Capital One Savor Editorial Review: Is It Worth the Annual Fee?

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Updated on: Oct 22, 2018

The Capital One Savor is a credit card that foodies can truly savor because it offers you 4% cash back on restaurant and entertainment purchases, 2% on groceries and 1% on everything else.

The card is marketed as a foodie’s card because it’s the only credit card on the market that offers 4x cash back at restaurants.

Sounds great, right? People who love eating out either by convenience or necessity can reap some pretty significant rewards for their restaurant and fast-food habits.

One thing we’ve learned amid our more than 100 credit card reviews is that the smart consumers look past all the marketing and hype and analyze the real numbers.

On top of that, they’re willing to look at all the card’s features and not just the cool stuff like cash back and cash bonuses (more on that in a minute).

Our goal at HighYa is to create smart consumers, so, in this review, we’re going to offer you the most important information about this card’s rewards, benefits, fees and pros and cons.

We’ll also take a look at what other sites are saying about the card so you can get a comprehensive sense of what HighYa and other experts think about the card.

Also, remember this: HighYa doesn’t receive any compensation from any credit card companies for readers who sign up for the card. Our reviews are transparent and unbiased.

The Capital One Savor’s Rewards

While you’ll probably read that the Capital One Savor is a foodie’s credit card because of the 3% cash rewards, it’s really, by all definitions, a cash rewards card.

What that means is that you’ll earn a certain percentage of cash back on nearly every purchase you make. You can get those cash rewards either by check or by automatic deposits into your credit card account in increments of at least $25.

4% on Restaurants: $126 per Year

As we’ve mentioned several times already, the Savor’s biggest cash-back reward is the 3x bonus you get on restaurant purchases. Those purchases include restaurants and fast food.

So, if you spend $100 at the Brazilian steakhouse in your neighborhood, you’ll earn $4 in rewards. That doesn’t sound like a lot, right?

Well, think about it like this. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that, in 2016, the average household spent $3,154 on eating out, an amount that equals about $126 in cash rewards per year.

But, we realize that not everyone spends the $262 a month on eating out.

For example, if you live in New York City where restaurant prices are higher than normal, you might spend $300 a month with your Capital One Savor. But, if you live somewhere like Tulsa or Jacksonville, meals may be a little cheaper.

So, the best way to understand how the Capital One Savor can benefit you is to look at your bank and/or credit card statements from the past four months and come up with an average spending amount.

Multiply that by 12 then by 4% and you’ve got your yearly rewards for restaurant purchases. Here’s a quick list of spending levels to give you an idea of what you can earn:

  • $100/mth. = $48 per year
  • $200/mth. = $96 per year
  • $300/mth. = $144 per year
  • $400/mth. = $192 per year

4% on Entertainment: $116 per Year

The average spending statistics we mentioned earlier also point out that the average American household spends around $2,900 a year on entertainment purchases.

The BLS doesn’t say exactly what “entertainment” purchases include. Capital One provides a list, though. Here is what they say counts as a purchase in this category:

  • Movie
  • Play
  • Concert
  • Sporting event
  • Tourist attraction
  • Theme park
  • Aquarium
  • Zoo
  • Dance club
  • Pool hall
  • Bowling alley

If you spend $2,900 in these categories over the course of the year, then you can earn $116 in rewards.

2% on Groceries: $121 per Year

The next cash back category on the Capital One Savor is the grocery category. Before we jump in here, we want to remind you that most credit cards – Capital One included – tend not to give rewards for grocery purchases at superstores like Walmart and Target.

That being said, your usual purchases at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and the litany of local and regional chains will most likely qualify for the 2x rewards.

How much can you earn from this category each year? Well, according to the BLS, the average household spends around $4,049, or $121.47 per year.

Again, these numbers are averages and where you live can influence how much you pay for groceries. For example, according to Sperling’s Best Places, your monthly food bill (restaurants and groceries) is 37% higher in San Francisco than it is in Oklahoma City.

1% on Everything Else: $199 per Year

Most of the purchases you make that aren’t restaurants or groceries will get a 1x cash bonus.

It’s really hard to say exactly how much you’ll get back in this category. If you’ve got a family of four, then we think, based on the BLS numbers, you could spend around $30,000 a year on your Capital One Savor.

Now, keep in mind that around $10,100 of that will get the 4% and 2% rewards, which leaves you with $19,900, which earns $199 in rewards.

Some of the purchases and charges that wouldn’t earn cash rewards would be credit card fees like late fees and interest payments, as well as cash-based transactions like deposits to gambling accounts.

Total Yearly Rewards: $562.47

Based on the average spending we’ve calculated in the four sections above, we believe that you can earn $562.47 per year with the Capital One Savor.

How does that compare to other cards? Well, if you’re spending $30,000 a year, then you can earn $600 in cash rewards with the Citi Double Cash’s flat rewards rate of 2%.

Both the Capital One Quicksilver and the Chase Freedom Unlimited offer 1.5% cash back, which amounts to $450 in rewards.

These are just the straight cash-back rewards you’ll get based on spending bonuses, but there’s one more twist to these rewards scenarios: up-front cash.

