Turning a Capital One lemon into lemonade

My first credit card was with Capital One. I long ago picked up some nondescript Capital One credit card that offers a paltry 1.5% cash back everywhere, but unlike the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (which also earns 1.5% cash back but rightfully has no annual fee), my GarbageCard (surely it has some other name that is less fitting) came with a $39 annual fee. I long ago should have torpedoed this card as the lame duck it is, but whether it is sentiment or a desire to hold on to an older account, I’ve kept it alive much to the opposition of everything I’d recommend to a reader (do as I say, not as I do). However, I’m at least kind of glad I held on to it because it recently led me to discover that I have other options — as well as which options I’ve sadly missed the boat on.

The garbage card

It’s worth repeating quickly that the Capital One card I have is basically the same as the Quicksilver card, it just charges an annual fee. That makes it horrible. There are a number of credit cards on the market that offer 2% cash back everywhere with no annual fee and plenty without an annual fee which offer either even higher cash back rates in the first year or ongoing rotating categories. Paying $39 per year for the honor of earning 1.5% cash back is ridiculous. Thanks to the fee, if I spent $2,000 on this card every month ($24K per year), I’d only earn a net 1.34% cash back ($360 earned at 1.5% – $39 = $321 net on $24K). That’s a lousy return.

As you might guess, this card sees little action. It is rarely in my wallet and only gets a purchase or two per year to keep it active. Truthfully, it shouldn’t have gotten that much action given that it’s costing me $39 a year to keep a card that’s no good. I should go on that Card Talk show for an intervention sometime.

For some barely explicable and totally indefensible reason, I’ve held on to this lemon for longer than I should. It was time to make lemonade.

A reader question sends me down a rabbit hole

A few weeks ago, we received a question from a reader about the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card that became our Question of the Week on the Frequent Miler on the Air podcast. The reader had a Venture card a few years ago and wanted to know if or when it would be possible to get a welcome bonus on the card again.

This was a question that I couldn’t immediately answer off the top of my head. Thankfully, I don’t have to memorize application tips like that because we keep that type of information in the “Application Tips” section on any of our individual card pages. For example, if you go to our Capital One Venture card page (which you can always find by clicking “Best Offers” at the top of any page on Frequent Miler and then finding the card you want), you will see this application tips section:

Capital One Application Tips

  • 6 month rule: Must wait 6 months after applying for a Capital One card before applying for another one.
  • 2 card limit: Conventional wisdom and user experience has been that you can have at most 2 Capital One consumer cards, but according to application terms it may be possible to have up to 5. You may be limited to 2 of their rewards cards. Note that this limit does not apply to Capital One co-branded cards like the Kohl’s charge card.
  • Get Same Card Again: There is no known rule against getting the same card and bonus again even if you still have the card open.
  • Hard inquiries usually get issued through all 3 credit bureaus

To check application status, call (800) 903-9177 or (877) 277-5901
If denied, call reconsideration here: (800) 625-7866

As you can see, Capital One has no known rule about getting the bonus on the same card again, even if you still have that card open. This means that our fair reader should have no problem getting the bonus again — if he/she can get approved by Capital One (which is no small feat for anyone who has more than a couple of other credit cards).

However, I’ll admit that the wording in our application tips left me with less confidence than I’d like — does no known rule mean that there is indeed a rule, but we just don’t know it since no rewards card enthusiast has been able to test the theory?

I decided to check out Doctor of Credit’s resource page titled, “22 Things Everybody Should Know About Capital One Credit Cards“. Through that resource, I found some specific data points indicating that it is indeed possible to get the bonus on a second Venture card even while you have one open.

However, I learned a couple of other interesting things from digging into that resource. Spoiler alert: There are some parts of that guide that are out of date, so there are some inaccuracies, but it remains loaded with some interesting information.

Capital One allows product changes online

The piece that initially stuck out to me was that Doctor of Credit reports in that resource that Capital One allows product changes…

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