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Capital One Vs. Discover: How Their Credit Cards Compare

Capital One Vs. Discover: How Their Credit Cards Compare

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated May 07, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Capital One and Discover are both major financial services companies that provide a variety of products such as bank accounts, loans, and an assortment of credit cards.

Discover is known for introducing the first cash rewards credit card to the market. Capital One is one of the top 10 largest banks in America, based on deposits. Some key differences include:

  • Discover does not have physical branches whereas Capital One does in select states: Discover describes itself as an online financial services company. This means that you can’t walk into a Discover branch and talk to a representative. Capital One has branches in Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. You can also complete limited banking transactions at Capital One Cafés in select cities, which offer full-service coffee bars and workspaces.
  • Acceptance: Discover cards traditionally have not been as widely accepted, – especially outside the U.S. – as Capital One cards, which are backed by Visa or Mastercard. That’s why it’s smart to have a backup non-Discover card when traveling abroad.
  • Free FICO Score vs. VantageScore: Discover offers a free FICO® Score with Discover Credit Scorecard. Capital One offers a free VantageScore 3.0 with CreditWise. Both features are available to anyone, regardless if you’re a cardmember. While the FICO Score is more widely used by lenders, both scores rank your creditworthiness on a 300-850 range.

In this post:

Top Discover and Capital One cards by category

Capital One and Discover both offer credit cards that can appeal to a broad range of consumers – whether you want to earn travel rewards, transfer a balance or build your credit.

Each issuer has multiple cards in the following categories; we listed our top picks based on our research of cards available through CompareCards, as well as top cards offered by both Discover and Capital One:

Cash back credit cards

Travel rewards credit cards

Restaurant & dining credit cards

Credit cards to rebuild credit

Business credit cards

Student credit cards

Their best cash back credit cards

Discover it® Cash Back vs. Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

 Discover it® Cash BackCapital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Sign-up bonusFor new cardmembers, Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Rewards rateEarn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Annual fee$0$0

Winner: Discover it® Cash Back

  • 0% for 14 months on purchases and Balance Transfers, then 11.99% - 22.99% Variable.

  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. *

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Cash Back

More Info

While both cards come with no annual fee and offer cash back on every purchase, the Discover it® Cash Back is the better choice if you want to earn a higher rewards rate in popular categories that rotate quarterly, when you activate.

The Discover it® Cash Back card offers the following rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. This means that if you max out the spending limit by making $1,500 in purchases in the 5% bonus category each quarter, you’ll earn $300 cash back in one year. Once you factor in the cashback match sign-up bonus for new cardmembers, that amount will jump to $600 in the first year of card membership.

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, on the other hand, offers a flat cashback rate on every purchase – making the card more appealing if you don’t want to deal with rotating categories or spending limits.

If your credit isn’t quite good enough to qualify for the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you may want to consider the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card instead.

Like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. However, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card requires excellent/good credit, while the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card requires fair/limited credit.

That said, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card charges an annual fee of $39 and does not offer a sign-up bonus.

Their best travel rewards credit cards

Discover it® Miles vs. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

 Discover it® MilesCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Sign-up bonusFor new cardmembers, Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel!Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Rewards rateUnlimited 1.5 Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Annual fee$0$95

Winner: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months

  • 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

Highlights
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees

See additional details for Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

More Info

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card stands out in this category due to its flexible redemption options and travel transfer partners. In addition to using Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card miles to book travel on any airline, with no seat restrictions or blackout dates, miles can be redeemed for car rentals, hotels, ride-sharing apps, cruises and more. The current sign-up bonus is worth $500 in travel if you max out the $3,000 spend requirement in the first three months, and $1,000 if you reach the $20,000 spend requirement in the first 12 months.

Cardholders can also transfer miles to 17 airline and hotel loyalty partners, including Air France KLM Flying Blue, Emirates Skywards, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Wyndham Rewards.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card cardholders also receive a statement credit of up to $100 to cover your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application every four years. However, the card comes with an annual fee of $95.

