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: None
  • 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

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Cash Credit Card Credit Card
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on Capital One's
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  • One-time $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories and no sign ups needed to earn cash rewards
  • Redeem the cash back you earn for any amount, any time
  • Your cash back doesn't expire
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers until January 2015
  • No annual fee
thumbsupPros
  • High rewards rate
  • No annual fee
  • 0% until January 2015
  • No foreign transaction fee
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$0 One-time $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months. 12.9% - 22.9% (V) 0% on purchases and balance transfers until January 2015

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 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% APR period on both purchases and transfers (after which your variable rate will be 12.9%-22.9%). 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

Chase Freedom - $100 Cash Back Credit Card
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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: Earn a $100 Bonus after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. 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

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Credit Card
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on American Express's
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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

Discover It Credit Card
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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 18 months of 0% interest on balance transfers and 6 months on purchases, making it a great way to earn rewards while still getting out of debt. However, as a Discover cards, its international acceptance is less than perfect, so if you’re traveling abroad, be sure to check and see if your destination country accepts Discover.

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