BuyPower Card from Capital One® review: Rewards with more horsepower

Couple at car dealership, ready to use their BuyPower points toward a brand new Chevrolet. Image:

In a Nutshell

The BuyPower Card from Capital One® is the ultimate rewards credit card for loyal GM drivers planning to buy or lease a new car — but it’s not for everyone.

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If there’s a new Chevy or Cadillac in your future, the BuyPower Card from Capital One® could help steer you toward a better deal.

This card offers one of the best earning rates we’ve seen in a rewards credit card — up to 5% earnings back on your first $5,000 in purchases every year, and then 2% unlimited earnings back on purchases after that.

So, what’s the catch? You’ll only be able to redeem those rewards toward the retail purchase or lease of a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle. Whereas other rewards cards may offer cash back or a more flexible redemption method, the BuyPower Card from Capital One® is meant for one thing: putting you in the driver’s seat of a GM vehicle.

Given the limited scope of its rewards program, this isn’t the right card for everyone. But if you’re already set on purchasing a GM vehicle and use this card for responsible everyday spending, you can rack up potentially huge rewards for your next four-wheeled purchase.

Let’s dive into the details to see if the BuyPower Card from Capital One® might make sense for you.

  1. The rundown: Everything we like about the BuyPower Card from Capital One®
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of the BuyPower Card from Capital One®
  4. The competition: How the BuyPower Card from Capital One® stacks up against other rewards cards
  5. Bottom line: Is the BuyPower Card from Capital One® right for you?

The rundown: Everything we like about the BuyPower Card from Capital One®

There’s a lot to like about the BuyPower Card from Capital One®, especially if you’re a GM loyalist and prefer buying or leasing new vehicles.

Here’s what we like most about the card.

Supercharged rewards

As mentioned above, few cards can match this one’s rewards earnings if you’ve set your sights on a new car. You’ll earn 5% back in rewards on your first $5,000 in purchases every year. After hitting that limit, you’ll earn an unlimited 2% back on every purchase.

Again, we want to reiterate that you can only use BuyPower rewards to offset the cost of buying or leasing a GM vehicle. You may be boosting your rewards with this card, but you’re limiting your flexibility.

Once you’ve racked up enough rewards, you can “go to the dealership and redeem [your BuyPower rewards] as an incentive,” says Lisa Grutta, senior manager of GM cards for General Motors.

From time to time, GM runs special promotions targeted at cardholders. These offers may include allowing cardholders to use their rewards toward the purchase of a factory pre-owned GM vehicle, Grutta says. Or, they may include a cash bonus added to rewards redeemed within a specific time period.

 During some special promotions, cardholders also may be able to use rewards to cover service at a GM dealership, says James Cain, spokesman for the company.

BuyPower rewards never expire, as long as the account is open and in good standing.

0% intro APR offer

Aside from its rewards program, the card has some other appealing benefits. It carries no annual fee and offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months. (After that, the purchase APR converts to a variable rate of 13.40%–23.40%, depending on your creditworthiness.)

Travel with confidence

As with other Capital One® credit cards, the BuyPower Card from Capital One® charges no foreign transaction fees — making it a solid choice when traveling outside the U.S. It comes with the benefits of a World Elite Mastercard®, including a complimentary 24/7 travel concierge service available to all cardholders, says Craig Glee, senior director for the BuyPower Card from Capital One®.

Impressive purchase protections

The BuyPower Card from Capital One® also has a few cool features to help protect your wallet.

The card doubles the length of the original manufacturer’s or store brand warranty on purchases with your card for up to one year, says Glee. Be sure to look into the terms, conditions and exclusions that apply. You also have 120 days of price protection for purchases made with your card. That means if you find an item at a better price within six months, you may be reimbursed for the price difference. See the World Elite Guide to Benefits for complete program details.

At some point in the future, the BuyPower Card from Capital One® will be adding Capital One’s Second Look® feature, says Glee. According to the issuer’s website, Second Look® is a tool that can help identify and resolve potential incorrect charges on your account. So, whether you left way too big a tip at your favorite sushi place or your gym membership just auto-renewed, it’s designed to flag the transactions and let you know what to do next.

