As one of the fastest growing credit card issuers in the country, Credit One Bank already has 7 million loyal members.
But there's something different about this pool of cardholders: most of them have less than perfect credit.
Paying off a credit card demonstrates the kind of responsible borrowing behavior the three major credit bureaus look for when increasing your credit score.
Yet if your credit score dips too low, you may find it hard to gain approval for a credit card at all.
Credit card applicants with low credit scores are often given very high interest rates and very low credit limits if they do happen to score an approval.
They also don't normally qualify for credit cards that offer rewards either.
So maybe that's why 85% of Credit One Bank cardholders would recommend a Credit One credit card to their friends.
According to Credit One, they've paid out over $33 million in cash back rewards to their members.
While the thought of simultaneously repairing your credit score and earning cash back sounds like a total win, there's a lot more you'll need to consider before applying for a Credit One Bank card.
What Is Credit One Bank?
With words like "credit" and "bank" in their name, you may be confused as to what Credit One Bank actually offers if you've never heard of them.
Let's clear that up.
A Brief Rundown of Credit One Bank's History
Back in 1984, First National Bank of Marin (FNBM) opened as a full-service bank in San Rafael, California.
They offered your typical variety of banking services until the late 90s when they decided to focus their attention on credit cards.
After relocating their headquarters to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1998, FNBM received the green light from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, to operate as a CEBA bank in 2005.
CEBA banks are only allowed to "engage in credit card activities," as the FDIC puts it, and cannot perform other routine banking transactions like making commercial loans.
FNBM changed their name to Credit One Bank, N.A. in 2006, and adopted a logo to better represent their mission of helping cardholders improve their credit scores.
Though Credit One Bank doesn't have any branches you can visit, you can apply for three different credit cards they offer online.
Services and Products Offered by Credit One Bank
A majority of credit card issuers offer both secured credit cards and unsecured ones.
Here's the difference:
A secured credit card requires a cash deposit to "secure" your credit limit. If you deposit $500 to the bank backing your credit card, you generally have a $500 credit limit. This removes the risk of lending you money since you're providing the money upfront.
An unsecured credit card does not require a cash deposit. If you're approved, you'll be given a line of credit and you'll be able to make purchases with your card up to this limit.
Credit One Bank issues unsecured credit cards aimed for applicants with low and bad credit scores.
This makes their cards a good choice for those who cannot afford to make a secured credit card deposit before needing to use their line of credit.
Who are their cards best for?
When credit card issuers screen for qualified candidates, they check every applicant's:
- Credit score
- Credit history
- Income-to-debt ratio
If any one of these factors falls short of the criteria set by that credit card issuer, your application will get denied.
So one of the first factors every potential applicant should check when researching credit cards is actually the easiest to find: your credit score.
When you know your credit score, you'll have a better idea of your approval odds.
Credit scores generally break down as:
- Excellent: 750+
- Good: 680–749
- Average: 600–679
- Poor: under 600
As David Weliver writes for Money Under 30, "Most so-called ‘prime' and ‘superprime' credit cards are only available to applicants with credit scores of 750 or better."
On the other hand, Credit One Bank approves applicants with credit scores as low as the mid 500s, making them ideal for people who have previously been denied credit cards but want to build or rebuild their credit history.
Checking Your Application Status
You should receive an answer as to whether you're pre-approved for a Credit One credit card online within a few minutes.
However, sometimes Credit One will need additional time to approve your actual application for a credit card.
You'll need to enter your last name and social security number to do so.
You can also contact the designated Application hotline at 1-800-752-5493 (between the hours of 5:00 AM–9:00 PM PST Monday–Friday; and 6:30 AM–5:00 PM during weekends).
Credit One Bank does not operate any locations or brick-and-mortar branches — that means you cannot simply walk into a Credit One establishment to pay your monthly bill.
What are the Acceptable Payment Methods?
Credit One Bank accepts payments in the form of:
- Money orders from MoneyGram and Western Union
- Debit/ATM cards when you pay online using the Express Payment option
You cannot use another credit card to pay your Credit One Bank credit card bill.
What Is the Minimum Payment?
Your minimum payment is the minimum amount you must pay at the end of your billing cycle in order for your account to remain in good standing. To find out how this number is calculated, check the terms of your specific card in your Cardholder Agreement.
You cannot make a payment less than $1.00 as that's the minimum amount of interest Credit One will charge.
If you fail to make your entire minimum payment by your bill's due date, you'll be charged a late fee.
What Are the Late Payment Repercussions?
You'll be hit with a late fee of $37 if your payment posts after your payment due date.
To give you an idea of what's considered late, if your payment is received by Credit One:
- Before 2:00 PM (PST) Sunday through Friday, it will post the same day and show up online in the "Posted Activity" section of your account "Overview" page the following business day.
