The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Friday, September 30, 2022

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

Capital One Credit Steps

credit card advice

Linsey Knerl

Written by: Linsey Knerl

Linsey Knerl

Linsey Knerl is a finance author and public speaker with a passion for helping everyday families earn more and live better. Her work can be seen in Investopedia, PC Mag, The Christian Science Monitor, TIME, Wise Bread, Next Avenue, MSN Money, and numerous other leading outlets. Her expertise lies in business economics, credit scores and reports, and saving and budgeting. Linsey has shared her financial knowledge with audiences at SXSW, FinCon, and the ASJA annual NYC convention.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Advertiser Disclosure

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 Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card 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

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
28.49% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

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 limits to how much you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account. It's that simple
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
28.49% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

This card is currently not available.

Fair Credit Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
28.49% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

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:

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 17.99%-27.99% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
$395
Excellent

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. The program may also prove valuable to those who are just beginning their journey in the credit world and are looking to build their credit for the very first time.

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.

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