Heads up: What you should consider before applying

If you’re looking for a flexible rewards program, the BuyPower Card from Capital One® probably isn’t your card.

“It’s really designed for a niche audience,” says Bruce McClary, vice president of communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. The fact that you can generally only redeem rewards when purchasing or leasing a new vehicle means you probably won’t see everyone rushing out to apply for this card.

“Cardholder preferences right now are aligned with having as much freedom as possible with how the rewards are used,” explains McClary.

Another consideration: If Chevy or Cadillac discontinues the model of your dreams, will another GM vehicle make you just as happy?

“How do you know you’re going to be brand-loyal in five years when you buy a car?” says Andy Byron, CFP, senior financial advisor and principal with HC Financial Advisors Inc.

Read the fine print on fees

The BuyPower Card from Capital One® carries a variable penalty APR of 29.90%.

While it’s important to note — and avoid — the penalty rate, “it’s not unusual for a credit card company to charge 30%,” says McClary.

Other fees to watch out for include a 13.40%–23.40% variable APR for balance transfers, and a 25.40% variable APR for cash advances — plus a cash advance fee of 3% (minimum $10). Another card with a 0% intro APR offer might be a better option for consolidating debt with a balance transfer.

Learn more about how to do a balance transfer

Do the math: Is the BuyPower Card from Capital One® right for you?

Switching to this rewards card won’t win you a free new car. But you can use it to score a nice discount.

One group of consumers who will get a lot of value out of this card: GM lessees or owners who trade in their cars every two or three years. Put $2,000 a month on a BuyPower Card from Capital One®, and you could walk into the dealership with $1,200 to $1,890 (after three years) in rewards to redeem toward your next new car.

That may sound like a lot, but it’s about the norm with this card.

On average, most cardholders using BuyPower rewards toward a vehicle purchase have accrued anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500 in rewards earnings, Grutta says.

To get the most value out of this card, you should use it as a go-to for everyday spending or reach for it regularly for big-ticket items like travel. Of course, you should also make sure not to charge more than you can pay off in the pursuit of more rewards.

The smart move with this one is to pile up the points and avoid debt: Pay that bill on time and in full every month.

The competition: How the BuyPower Card from Capital One® stacks up against other rewards cards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Flexible travel card
Citi® Double Cash Card Flat-rate cash back
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Great rewards for everyday purchases

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

From our partner
See Details, Rates & Fees

Call it a travel card that’s light on complexities. You’ll get a 50,000-mile bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. And on a regular basis, you’ll earn two miles per $1 spent on purchases. You can also earn 10 miles per $1 on thousands of hotels through January 2020. If you’re looking for a Capital One® credit card with more flexibility, this could be the ticket. Just note the annual fee: $0 intro, $95 after first year.

Citi® Double Cash Card 

From our partner

Citi® Double Cash Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Citi® Double Cash Card is another great everyday card with a simple rewards program. The premise: 2% cash back (1% cash back on purchases, and another 1% cash back as you pay off those purchases).

With this card, “cash back” means actual cash. The annual fee is $0, and you’ll have a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months from the date of the first transfer when completed within four months from account opening. (After that, the variable APR converts to 15.99% - 25.99% based on your creditworthiness). There’s also a balance transfer fee of 3% (minimum $5).

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

From our partner
See Details, Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers great rewards for your everyday buys. Hit an eligible U.S. supermarket and get 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year (then 1%). Gassing up the car? You’ll get 3% cash back on eligible purchases made at U.S. gas stations. You can also earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on transit (including taxis/rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more), plus 1% back on all other eligible purchases.

This card also comes with an impressive welcome offer: $250 statement credit after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. All in all, it’s a compelling and versatile option, but you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $95.

Bottom line: Is the BuyPower Card from Capital One® right for you?

If you’re a die-hard GM driver or a GM lessee who trades vehicles every two to three years, the BuyPower Card from Capital One® could be a useful tool in your toolbox.

Likewise, if you’re drooling over the lines of the latest Corvette or Camaro or your dream is a greener machine like the Chevy Volt or Bolt EV, this card could help you cut the cost — especially if you have a few years before you plan to buy.

But if you’re not using the rewards? You’re missing most of the fun — and the value of getting a rewards card.