- After 2:00 PM (PST), it will post the following business day.
- After 5:00 PM (PST) Friday and before 2:00 PM (PST) Saturday, it will post Sunday.
- After 5:00 PM (PST) Saturday, it will post the next business day.
Where Can I Make the Payments?
You can pay your Credit One credit card bill by mail or online from your account page.
To pay your bill my mail, send your payment coupon, your monthly statement, and a check to:
Credit One Bank
P.O. Box 60500
City of Industry, CA 91716-0500
FYI: Payments received by mail are not processed during holidays such as: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day.
You also have the option of mailing a payment using MoneyGram's ExpressPayment service. Just provide your 16-digit Credit One Bank credit card account number and the Credit One 4-digit Receive Code (1430).
To mail a payment using Western Union, use your 16-digit credit card account number with the Credit One "code city" (CREDITONEBANK) and "code state" (NV).
To pay your bill online, login to your Credit One mobile account dashboard and navigate to the "Current Snapshot" page where you'll have an up-to-date summary of all your account information, including your payment due date and minimum payment.
Hit the "Pay Bill" button and you'll have two choices:
1. Pay using the Standard Payment option and your funds will be available in "about five business days" according to Credit One Bank.
This means if you pay $100, you'll need to wait around five days to see that $100 added as a credit to your account.
You're only allowed to use your bank account to make a Standard payment so you'll need to have your account and routing numbers handy.
There's no fee charged when you choose the Standard Payment option.
2. Pay using the Express Payment option and your funds will usually be available the next business day.
You can use either your bank account or your Debit/ATM card to make an Express Payment.
Be warned:You'll be charged a fee of $9.95 for choosing the Express Payment feature.
Credit One Bank credit cards may not have all the glitz and glamour associated with other celebrity-endorsed credit cards, but that doesn't mean they're not the right option for someone who's been denied credit in the past and wants to rebuild their credit now.
If you're in this boat (as many Americans are), here are the top four benefits of a Credit One credit card:
Great for those with Poor or Limited Credit
Credit One credit cards are geared for applicants with less-than-awesome credit scores.
Their high approval rating is great for people who have been denied credit cards in the past due to their poor or limited credit history.
Unlike secured credit cards that require a deposit to use, the unsecured credit cards from Credit One don't require any money down to start borrowing and making purchases right away.
Plus, certain applicants will be eligible to earn 1% cash back rewards—an unusual credit card perk for applicants with low or bad credit scores.
Helps Rebuild Your Credit History
As an unsecured credit card, all of your spending and repayment activity attached to your Credit One Bank card gets reported to all three major credit bureaus.
Display creditworthy behavior—like only spending 30% of your credit limit and paying off your purchases several times each month to keep interest charges to a minimum—and your credit score will slowly climb into the higher ranges.
You'll then start to qualify for better offers from other credit card issuers with your shiny, new-and-improved credit score.
Offers Various Reward Programs Attached to their Cards
Most credit cards given to applicants with little or bad credit offer very little in the way of loyalty rewards. However, Credit One cardholders have the chance to earn 1% cash back for their eligible purchases.
NASCAR fans carrying the Official NASCAR Visa card will also earn double cash back online at the NASCAR.com Superstore.
Plus, all the Visa-backed Credit One cards come standard with access to Visa Offers and perks, like travel accident and auto rental collision insurance when you book your vacation with your Credit One Visa.
You Can Check Your Credit Score Progress for Free
All Credit One Bank credit cards give their cardholders access to free online credit monitoring so they can watch the progress of their credit score in real time.
Tracking your credit score every month helps you nail down exactly what's hurting or helping your credit score.
Despite those four benefits, there are three downsides you should also consider before submitting a formal application to Credit One.
Credit One credit cards may be a gift for some and nightmare for others.
To get them to work for you, you'll need to overcome these three negative points:
Annual Fees Vary Based on Your Creditworthiness
It's not uncommon for credit cards offering rewards to charge an annual fee. After all, this fee helps cover the costs associated with giving away all that cash back and member-exclusive swag.
Typically this annual fee is a one-price-fits-all kind of thing.
However, Credit One bases their annual fee on your creditworthiness.
That means you could be on the line for an annual fee depending on what your credit looks like when you apply for a card.
Customers reviewing the Credit One cards frequently complain about high interest rates and expensive annual fees.
Other negative reviews seem to focus on the lack of credit limit increases and the not-so-friendly customer service representatives:
But cardholders who do their homework and understand the way Credit One operates are more than satisfied with their services.
You'll see so many mixed reviews for credit cards because everyone's financial history and credit needs are different.
Take these opinions as general market research before deciding what's right for you.