Sometimes I think it’s interesting to break down credit card strategies by card issuer, so in this post I wanted to share my Capital One card strategy for 2022. In separate posts I wrote about my Amex card strategy, Chase card strategy, and Citi card strategy.
Capital One is a card issuer where my feelings have evolved significantly, as Capital One has gotten more competitive in the transferable points space. A few years ago I didn’t have any Capital One cards, while now Capital One is the card issuer with which I spend the most.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to know to be approved for a Capital One card, a summary of my strategy, and then which Capital One card I’m most interested in applying for.
Restrictions on applying for Capital One cards?
All cards issuers have some application restrictions in place to get approved for cards. Among card issuers, Capital One has the fewest consistent restrictions, though:
- Capital One doesn’t really have any consistent rules on being approved for cards, other than that you can typically earn the bonus on a card once
- Capital One sometimes pulls credit from all three bureaus, though that shouldn’t be a big deal one way or another, in my opinion
- Applying for Capital One business cards shouldn’t count as a further card toward Chase’s 5/24 limit, if that’s a consideration
Which Capital One cards do I have?
While I have well over two dozen credits, I “only” have three Capital One cards:
How do I use my Capital One cards?
Capital One has the best credit cards for everyday spending, in my opinion, given that several cards earn 2x Capital One miles per dollar spent, with no caps and no foreign transaction fees. These rewards can then be transfered to Capital One’s excellent airline & hotel partners, mostly at a 1:1 ratio. That’s why I spend more on Capital One credit cards than any other cards.
For some context on those seemingly different rewards currencies:
- Venture and Spark miles are virtually identical, as they can be used in the same way, and can be pooled
- Capital One cash back can be converted into Capital One miles in conjunction with a card earning those miles, at the rate of one cent per mile; this means that 2% cash back on the Capital One Spark Cash Plus can get me 2x Venture or Spark miles
As you can tell, I have three cards earning 2x transferable points (one personal and two business), so let me share a bit more about how I justify these cards.
The Capital One Venture X pays for itself
As mentioned above, I spend the most on the Capital One Venture X, since you can’t beat earning 2x transferable points per dollar spent with no foreign transaction fees. I value Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each, so to me the card offers a 3.4% return on spending.
The catch, theoretically, is that the Capital One Venture X has a $395 annual fee. That’s a lot to pay for a credit card. Fortunately the card more than pays for itself, thanks to all the great perks. On the most basic level, the card offers a $300 annual travel credit and 10,000 anniversary bonus miles, which I value at way more than $395.
Deciding between the Spark Miles & Spark Cash Plus
For me, the much tougher decision is between the $95 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months) Capital One Spark Miles for Business and the $150 annual fee Capital One Spark Cash Plus. While one is a points earning card and the other is a cash back card, for my purposes the cards earn the same rewards, as I can convert the cash back into miles.
So when the annual fees are due on these cards, I’ll likely keep one but not the other, since they’re a bit redundant. Which will I keep?
- The Capital One Spark Miles for Business has the benefit of having an ongoing annual fee that’s $55 lower
- The Capital One Spark Cash Plus has the advantage of being a charge card (so it has no pre-set spending limit), and the card also offers a $200 cash bonus if you spend $200,000 on the card annually (though I don’t quite spend that much on the card)
Which Capital One cards do I most want?
Capital One cards are great for everyday spending without foreign transaction fees. However, there aren’t too many cards with bonus categories. The Capital One product that most interests me is the no annual fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card (review), as the card offers 3% cash back on dining, grocery stores, entertainment, and popular streaming services.
Since cash back on Capital One cards can potentially be turned into Capital One miles, this would be a great no annual fee complement that allows me to earn 3x Capital One miles in those categories. I can’t say that getting the card is a priority, since I have other cards with great bonus categories. However, it’s definitely on my radar.
Capital One is a card issuer that has become increasingly popular in the points world in recent years, thanks to the constantly improving transferable points currency. As it stands, the Capital One Venture X is the personal card that I spend the most on, while the Capital One Spark Cash Plus is the business card that I spend the most on.
You can’t beat Capital One offering 2x transferable points per dollar spent with no foreign transaction fees, though I do wish we’d see some more cards with bonus categories. Then again, that allows me to diversify, and earn points with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.
What’s your Capital One credit card strategy?