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In addition to banks launching entirely new credit cards, the last few years have seen a large number of card “refreshes” as issuers add new perks and elevated bonus categories in the hopes of carving out a niche for their products in an increasingly competitive market.
The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is the latest card to be updated and relaunched this year, joining the likes of the United Explorer Card, the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card. Today we’ll take a look at why the Savor card might make sense in your wallet.
Who Is This Card For?
While transferable points currencies like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards are still the best way to get outsized value from your credit card rewards, we’ve recently seen a trend toward cash-back cards offering more competitive bonus categories. These cards, including the Capital One Savor, cater to a middle ground: Those who are conscious about which credit cards they use while they work to increase their rewards, but also aren’t willing to put a large amount of time into maximizing redemptions.
The new Savor card offers an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, as well as 2% back at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. This 4% is the highest cash-back amount currently offered across all credit cards for both dining and entertainment, which also happen to be two categories that many people spend significant money on. So if the Savor card can help you squeeze an extra 1-2% back out of those purchases, it might be worth making the switch.
The Savor card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of $500 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. While this isn’t as high-value as some other cards on the market right now, it’s one of the highest bonuses around for a personal cash-back card.
Capital One has some interesting application rules to be aware of that might restrict your eligibility for this card. First off, you can only have two personal Capital One cards at a time, so if you currently have the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, for example, you won’t be eligible to apply for the Savor. Capital One also tends to restrict you to one new card every 6 months, including both business and personal cards. This means if you’ve opened a card like the Capital One Spark Cash for Business in the last 6 months, you won’t be eligible for the Savor.
With most cash-back cards today, the name of the game is simple, uncapped bonus categories that reward you where you spend the most. This is exactly what the Capital One Savor aims to do, offering unlimited cash back at the following rates:
- 4% back on dining
- 4% back on entertainment
- 2% back at grocery stores
- 1% on everything else
The real highlight here is the 4% back on dining and entertainment. “Entertainment” is defined as tickets to “a movie, play, concert, sporting event, tourist attraction, theme park, aquarium, zoo, dance club, pool hall or bowling alley. Also, making purchases at record store and video rental locations.” Note that this definition explicitly excludes “non-industry entertainment merchant codes like cable, digital streaming and subscription services,” so a card like the Wells Fargo Propel would be a better choice for Hulu and Netflix.
There are no foreign transaction fees with the Savor, so you can take this card on your overseas vacation and continue earning. Just remember that the Savor card does carry a $95 annual fee (which is waived for the first year), so you’ll have to look at your personal spending habits and make sure you earn enough rewards to justify the fee.
One of the biggest benefits of cash-back rewards is that there’s no “analysis paralysis” where you have to agonize over getting the best possible redemption value. One dollar will always be worth one dollar, so you should cash out your rewards on the Capital One Savor as frequently as possible and get that money back into your checking account. Savor rewards don’t expire as long as your account stays open, and there’s no minimum redemption amount.
When you’re ready to redeem your cash back, you can request it as a statement credit or check, or redeem it for gift cards and charitable donations. I recommend getting a check or statement credit no matter how you plan to actually use your rewards. If you want to purchase gift cards or donate to charity, you should put those purchases on your credit card to earn more points, and use the cash-back rewards to pay your bills.
The Savor card doesn’t offer a long list of perks like the big premium credit cards do, but there are a few worth mentioning. In addition to the lack of foreign transaction fees, cardholders will enjoy secondary car rental insurance, roadside assistance, purchase protection/extended warranty and complimentary concierge services. I think premium concierge services are one of the most underrated credit card perks, and I frequently use mine for restaurant reservations or trip planning advice.
Capital One Savor cardholders will also get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more as part of their card membership. Upcoming events available as of this writing include the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball and the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami, both of which are happening in winter 2018.
Which Cards Compete With the Capital One Savor?
If you like the idea of the Capital One Savor card but aren’t sold on the $95 annual fee, then consider getting the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card instead. This lite version comes with a smaller sign-up bonus ($150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months) and only 3% back on dining and entertainment, but no annual fee. It also has no foreign transaction fees, which is a rare surprise for a no annual fee card.
While the simplicity of cash-back rewards is undeniably appealing, it’s possible to get more value without spending any more money. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on travel and dining which, at TPG’s valuation of 2.1 cents per point, comes out to a 4.2% return. The CSP’s annual fee is the same as the Savor card ($95, waived for the first year), but the 50,000-point sign-up bonus earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months is worth a staggering $1,050. However, keep in mind in order to get that kind of value, you’ll need to do some homework by learning award charts, staying on top of award availability and so on. Cash back is generally easier to deal with than points.
It’s always exciting to see a new and/or improved credit card become available. More competition benefits consumers as banks are willing to spend more money and offer better perks to attract business. With this update, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card is a strong option in the world of cash-back cards. You can get more value playing with points, but what you gain in value, you lose in simplicity by going that route.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re spending enough in the bonus categories to offset the annual fee — otherwise, the no annual fee SavorOne card might be a better choice. But if you spend a lot each year on dining, entertainment and groceries and you’re interested in a simple cash-back card, make sure to put the Savor card on your consideration list.
This cash back card has a focus on dining and entertainment where you can earn unlimited 4% cash back in those spending categories. You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
- Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
- Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that