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Capital One Quicksilver: A No-Fee, No-Gimmicks Cash Card

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One of the best free credit cards out there, the Capital One Quicksilver earns a solid 1.5% back on all purchases made. It’s low-maintenance, with no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. In terms of straight-up rewards rate, it doesn’t fare well against the cash rewards heavyweights. We’ll break down the Capital One Quicksilver’s benefits and compare it to the best cash back credit cards on the market. Read on!

At a glance

  • Annual fees: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Rewards program: Cash, redeemable as a check or statement credit
  • Signup bonus: One-time $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months. That’s about average for cash back credit cards

Verdict: Ideal for its simplicity. You never have to worry about annual fees, changing bonus categories and rewards gimmicks.

Good for:

  • Someone who wants a high-earning, no-fees, no-hassles card
  • Someone who prefers cash back over travel miles

Bad for:

  • Someone who will spend more than $1,000 a month – at that point, you’re better off with the Capital One Venture Rewards, which gives 2% rewards and has a $59 annual fee
  • Someone who spends a lot of money on gas and groceries – a tailored card like the American Express Blue Cash will give you a higher bonus rewards rate

Cashing in without the fees

The card gives a flat 1.5% rewards rate on all purchases, paid out on a rolling basis, and comes with a nice bonus: One-time $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months. Your rewards never expire, and you can redeem them via cash, check, statement credit, donation or gift cards. You can also redeem in any increment, without having to trade in, say, exactly 10,000 points for an Arby’s gift card. It’s a no-frills card, as we’ve said, without the hassle of redemption tiers, spending caps, or enrollment bonus categories. It has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, but best of all, it comes with a 0% on purchases and balance transfers until November 2015, and then the ongoing APR of 12.9% - 22.9% (Variable). It’s rare to see such a good combination of a zero-percent period and solid rewards.

Cash back credit card showdown

How does the Capital One Cash fare against our reigning cash back champions?

Capital One Quicksilver vs. Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom easily has better bonus rewards than the Cash: it gives 5% back in rotating bonus categories up to $1,500 in purchases a quarter, plus an unlimited 1% back elsewhere. The Freedom also has a signup bonus: $100 Cash Bonus after spending $500 - in first 3 months It’s better if you align with the Freedom’s bonus categories, but if you’re not really into driving or shopping, or occasionally travel abroad, the Quicksilver’s your guy. Here’s the bonus schedule for 2014:

  • Q1 (January 1 – March 31): Gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks stores
  • Q2 (April 1 – June 30): Restaurants and Lowe’s home improvement stores
  • Q3 (July 1 – September 30): Gas stations and Kohl’s
  • Q4 (October 1 – December 31): Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select department stores

Capital One Quicksilver vs. Amex Blue Cash

The American Express Blue Cash is another cash back card that’s popular among families for its rewards on gas and groceries. Its rewards rate is quite high: 3% back on up to $6k spent on groceries, unlimited 2% at gas stations and department stores, and 1% elsewhere. Its big brother, the Blue Cash Preferred, gives 6% and 3% rewards respectively, though it does come with a $75 annual fee, though. If you’re a big suburban spender (i.e., you buy gas, groceries and clothes for a family) you’re better off with the Blue Cash, but someone whose spending patterns are more diversified will prefer the Quicksilver.

Mathlete time: Considering only groceries, your breakeven point between the Preferred and Everyday is $2,500 a year or about $50 a week – if you spend more than that on groceries, the increased rewards make up for the annual fee.

Capital One Quicksilver vs. Discover it

The Discover it offers worse rewards categories than the Freedom (gas in July-September and “holiday shopping” in October-December, also up to $1,500 spent a quarter), but where it outstrips the other cards here is its capacity to help those with existing credit card debt. It offers 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 10.99% - 22.99% Variable , making it a great way to earn rewards while still getting out of debt. However, as a Discover cards, it has less than perfect international acceptance, so if you’re traveling abroad, be sure to check and see if your destination country accepts Discover.

  • Kevin

    I see people talking about the QuickSilverOne from Capital One. I received a similar offer but they made it sound like an option. I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to but who wouldn’t unless you have a better offer with what you already have. I was planning on applying for the QuickSilver card but if I just upgrade then there’s no ding on my credit and I want to avoid inquiries.

  • kpom

    True, it is very adult to take 1.5% cash back vs. riling people.

  • Bryan The Bold

    Yeah, not sure why people seem to think it’s all or nothing. We combine the Blue Cash Preferred (groceries up to $6k/yr) w/ Costco Amex (Gas 3%, Travel 2%) w/ BoA cash rewards (2% on groceries past 6k, businesses that don’t take AMEX). Considering adding this card to cover those non-bonus items (there honestly aren’t that many in our budget) and businesses that don’t take AMEX. It would be a 0.5% increase for those. Haven’t calculated out what that means over the course of a year… probably on the order of $50, so unclear of whether it’s worth the hassle of having the extra card and instructing the wife on usage.

  • Amanda Hope Goodwin

    No. Quicksilver uses visa signature benefits and theft from vehicles is not covered. Loss from theft of your home, fire, and covered weather events will be covered.