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Capital One Credit Cards Hurt Your Credit Score

This article was written by in Credit. 40 comments.


If you have a credit card with Capital One, chances are your credit score is lower than it would be with a different credit card. This is because Capital One (and possibly other companies) don’t report your true credit limit.

Part of the calculation for your credit score is your ratio of used credit to credit available. $100 used out of $10,000 (a ratio of 1%) available is good. Rather than your real credit limit, Capital One report your highest credit usage. So if $200 is the highest amount of credit you’ve used, then your ratio is $100 out of $200 (a ratio of 50%), which is not nearly as good and can hurt your credit score.

You won’t have any luck trying to get Capital One to report your true credit limit.

Here’s a reminder: The only website for getting your free credit report is annualcreditreport.com. If you go to any other website, you run the risk of being sold something you can get for free. On the other hand, your true FICO score can only be purchased from MyFICO. Don’t accept any imitations.

Updated July 28, 2014 and originally published September 15, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar mapgirl

I hated Capital One in college. They didn’t like me checking my balance all the time. As soon as I got that letter, I transferred the balance and closed the card. I absolutely will not do business with them anymore.

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avatar Steve Mertz

Flexo-Get on Capital One’s butt and have em change their policy :) That is strange of them to continue this practice!

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avatar Karthik

Flexo, this is outrageous. I have a Capital One card I got for the 0% intro APR, but now regret having done this. Can’t we lobby to get this changed? Maybe someone should bring in Clark Howard or one of the big guns.

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avatar John Wilks

Glad you bring this up. I’ve had some issues with Chase because of this. I needed to have some in depth conversations with some pf bloggers for advice.

-JW

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avatar Concerned

IS this true for Chase Bank customers as well? Which other banks do this kinda of business?

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avatar JayJayhawk

I cancelled two Capital One cards in 2003. Despite having a promotion block on my credit reports, my Transunion and Experian reports show that Capital One has been checking them every 2 to 4 months. It makes me wonder, despite the block, what kind of information they are able to obtain. Every three weeks, I receive an advertisment in the mail asking me to sign up again.

I always mail the empty envelopes back. It’s getting funny because now they are printing my name directly on the envelopes in an attempt to discourage people from mailing back their prepaid mailers, so I just cut my name out and send it in.

Does anyone happen to know how to get off of their mailing list? The phone numbers included only go to automated lines.

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avatar Mauuuuu

Hi! Call capital one at 1800-955-7070 and ask them to delete your name on their preferences to you would stop getting mails/ phone calls from them.

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avatar bill Clear

I opened 3 accounts with Capital One several years ago( I wish I had not) and I have been paying regularly to this writing. I closed them and they keep open them and they keep increasing the interest rates as high as 29%. I am going to close them again and record the conversation for quality purposes and if they ever open them again I will send the recording message to the media just like it hapenned to AOL. Enough is enough Capital One needs to quit taking advantage of the poor people. I quit watching the TV programs that they advertise on and in hopes that the ones that are having such unethical and possibly illegal transactions with Capital One to do the same.

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avatar Sharon F Advincula

i want to have capital one visa card. would you know if there is one here in the philippines and where it can be located.

thank you!

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avatar 1advocate

Capital One has many products. They may step in with a 0% promotion after an individual files a Chapter 7 discharge of debts and are taking a higher risk while charging no annual fee and allowing generous credit lines when other banks demand all sorts of fees. That said, it is quite frustrating that Capital One does not clearly (not in their terms and conditions) the difference between their card and most others in terms of credit issues like this, as it is a rare industry practice.

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avatar ang

Go to the web site below if you want to stop getting all that junk mail from prescreened credit card offers and insurance offers. It explains how companies get your address and how you can limit some of the junk mail that gets sent to you. I did this last summer and the volumns of junk mail I receive has been greatly reduced.

I believe it also has a phone number you can call to opt out of unwanted phone solicitations.

For those of you who have or will have college students, get their names on the list to reduce their temptation to get credit cards for so called “emergencies”. Like weekend vacations etc.

