The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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

Capital One Credit Steps

credit card advice

Linsey Knerl
By: Linsey Knerl
Updated: November 22, 2019
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

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set.
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (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
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (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

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee
  • Unlike a prepaid card, there is regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (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

4.9/5.0
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 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 $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
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
  • 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 for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.