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Capital One Quicksilver vs. Discover it Balance Transfer

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young woman looking at her credit card and working on her laptop
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What’s better? Earning the most credit rewards, or saving money by transferring high-interest debt from one card to another? Ultimately, that will depend on your needs. But in case you’re comparing cards for one or more of these purposes, we’ve put together a breakdown of how the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card compares to the Discover it® Balance Transfer.

The TL;DR is that you stand to earn more in terms of rewards and a first-year bonus with the Discover it Balance Transfer card — but earning those rewards will require you to activate and spend according to rotating bonus categories each quarter. The Quicksilver is far more simple; you just swipe and earn an unlimited amount of cash back, though at an overall lower rate than what the Discover it Balance Transfer offers.

Main details

Capital One Quicksilver Discover it Balance Transfer
Welcome bonus $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months All cash back earned at the end of your first 12 months will be matched.
Rewards rate
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

 

 

  • 5% cash back after activation on rotating bonus categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%)
  • 1% on all other purchases
Intro APR
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers
  • 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers
Variable APR 16.49% to 26.49% 14.24% to 25.24%
Annual fee $0 $0

Capital One Quicksilver vs. Discover it Balance Transfer highlights

Welcome bonus winner: Discover it Balances Transfer (in most cases)

If you want a straightforward, traditional welcome bonus, the Quicksilver offers a $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months. However, if you spend strategically, you could get much more with the Discover it Balance Transfer.

Through its first-year Cashback Match program, Discover will match all the rewards you earn during your first 12 months as a Discover it Balance Transfer credit card holder. If you earn $100 in cash back, for example, Discover would award you an additional $100, for a total of $200 in cash back earnings.

If you think you’ll spend enough to overtake the Quicksilver’s $200 welcome bonus, the Discover it Balance Transfer might be the winner for you.

Rewards rate winner: Discover it Balances Transfer (with some caveats)

We chose the Discover it Balance Transfer as the winner for this round because of the higher rate you get on your bonus category spending. You’ll get 5 percent cash back after activation on rotating categories each quarter (on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1 percent), as well as 1 percent back on all other purchases.

Yes, this card requires a little bit of work in terms of keeping up with the Discover cash back calendar each quarter and activating accordingly. But in doing so, you could fetch up to 5 percent back on categories ranging from grocery stores and restaurants to all of your PayPal transactions.

As noted, the Quicksilver earns an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, and you can also get 5 percent back on hotel and rental car purchases made through the Capital One Travel portal. Since that 5 percent rate doesn’t include airfare, we still think the Discover card wins this round.

Introductory APR winner: Quicksilver for purchase APR and Discover for balance transfer APR

The Quicksilver offers a 0 percent intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (followed by a variable APR between 16.49 percent and 26.49 percent) — two solid introductory rates, no matter how you look at it.

The Discover it Balance Transfer, on the other hand, offers a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months and a much less impressive 0 percent intro APR on purchases for six months (14.24 percent to 25.24 percent variable after).

As you can see, the Discover card is the clear winner in the balance transfer category, whereas the Quicksilver wins on the purchase APR front. If you’re instead looking for a good mix of both offers, the Quicksilver is the obvious choice.

Note, in terms of balance transfer fees, both cards charge 3 percent — though the Discover it Balance Transfer’s can go up to 5 percent on future transactions.

Which card earns more?

Capital One Quicksilver vs. Discover it Balance Transfer spending example

In this scenario, we’re assuming the cardholder is spending about $7,300 a year. Discover it Balance Transfer cardholders, in particular, would be specifically maxing out each quarter’s bonus categories.

Spending category Spending Capital One Quicksilver Discover it Balance Transfer
Groceries, fitness clubs and gym memberships $1,500 $22.50 $75
Gas stations and Target $1,500 $22.50 $75
Restaurants and PayPal $1,500 $22.50 $75
Amazon.com and digital wallets $1,500 $22.50 $75
Miscellaneous $300 $4.50 $3
Hotels and rental cars (via Capital One Travel) $1,000 $50 $10
Total $7,300 $144.50 $313

As you can see, the Discover card comes out on top with $313 in cash back earnings for the year (and, when you include the welcome bonus, $626 in cash back earnings). The Quicksilver earns you $144.50 for the year ($344.50 including the welcome bonus).

Still, this example doesn’t take into account non-category rewards you’d earn from spending outside of the Discover card’s bonus categories — and there’s always the potential for you to spend more in either of the Quicksilver’s rewards categories.

Why should you get the Capital One Quicksilver?

Additional benefits

This cash back credit card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, but there are a few other perks that could make this simple, flat-rate card a good option, including:

  • Travel and roadside assistance
  • Complimentary concierge assistance
  • Virtual credit card numbers through the Eno assistant app
  • Access to exclusive travel and entertainment opportunities, like pre-sale tickets through Capital One Access

For more information on benefits, read our Capital One Quicksilver Card benefits guide.

Redemption options

Capital One offers several ways to redeem your cash back:

  • Check
  • Statement credit
  • Past credit card purchases
  • Gift cards
  • Online purchases at checkout on Amazon.com and PayPal

You can also choose to receive your cash back automatically at a set time each year or at a certain cash value, so you don’t have to track your rewards balance.

Recommended credit score

Your approval odds will increase if you have a good to excellent (670 to 850) credit score.

Why should you get the Discover it Balance Transfer?

Like the Capital One Quicksilver, there’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Plus, there’s no penalty APR or late fee on your first late payment (after which you’ll be charged up to $41). In addition to the generous rewards structure and first-year Cashback Match welcome bonus, there are a few more reasons to get the Discover it Balance Transfer.

Additional benefits

You can count on $0 fraud liability for unauthorized purchases and account alerts, along with free access to Discover’s Identity Alerts program (that operates very much like a credit monitoring service). You also have the ability to freeze and unfreeze your account and prevent activity directly from the Discover app. Further information on card benefits can be found in our Discover it Balance Transfer benefits guide.

Redemption options

In terms of redemption, you can receive cash back in the form of an:

  • Electronic direct deposit to an eligible bank account
  • Statement credit
  • Gift card
  • Charitable donation
  • Amazon.com or PayPal.com purchase

Recommended credit score

Similar to the Quicksilver, your approval odds will increase if you have a good to excellent credit score.

The bottom line

When it comes down to it, the Capital One Quicksilver is best for those who want to earn a respectable amount of cash back on their everyday purchases with no fuss. The additional rewards on certain travel portal purchases, in particular, may or may not move the dial much when it comes to making a decision to get this card. We think the Quicksilver is truly for those who want simple and easy rewards.

The Discover it Balance Transfer, on the other hand, could offer substantial value to a cardholder looking to get the most out of their credit card usage — from saving thousands on interest to earning hundreds in rewards each year.

Written by
Aja McClanahan
Personal Finance Writer
Aja McClanahan is an author, blogger and speaker on personal finance and entrepreneurship. Aja is the author of "How a Mother Should Talk About Money with Her Daughter."
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Reviewed by
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