your full credit report that it did not have access to on your soft credit check. If that happens, it could alter the bank’s decision regarding your application.

In that case, you will also receive an adverse action letter in the mail that outlines the reason why the bank rejected your application.

15. Is Capital One a Good Bank?

For more than 30 years, Capital One has provided an extensive portfolio of credit options to consumers of varying financial backgrounds. The bank is also one of the largest auto loan providers in the U.S. and offers hundreds of bank branch and cafe locations throughout the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

And since the bank offers so many tiers of credit cards, you can follow your financial journey with one credit card company and not have to worry about applying for a new card every time your credit score improves.

Through the Automatic Credit Limit Increase program, you can also qualify for card upgrades at no additional cost. That means you can continue to improve your credit standing without sacrificing rewards or paying for fees.

In our book, that makes Capital One a very good bank.

Photo credits: Flickr.com

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The information on this page was reviewed for accuracy on .

About the Author

Adam West Adam West

As Managing Editor for CardRates, Adam oversees content and regularly interviews some of the payments industry's biggest influencers and decision-makers so our site can bring high-quality and engaging stories to our audience and keep readers informed on the latest trends and technology in the space.

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which CardRates.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. See the credit card issuer's website for specific terms and conditions of each card.