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When navigating the crowded field of 1.5% cash back offers, two almost-identical credit cards might have you playing a game of "spot the difference":
At first glance, they seem even-steven. Both offer a competitive 1.5% rewards rate on all purchases. Neither charges foreign transaction fees. They share the same sleek modern card design. So which one should you apply for?
It all depends on your credit score. While the first offers a richer deal overall, you need good credit to qualify. The latter, by contrast, requires average credit and comes with fewer benefits.
A side-by-side comparison
Here’s how these two cash-back classics stack up.
For good credit: The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
When comparing these cards side by side, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card — which requires good credit — is the clear victor. It's the most gussied-up version of this card Capital One offers. Here's what makes it stand out from other 1.5% cash back offers.
Sign-up bonus. When you apply for this card, you can earn a sign-up bonus: One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. It’s not the most generous bonus offered among cash-back credit cards, but it gives you a nice boost. And with a relatively low spending requirement, it's easy to earn.
Introductory 0% APR. This card comes with a 0% APR offer: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR. If you’re about to make a large purchase and need time to pay it down interest-free, this card helps you do that while earning a decent rewards rate. You could also use the card to pay down high-interest debt on other accounts. The catch: You would have to pay a balance transfer fee.
No annual fee. Unlike its average-credit sibling card, this card comes with an annual fee of $0. That means you can come out ahead on rewards as soon as you start making purchases on it.
For average credit: The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is designed for people with average credit. Although its offerings are more modest, it's still a cut above its competitors. Here's why you might want to apply:
Competitive rewards rate for average credit. Unlimited 1.5% cash-back offers are rather unremarkable in the world of good credit. But you would be hard-pressed to find another card that offers such robust rewards for people with average credit. Before applying, make sure you spend enough to make the annual fee worthwhile. You would have to spend $2,600 on this card before your rewards cancel out the annual fee.
Opportunity to upgrade. Usually, qualifying for better terms means applying for a new card, which triggers a hard pull on your credit and temporarily dings your score. If you get this card and your credit later improves, you can upgrade to the good-credit version of this card — the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card — without that hard pull on your credit, according to Capital One. This way, you can continue building your account history while moving to more favorable terms, without taking a short-term credit hit.
See where you stand
If you don’t already know which credit card you would qualify for, start by checking your credit scores. You can do this for free by setting up a NerdWallet account. Your current credit card issuers or bank might also offer free credit scores on their websites. Alternatively, you can see whether you pre-qualify for one of these offers by using NerdWallet's pre-qualification tool.