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Capital One vs. Credit One: Which Is Better for Your Credit?

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Capital One and Credit One® are both financial companies providing a selection of credit cards to consumers.

Capital One is one of the top 10 largest banks in America, based on deposits, and offers loans, bank accounts and investment products. Meanwhile, Credit One only issues credit cards. You’ll notice that besides a similar name, Capital One and Credit One have eerily similar logos, which often creates confusion among credit card applicants.

Capital One cards are backed by either the Mastercard or Visa network, while all Credit One cards are backed by Visa. Both Visa and Mastercard networks have worldwide acceptance.

How Capital One and Credit One Differ

Credit One does not have branches — in some states, Capital One does. Credit One is an online-only company, meaning there are no locations to visit. Capital One has branches in Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Credit One specializes in products for people with bad credit. Credit One may approve applicants with bad credit for unsecured cards while Capital One may only approve people with bad credit for a secured card. Credit One approves risky applicants — people more likely to miss payments and, as a result, assesses a lot of fees to these customers. Capital One takes a different approach by starting bad credit customers with a secured card, meaning they have to put down a deposit before using the credit card.

Terms and conditions. Capital One has straightforward terms and conditions for its credit cards that are clearly stated in the cardholder agreement prior to approval. Credit One has more complicated terms with numerous fees and conditions that vary based on your creditworthiness. With Credit One, you will often not know your terms until after you’re approved; however, you can check if you prequalify and review your terms before accepting an offer.

Which cards does each issuer carry?

Capital One and Credit One both provide multiple credit cards that offer varying benefits for consumers. We organized our recommendations based upon how you plan on using the card. Note: Each issuer may have multiple cards in the following categories; we listed our top picks.

Capital One vs. Credit One credit cards
Category Capital One Credit One
New to credit/rebuilding credit Secured Mastercard® from Capital One Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
Cash back Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards
Intro 0% APR options Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card N/A
Student Journey Student Rewards from Capital One N/A
Small business Capital One Spark Cash for Business N/A
Travel Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card N/A
Cards for building or rebuilding credit

The Secured Mastercard® from Capital One allows you to monitor your credit score via the credit management tool CreditWise®, which is helpful when rebuilding your credit. This is the only card from Capital One that you may qualify for with a bad credit score, and that’s because this card requires a security deposit that acts as collateral in case you don’t pay your bill.

That deposit also sets your line of credit (a $200 deposit equals a $200 credit limit). You may be able to qualify for a lower deposit amount ($49 or $99) based on your credit standing, and if you make your first five monthly payments on time, you may be able to access a higher credit limit without making an additional deposit.

To upgrade from a secured card to an unsecured card at Capital One, you will have to apply for a new credit card and close the secured credit card to get your deposit back. There is no automatic review process offered.

On the other hand, Credit One offers several cards for people with bad credit, including the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit. This is an unsecured card that doesn’t require a security deposit.

Credit One also offers free credit-tracking tools to help monitor your credit score. Similar to all Credit One cards, this card comes with an annual fee ranging from $0-$99, an APR of 17.99% to 23.99% variable, and the possibility of rewards — what you get depends on your credit profile. As your credit score improves, you may qualify for a lower annual fee, but there are no guarantees.

Cards with cash back rewards

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is for those with fair/limited credit, and the Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards is for those with bad/poor credit.

Capital One offers a reasonable 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day, which is better than Credit One’s cashback rewards program: Earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services. Terms apply. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has an annual fee of $39, and Credit One cards have an annual fee of $0-$99 (you won’t know your annual fee until you’re approved).

It’s important to note that the Credit One cash back rewards you receive depend on your creditworthiness. If you have average credit, Capital One is a better choice for a cash back card, but if you have bad credit, you may consider Credit One or the Discover it® Secured Credit Card. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Cards with introductory 0% APR offers

Only select Capital One credit cards offer an intro 0% APR period.

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a 0% intro on purchases for 15 months, after, a 15.49% - 25.49% (variable) APR will apply.

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers a 0% intro on purchases for 12 months, after, a 15.49% - 25.49% (variable) APR will apply.

However, you need excellent/good credit to qualify for these cards. They can be helpful if you plan on financing a large purchase.

Cards for students

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One offers 1% cash back on all purchases; 0.25% cash back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time.

If you are a student and have average/fair/limited credit, you may qualify for this card. There is a $0 annual fee and, coupled with responsible credit behavior like on-time payments and low credit card balances, this card can help students build credit. Students are also able to monitor their credit score using CreditWise®, which encourages good credit behavior by allowing cardholders to track their credit score.

Small business cards

Applicants with average or higher credit may qualify for a small business card from Capital One. You can earn up to 2% or 2 points per dollar spent with one of Capital One’s business credit cards. Business owners can also benefit from free business cards, auto rental damage waivers, purchase protection, extended warranty protection, and more.

Beware, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business has a $0 intro for first year; $95 after that, but if you spend $4,750 a year, you will earn enough cash back to pay it off after that first year.

All of the business cards require excellent/good credit, except for the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business which has lower requirements of fair/limited credit.

Cards with travel rewards

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day with a $0 annual fee and no blackout dates. There is also a good intro bonus for this card — earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel. There is a foreign transaction fee of none for this card, which is great when making purchases abroad.

