How to Earn Cash Back with Capital One: The Ultimate Guide for 2020

Capital One offers some powerful (yet simple) cashback credit cards. This guide will teach you all about them — so you can pick the right one(s) for you.
Last updated May 18, 2020 | By Miranda Marquit
Best Ways to Earn Cash Back with Capital One Credit Cards

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One of the best ways to make the most of your spending is with the help of credit card rewards. For many consumers, getting cash back on everyday purchases — or at least fairly common ones — can be a very simple way to make the most of their money. Capital One credit cards in particular offer a number of options when it comes to getting easy cash back on a regular basis.

If you’re interested in learning how to earn cash back with Capital One, this comprehensive guide can help you figure out which card (or combination of cards) will maximize your cash back.

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How to earn cash back with Capital One credit cards

Card name Early spend bonus Reward rate Annual fee Best for
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Card Earn $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months 8% cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022), 4% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excludes superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases $95 Dining and entertainment purchases, plus food delivery
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Card Earn a $150 one-time cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months 3% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases $0 Dining out and grocery store purchases, plus an introductory APR
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Earn a $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day $0 Introductory APR for purchases and consistent cash back
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards None unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase $39 Consistent cash back for less-than-perfect credit
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® None 1% cash back on all purchases and 1.25% cash back each month you make an on-time monthly payment $0 Cash back while developing good financial habits
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Earn a $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months 2% cash back on every purchase, every day $95 (waived first year) Generous bonus and high rate of cash back
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business Earn a $200 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases on all cards attached to the account $0 Introductory APR on purchases
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business None 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase for your business $0 Less-than-perfect credit

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card

  • Reward rate: 8% cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022), 4% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excludes superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Early spend bonus: Earn $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Credit required: Excellent

If you’re looking for a card that rewards you for restaurant and entertainment purchases, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards can boost your cashback earnings. You get 8% tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022) purchases. Plus, right now, there’s a special that allows you to earn up to 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020. On top of that, you can also receive a monthly statement credit for a membership to Postmates through December 2019.

Who this card is good for: If dining and entertainment are among your top spending categories, this card could be a good option for you. In 2018, the average household spent $3,459 on food away from home and $3,226 on entertainment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you fit that average, then with tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022), you could earn $267.40 — and that doesn’t include the 4% cash back on grocery store purchases and 2% cash back on everything else.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Reward rate: 3% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Early spend bonus: Earn a $150 one-time cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Credit required: Excellent

If you want a solid cashback card without the annual fee, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards is a good choice. You won’t see the same level of cash back on restaurant and entertainment purchases as with the Savor card, but you’ll still get some perks. In fact, if your household spends the average $4,464 on groceries each year, this card can earn you $89.28 in cash back on top of the $200.55 the average household could earn using the 3% cashback reward rate on dining and entertainment.

Who this card is good for: This card is good for someone who wants to earn extra rewards on high-spending categories — but doesn’t want to pay an annual fee. The introductory 0% APR (annual percentage rate) on purchases for 15 months can also be a benefit for consumers who know they’ll be making a large buy, like a vacation or computer, and want a little time to pay the purchase off.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Reward rate: 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day
  • Early spend bonus: Earn a $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Credit required: Excellent

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card earns a consistent 1.5% cash back on all purchases, making this card a straightforward choice for those who don’t want to worry about categories or reward calendars. Additionally, there’s a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 15 months, making this card tempting for someone planning to make a large buy. With this card, it would be possible to buy a $2,000 computer and then take nine months to pay it off at $222.22 per month.

Who this card is good for: If you want a straightforward, no-hassle way to earn cashback rewards as well as no annual fee, this card can be a good choice.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

  • Reward rate: unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • Early spend bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $39
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Credit required: Fair

The no-frills Capital One QuicksilverOne Card offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. There’s an annual fee, but that can be balanced out once you spend at least $2,600 on your card. The typical household spent $61,224 in 2018, so even if you just put one-quarter of that on your card, you could end up with $229.59 in cash back for the year.

Who this card is good for: If you’re having trouble qualifying for a cashback rewards card because of your credit, this might be an option. You can get this card with average credit, unlike some other cashback cards that require you to have excellent credit.

Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One

  • Reward rate: 1% cash back on all purchases and 1.25% cash back each month you make an on-time monthly payment
  • Early spend bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Credit required: Fair

As a student, finding a good cashback card can be tough. With the Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One, though, you earn 1% cash back on all purchases and 1.25% cash back each month you make an on-time monthly payment. As long as you practice good financial habits, you can get up to 1.25% cash back. On top of that, you’ll enjoy access to Capital One’s CreditWise monitoring tool, and you can score an automatic credit line increase after you make five on-time payments.

Who this card is good for: Students learning to establish good spending habits can benefit from consistent cash back. This is a solid card for those who haven’t had the chance to build credit and who want to earn cash back without paying an annual fee.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

  • Reward rate: 2% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Early spend bonus: Earn a $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Credit required: Excellent

As a business owner, it’s important to keep your business and personal expenses separate. The Capital One Spark Cash for Business can help you do this — while earning an unlimited 2% cash back on all your purchases. This card also comes with a earn a $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months. If you need to make some equipment and office purchases, reaching that mark should be relatively easy.

There’s an annual fee of $95 (waived first year), but you can offset that by spending at least $4,750 per year.

Who this card is good for: If you’re looking for a generous early spend bonus to make the most out of your upcoming business purchases, this is a good card to consider. And on top of the bonus offer, you’ll get consistent cash back on all your purchases.

Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business

  • Reward rate: unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases on all cards attached to the account
  • Early spend bonus: Earn a $200 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Credit required: Excellent

If you still want to earn consistent cash back but without the annual fee, the Capital One Spark Cash Select can be a good choice. There’s also a welcome bonus, so if you can spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, you can get an extra $200 cash back.

Who this card is good for: If you need a little extra time to pay off some of your business purchases, this is a good choice, since you get a 0% APR for 9 months on purchases. This is an ideal card for those who are planning on making large purchases and want to make manageable payments while avoiding interest.

Capital One Spark Classic for Business

  • Reward rate: 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase for your business
  • Early spend bonus: None
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Credit required: Fair

The Capital One Spark Classic for Business is a straightforward, basic card that pays out 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase for your business, without an annual fee. You can earn unlimited cash back, allowing you to get a little something in return as you build your business.

Who this card is good for: Business owners who have less-than-excellent credit and would like access to a cashback card can benefit from the Spark Classic.

How to access your Capital One cashback rewards

Seeing your cash back is fairly straightforward. When you log into your account, all of the vital information about your card is available at the top of your screen. You can see how much you have in cashback rewards listed on the left of the screen.

Best Ways to Earn Cash Back with Capital One Credit Cards

After a transaction clears and is no longer pending, Capital One will update what you’ve earned. The updated amount is immediately available, no matter how much you have, and you’ll see it redeemed to your card within two or three business days.

How to redeem your Capital One cashback rewards

There are no limits on when and how much you can redeem when it comes to your Capital One cashback rewards, except for when you want to redeem for a gift card. Capital One offers four main options for redeeming your available cash back:

  • Redeem for cash: Choose to receive statement credit or a check.
  • Cover your purchases: Choose from a list of eligible purchases and the cash rewards will go toward covering that specific choice.
  • Get gift cards: You can also redeem for a gift card to a store of your choice, starting at $10.
  • Share your rewards: It’s also possible to move your rewards to another Capital One card you have or to even give your rewards to someone else with a Capital One account.

Simply choose the “View Rewards” option below your rewards display and follow the instructions for redeeming your cash back.

How to set up automatic cashback redemptions with Capital One

One of the great things about Capital One is that you can choose to automatically redeem your cash back. That means you’ll never forget to use your rewards, and you’ll save time by not having to manually request your cash back. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to your View Rewards page, and click on your “Rewards Settings.”
  2. You’ll see an option to set up the auto-redeem function. Click on that.

Best Ways to Earn Cash Back with Capital One Credit Cards

  1. Elect whether you want the money sent to your card as a credit or whether you want a check.
  2. Choose how often you want the cash back, whether once a year or when you reach a certain threshold. The minimum is $25.

Best Ways to Earn Cash Back with Capital One Credit Cards

Once it’s set up, you can still go back anytime to edit the threshold redemption amount or even turn off the auto-redeem setting. Also, having an automatic redemption set up doesn’t stop you from redeeming cash for other rewards before you reach your threshold. So you can have an automatic redemption set up so you never forget about your rewards and still get a few bucks back here and there anytime you like.

A note on redeeming Capital One miles for cash

In addition to cashback cards, Capital One also offers popular cards — like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card — that earn miles instead. You can also earn travel rewards for your business with the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business Credit Card.

It’s possible to redeem those miles for cash, but going that route with your rewards might not be the most valuable way to use them. In fact, based on what the travel rewards community has experienced, you might only get a value of 0.5 cents per mile when redeeming those miles for cash back. In most cases, you’re better off redeeming miles for travel through the Capital One booking portal.

Application rules for Capital One cards

Capital One has a few rules about how many credit cards you can have. In general, Capital One limits you to two personal cards. However, there are exceptions to this rule:

  • One way you could get more than two cards is if you have a co-branded card issued by Capital One, like one of its retail store cards from Bass Pro Shops, Kohl’s, and others.
  • You could also possibly get more than two Capital One cards if you have one of its business cards. For example, I have two personal Capital One cashback cards and one Capital One business cashback card.

That said, even if you’re approved for additional Capital One cards, you might not receive the associated welcome bonus. Additionally, you’re limited to one application every six months with Capital One. So if you’re not patient about your credit card applications, you might not be approved, regardless of the number of cards you have.

Before deciding how to proceed with your applications, it’s best to carefully consider which cards will work best for you and why — and then plan out a schedule to increase your odds of approval.

For example, I have a Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card from back in the day, and that earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. I recently decided to add the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card to get 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, plus 2% cash back on grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) — with no annual fee.

By being judicious about which cards I use, I can earn more cash back. I get 3% when I pay for dining and entertainment purchases with the SavorOne, and I also use the SavorOne at grocery stores. Everything else gets me unlimited 1.5% cash back with the QuicksilverOne — and I don’t have to worry about registering for rotating categories. And of course, I get unlimited 1.5% cash back on business purchases with my Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business.

The bottom line on how to earn cash back with Capital One

Capital One offers plenty of options for those who want a simple approach to earning cash back. Review the choices above and figure out if it makes sense for you to maximize your cash earnings using Capital One cards.

When you understand your spending habits — and are committed to paying off your balance each month to avoid interest charges — you can use credit cards to earn easy money on all the things you plan to buy anyway.

Top Cash Back

Benefits

  • $300 cash back welcome offer
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • No foreign transaction fees