By contrast, the Discover it® Miles does not offer travel transfer partners.

You can, however, redeem your miles for airfare, hotel stays, rental cars and other travel expenses with no blackout dates.

  • Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year.*

  • 1.5 Miles per $1 Spent*

  • 0% intro for 14 months, then 11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Highlights
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Miles

More Info

Although the Discover it® Miles offers a slightly lower flat rewards rate than the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, Discover will match all of the miles you earned at the end of your first year of card membership. So, for example, if you earn 35,000 miles in the first year of card membership, you’ll get 70,000 miles – which is worth $700 when redeemed for travel.

If you want to earn Venture miles without paying an annual fee, you may want to consider the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card instead.

Along with a $0 annual fee, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card offers one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $200 in travel. Plus, cardholders earn 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.

Their best restaurant and dining credit cards

Discover it® chrome vs. Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

 Discover it® chromeCapital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Sign-up bonusFor new cardmembers, Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Rewards rateEarn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through Jan 2022. Also earn 4% cash back on select streaming services through Sept. 30, 2020.
Annual fee$0$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Winner: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you want the opportunity to earn a higher amount of cashback on dining purchases in the first year of card membership, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is the better choice. In addition to its generous sign-up bonus, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a higher cashback rate on dining purchases, without a limit on spending.

So, for example, if you spend $4,000 on dining during the first year, you’ll earn $160 cash back. Once you add on the sign-up bonus, that amount increases to $460.

With the Discover it® chrome, if you max out the spend limit by making $1,000 in purchases at restaurants each quarter you activate, you’ll earn $80 cash back in one year. Once you factor in the cashback match bonus, you’ll get $160 cash back in the first year of card membership.

  • 0% for 14 Months on purchases and balance transfers*

  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • 11.99% - 22.99% Variable*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. Based Customer Service available any time.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® chrome

More Info

After the first year, though, the Discover it® chrome comes out on top – at least slightly – thanks to its $0 annual fee. If you spend $4,000 per year on dining purchases, you’ll receive $80 cash back at the end of the year. With the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, that same spend amount will earn you $160 cash back. However, once you factor in the annual fee after the first year, that amount decreases to $65.

Capital One offers an additional dining credit card that comes with a $0 annual fee – the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

The card offers 3% cash back on dining; 3% cash back on entertainment; 2% cash back at grocery stores; 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, new card members earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Their best credit cards to rebuild credit

Discover it® Secured vs. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

 Discover it® SecuredCapital One® Secured Mastercard®
Sign-up bonusFor new cardmembers, Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. No bonus
Rewards rate2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automaticallyNon-rewards Card
Annual fee$0$0

Winner: Discover it® Secured

  • 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically

  • Credit line will equal your security deposit of $200 or more*

  • No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment. No penalty APR*

Highlights
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Secured

More Info

For those who haven’t yet established credit or whose credit is limited/bad/poor, Discover and Capital One both offer a card to help build or rebuild your credit. However, the Discover it® Secured also offers a rewards program – which is very rare for a secured credit card.

While the Discover it® Secured charges a $0 annual fee; it does require a security deposit, which will serve as your line of credit. Depending on your income and ability to pay, the security deposit will range from $200 to $2,500. That said, after eight months, Discover will automatically review your account to see if you qualify to receive your security deposit back and convert to an unsecured card.

Like the Discover it® Secured, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® reports to the three major credit bureaus.

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® offers cardholders an initial credit line of $200 after making a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200. Although the card doesn’t come with a rewards program, it does give you access to a higher credit line after you make your first five monthly payments on time.

Their best business credit cards

Discover it® Business Card vs. Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

 Discover it® Business CardCapital One® Spark® Cash for Business
Sign-up bonusGet an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year, automatically. And no limit to how much we’ll match. So you could turn $350 cash back into $700 with Cashback Match™. Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Rewards rate1.5% cash back on every dollar spent on all purchases2% Cash Back for your business on every purchase, everywhere
Annual fee$0$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Winner: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

While both business credit cards offer cash back on every purchase, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business takes a slight edge due to its higher rewards rate and robust benefits.

