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Capital One Credit Cards: Variable APRs

For many people, credit cards boil down to two things: monthly payments and credit limits. While this is fine if you pay off your balance in full each month, most of us end up paying only the minimum payment. Unfortunately, this results in much more significant payments over the term of your debt. The APR, or annual percentage rate, is a measure of the interest paid over the full term of the loan.

What is APR and why are there variable APRs?

Annual Percentage Rate and money

Take the interest you pay annually on your total loan amount and average it over the full term of the loan—that's your annual percentage rate. The lower the APR, the less you'll have to pay over time. In many cases, the APR you qualify for will be based on your own credit rating and a host of other factors. Sometimes companies restrict their APRs to upper and lower ranges, limiting the rates you can qualify for.

A variable APR differs slightly from a fixed APR. While a fixed APR is set at a given rate (and you must be notified of any changes in this rate before they take place), a variable APR can fluctuate according to an index. The index the APR is based on depends on the company; it might be the Standard & Poor 500, the prime rate published in the Wall Street Journal, or any of a number of potential others.

So why do variable APRs exist? They can be a gamble for those with higher credit scores. While the economy is good, your interest rate might be significantly lower. If the economy is bad, the rate might be a lot higher. The rate might also fluctuate according to the performance of the company the index is based on.

What are the best APR offers on Capital One cards? Is there just one or more than one?

interest rates on Venture and Quicksilver cards

Capital One offers pretty standard APRs across the board for their cards, but one in particular stands out: the VentureOne Rewards Card. With a potential APR of just 12.74%, the VentureOne Rewards Card has the lowest potential rate of any card offered by Capital One. The Venture Rewards Card and the Quicksilver Rewards Card are close seconds with both offering potential minimum APRs of 13.74%.

While that 1% difference might not seem like much, consider the implications over the long term. A difference of 1% on a $50,000 debt can equal $60 per month in additional payments, not to mention the other interest you'll pay.

How do Capital One APRs differ from other cards?

graph comparing APRs of Capital One and competitors

With its APR of 12.74%, the VentureOne Rewards Card is the lowest potential offer from Capital One. Compare that to the Citi Diamond Preferred Card, with a potential minimum APR of 13.24%, or Chase Slate with a minimum potential APR of 15.74%. The VentureOne Rewards Card is equal to the BankAmericard Credit Card in terms of APR rates.

What benefits are there with the Capital One introductory APR credit cards?

0 APR for first nine months cardholders

Capital One only has two cards with an introductory APR offer, and those are Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card and the VentureOne Rewards Card. For the first nine months, cardholders have 0% APR. This same offer extends to balance transfers on the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card, which makes it one of the best balance transfer cards available from Capital One as well.

While no other cards have benefits associated with their introductory APRs, the Quicksilver more than makes up for it with 1.5% cash back on all purchases, as well as a one-time $100 cash bonus if you spend $500 within the first three months of owning the card.

What are the transfer rates for the best Capital One APR card(s)?

transfer rates for venture and quicksilver cards

The transfer rates for the VentureOne Rewards Card is the same as the APR rates: 12.74% to 22.74% with a variable APR and no transfer fees. The transfer rates for the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card are 0% for the first nine months, then 13.74% to 23.74% after that. There is also a 3% fee on amounts transferred within the first nine months.

What is the minimum credit score one should have before applying for a Capital One low APR card?

low apr card needs 720 credit score

The majority of rewards credit cards require at least an excellent credit score to qualify. This means your credit score should be 720 or higher. Both the Venture Rewards Card and the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card require Excellent credit. While it may be possible to qualify for either of these cards with a lower credit rating in extenuating circumstances, you won't likely qualify for the lowest possible APR unless your rating is Excellent or higher.

What are the other fees associated with Capital One's introductory APR card(s)? e.g. Annual fee, Late fee, Foreign transaction fee, etc.

introductory APR of 0 percent plus fees associated

The VentureOne Rewards Card provides 0% introductory APR for the first twelve months, and then the rate changes to 12.74%, 17.74%, or 22.74% APR after that depending on your creditworthiness. If you take out a cash advance, you face a rate of 23.74% APR. Cash advance fees are also $10 or 3% of the total amount of the cash advance, whichever is greater at the time.

If you miss a payment, Capital One's late payment fee is $35. This is in addition to any outstanding balances, additional interest payments, and other expenses that may arise.

Are there any bonuses that come with the Capital One variable APR card(s)? e.g. Introductory APR offer, 0% interest for an amount of time on balance transfers, etc.

skymiles bonuses and perks

The VentureOne Rewards Card is by far the best variable APR card in Capital One's repertoire, and as an added bonus it comes with quite a number of potential rewards. You'll receive 1.25 miles for every dollar spent, as well as an additional 20,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of owning the card. Combine that with the lack of an annual fee, and the VentureOne card is one of the best choices for frequent travelers out there.

Other bonuses include no foreign transaction fees, $0 fraud liability, and personalized security alerts from Capital One. And because the VentureOne also comes with the Visa Signature benefits, you'll also receive complimentary travel upgrades and savings, complimentary concierge service, and special discounts when shopping at qualifying retailers. Other benefits include auto rental collision insurance waivers, extended warranties on products purchased using the card, and emergency card replacement.

What have customers said about the Capital One's variable APR?

Take a look at what other customers have to say about the VentureOne card and Capital One's variable APR.

Capital One testimonial by CapSandy

"Capital One not only offers good reward incentives, but offers me the lowest APR of any credit card. Period."

- CapSandy, November 28, 2012

Capital One Testimonial by Smeyer

"Very convenient accepted everywhere and low APR balance transfers special features include mileage points everything you use Venture one."

- Smeyer, April 8, 2016

Capital One Testimonial by DissatisfiedCardHolder13

"The original information I received from CapitalOne stated that my rate would be at 15.99%. However, when the application was processed I was given the 19.99% rate. Therefore, after my 0% APR period expired, I have no desire to make many purchases with this card any more. Don't plan to use it and I'll probably just end up emptying my points and moving on to better offers. Also, the amount of points rewarded is not sufficient and does not give me an incentive to use this card either, nor do the opportunities to redeem these points appear appealing to me. You continue to send me mail that is blank checks for this account as "incentives", which I do not care for using. Nobody uses checks that much anymore and I do not care that they have 0% APR for 6 months. Overall, the card is not much use unless you provide me with more incentives or another 0% APR grace period."

- DissatisfiedCardHolder13, February 8, 2013

Capital One Testimonial by Scuba

"I originally got the card many years ago for the 9.9% APR. This made the card in a league by itself; now, it's in the 15-16%. It seems remarkable that the charge-offs are so high requiring these APR's. I usually don't carry a balance on this card any longer."

- Scuba, February 3, 2016

The Verdict

If you're looking for a card with a lower APR, it's hard to go wrong with the VentureOne Rewards Card. If you're a frequent traveler, it's even better; the added benefits of the miles you'll earn with each purchase make it a no brainer.

On the other hand, if you dislike traveling or just have no real use for it, the Quicksilver Cash Rewards card might be the better option. While its APR is slightly higher, it carries many of the same benefits and the rewards you'll earn will balance out the slight difference in APR. Just keep an eye on your balance; as long as it remains low, the 1% difference between the two cards will be negligible.

Take a look at the two and use Capital One's comparison feature to decide which of the options is best for you.

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