Capital One Platinum card review: A good starter card for beginners or those with fair credit

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Review: Is the Capital One Platinum the best credit card for you?

Whether you’re a student with a limited credit history or someone who’s bouncing back after some financial hiccups, getting approved for a credit card can be challenging. Fortunately, there are cards specifically geared toward those with average or “fair” credit — defined by FICO as a score in the 580–669 range.

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card falls under this umbrella, and it’s worth a look if you’re new to credit. Unlike some starter credit cards, the Capital One Platinum Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee or add foreign transaction fees — and it’s an unsecured card, so you don’t have to put down a cash deposit as collateral.

Read more: The best starter credit cards in 2021

However, if you’re looking to earn points, miles, or cash back, you’re out of luck — there’s no sign-up bonus and you won’t earn rewards for your spending. That might not matter to you if you’re just starting out and are focused on building your credit history, but if you’ve already established a decent financial track record, you may want to look at more rewarding credit cards instead.

That said, if your aim is to improve your credit score, the Capital One Platinum Credit Card does offer a useful feature. After six months, you’ll automatically be considered for a credit line increase, which can potentially help boost your credit score by increasing the amount of credit available to you.

Capital One issues other cards that only require a fair credit score but do earn rewards — for example, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One offers 1% back (or 1.25% back when you pay on time). 

If your credit score still needs some work to get into the “fair” range, there are still cards you might qualify for. Check out our guide to the best credit cards for bad credit, which includes secured credit card options.

Comparison: Capital One Platinum card vs other Capital One cards for fair credit

*** Exclusions apply

Capital One Platinum vs other starter credit cards

Benefits and features

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card doesn’t earn rewards, and as a no-annual-fee starter card it’s pretty lean on benefits. However, it does offer a few features that are helpful for building credit and keeping an eye on your finances.

Automatic credit line reviews

After six months of on-time payments, Capital One will automatically consider you for a credit line increase. Getting a higher credit limit, combined with not carrying a balance, can improve your overall credit utilization ratio and potentially increase your credit score. 

Capital One CreditWise

Capital One CreditWise is a free program that offers credit and identity theft monitoring. It’s available to everyone — you don’t need the Capital One Platinum Credit Card to enroll — but it’s a handy feature, especially if you want to keep a close eye on changes to your credit score.

Read more: Identity theft is a major problem, but these 5 credit card protection programs can help keep you safe

Security features

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card, like many other credit cards, comes with security features that can help protect you against fraud:

  • $0 fraud liability: If your card is lost or stolen, you won’t be responsible for any unauthorized charges
  • Card lock: Even if you’ve just misplaced your card (or if it’s lost or stolen), you can lock your card to prevent it being used — and easily unlock it if you find your card again
  • Security alerts: Capital One will flag potentially suspicious activity on your account and, if you’ve added your phone number to your account, immediately alert you

Fees and costs

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, so you can keep it for the long term without worrying about a yearly cost (and potentially improve your credit score by increasing the average age of your accounts). 

It’s also a solid choice to bring with you if you’re traveling abroad, because it doesn’t add foreign transaction fees to international purchases. On other cards, these fees can be 3% or more, so if you’re out of the country it’s important to pack a card that doesn’t charge them.

Read more: The best credit cards without foreign transaction fees

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is not a good choice if you need to carry a balance from month to month because it charges a very high 26.99% Variable APR. Paying off your balance in full each month is key to building your credit score (and saving money on interest), but if you need to make a large purchase and pay it off over time, a low-interest or 0% APR credit card would be a better bet.

And, like most other cards, the Capital One Platinum Credit Card charges fees for balance transfers, cash advances, and late payments.

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