Along with no-cost employee cards, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business offers year-end summaries, downloadable purchase records in multiple formats (including Quicken, QuickBooks and Excel), discounts for your business through Spring and Wikibuy, savings through Paribus and more.

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business also comes with Visa Business Benefits, including emergency card replacement, auto rental damage waiver and purchase security and extended protection.

If you don’t want to pay an annual fee – ever – and you don’t mind missing out on some of the benefits offered by the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, the Discover it® Business Card is a great alternative.

The Discover it® Business Card offers free Social Security number alerts, $0 fraud liability, no-cost FICO® Credit Score and the ability to download transactions into Quicken, QuickBooks and Excel. Additionally, like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, the Discover it® Business Card offers employee cards at no-cost.

Their best student credit cards

Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

 Discover it® Student Cash BackJourney® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Sign-up bonus Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. No bonus
Rewards rateEarn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically1% cash back on all purchases; 0.25% cash back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time
Annual fee$0$0

Winner: Discover it® Student Cash Back

  • 0% intro for 6 Months*

  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum, when you activate*

  • 12.99% - 21.99% Variable*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Student Cash Back

More Info

The Discover it® Student Cash Back card takes the lead in the student credit card category, thanks to its generous cashback rate in popular spending categories and promotional introductory APR on purchases.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back card offers the following rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Discover’s 2020 cashback calendar includes a number of appealing bonus categories for students, including Uber, Lyft, restaurants, PayPal, Amazon.com and Target.com. Additionally, for new card members only, Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

Also, if you need to finance a large purchase, such as a laptop or school books, and pay it off over time, you can do so interest-free for several months with the Discover it® Student Cash Back card. The card offers an intro APR on purchases of 0% for 6 months, then a regular APR of 12.99% - 21.99% variable applies.

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, on the other hand, offers a flat cashback rate on every purchase, with the opportunity to earn slightly more with responsible card usage. Cardholders earn 1% cash back on all purchases; 0.25% cash back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time — for a total of 1.25% cash back on purchases for that month. The $0 annual fee card also lets you access a higher credit line when you make your first five monthly payments on time.

But beware, if you don’t pay your Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® balance in full each month, you will be subject to a high interest rate of 26.99% (variable) on any remaining portion.

Discover and Capital One credit card FAQs

How to apply for a Discover or Capital One credit card

In addition to applying for a credit card over the phone, both Capital One and Discover offer online applications that can be completed in minutes.

When you apply, be sure to have your Social Security number and key financial information handy, including annual income and monthly rent or mortgage payment. This will allow the issuer to access your credit history and make a decision. In addition, Capital One will ask if you have any bank accounts, and Discover will ask your total available assets.

You can also apply for Capital One credit cards at Capital One branches and Capital One Cafes.

What are some card benefits offered by each issuer?

All Discover credit cards come with a $0 annual fee and offer the CashBack Match™ bonus – which matches all of the cash back or miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year of card membership (for new card members only).

Additional Discover benefits include the ability to freeze and unfreeze your account, free FICO® Credit Scores on your monthly statements, 100% U.S.-based customer service and monitoring for suspicious activity on your account.

General Capital One credit card benefits include $0 fraud liability, security alerts, virtual card numbers, 24/7 customer service, card lock, CreditWise from Capital One, access to Paribus (a price monitoring app) and more.

Can you prequalify without hurting your score?

Both Capital One and Discover allow you to prequalify for their credit cards online by performing a soft pull on your credit that doesn’t hurt your score.

Does it matter whether you choose Discover or Capital One?

There are several factors to consider when choosing between Discover and Capital One credit cards. Because Capital One cards are served by either the Visa or Mastercard networks, you’re much more likely to have worldwide acceptance when making purchases. Fewer merchants accept Discover products, especially outside of the U.S., which can limit your ability to use your Discover credit card.


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