$500 Sign-Up Bonus

Capital One will give you a $500 bonus if you can spend $3,000 in the first three months of owning your card. The three-month deadline starts the day you’re approved for the Savor.

This bonus is pretty much the industry standard for cash rewards cards. Both the Freedom Unlimited and Quicksilver offer $150 bonuses. The notable exception to the $150 rule? The Citi Double Cash, which has no up-front cash bonus.

So, let’s revisit the yearly rewards comparison we did earlier for $30,000 in yearly spending:

  • Savor: $562.47 + $500 bonus = $1062.47
  • Double Cash: $600 + $0 bonus = $600
  • Freedom Unlimited: $450 + $150 = $600
  • Quicksilver: $450 + $150 = $600

As you can see, the first-year rewards really boost the value of the Savor, Freedom Unlimited and Quicksilver. The Savor is the clear first-year choice for those who spend the average amount on restaurants, entertainment, and groceries.

However, over time, the Double Cash’s 2% cash back rate for all purchases presents the best value for consumers.

The Capital One Savor MasterCard’s Benefits

The Savor is part of the MasterCard World Elite program, a collection of benefits that provide solid perks on many of the purchases you make on regular stuff and travel.

Extended Warranty

When you use your Capital One Savor to buy an item with a manufacturer’s warranty of two years or less, Capital One will double the warranty. You’ll also get up to two years of a warranty match when you buy an extended warranty, like the ones offered at Best Buy.

Identity Theft Resolution

One of the lesser-known benefits of the World Elite program, this perk means that you’ll get advocates from Capital One who act as a representative for you to resolve any issues involving your credit report as a result of fraudulent purchases made through your account.

Rental Car Insurance

This common benefit provides complimentary collision damage waiver insurance on any rental cars purchased with your Capital One Savor card.

Here’s a quick list of things the insurance covers:

  • Physical damage and theft
  • Fees charged by the rental agency for the car being out of commission
  • Towing the damaged car to a collision center

The World Elite program has several other great benefits you’ll want to check out because we just don’t have the time to review all of them. However, we tracked down a copy of the benefits program included with the Savor, so click here to download a copy directly from the Capital One website.

The Capital One Savor’s Interest Rates and Fees

Every credit card has interest rates and fees you need to know about just in case you don’t pay off your balance every month or you pay late.

Interest Rates

The Savor has the following APRs, one of which Capital One will assign to you based on your credit scores: 16.24%, 21.74% or 25.24%.

You’ll only pay APR on purchases if you don’t pay off your entire balance every month.

If you make a cash advance (using your credit card like an ATM card), then your APR will be 25.24%.

Transaction Fees

You’ll pay a 3% fee of the amount of any balances you transfer to your Capital One Savor card and on any cash advances you make. A $3,000 balance transfer will require a $90 fee, for example.

Late Fees

If you make a late payment, you’ll be hit with up to a $38 fee. Usually, the fees are lower for balances under $250, but anything over that amount will require a $38 payment.

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, $95 per year after that.

How the Capital One Savor Compares to Other Cash Back Reward Cards

The following chart shows you how the Savor card’s rewards and rates compare to three other cash back cards we’ve mentioned in this review:

Savor Double Cash Freedom Unlimited Quicksilver
Yearly Rewards* $562.47 $600 $450 $450
Sign-Up Bonus $500 $0 $150 $150
Annual Fee $0 1st year, $95 after None None None
APR 15.24% - 25.24% 15.24% - 25.24% 16.74% - 25.49% 14.74% - 24.74%

* Based on $30K yearly spending

This chart reveals that the Savor is the second-best card for yearly cash rewards if you can spend at least $3,150 on restaurants and $2,900 on entertainment purchases every year.

The $562 you can earn every year with the Savor isn’t quite as valuable as you think because, after the first year, you’ll pay a $95 annual fee.

So, in your second year, even though you’re earning $562 in rewards, you have to consider that you’re “losing” $95 because of the fee, dropping the yearly rewards to $467, or just $17 more than the Freedom Unlimited and the Quicksilver.

That being said, the $500 sign-up bonus you get minimizes the damage of the annual fee if you decide to keep this card longer than one year.

Over the course of three years, the Savor would earn you $1,996 in rewards, annual fee included. Over that same time period, the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver would earn $1,500.

Bottom Line: Is Capital One Savor a Good Rewards Credit Card?

Based on our research, we believe this card’s greatest strength is the yearly rewards you can earn as the result of the Savor’s 4% rewards on restaurants and entertainment and its 2% rewards on groceries.

We also like how the card gives you a $500 sign-up bonus, something that’s pretty much unheard of in the cash-back card world.

The card’s drawback is that it has a $95 annual fee after the first year, making it and the American Express Blue Cash Preferred the only two mainstream cash-back cards that charge a fee.

In general, we believe this card is a great fit for someone who spends an average or above average amount on restaurants and entertainment. By our calculations, “average” would mean about $500 a month on the two categories.

If you want to learn more about cash rewards cards, then take a few minutes to read our in-depth guide to the best cash-back credit cards.

We compare seven cards across a variety of categories important to you and, based on our research, we provide our rankings for the best overall card as well as the best cards in specific situations.

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