Credit Scores and Capital One: What You Need for Each Card

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

Your credit score matters. If you don't have a high score, you can't qualify for the highest-yield rewards cards. If your score is too low, you might not qualify for any credit cards at all. While there are a lot of factors that go into determining your credit score, learning how to achieve and maintain a high score doesn't have to be overwhelming.

Let's start with the basics.

What makes a good credit score?

There are five main factors that determine your credit score: payment history, credit utilization, credit age, account mix, and credit inquiries. These five factors aren't weighted evenly across the board, either.

Payment History (35%)

Payment history is the most important factor in determining credit score and is weighted the most of any of the five factors. While one or two late payments won't automatically destroy your credit rating, it is important to try to pay on-time every time.

Credit Utilization (30%)

This is the second-most important factor in determining your credit score. Credit utilization is a measure of the total amount of credit used versus your total available credit. This number tells lenders how likely you are to repay your debts and affects the likelihood they will increase your credit limit or lend you more. A high credit utilization can be an indication that you are struggling to pay bills. It is recommended that you keep your credit utilization score low—below 30% if possible.

Credit Age (15%)

What is your oldest line of credit? For most people, it's a credit card they opened during their college years, or perhaps a store card their parents started when they were teens. The longer you've had a particular line of credit, the higher your credit score is likely to be. While there is no defined time period for how long you should keep your accounts open, it's a good idea to use a small sum from each account each month—and pay it off in full each month.

Account Mix (10%)

Account mix and credit inquiries weigh equally in determining your credit score. Your account mix is an evaluation of the various lines of credit you have. These range from standard credit cards to retail cards and home equity loans, as well as other types of credit. Having a healthy mix of accounts shows potential lenders that you are able to handle various types of debt at once.

Credit Inquiries (10%)

There are two main types of credit inquiries: hard inquiries and soft inquiries.

Most soft inquiries will not affect your score at all, and certain types of hard inquiries have no effect on your score. That said, too many inquiries within a short period of time can have an impact on your overall credit score and indicate to lenders that you are desperate for funds—a sign that you may be unable to repay your debt.

What are the credit ranges?

Your credit ranges from 300 to 850, and is broken down further within this range. Credit scores from 300 to 640 are considered "Poor," while credit scores from 640 to 680 are considered "Fair." Credit scores from 680 to 720 are considered "Good," while scores of 720 or higher are considered "Excellent."

Suggested Scores for Each Capital One Card

Of Capital One's 13 potential credit cards, the vast majority of the high yield rewards cards require excellent credit in order to qualify. A smaller number require only average credit, while a single card is available to those attempting to rebuild and improve their credit score.

Cards that require excellent credit:

  • Venture Rewards Card
  • Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card
  • VentureOne Rewards Card
  • Savor Dining Rewards Card
  • Spark Cash Rewards Card
  • Spark Cash Select Rewards Card
  • Spark Miles Card
  • Spark Miles Select Card

Cards that require average credit:

  • QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Card
  • Capital One Platinum Card
  • Journey Student Rewards Card
  • Spark Classic Card

Cards for rebuilding credit:

  • Capital One Secured MasterCard

Competition and Required Scores

The vast majority of rewards cards, regardless of the issuing company, require an Excellent credit rating in order to qualify. Capital One might have slightly higher requirements in this regard.

Take the Chase Sapphire Preferred, for instance. While it yields rewards comparable to those of Capital One's lineup, it has a minimum credit score requirement of 690.

The Chase Freedom Card and Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express share this same lower threshold. On the other end of the spectrum, Capital One is one of the best card issuers for those with low credit ratings.

The Capital One Secured MasterCard requires a refundable deposit that varies based on your credit score and prevents you from spending more than this amount.

Capital One Secured Mastercard
Refundable deposit build credit
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Recommended Credit:
Bad Credit
  • Great for building credit - Reports regularly to the 3 major credit bureaus. 
  • Increase your credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.
  • Refundable deposit required, $49, $99 or $200 based on your creditworthiness.
  • A deposit of $49 gets you an initial credit line of $200. Larger deposits additional get a higher credit line.
  • Pick your own payment method (check, online or at a local branch) and monthly due date.

This helps ensure you make the payments on time and can be beneficial for rebuilding a severely damaged credit rating.

Rates of Capital One Cards by Score

As a general guideline, the higher your credit rating, the lower your APR and other rates will be. The more trustworthy you prove yourself in paying off debts, the more lenient the restrictions placed on your account will be. Capital One offers general guidelines for the cards available to those within each credit bracket.

For cardholders with "Excellent" credit, cards like the Venture Rewards Card are available.

