There are many aspects to maximizing your credit card rewards, including taking advantage of the best welcome bonuses, spending categories, and card benefits.
Sometimes I think it’s interesting to break down credit card strategies by card issuer, so in this article I wanted to share my Capital One card strategy for 2022. In separate articles I wrote about my Amex card strategy, my Chase card strategy and my Citi card strategy.
Capital One is a card issuer where my feelings have changed significantly, as Capital One has become more competitive in the transferable points space. A few years ago, I didn’t have Capital One cards, but now Capital One is the card issuer I spend the most with.
Here’s an overview of what you need to know to get approved for a Capital One card, a summary of my strategy, and then the Capital One card I’m most interested in.
Restrictions on Capital One card applications?
All card issuers have certain application restrictions in place for obtaining card approval. Of the card issuers, however, Capital One has the fewest consistent restrictions:
- Capital One doesn’t really have any consistent rules on card approval other than that you can usually earn the bonus on a card once.
- Capital One sometimes pulls credit from the three bureaus, although that shouldn’t be a big deal one way or the other, in my opinion
- Applying for Capital One business cards shouldn’t count as an additional card against Chase’s 5/24 limit, if that’s a consideration
For more on what it’s like to be approved for cards, check out my guide to getting approved for Capital One Venture X and my guide to getting approved for Capital One Spark Cash Plus.
What Capital One cards do I have?
While I have well over two dozen credits, I have “only” 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 or foreign transaction fees. These rewards can then be transferred to Capital One’s excellent airline and hotel partners, primarily at a 1:1 ratio. That’s why I spend more on Capital One credit cards than any other card.
For some background on these seemingly different reward currencies:
- Venture and Spark miles are virtually identical because they can be used the same way and can be pooled.
- Capital One Cash Back may be converted into Capital One miles in conjunction with a card generating such miles, at the rate of one cent per mile; this means 2% cash back on Capital One Spark Cash Plus can get me 2 x Venture miles or Spark miles
As you can see, I have three cards that earn 2x transferable points (one personal and two professional), so let me tell you a bit more about how I justify these cards.
Capital One Venture X is profitable
As mentioned above, I spend the most on the Capital One Venture X because you can’t do better than earning 2x transferable points per dollar spent with no foreign transaction fees. I value Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each, so for me the card offers a 3.4% return on spend.
The catch, theoretically, is that the Capital One Venture X has an annual fee of $395. That’s a lot to pay for a credit card. Luckily, the card more than pays for itself, thanks to all the great benefits. At the most basic level, the card offers $300 annual travel credit and 10,000 birthday bonus miles, which I value at well over $395.
And that’s just the beginning, as the card also offers Priority Pass membership, amazing authorized user benefits and more. There is simply no doubt that the calculations work on this card.
Choose between Spark Miles and Spark Cash Plus
For me, the much harder decision is between the $95 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months) Capital One Spark Miles for Business and the $150 Capital One Spark Cash Plus annual fee. While one is a points earning card and the other 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 fee is due on these cards, I’ll probably keep one but not the other, as they’re a bit redundant. Which will I keep?
- Spark Miles for Business from Capital One has the advantage of having a lower ongoing annual fee of $55
- The Capital One Spark Cash Plus has the advantage of being a cash card (so it has no preset spending limit), and the card also offers a $200 cash bonus if you spend $200,000 on the card every year (although I’m not quite sure how much to spend on the card)
So I think I’m going to keep the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and cancel the Capital One Spark Cash Plus, but I’m not sure yet.
Which Capital One cards do I want the most?
Capital One cards are ideal for everyday spending with no foreign transaction fees. However, there are not too many cards with bonus categories. The Capital One product I’m most interested in is the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards credit card with no annual fee (review) because the card offers 3% cash back on restaurants, groceries, entertainment and services popular streaming services.
Since cash back on Capital One cards can potentially be turned into Capital One miles, this would be a great add-on with no annual fee that allows me to earn 3x Capital One miles in these categories. I can’t say getting the card is a priority, as I have other cards with large bonus categories. However, it’s definitely on my radar.
At the end of the line
Capital One is a card issuer that has become increasingly popular in the points world in recent years, thanks to the ever-improving transferable points currency. As it stands, the Capital One Venture X is the personal card I spend the most on, while the Capital One Spark Cash Plus is the business card I spend the most on.
You can’t beat Capital One offering 2x transferable points per dollar spent with no foreign transaction fees, although I wish we saw more cards with bonus categories. Again, this allows me to diversify and earn points with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.
What is your Capital One credit card strategy?