Pros: Reasonable introductory rate, easy payment, online statements, quick credit line increases.
Cons: High annual fee, poor customer service.
It can happen to the best of us. It happened to me. Things get out of control, life doesnt turn out the way we expect, and bam! There goes your credit. These days, its almost essential to have a credit card. You need one to rent a car, shop on the internet, and for unexpected emergencies. Sure, anybody can get one of those secured cards, or Pseudo-secured cards where they give you a $200 limit, only to have $190 of it eaten up by fees when you receive the card.
I would have none of that. When the flyers arrived in the mail, I simply discarded them. Then one day I received an offer from Capital One. It was for a Platinum Visa card, and it was pre-approved. There was no mention of a pre-determined credit limit, but I didnt mind. Whatever they offered would be a great step toward rebuilding my credit, something I desperately wanted to do. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Applying for the card was a snap. It can be done over the phone or internet, and I just needed to answer a few questions about income, employment, and how I would be using the card. If you receive a pre-approved card, this is to determine what your limit will be (or so I suspect).
I was approved instantly for $300. Sure, this isnt a very large limit, but read on and youll see how it gets better. I got my card in less than a week. You can choose from various designs, a nice touch. I went with the US Constitution.
The card does have an annual fee of $59, which seems a bit high. But, there are no other fees except for those which you can impose upon yourself by sending a payment late or going over your limit. In those cases, youll be assessed $29. My interest rate was surprisingly good too at 9.9%. Again, not bad for a credit card marketed to those with less than perfect credit.
I think that the pitfall people usually fall into with credit cards like this are late payment and over limit fees. They can really ruin your credit card experience. Needless to say, this happens to all of us. We mail our payment a few days late because it slips our mind or some other problem happens. Then, fees, fees, fees.
With Capital One, this does not need to be the case. Capital One offers a convenient online payment system on their website. Indeed, you can see your statement at any time, see past statements, determine how much credit you have available, and make a payment from a checking or savings account.
This is a huge plus. If you make a payment on any business day by 3PM, the funds will be available on your card the very next day. Pay on Friday, use the card on Saturday. Very convenient indeed.
Increase Your Limit
Capital One will periodically review your account for increases based on your payment history and other factors. I can tell you right now, however, that if you max out your card and make just the minimum payment, you likely wont get an increase. There is an easy way to get one, however. Heres how I did it.
As I have stated previously, $300 is not much of a credit limit. So, every payday I paid off the balance in full. On Friday I would pay it off, and on Saturday the card would have the full limit available again. The first benefit, of course, was no interest. Capital One offers a grace period on purchases (but not cash advances) when you pay off your previous statement balance.
OK, you say, you cant afford to make a $300 payment on your credit card. Think about it, though. These days you can pay just about anything with a credit card. So, paying off your card and using it for expenses and bills can make sense. Sure, its not much more than a debit card at that point, but again, you are building a positive credit history and paying no interest.
And banks like to see you use the card and make payments. Credit card companies make money in two ways: from interest and fees you pay, of course, but also from transaction fees they charge merchants when you use the card. The more you use it, the more they like it.
After having my Capital One Platinum Card for just four months, my credit line was automatically increased to $3000. In addition, I received a pre-approved Capital One Mastercard as well.
This is the only downside I have experienced. The customer service is less than stellar, and Ill often get three different answers to a question from three different reps. Some of them are outsourced overseas, too, and can be difficult to understand at times. They seem to tell you what you want to hear, too.
Zip. Nada. Zilch. None. I have not received a single telemarketing call. And I hate telemarketing calls.
Your experience with Capital One can be what you make of it. So far, mine has been very positive. I got a Visa with a decent interest rate, easy payment method, and a quick credit line increase. Whats in my wallet? A Capital One card, and it will be there for a while.