Capital One Cash vs Barclaycard Rewards

May 27, 2013

Despite all the credit cards that offer award flights and hotel stays, many credit card users still prefer cash. These cardholders may not spend enough money to earn a free ticket very often, they may be tired of airline credit cards, or they may not be interested in traveling at all.

Fortunately, there are many excellent cash back credit cards, including several that have no annual fee. Capital One offers its Capital One Cash Credit Card while Barclays Bank features its Barclaycard Rewards. Each card allows customers to earn cash back from spending with no annual fee.

Let’s see how these two products compare against each other:

Capital One Cash Visa

Capital One CashThis Capital One card offers 1% cash back from all purchases made each month, plus another .5% back that is distributed once a year, for a total of 1.5%. New cardholders receive a sign up bonus of $100 once they spend $500 on their card within the first three months of opening their account.

New applicants also receive 12 months of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, but there is a 3% balance transfer fee. The standard interest rate is 12.9% to 20.9% depending on the applicant’s credit worthiness at the time of the application.

Benefits include travel accident insurance, an extended warranty program, and auto rental insurance. And as a Visa Signature card, customers receive access to a 24-hour personal assistance service that can help in making travel, dining, and shopping arrangements.

There is no annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

Insider tip: The .5% bonus is earned each year on the anniversary of the day you opened the account (don’t worry, you don’t have to send them flowers). The account must be open and in good standing. So if you get this card, and are thinking about closing it, wait until after you reached that anniversary in order to receive the annual cash back bonus.

Barclaycard Rewards

Barclaycard RewardsThis card offers one point for every dollar spent on all purchases, and double points for each dollar spent on gas, groceries and utilities. Points are worth one cent each toward statement credits, and new applicants receive a sign up bonus of 5,000 points after their first purchase.

New cardholders also receive 15 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. The standard APR will be 14.99%, 17.99%, or 24.99% based on your credit worthiness when you applied. There is no annual fee for this card, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee added to all charges processed outside of the United States.

Insider tip: One way to earn double points on more purchases is to buy gift cards at grocery stores or gas stations. These retailers often sell cards that are valid for restaurant chains, home improvement stores, and clothing stores.

The Verdict

Simply put, if you spend 50% of your spending on gas, groceries, and utilities (that you can charge), you will earn more rewards from the Barclaycard. But who knows exactly how much they spend these things? On the other hand, the Capital One card does offer excellent rewards, but it requires patience to earn the third of them that are only paid out once a year. Either way, it kind of works out the same.

So if you call the rewards a draw, what else are you left with? Capital One has superior benefits and I always love a card with no foreign transaction fees. Nevertheless, those without a passport probably don’t care. But still, Capital One’s sign up bonus is $50 richer and perks like extended warranty coverage are nice to have.

The one area where Barclaycard Rewards is clearly superior is in its promotional financing offer. Barclaycard offers 15 months of interest-free financing compared to just 12 months for Capital One. Nevertheless, those who have credit card debt should be looking for the lowest interest rates and the best financing offer, not a credit card that will reward them for getting further into debt.

So while these cards are closely matched, I have to give the edge to Capital One. By offering an effective 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and some excellent benefits, Capital One Cash is the the card to have for those who want a simple way to earn cash rewards.

Which card is right for you? Leave a comment!


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Jason Steele has been dissecting credit card bonuses and loyalty travel programs for years. Digging into the details of credit card offers has enabled his family to vacation in cool places around the world. Pay attention to the details he digs up about which card is best for you.

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3 Responses to Capital One Cash vs Barclaycard Rewards

  • Cath

    Have been trying to decide between these two reward cards, your article is extremely helpful. I use my cc mostly on groceries, around $10K a year however most of that is spent at Costco where only Amex or Costco credit cards are accepted. I do have the Blue Cash card unfortunately Amex is not that widely accepted, especially at stores outside of US.

    I like your idea of purchasing gift cards at the gas stations with Barclay. However that seems like a lot of troubles managing all those cards! Also, I travel overseas once or twice a year and Capital One’s no foreign transaction fee is a big draw to me. I think I am leaning towards Capital One…


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