If you’re on the hunt for a great cash back card, there are plenty of options available that provide different rewards structures, sign up bonuses, redemption options and intro interest rate periods. Two cards you might come across during your research for the best cash back credit card include the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Discover it® Cash Back card. Both cards are great options, but depending on your spending behavior and financial goals, one might be better than the other. We’ll dive into some of the differences between the two below to help you determine which card will make the perfect addition to your wallet.

At a glance comparison

Here’s a basic look at the two cards, their terms and how they stack up.

Card name Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Discover it Cash Back
Purchase APR 0% intro APR for 15 months, then 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) 0% intro APR for 14 months, then 13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro APR for 15 months, then 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) 0% intro APR for 14 months, then 13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Balance transfer fee 3% on amounts transferred in the first 15 months 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)
Annual fee $0 $0
Sign-up bonus $150 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening Discover will match the cash back you earn in your first year as a cardholder
Rewards Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchase 5% cash back on purchases within select categories each quarter you activate (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,500, then it’s 1%); unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Rewards redemption options Redeem for cash, apply cash back directly to recent purchases or get gift cards Redeem in the form of direct deposits, statement credits, donations and gift cards; pay with your rewards at select online retailer
Foreign transaction fees None None

The case for the Capital One Quicksilver

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offers cardholders 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limits on how much they can earn. In addition, you won’t have to worry about a ton of fees weighing you down since there’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.

On top of that, this card has a relatively low spending requirement to earn the intro bonus: you only have to spend $500 within the first 3 months to receive the $150 cash bonus! If you have a tendency to overspend, a high spending requirement to receive a cash bonus can send your debt soaring, eliminating the benefit of the reward and costing you money. The comparatively low $500 target over 3 months is doable for most credit users, especially if they use the card for everyday purchases. Plus, new card members will enjoy a 15-month 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (then the rate is 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)). Balance transfers come with a 3% balance transfer fee, but this one-time fee is likely worth paying when you consider the length of the 0% intro APR period.

With the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card in your wallet, you won’t have to worry about keeping track of confusing rewards structures to make the most out of your card. Simply use the card on regular expenses and start earning cash back. On the other hand, if you’re a savvy financial type and you’d like to optimize your rewards in exchange for a little legwork, a flat-rate card might not be the right route.

The case for Discover it Cash Back

The Discover it Cash Back card offers a more impressive cash back rate of 5%, but the catch is the rate applies to rotating rewards categories you must activate every quarter (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,500, then 1% back). Categories for 2020 include purchases made at grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS from January through March; gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs from April through June; restaurants and PayPal from July through September; as well as Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com from October through December. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

Perhaps one of the most valuable perks of this card is its Cashback Match bonus. There’s no activation required; Discover automatically matches all the cash back you’ve earned over the course of your first year as a cardholder. And, there’s no cap on the amount Discover will match. To maximize Discover it Cash Back’s unique bonus, it’s a good idea to use the card as your go-to for daily expenses so you can enjoy a significant windfall at the end of that first year.

In addition to that cash back bonus, card members also receive a generous 14-month 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (then the rate is 13.49% - 24.49% Variable), so you won’t have to worry about paying interest for over a year! There’s a 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms), but if you’re getting the card to take advantage of its cash back rewards, you won’t have to worry about that.

The only real drawbacks of this card include the smaller network of merchants that accept Discover cards and the more complex rotating rewards system. But for no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, this is still a smart choice for those with average to excellent credit (usually a credit score above 670 is needed to qualify) who are looking for a cash back-earning machine.

In a nutshell

If you’re deciding between the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card vs. Discover it Cash Back, you’re already in a good position because both are great cards. The right decision for you depends on your spending habits and how much work you want to put into earning rewards. If you are more of a fuss-free, straight shooter when it comes to your credit card, then the Capital One’s 1.5% flat cash back rate on everything might be a better choice. Plus, the $150 cash back bonus has a relatively low spending requirement of $500 that won’t tempt you into overspending.

If you enjoy strategizing how to make the most of your rewards and feel confident you can monitor rotating rewards categories, the 5% cash back on rotating categories can be a lucrative perk in addition to the 1% back on everything else. And, if you use the Discover it Cash Back for all of your everyday purchases, the Cashback Match bonus at the end of your first year as a cardholder could be massive.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.