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

By: Linsey Knerl • July 7, 2016

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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:

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:

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.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Linsey Knerl

Linsey is a finance blogger, author and public speaker with a passion for helping everyday families earn more and live better. In addition to covering the credit card industry in depth on CardRates, she shares her expertise for parents who want to start budget-friendly businesses from home at 1099Mom.com.