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- The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a flat rate of 1.5 percent cash back on everything you buy with no annual fee (plus, cardholders get an intro APR offer)
- The Discover it® Balance Transfer offers cash back in categories that rotate throughout the year and an intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers
- These two credit cards have a lot in common, but they differ in how their sign-up bonuses are doled out and in the perks they offer
If you’re looking for a credit card with no annual fee that has an intro APR offer and rewards, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the available options. The fact is, quite a few cash back credit cards have 0 percent introductory rates and offer rewards for each dollar you spend, and most come with no annual fee and plenty of other perks.
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Discover it® Balance Transfer are two of the most popular options that fit all these criteria, yet these two rewards credit cards differ in more ways than one. Where the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offers flat-rate rewards that can help you earn more cash back on everything you buy, the Discover it® Balance Transfer offers more rewards in bonus categories that change throughout the year.
Can’t seem to decide? We’ve put together a breakdown of how the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card compares to the Discover it® Balance Transfer, so read on to see how these two credit cards stack up in the most important categories.
|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|
|Variable APR||19.99% to 29.99%||17.24% to 28.24%|
Capital One Quicksilver vs. Discover it® Balance Transfer highlights
Welcome bonus winner: Discover it® Balance 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 cardholder. 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.
You also wouldn’t have to spend a ton on the Discover it® Balance Transfer to get your Cashback Match over $200. For example, if you spent up to the $1,500 cap to earn 5 percent back in quarterly bonus categories all throughout the year (activation required), you would earn $75 in rewards each quarter for a total of $300 in cash back over 12 months with bonus category purchases alone (then 1%) . With Discover Cashback Match, this amount would be essentially doubled to $600 after the first year.
Rewards rate winner: Discover it® Balance 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 Amazon 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 directly with airlines, we still think the Discover card wins this round.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie
While neither one of these cards are travel credit cards, both Capital One and Discover are known for not charging any foreign transaction fees. This means both cards can be a good option for individuals who travel often and don’t want to pay an added fee for purchases made abroad.
Annual fee winner: Tie
Finally, neither one of these cards charge an annual fee, so they’re both keeper cards you can plan on using for the long haul. The lack of annual fees also means you never have to wonder if you’re earning enough in rewards to keep a card after the first year.
Which card earns the most?
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|
|Amazon.com and digital wallets||$1,500||$22.50||$75|
|Hotels and rental cars||$1,000||$50 (via Capital One Travel)||$10|
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. For example, you could wind up better off with the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card if you frequently book hotels and rental cars through Capital One and pay with the card to get 5 percent back.
Why should you get the Capital One Quicksilver?
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:
- 24-hour travel assistance services
- Complimentary concierge assistance
- Virtual credit card numbers through the Eno assistant app
- Travel accident insurance
- Extended warranties
For more information on benefits, read our Capital One Quicksilver Card benefits guide.
Capital One offers several ways to redeem your cash back:
- Statement credit
- Past credit card purchases
- Gift cards
- Online purchases at checkout on Amazon.com and PayPal
Capital One says you can redeem your cash back all at once or in small increments whenever you see fit. You can also redeem your rewards in any amount for most options, including a check or a statement credit.
Recommended credit score
Your approval odds for this card 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 with the Discover it® Balance Transfer card. 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.
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.
In terms of redemption, you can receive cash back from this card in the following forms:
- Electronic direct deposit to an eligible bank account
- Statement credit
- Gift card
- Charitable donation
- Amazon.com or PayPal.com purchase
Discover also lets you redeem cash back at any time in any amount, which means you’ll never have to work toward a rewards threshold to make a redemption or get stuck with rewards you cannot use.
Recommended credit score
Similar to the Quicksilver, your approval odds may increase if you have a good-to-excellent credit score.
The bottom line
When it comes down to it, the Discover it® Balance Transfer could offer substantial value to cardholders looking to get the most out of their credit card usage — from saving thousands on interest to earning hundreds in rewards each year. This is especially true among consumers who want to be able to maximize rewards through bonus category spending throughout the year.
Then again, the Capital One Quicksilver may work best for those who want to earn a respectable amount of cash back on their everyday purchases with no fuss.
*Some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See your respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.