You’ll be on the opt out list for 5 years and then you’ll have to renew.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/prescreen.shtm

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avatar Ta

Those who are 18 and receiving offers in the mail should take advantage of ONE. I say this because I have a friend who never took any offer and now six years later is having trouble getting anyone to extend her credit. She has no history…

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avatar Talease

I just checked my Credit Report..what’s up with Capital One reporting 44 months of payments?? All of my other debtors only report up to 23 months! So any mistakes I made with Capital One..such as late payments are not going to clear up for 44 MONTHS!!!! And they do an inquiry EVERY month??!!! Is that really necessary?? I plan on calling them and giving them a piece of my mind..scam artist!!

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avatar TOPS

i have 4 Cap One accounts and they are my oldest accounts as well. For a long time they did not show my credit limit, but I did just about max them all out at one time or another which established a high balance….although I am not sure that is figured in the calculation when the FICO score figures the ratio. HOWEVER, all 4 card now show a Credit Limit on all 3 credit reports. Not sure why they are doing that for me and not you. Maybe you need to ask them? At one time I threatened to close my accounts because of it. Maybe that is when they changed it? Not sure as I only pulled my credit reports about once a year.

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avatar Ms Davis

Capitol One sent me a credit card in the mail in 2002 and the card was stolen. I reported to customer service and guess what? I received a court order 5/2008 to go to court because they are sueing me for over 1000.00 for that credit card. I found out that the card was used in the amount of 230.00. No activity but that one in 2002. All the other charges are from over the limit, late fees and etc. How can an unsecured credit card company keep an account open for 6 years accumlating fees, no activity, no attempt to notify me, and then sue me after 6 years for a card that was reported stolen? They themselves are thieves for trying to steal or collect for a card that I never got.Can someone help me please. This is not real!!I am still in shock. Mind you, I am only 23 years old, so when the card was sent I was 17. What the H… is going on?

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avatar Seadog

Rather than try to change Capitol’s behavior or policies just cancel the card and move on to another one. It doesn’t matter which one, they are all greedy predators who take advantage of everyone they can, ESPECIALLY the poor. Let Capitol go out of business, which is what they deserve.

When you get “free offers” for more cards, do send them back in the prepaid envelopes and leave your name on them, just write over the application with a black felt marker, “No Thanks!!!” They still won’t give up, but at least you send them their trash back and they continue to pay the postage which keeps the post office functioning and ultimately keeps mailing costs down for the rest of us.

If you file bankruptcy, you will receive MORE offers because credit card companies know that if someone who cannot handle credit and gets into trouble will – 99% of the time – do it again. However, this time, you cannot declare bankruptcy again for another 7 years. So, during that time, they will pile on the $39 late fees, overlimit fees, 29% interest, etc. AND put liens against your house and car and garnishee your wages. In short, you will become their SLAVE. They love you! You won’t live long enough to keep up with the fees, let alone any principal. Stop being a victim, pay cash and don’t spend money that you don’t have.

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avatar Jason

I had three Capital One cards. I had them for about five years (Opened my first one when I was 18). I decided that I did not need three anymore so I called Customer Service and asked if she could consolidate all of my credit limits onto one card (I used my oldest card for credit aging purposes). Everything was fine until I decided to purchase a car. I understand that you should not use more than 30% of your credit limit and I have been living by that practice since opening the cards, but the same happened to me. My highest dollar amount ever charged was 600.00. My total credit limit at that time was 8500.00. When I went to purchase the auto, I was told my interest rate was going to be high because of my score. The Finance Manager was kind enough to go over my report with me. Well, I only had one account, Capital One. The problem was that my current balance was at 300.00 and with the highest amount used was 600.00, I was showing 50% credit usage! I told the Finance Manager what the credit limit was and he suggested two things: First, Capital One is a sub-prime lender. He suggested opening another card with a major bank such as National City Bank or Chase Bank. According to him, lenders look more favorably at someone who has bankcards with prime lenders. Second, he suggested I send in my Capital One statement to all three credit reporting agencies and request that my credit limit be noted (Since you are sending in a copy of your statement, it makes it very difficult for Capital One to dispute your claim). Here is the impact Capital One had on my score. When I went in to lease the auto, my score was at a 615 (Keep in mind I only had one credit card for five years with no late pays AND I don’t ever apply for credit so there werer no inquiries). When the credit reporting agencies made the change, my score shot up to 687. Huge difference! I went back and leased the car I wanted at the payment I was looking for. I still have my Capital One credit card since it is my oldest account. I normally charge a tank of gas a month and pay it off in order to keep it reporting. I did go and apply for a Chase Platinum Visa card. I received it with a 15K credit line. I seriously don’t think that would have happened had I not taken the Finance Manager’s advice. Today, I have a Chase card, my Capital One card, an auto lease, and a mortgage. I recently checked my scores and they are: 743, 751, and 748. So, keep on top of those creditors. The only way you will keep your score is by staying on top of them!

