Capital One® Credit Steps Program (3 Things to Know)

Capital One Credit Steps Program

credit card advice

Linsey Knerl
By: Linsey Knerl
Posted: July 7, 2016
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Getting approved for a credit card is a great first step toward building credit and opening up more opportunities for financing. Credit card companies like Capital One make it easier than ever for those with bad or average credit to start down the road to recovery.

The Capital One® Credit Steps Program is a little-known perk designed specifically for those wanting to prove their creditworthiness. Below are three things you should know if you own, or are considering applying for, a Credit Steps card from Capital One.

1. Many Capital One Cards Offer Automatic Enrollment

Nearly all of the Capital One cards designed for poor-to-average credit come with automatic enrollment in the Credit Steps program.

For example, the QuicksilverOne from Capital One sign-up page says that customers can “get access to a higher credit line with Credit Steps after making your first five monthly payments on time.”

Here is a breakdown of the top cards eligible for Credit Steps enrollment:

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited Credit

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back doesn’t expire and there’s no limit to how much you can earn
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited Credit

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Enjoy no annual fee
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Build business credit with responsible use
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Enjoy business benefits including Year-End Summaries, employee cards at no extra cost, and experienced small business customer service
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.24% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited Credit

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It’s a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad Credit

You’ll know if you’ve been automatically enrolled in the program when you receive your welcome packet from the card company.

2. Your Credit Limit Starts Low, Then Increases

For cards in the Credit Steps program, you may find that you have a low initial limit of just $200 or $300, but will get an automatic increase to $500 or more after consistent payments have been made. This is usually done after five payments, or a minimum of three months of favorable activity.

Capital One may also occasionally provide the opportunity to request a line increase beyond the first one. Many factors go into determining your eligibility:

  • On-time payment history
  • Average monthly payment amount
  • Credit bureau information
  • Credit score
  • Whether you use a significant portion of your existing credit line
  • Regular use of your card

If you’re eligible for an additional increase beyond the automatic first one, you’ll see a link to request one in your online credit account dashboard. Capital One does not usually approve requests for a limit increase if your card has had an increase or decrease in the previous six months, and they reserve the right to decline requests based on their own internal guidelines.

3. You May Become Eligible for a Better Card

Most of the cards that are included in the program will cap accounts at $1,500 to $3,000. If you’ve reached the highest threshold and want more, you may have established your credit enough to apply for a different, more flexible, card account.

Here is a breakdown of the top cards Capital One customers often upgrade to. You’ll notice that these cards offer much more favorable terms than those in the Credit Steps program:

  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months of approval
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • Rewards don't expire, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount, anytime
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good Credit

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles don't expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
13.24% - 23.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good Credit

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 12.24%-22.24% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles don’t expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
12.24% - 22.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good Credit

Note that you shouldn’t ever close your first card account. Keeping your accounts open – even when not in use – will raise your total available credit and keep your utilization in check.

Taking the Next Step

The Credit Steps program from Capital One proves that the credit card industry is looking to give even those with bad credit a second chance at proving themselves.

While making even one late payment could cause you to be dropped from the program (and your account to be put in jeopardy), just six months of responsible credit use can have a significantly positive effect on the future of your finances.

If you’d like to give the Credit Steps program a try, choose one of the fair credit or limited credit options from our Capital One reviews page to apply online.