This card offers Visa Signature benefits with essential perks for travelers, including: 24/7 Visa Signature concierge, travel upgrades and savings, auto rental collision damage waiver, shopping discounts, and an extended warranty.

This is a good travel rewards card for those with excellent/good credit scores. If you want a higher rewards rate, and don’t mind an annual fee of $95, then the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a good alternative with an earnings rate of 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.

How to apply

Both Capital One and Credit One offer convenient online applications that you can complete in minutes. When you apply, you will be asked for your Social Security Number and key financial information, including your annual income and monthly rent or mortgage payment.

Questions to consider about Capital One and Credit One

Can you prequalify without hurting your score?

Both Capital One and Credit One allow you to prequalify for their credit cards. They perform a soft pull on your credit that does not hurt your score. This is a great way to see if you may qualify for a credit card without the hard credit inquiry and damage to your score. Take advantage of this feature to compare offers.

Who has the better customer service reputation?

Capital One offers 24/7 customer service by phone, as well as email responses in one to two business days. There is no online chat feature available. Capital One representatives are knowledgeable about their products and provide detailed answers.

Credit One has automated customer service available by phone 24/7, but that only covers account information and lost or stolen card services. The automated phone system has few options to direct you to a representative. Other customer service lines are staffed at various times, generally during business hours and daytime on the weekends.

As is the case with many (if not most) banks, both Capital One and Credit One are the subject of many complaints in consumer forums. In terms of customer service availability, Capital One beats out Credit One. In general, it helps that Capital One’s card terms and payment options are clearer than Credit One’s.

What happens if you make a late payment?

If you make a late payment with either company, you will be charged a late payment fee of up to $39. In addition to a fee, interest will accrue on your unpaid balance.

When does the annual fee get charged?

For Capital One cards that have an annual fee, you will be charged the fee when you activate your card or after your first transaction, whichever comes first. Or, in the case of a waived annual fee the first year, you’ll be charged the fee on your first anniversary date. Many Capital One cards with annual fees waive the fee the first year.

The annual fee for Credit One either is billed monthly or yearly. For the first year, the annual fee will be billed to your account when it is opened and will reduce the amount of your initial available credit.

For example, if your account is established with a credit line of $300 and your first year annual fee is $95, your initial available credit will be $205. In subsequent years, the annual fee will either be divided into 12 equal portions and one portion will be billed each month of the applicable year or the annual fee will be billed annually.

Does it matter whether you choose Capital One or Credit One?

It’s important to consider a range of factors when you apply for a credit card. Not every credit card offers the same benefits or is a right fit for every consumer.

Capital One has a wider product range than Credit One. Both Credit One and Capital One offer cards for building credit and earning cash back rewards. However, with Capital One you can choose from 0% intro periods for purchases and/or balance transfers, travel, student and business cards — all cards that Credit One does not offer. Capital One also has multiple cards in each category, providing a wider selection of cards that suit more consumers. If you’re someone that wants a specialized card, Capital One will provide you with more diverse options.

Depending on your credit score you may lean more toward one company. If you have an excellent credit score, Capital One has superior credit cards with great benefits. However, if you have bad credit and need to start with an unsecured card, Credit One offers cards that you’ll have an easier time being approved for and have the chance to earn rewards. Keep in mind that Credit One doesn’t provide you with your official terms until you’re approved. If you’re OK with this and plan on practicing responsible credit behavior and being cautious about the numerous fees, this card may be a good option.

It’s important to have an understanding of common credit card terms prior to applying for a credit card so you’re aware of what the terms and conditions of your card mean.

Can you hold more than one card?

Capital One: Yes, you can have more than one card. There is no minimum amount of time you have to wait before applying for your second card. However, if you’ve been rejected in the past six months or have another application pending, you will not qualify for an additional card. In addition, if you apply for an additional card that requires excellent credit, you will not be eligible if you have five Capital One credit cards, and if you apply for a card requiring average credit, you won’t be eligible if you have two Capital One cards.

Credit One: Yes, you can have a maximum of two cards, according to the issuer. There is no minimum amount of time you must wait before applying for a second card.

What online or mobile account options are there?

Capital One vs. Credit One online or mobile account options
Capital One Credit One
  • Mobile app
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Text alerts
  • CreditWise®: Offers a free monthly VantageScore® 3.0 (also has a stand-alone app)
  • Capital One WalletSM: A mobile app that helps you organize your purchases in real time, with the ability to capture receipts, lock your card if you lose it, and digitize gift cards
  • Mobile App
  • Text alerts
  • Free online credit tracking
  • Credit Protection: waives the minimum payment due for up to six payments if you become unemployed. This is optional and has an additional monthly fee (96 cents per $100 of your balance)

Are there any card options for people with bad or fair credit?

Both Capital One and Credit One offer options for people with bad or fair credit.

Capital One offers three cards:

  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card (average/fair/limited credit)
  • Secured Mastercard® from Capital One (limited/bad/poor credit)
  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One (average/fair/limited credit)

Credit One offers three cards:

  • Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards (bad/poor credit)
  • Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit (bad/poor credit)
  • Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards (fair credit)

If you have bad or fair credit, you may have a better chance qualifying for these cards compared to others. Remember, both issuers allow you to check if you’re prequalified.