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avatar Dorothy

Thanks this was excellent advice. Sending in the statements to all 3 credit bureaus is definitley a great suggestion. I will do exactly that. My score is reporting at 644. I have one account with Mercedes Benz which has always been current, student loans which are in default and one capital one account. The captial one account was at its limit at one point and because of the 30% rule I opened a second capital one account with hopes of transferring the balances which would automatically lower my usage ratio right? Nope capital one refused to transfer the balance which left me with two cards. I paid off the lowest card, closed the credit line, and I use the other card like a American express. The bill is paid in full before the billing cycle ends!

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avatar Val

Capital One needs to be stopped. People need to file class action law suits (strength in numbers :) and please report them to all the qualified agencys that can help you. Your attorney general, Better Business Bureau, Fair Trade Commision, are some for starters.
It’s a shame that they are doing things that are totally UNETHICAL and ILLEGAL!!!
Write your congressman also. This is the WORSE company out there, in my opinion. STAY AWAY FROM THESE VULTURES.

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avatar capflowwatch

Nowadays, most credit card companies are simply loan sharks. Don’t expect Congress to bail you out, because big banks have powerful lobbies that provide the funds that allow professional politicians to be re-elected.

When banks are issuing credit cards to college students that don’t have a job, or to homeless people, you should know that something is wrong. However, this has been going on for so long now, that millions of people don’t see the problem.

Perhaps people should consider getting by without a credit card. After all, credit cards only were invented in 1950. In that year, the US was the world’s premier industrial power and people used ‘layaway plans’ to buy stuff without paying interest.

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avatar Becky

Flexo,
Do you know this to be true in all cases, or just in some cases? On my credit report, I see all three for Capital one: Credit Limit, High Balance, and Current Balance. If all three show up, does that mean they are reporting it correctly? Also, any idea if the new credit card laws will require companies like Capital One and American Express to report your true limit?
Thanks

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avatar Al

Hello,

I just opened up a Capital One Credit card. About 2 years ago I was laid off and was under water with debt. I even experienced a foreclosure. I thought that this would be a good way to rebuild my credit. I am a little nervous after reading your comments. Can someone offer any advice? My credit score is not really high enough to get a traditional card from my bank. Should stay with Capital one to build positive history and then swicth in about a year or so?
Thanks

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avatar anna

No, you’re better off with a respectable credit card (anything else other than Capital One). Even HSBC, Discover, and American Express will do you good. There are Clear Rewards- American Express, and that’s always been wonderful for me. Never had a problem. You can pay over time, or pay monthly and they won’t bother you at all.

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avatar James S.

DO NOT LISTEN TO ANNA. YES IT IS A GOOD CARD.

DO THIS.. charge a SMALL amount.. less than 10% of your card maximum. DO NOT USE IT AGAIN for a month or so.. Charge some gas .. Continue to pay the bill off (online) as fast as you can. Within a couple months your FICO (the REAL score) WILL go up.

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avatar anna

Capital One will not consider you for increasing your credit limit until after 5 months. Sometimes we need to make purchases that are beyond $500. That is the credit limit I got. I’ve never had a credit limit so low before, especially since I never missed a payment, and actually pay as soon as I get the bill. I have a card with American Express and HSBC with a much higher credit limit. #Capitalone is lame and the worst credit card company out there!

