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American Express vs Capital One

Selecting the best combo of benefits, affordability, and qualifications among credit cards can be confusing. I had the same predicament when I wanted a travel card a while ago. I only knew I wanted one from either Amex or Capital One, but wasn’t sure which company to go with.

I investigated American Express vs. Capital One to figure out the upsides and downsides of each, and I’ve shared my insights below.

American Express vs. Capital One General Overview

Both card issuers have exceptional offers and perks under their belts. Their rewards structure, special offers, and partner brands have built outstanding popularity.

A woman's hands on a laptop, surrounded by credit cards and other items

I have compiled a detailed comparison of the two companies for you to choose the most suitable option based on your needs.

Overview of American Express

You must have an excellent credit score to apply for an Amex card. You should also be able to pay up to a $695 annual fee for these cards.

American Express partners with several popular travel, dining, entertainment, and hotel brands. They also provide 24/7 customer service and emergency assistance in case of card theft or roadside accident.

Amex Offers

It is a targeted value-adding program Amex has for its consumers. You can:

For shopping at Amex brand partners. That said, the offers are different for different cards. You enroll your card at Amex Offers via the Amex app or website. You then have to register in the ongoing offer for your card. You receive rewards when you shop with the offered brand(s).

Cash Back

You get a mid to above-average cash back percentage for these cards. Amex offers only three cash back cards at the moment. You get up to 6% cash back that you can redeem in purchases or payoffs.

You can pay for your shopping with your cash back at the counter. You can use it to clear big purchases or debts. Note that your dollar rewards remain viable until your card remains open.

Membership Rewards Program

It is the points redemption system Amex has designed for its customers’ benefit. You can redeem your earned points in various categories here. You can:

  • Pay with points at checkout at physical or online stores like Amazon.
  • Get gift cards for travel, retail, and restaurants. You can also get Amex’s gift cards.
  • Pay your card and account charges with the reward points.
  • Convert the points into statement credit.
  • Redeem points with Amex Travel for flights or hotels.
  • Transfer points to Amex travel partners for almost or entirely free flights. Amex partners with 21 major global and domestic airlines at the moment.

The points value differs for each category and brand. You can check the offer-wise value at the Amex website. This rewards program is eligible for all Amex cardmembers.

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Overview of Capital One

Capital One offers 33 cards in different categories. Its main attraction is its travel and shopping discounts, deals, and price-matching offers.

Credit Card Benefits

You get a mix of rewards with Capital One credit cards. Out of the 33 cards the issuer offers, you can earn cash back on 24. You get bonus miles on seven cards; the remaining two are solely for credit building.

You get maximum assistance for your card and identity protection. You get:

  • A $0 fraud liability in case of theft or scam
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Virtual card numbers to use for online purchases instead of actual card numbers.
  • Card lock feature if you suspect fraudulent activity.
  • Security alerts in case the issuer notices suspicious activity.

You can earn further through statement credits using Capital One Offers. You should check “Credits for Shopping” on the Capital One app or website. You should avail of the given offers within 24 hours after you click on them before they expire.

Capital One Travel

It is a portal where you get the best rates for hotels, flights, and rental car bookings. One significant benefit of Capital One Travel is getting a recommended date to book. It is usually a time when you can get the best deals. 

You get more amenities if you use this portal:

  • You get paid up to $50 credit if the price drops further within ten days of the recommended date.
  • You get a price match if you find a better deal than the one you got through this portal.
  • The airline reimburses up to 90% of your paid amount if you cancel your flight due to an emergency. 
  • Furthermore, you can freeze your booking rate for a flight, hotel, or rental by depositing a small amount. You will pay the same amount you booked even if the rates change after a few days.
  • You earn bonus miles and rewards for booking through this portal. 

Capital One Shopping

It is almost similar to Capital One Travel because of its mechanism. Capital One Shopping is a browser extension you can install on Chrome. It gives you the best discount codes if you shop through it. 

You also find out about the price drops on your preferred products immediately. You get rewards for shopping with this portal, too. You can spend them on other online platforms like eBay.

A woman sitting at a table, using a laptop and holding a credit card

Rewards Redemption

You can redeem your rewards through several channels with Capital One. You can:

  • Transfer your bonus miles to one of the 17 Capital One air transfer partners. You get the highest reward value with this method.
  • Redeem your cash back towards gift cards from select merchants. The reward value can vary from seller to seller.
  • Get statement credit and pay off your card fees.
  • Pay for your shopping at Amazon with your cash back.
  • Redeem it for PayPal to pay for transactions there.

Comparing American Express and Capital One

Both issuers operate on similar yet different work frames. Both offer various credit cards for major categories, rewards, and benefits. 


Both issuers are similar because:

  • Both have an Offers program allowing customers to shop from brands for extra value. It can be discounts or rewards.
  • Both companies have many redemption options. You can redeem your rewards towards airlines, gift cards, payoffs, etc.
  • Amex and Capital One offer a mix of reward types on their cards.
  • Both companies earn a maximum credit card annual fee of up to three digits: $695 for Amex and $395 for Capital One.


Both companies are different because:

  • Almost all Capital One cards incur a $0 annual fee, except a few. Contrarily, Amex incurs a yearly fee for all its cards except for two.
  • You can only apply for an Amex card with a fair or good credit score. However, Capital One has a selection of cards solely for credit building.
  • You need a good to excellent credit score to secure an Amex card. You can get a Capital One card for a poor score, too.
  • Amex offers emergency card replacement, roadside assistance, and medical and legal recommendations. Capital One provides emergency card replacement only.
  • You can break your card bill payments through Plan It or Pay Over Time. Capital One does not offer this facility. 
  • Capital One has a Chrome extension that informs you of the best deals and price drops on your products. Amex does not have this amenity.
  • You can redeem your rewards towards Amex Travel. However, Capital One Travel gives you the best rates for travel categories and a price match if you find a better deal elsewhere.

Major Distinguishing Factor

The primary distinguishing factor between the two issuers is their credit score preferences. Amex prefers customers with a high credit score.

On the other hand, Capital One accepts cardmembers with poor to excellent scores. Moreover, they welcome beginners who have just started their financial journey.

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When to Use American Express

You can approach this company when you crave luxury travel, dining, and shopping perks. You get exclusive offers with Amex cards along with numerous rewards.

When to Use Capital One

You should avail of these cards if you have an average credit score and you need to:

  • Build credit
  • Get more rewards for cheaper fees
  • Stay updated with sales

Which Card Issuer Is Better?

In my opinion, Capital One is the better issuer because of its accommodating criteria. You can qualify for one or more of its cards with any credit score. 

Moreover, most Capital One cards don’t have an annual fee. Although Amex points are generally worth more than Capital One, affordability makes this company more reachable.

Related Questions

Why Is Capital One So Popular?

Capital One is popular because of its online price-matching services. You can get the best travel and shopping categories deals with Capital One Travel and Capital One Shopping.

What Are the Disadvantages of American Express?

The disadvantages of Amex are its high annual fee and credit score requirement. You should have a score of 670 or more for it. Also, it has a high transaction fee, so some sellers don’t accept it.

Is Capital One a Visa or Mastercard?

Capital One operates on both the Visa and Mastercard networks. You can search before applying if you prefer either Visa or Mastercard.

Final Verdict

Capital One is a better card issuer than Amex because of its reachability and savings options. You can get its card(s) with any credit score. Moreover, you get the best price matching and affordable recommendations through its specific portals.