Eric McFadden, Member
Discover and Capital One credit cards have a few differences between them. Discover cards are not as widely accepted worldwide as Capital One. That’s because Capital One cards are backed by either the Visa or Mastercard networks outside of the U.S.
You should also know that Discover, which touts itself as an online financial services company, does not have branches. Capital One is one of the 10 largest banks the U.S. and has branches in Texas, Louisiana, Washington D.C. and several East Coast states.
Both Capital One and Discover offer credit cards with benefits for a wide range of customers. They cover needs from cash back rewards to 0% intro APRs to cards for students. While there are some similarities between the two, there are also some key differences you should keep in mind if choosing which of the two companies offers a better card for your needs.
Here are a few things you should know about Discover vs Capital One credit cards:
- Cash Back: Discover it Cash Back vs. Capital One Quicksilver - Discover Wins
Capital One Quicksilver offers a consistent 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Discover it Cash Back gets you 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent on quarterly rotating bonus categories. It gives 1% cash back on all other purchases. Capital One Quicksilver requires a good credit score, while Discover it Cash Back requires a good credit score. Neither charges an annual fee. Discover and Capital One each have additional credit cards with cash back options.
- 0% APR on Balance Transfers: Discover it Balance Transfer vs. Capital One Quicksilver –Discover Wins
The Discover it Balance Transfer card gets you 0% for 18 months on balance transfers (3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*). Capital One Quicksilver offers 0% for 15 months on balance transfers (3% fee). Both cards have no annual fee. Capital One Quicksilver requires a good credit score, while Discover it Balance Transfer requires a good credit score. Discover and Capital One also have additional 0% intro APR offers, including 0% APR on purchases.
- Travel rewards: Discover it Miles vs. Capital One Venture– Capital One Wins
If you don’t mind paying the $95 annual fee, Capital One Venture offers 2 miles / $1 spent on every purchase. The Discover it Miles card gets you 1.5 miles / $1 spent on all purchases and has no annual fee. The big difference is in the initial bonus. Discover it Miles matches all miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, and Capital One Venture nets you a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Both cards’ miles are worth 1 cent each. A good credit score is required for both cards.
- Cards for rebuilding credit: Discover it Secured Credit Card vs. Capital One Platinum Secured– Discover Wins
With the Capital One Platinum Secured you can put down a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200. Discover it Secured Credit Card, however, requires a minimum deposit of $200. But it does earn you 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. And you’ll also be considered for an unsecured card after 7 months. Capital One, on the other hand, may grant you a higher credit limit without an additional deposit if you make your first 6 monthly payments on time. Neither card has an annual fee.
- Cards for students: Discover it Student Cash Back vs. Capital One Journey – Discover Wins
Capital One Journey offers 1% cash back on all purchases, 1.25% when paying the bill on time (except for 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel). Discover it Student Cash Back offers 5% cash back on your first $1,500 per quarter on rotating categories. And Discover matches all cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Neither card charges an annual fee.
- Cards for small businesses: Spark Cash Select for Excellent Credit vs. N/A – Capital One wins
Discover is at a clear disadvantage here because it does not offer any small business credit cards. Of Capital One’s five business card offerings, the Spark Cash Select for Excellent Credit is best. It yields 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There is no annual fee and it requires excellent credit for approval. It also offers $500 for spending $4,500 in the first 3 months. Other Capital One business card options include ones with travel rewards, 0% APR offers and a card for business owners with limited credit history.
- Secondary Benefits: Discover credit cards vs. Capital One credit cards – Capital One wins
Capital One offers car rental insurance and extended warranty protection among other benefits.
Discover doesn’t offer secondary benefits on any of its cards; Capital One offers these benefits on most cards. But its benefits are actually through Visa or Mastercard, which means wider acceptance than Discover, particularly outside of the U.S.
Discover and Capital One do not charge foreign transaction fees on any of its cards.
- Customer Service / Satisfaction: Discover credit cards vs. Capital One credit cards – Discover wins
Discover’s customer service is 100 percent U.S.-based and its customer service representatives are available 24/7. You can contact them by phone or online chat. Capital One also offers 24/7 customer service. You can contact them by phone or e-mail, with a one to two days response time. But there’s no chat or online messaging features, which limits customers’ access.
Something else to consider: Both Capital One and Discover allow pre-approval for their credit cards. You can go online and check for pre-approval for multiple cards at one time. Both perform a soft inquiry on your credit that does not impact your score. This is an ideal way to see if you qualify for a credit card without the hard credit inquiry and damage to your score. You should take advantage of this feature to research these two brands further and shop around for the best deals.
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