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avatar Jeff van Welij

Perhaps you should’ve paid your card off BEFORE the statement cuts. This is not just Capital One. You should do that with ALL card companies. By waiting until you receive the statement your card most likely gets paid off AFTER the cycle, meaning your cards are reporting a high utilization, which hurts your credit.

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avatar BONNIE

I am trying to build my credit i only have a personal line w/my credit union of 1000 which is maxxed but i do pay in full every month have had it for 6 months never late. but was denied a citibank card what score is needed to get a good unsecured card?

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avatar James S.

Quit playing around with this card and get it paid off!! Give up SOMETHING .. whatever it takes but PAY THE THING OFF! The Interest is killing you. Pay EXTRA .. as much as you possibly can. So, with a maxed out card from your bank.. WHY ARE YOU GOING FOR ANOTHER? Do you ENJOY MISERY? BE FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE! This is why the US Economy is in the tank.. we are so in debt up to our eyeballs but they want to keep spending MORE and more.. DO NOT be like the irresponsible idiots in DC. GOOD LUCK!

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avatar James S.

You are both right and wrong. Capital One IS a GOOD card to get, often its the ONLY one people trying to rebuild credit can get. Just because its from them does NOT mean its bad. However, you ARE correct that if you are over 10% of your available credit limit – it WILL hurt your credit.

IF you are trying to repair your credit score..DO NOT CARRY A BALANCE ON ANY “REVOLVING” credit line. Charge something small once every 3 months or so and pay it off.. KEEP IT BELOW 10% of your max! The old addage that you should have a ongoing balance is BAD BAD BAD.

SO, if you want to repair your credit and have none or bad credit.. Get a capital one platinum with a $200 credit limit. Go get a tank of gas.. Then PAY IT OFF BEFORE THE STATEMENT DATE ONLINE! a month or so, charge a hamburger.. PAY IT OFF.. Your score can go up as much as 25 points just doing this.

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avatar JasonB

Capital One has hurt my credit score in another way.
I didn’t know about Capital One’s reputation and got a card from them nearly two years ago. I never expected that the limit on the card would start at $300! This limit is 1/10th of my lowest limit on any other card.
My credit score took a dive and when I looked at the explanation, it stated that it was because I had “cards with low credit limits.” And this is not connected to the ratio of used credit. I do not carry balances on any cards. Since I have a card with a low limit, “it looks like creditors are hesitant to trust you with higher credit limits.”
I talked to a rep a Cap One about it and she said that their cards were for people trying to build their credit and that their customers were happy to have the lower limits.

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avatar Richard

That is funny to think about. I am not happy with the low limit I have with them. I have had the same limit for 2 years. No lates, never over the limit, or anything at all negative with the card. I basically don’t use the card. I have other cards with higher limits which are younger than Capone. I used to have 2 cards with them. The other I closed after asking after the second year that they waive the annual fee. They said no, I said go. Now I have 2 cards with them, because they bought HSBC.

They hurt your credit score as much as they can. Since they are about the only company that gives credit to people with damaged or new history, they have designed their policies to insure that you are trapped with them. Their low limits keep your score low. When I got a card over $2500, my score instantly jumped by about 50 points. They suggest you reapply for another card and this also traps you to them and keeps your score low. They suggest that if you apply for another card you might get a higher limit or a better card. The reality is that they just want you to have another card with a fee and a low score, so that you are trapped at a lower score longer.

A low limit means higher utilization rate and a lower score. Multiple inquiries means lower score. Low limits also mean a low score by itself regardless of utilization. Now their policies only allow you to have 2 cards, and while this does build your score, it is not as good as having 4. There is a reason they now only allow 2 cards. I think it is because of legal action that resulted in them paying another huge sum of money for wrong doing. They used to let you have many cards so that you were paying them many fees. If you went over or were late, then you were likely to do so on the other cards; more fees. If this happened, then you would have a hard time getting approved for other cards; hence stuck with them.

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avatar Jeff van Welij

A low limit has NOTHING to do with your FICO score. It’s all about your utilization, and that can be manipulated using any given limit. I have a card with CapOne that only has a $1000 limit, yet as long as I only use $100 or less my util never goes above 10%.

