Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
One of the biggest predicaments with cash back cards is that with exception of certain categories, they only give you 1% on everything else you buy.Of course for many of us, the “everything else” makes up the bulk of our spending.
To solve this problem, consider the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. This no-annual-fee Visa offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You can also get a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
New vs. Old?
Quicksilver’s predecessor, the Capital One Cash Rewards card, had a program that gave 1% on every purchase. At the end of each year, it gave a 50% bonus on the cash back that was earned during the preceding year. In total, that equaled 1.5%, but the drawback was that you didn’t get it all at once.
However, with Quicksilver, you get the 1.5% cash back as you earn it. Unlike its predecessor, you won’t have to wait a year to get that full amount. People love immediate gratification and the overwhelming success of the Quicksilver card is proof that consumers like getting a straight 1.5% on each and every purchase.
You also get the following benefits:
- No signups or enrollments necessary. With many reward cards on the market today, you have to “opt-in” or “sign up” each quarter to participate in the higher tier categories. However, with Quicksilver you don’t have to follow anything or jump through any hoops.
- No minimum needed for redemption. With many other reward programs you have to hit a predetermined earnings threshold before you can cash out. For example, you might have to accumulate $20 worth of cash-back rewards before you can redeem. Banks realize that many people ever hit this threshold so they don’t end up having to pay anything out. With Quicksilver, there’s no minimum for redemption. You can request it anytime, either through their website or by calling customer service.
- Set up automatic redemption. If you want to avoid the exercise of calling to redeem you can specify a threshold for redemption to get your cash back automatically. For example, you could set it to receive a $10 statement credit for each time you accumulate $10 worth. This can be a nice automatic process that eliminates the effort of keeping track of rewards.
For quite a while this product was unique. Most other credit card companies focus primarily on the type of program I mentioned at the start of this review; higher-tiered spend categories (like gas or groceries) along with 1% (or 1 point) per dollar on all other purchases. That made the Capital One Quicksilver card a stand-alone that wasn’t comparable to the other main reward products in the market, saving consumers the trouble of constantly tracking or even having to think about what type of transaction might earn 2% or 3% cash back like on some other reward cards. In all likelihood, for most consumers earning a flat 1.5% on all transactions will result in more cash back at the end of the year. Earning enhanced cash back on all spending is a huge benefit, since most programs offering higher tiers on certain categories cynically cap the amount of eligible spending.
But, competition in the 1.5% cash back space has heated up in the past year with the introduction of the Chase Freedom Unlimited card and the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa. Both match the Quicksilver’s cash back with no annual fee appeal. But it’s important to remember that all Capital One cards come with no foreign transaction fees, which could tip the balance in favor of Quicksilver if you only want to carry one rewards card in your wallet.
Capital One Quicksilver vs. QuicksilverOne?
The regular version of the Quicksilver (described above) is designed for those with excellent credit (FICO scores above 750). Plus it offers no foreign transaction fees along with no annual fee. However, there is another version for average credit known as QuicksilverOne. With it, you still earn 1.5% cash back, but it carries a $39 annual fee and has a different payment network (MasterCard) rather than Visa. Of course no one likes to pay fees, but the fact is that there are very few major credit cards with rewards for average credit. So a $39 annual fee is actually a rather good deal as long as you spend enough to make it worthwhile. And, with a 1.5% cash back earnings structure it won’t break the bank to earn back the equivalent of $39 – only $5,850 of spending per year, which is only a bit under $500 a month.
Why we gave it 4 out of 5 stars
We rated Capital One’s Quicksilver based on our standards for cash-back cards, as cash back is the primary advertised mode of redemption.
The card had an all-around solid performance, with only small deductions for lacking ongoing bonus-earning opportunities and unique perks. However, it got full stars in the categories that are likely most important to those looking for a simple cash-back product.
|Rewards-earning rate: This card meets our standards for no-annual-fee cards, as it offers above 1.5 percent on all spending.|
|Cash-back redemption value: This card meets our requirements because of its one-cent-per point redemption value for cash back.|
|Rewards simplicity and transparency: There are no category enrollments required, no point expiration and no caps.|
|Bonus-earning opportunities: This card has an advertised sign-up bonus, but no on-going bonus-earning opportunities (like a bonus-shopping portal).|
|Unique perks: This card offers a credit-tracking service but is otherwise short on unique perks|
Written or last updated November 17, 2016