The VentureOne Rewards Card has the lowest potential APR of any Capital One card. On the other hand, the cards for those with "Average" credit ratings have significantly higher APRs—even higher than the highest range for the Venture or the Quicksilver.

Capital One Journey Student Rewards
Choose your payment date
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Everyday Rewards
Annual Fee
Recommended Credit:
Fair Credit
  • Great for building your credit if used responsibly.
  • Receive 1% cash back on every purchase, pay on time and boost your cash back to 1.25% for that month.
  • Choose your payment date.
  • Gain access to a higher credit line after you make your first 5 monthly payments on time.

Of course, the worst APR Capital One offers is limited to those with the lowest credit score, and that belongs to the Capital One Secured MasterCard.

What is the minimum credit score one should have before applying for any Capital One card?

The Capital One Secured MasterCard has the lowest possible credit requirement, in that it doesn't really have one; the majority who apply qualify, as long as they put down the necessary monetary deposit. The Journey Student Rewards Card, the QuicksilverOne Rewards Card, the Platinum, and the Spark Classic Card all require at least an Average credit score to qualify. This means you need a rating of 680 or higher in order to get one of these cards. Technically speaking, this is the lowest possible credit sore a person should have before applying. Keep in mind that even with a sub-par credit score, a recent change in cash flow that is reflected in your income statements may help you qualify.

Cards With Bonuses for Good Credit

The best bonuses are for those with the best credit scores. Capital One is well known for its rewards cards, and two of the best choices for travel rewards and cash rewards require "Excellent" credit in order to qualify—the Venture Rewards Card and the Quicksilver Cash Rewards card.

Capital One Venture Rewards
Unlimited 10X miles on hotels
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Annual Fee
Recommended Credit:
Excellent and Good Credit
  • Named "The Best Travel Card" by CNBC in 2018
  • 50,000 bonus miles after 3k in spend in the first 3 months. (That's roughly $500 in travel credit)
  • Unlimited 2X miles per $1 on each purchase
  • Unlimited 10X miles on thousands of hotels
  • Up to $100 credit on TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry applications
  • $0 annual fee the first year 

Capital One Quicksilver
1.5% cash back on everything
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Everyday Rewards
Annual Fee
Recommended Credit:
Excellent and Good Credit
  • Receive unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
  • Non expiring cash back as long as your account is open.
Capital One QuicksilverOne
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Annual Fee
Recommended Credit:
Good and Fair Credit

Another card with tremendous benefits is the Premier Dining Rewards Card.

Capital One Savor Rewards
Go out more; 4% cash back dining/entertainment
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Annual Fee
Recommended Credit:
Excellent Credit
  • 4% cash back on entertainment and dining
  • 2% at grocery stores. 
  • 1% on every other purchase.
  • No rotating categories

Customer Reviews

In most cases, Capital One customers are satisfied with the service provided by the company, but not all reviews are positive. Check out what customers have to say:

After more than 30 years with no credit card, I finally broke down and applied to Capital One. I had reason to establish credit, and now, more than a year later, my credit scores have increased dramatically. I use the card for many monthly purchases and pay my card on time. As a reward, Capital One increased my credit line which has provided me peace of mind and a feeling of security should any emergency pop up that requires unexpected expenses. Love this card!

First and foremost, I have a credit score of 797 and my other cards provide me credit limits of 30K. I have asked several times for a credit increase and have been denied. Simply put, Capital 1 CANNOT meet my monthly credit needs even though I pay 100% of the balance each month. Your restrictive protocol has resulted in lost business to Discover, American Express, and Bank of America. Your online access is sub par. While I have two credit card users, I cannot easily separate the charges between the two users. More importantly, I had an incident 3 months ago where incorrect information was provided by your 1-800 customer service team that resulted in a payment being posted twice and my personal checking account being overdrawn, thus causing me an overdraft fee of $25. Some type of "security breach" requiring a new card to be sent also caused my scheduled payment to disappear from my online view. After consulting with your customer service team, I was directed to make a duplicate payment.

Does Capital One have any special cards or support for those trying to build their credit?

As we mentioned above, Capital One offers a card designed specifically for people attempting to build their credit: the Capital One Secured MasterCard. The way this card is set up helps ensure you can build your credit but that you don't get in over your head with debt.

Does Capital One offer their own credit tracker? If so, what does it do?

Capital One offers their CreditWise system so that you can monitor your credit report, stay updated to any changes in your credit rating, and even run predictive tests to see what effect paying off certain debts might have on your overall score. Capital One obtains your score from TransUnion and simulates this rating within CreditWise. If you're concerned about security, Capital One uses 256 encryption to keep your information secure while you browse.

If you're working to rebuild your credit quickly, use the built-in simulator to find out what debts will have the most effect when paid off.

This will allow you to evaluate your financial decisions before you make them.