You can get credit scores into the 800 ranges with a credit limit of only (perhaps) about $500 as a maximum. This is highly unlikely, of course, but theoretically it can happen. Limits, income, price of your car, etc, have no effect on your FICO score whatsoever.

Capital One is not the best lender (by far), and I hardly use their cards anymore, but they do not hurt your score. Improper usage of your credit cards CAN hurt your score. Learn how to pay in full and Capital One will actually aid your score simply by reporting a low (if not 0%) utilization and a longer AAoA.

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avatar Davidb

Are there any cards out there for poor folks trying to re-establish credit that will not force them into poverty or suicide?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,435 (Platinum)

You might want to look at these secured credit cards or these credit cards for bad credit. There are fees, but that’s the price of rebuilding your credit with a credit card.

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avatar haznospacebar

No offense intended because I understand how complicated the system can seem, but does anybody actually look at their credit report before adding to the rabble of an incorrect article? My Capital One cc is reporting the proper credit limit on both TransUnion and Experian. I haven’t checked Equifax since adding the card, and won’t for another three months or so, but I have a feeling it’s going to be the exact same with them.

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avatar bigjeff5

No offense intended because I understand how difficult reading things carefully and doing a little bit of investigation can be, but does anybody actually try to find out how old an article is before insulting all of the commenters on said article?

1.) This article is from 2006. I don’t know when you posted this, but judging by content of the other comments it definitely sounds like you came very late to the party, possibly even after it was updated in 2012. It’s entirely possible that Capitol One changed their policy between then and when you posted this. Or they may only do it for certain cards. Or they may still do it for their older customers and not their newer customers.

2.) This wasn’t spelled out for you in the article, but if you’ve ever maxed out your card Capitol One is going to post the correct limit. This is the natural consequence of posting your highest usage instead of your limit. Thus, it’s entirely plausible that Capitol One is reporting your limit correctly while not reporting other people’s correctly.

The gist of my point is, there are lots of ways you can be wrong here, so it’s pretty foolish to assume everyone who posted before you is stupid and even more foolish to insult them for it. Just taking standard odds here it’s not likely that you’re the smartest person on the forum, and that’s not me being insulting, it’s just statistics. Especially since a number of them clearly state that they looked at their credit reports. That’s a huge clue that you might be wrong.

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avatar SUSANN

horrible card ive had 2 cards for 2yrs and in march one of my cards just fell off my credit report totally vanished it made my credit score dive 57 points ive been fighting with capitolone to put it backon since and they keep telling me 90 days then my other card they stopped reporting my balances and payments to the 3 credit companies as of February what the HELL how do you fix this???

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avatar Capital One Sucks

Capital One is a bunch of liars. They offer no annual fee cards then lo and behold start charging an annual fee. When I called and asked why they said they offered road side assistance. When I said I had AAA already I was asked “is it free?” No it isnt, and neither is yours at $40/year annual fee. I ended up closing my card because of it, and then was refunded the fee AFTER closing. Ridiculous policy to say no fee then charge one. Now capital one has purchased HSBC, and I have a card with them. So now I am going to have to cancel yet another card, and take another hit on my credit because I know for sure they are a terrible company. Rot in hades, capital one.

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avatar Richard

Maybe this was true when the article was written, but not anymore. My score has risen 80 points since I have had my Capital One card. It is my only credit card.

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avatar Richard

I am not saying your score won’t rise. I am saying that it will not rise as much. An inquiry hurts your score. When they inquire at all three bureaus, all three bureaus take a hit. This lowers your score on all three cards. When they tell you to apply again instead of giving you a credit limit increase, then once again on all three bureaus your score will take a hit.

Giving low limits and no credit limit increases also mean that your score does not benefit as much. When you get a card at or above $2000 then you get a better increase in your score from that alone. If you pull your report and one of the comments is that your score is low because you have low limits then you can understand this more. It usually says along with that comment that low limits on your cards show that lenders don’t trust you with high limits. basically this means that you have not done something to prove to your credit card companies that you deserve high limits.

Utilization is the amount of credit that you use in compared to your limit. Even if on one card your utilization is high it does not give you good reporting. It is not recommended to use more than 40% of your credit limit. When you do the reporting to the credit bureaus starts decrease until it becomes negative.

There are other factors which do improve your score, this is why you score has increased. However, the other factors can actually cause a hit at the same time. If you have on time payments for many years, this is reporting positive score increases. The length of time your account has been opened will also cause an increase. Inquiries, cause a decrease. Utilization, if too high, will cause a decrease. Their policies were designed so that you take as many hits, regardless of the other increases in your score, so that you have no choice but to get multiple cards.

I did much research on FICO scores to understand this. I tracked my score over time. I watched what happened when my utilization increased and decreased. I paid my card off before the statement due date at times and at others after. I saw what happened. I read about what happens in all of the instances.

I used my Capital One card for 5 times it’s limit one month alone during November, to attempt to get them to increase my limit. I used it, paid it, used it, paid it, used it, paid, used, paid, used, paid. After two years, I had used my cards with them for about 20 times it’s limits and got no increase. I had done the smart thing and gotten cards with higher limits to insure that I did not need to keep making so many payments each month to properly reflect my spending habits.

I have cards which have increased the limits at much better intervals. In fact, other than the increases that I got from the Executive Office at their company, I have never gotten an automatic increase. I closed one of my cards with them at the two year mark because of this issue. (This was before I knew I could get increases by speaking with the Executive Office.) I now have 3 cards with them. One was converted from HSBC, the new account is a Signature Visa.

I did see an increase in my score when I got my first limit over $2000. I did see my score increase when my utilization was low. I did see a decrease as I took inquiries to get my new cards. I have seen my score decrease as my average age of accounts decreased. If you apply for a new account with them as they suggest, then this would happen, keeping your score low. They didn’t mind giving you many low limits with annual fees, since they want that income. They don’t mind keeping your score low, so that you must do exactly that. I will admit they have changed recently. One reason for doing so is that they were sued for their policies of giving many cards with low limits. I actually can’t find a law suit they have won over their policies. They are the most complained about bank for credit cards with government agencies. More than double the complaints of the leading card issuer.

Yes, your score does rise from having a card with them, but is it really the best score you could have. The answer to that is, NO. Maybe with their new policies it will help some. It is only partial changes, so many will still find it hard to get what they deserve. My card is full of much better cards after realizing these things and what to do about it. My score has increased much faster and more lenders are willing to give me cards from what I have learned! They pushed me to do this, I would have simply have been happy with one credit card with a $5000 limit. Cutting the strings from them has been liberating. I now have an Amex, a Discover, and a Chase card, to name just a few. They could have had all my business, but no, they would not work with me to get what I wanted and now I have more than 10 times what I wanted. I have set myself up for a very good future with credit, with some of the best cards available! I wouldn’t have even thought about doing this, if they had simply honored my request for a $5000 limit.

This year I got instant approval from my bank for a credit card and an instant upgrade to the Signature Visa version by cutting those strings. I got a GE backed PayPal MC this year with a $1500 limit, which now has a limit of $7500. These are companies which want to be my partners, not trap me with low limits, policies which keep my score lower than it should be, and much better customer service. They pushed me to search out the truest information and I used that information for my benefit.

Capital One is good for three types of people; damaged credit history, short credit history, and great credit history. If you have average credit then there are much better cards out there. Do they have the best cards out there, no. They do have great advertising though. The largest portion of their business is with people with damaged credit history, so they offer good rewards on those cards to attract people of this nature to them. If you have the option of getting a card with no rewards and you have damaged credit history or a card with rewards, which are you going to choose. Same is true with people with with short history, they are more likely to chose the rewards over a card without rewards.

They are a great card for people with short or damaged credit history. When you have the ability to get a better card, you should. If you have an annual fee on the card and your credit is better, push them to remove the fee. I got mine removed through their executive office and got two credit limit increases that way on one card and one increase on the other card this way. It was the only way to get it done. Now it is still hit or miss, they still seem to find ways to deny increases. Be happy you score has increased, but is it the best increase?

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