6 Tips for increasing your Capital One credit card approval odds

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Capital One is known for having several excellent cash back rewards credit cards if you’re interested in earning simple rewards these are great cards to have:

  • Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card – $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card – No annual fee
  • Capital One Spark Cash for Business – Up to $2,000 back: $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first three months and earn $1,500 when you spend $50,000 on purchases in the first six months of your account opening
  • Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business – No annual fee
  • Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card – No annual fee & one-time $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card – Great option if you have less than perfect credit

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards and Capital One Spark Cash Select card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

And just recently, Capital One added airline transfer partners for these cards:

  • Capital One Spark Miles for Business – Up to 200,000 bonus miles: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first three months and earn 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 on purchases in the first six months of your account opening
  • Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business – No annual fee
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card – No annual fee

The addition of Capital One transfer partners is great, because now with these cards you’ll have the option of booking an award flight or just redeeming your Capital One miles to erase a travel expense. Having that flexibility is nice.

But all of these bonus offers mean nothing if you can’t get approved for the card. I have found that getting approved for a Capital One card isn’t always easy (even though I have excellent credit). There are a few simple steps you can take to improve your odds.

Once you’re approved for your new Capital One card, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send you all the tips & tricks you need to make the most of your rewards.

Nothing is guaranteed to work, but you can increase the odds of your Capital One credit card application getting approved — and get traveling faster. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Increase your Capital One credit card approval odds

Everyone’s situation is different — there is nothing you can do to ensure 100% success. But, at the very least, you can know ahead of time which card makes the most sense for you to apply for. It helps to know what do if you are denied because an initial denial isn’t always the end of the road.

I’ve been denied for several credit cards only to be approved after calling the bank’s reconsideration line (more on how to do that below).

Know what’s on your credit report and know your credit score

To be approved for the best Capital One credit cards, you’ll want a credit score of 700 or higher (750+ is preferable). That’s not to say you can’t be approved with a lower score, it’s just not as common for that to happen.

Note: Capital One does have specific credit cards that are geared toward folks with less than perfect credit, like the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. These cards can be a great way to start improving your credit and sometimes even earning rewards at the same time.

Also, when Capital One checks your credit they pull from all three major credit bureaus (most banks pull from one or two). Be sure to review all of your credit reports before submitting your application. That way you can be sure there aren’t any errors that will hurt your approval odds.

Last year I reviewed my wife’s credit report and saw a student loan account that was incorrectly listed as open. We had paid it off a few years ago so I submitted a dispute and in a few weeks it was removed. This account was only incorrectly showing up on one of her credit reports, not all three, which is how I knew it was an error.

While this error didn’t negatively affect her credit score, it could have if the account had incorrectly showed up as in default. So it’s important to check your TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian reports regularly. By law you can view your credit reports every 12 months for free.

Apply for the right credit card for your situation

There is no credit card that is perfect for everybody.

If you’ve got good credit (no recent bankruptcies or late payments, 700+ credit score, etc.) the Capital One Venture card makes sense for the most people. But again, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards card is perfect if you’ve had a few hiccups and are working toward improving your credit.

Along the same lines, you might be able to get approved for a business card and not even realize it. Small business credit cards aren’t just for full-time business owners. My wife is a freelance artist and qualifies for small business cards as a result. When she fills out an application (okay, I do it for her, she hates dealing with financial stuff) she uses her name as her business name and her social security number for her business tax ID.

Being a freelance dog walker could be enough to qualify you for a small business card. (Photo by hedgehog94/Shutterstock)

If you’re a freelancer of any sort (i.e. you earn 1099 income not W-2 income) it’s likely you could qualify for a small business card. That includes people who drive for Uber or Lyft and anyone who works for a petting sitting service, like Rover. Now more than ever before, it’s easy to be a freelancer.

Before you apply for a card, have a plan for meeting the minimum spending requirement and make sure it’s a realistic plan for you that doesn’t require you to spend more than you would have, otherwise you could end up missing out on the intro bonus or putting an unnecessary hurt on your budget.

Use your current Capital One card

I’ve had a Capital One Platinum Credit Card for more than 11 years, but I rarely use it. This came back to bite me last year when my credit card application was denied. One of the reasons listed was something along the lines of not using my current Capital One card enough. Meghan had a sort of similar experience, except the reason she was denied was for having “too few or no revolving accounts have a balance” with any bank.

There is a simple work around for these issues – use your Capital One card in the months leading up to your application. I use the same strategy before making a Barclays credit card application.

If you want to avoid getting the same reason for rejection as Meghan, you should be able to have a card balance show up on your credit report and not pay any interest on that balance at the same time. As long as you don’t pay off your credit card bill before the statement closing date that balance should show up on your credit report that month. And you can still pay it off before the due date so you don’t get hit with interest.

I’ve never gone to this length to get an approval and I doubt you’ll need to either. But if it’s something you want to try, just remember that a big chunk of how your credit score is calculated is based on what’s known as your “credit utilization ratio,” which is a percentage based on how much of your available credit you’re using. And if you’ve got a bunch of big balances sitting on your credit card accounts it might knock your score down a bit. So it’s a balancing act. Personally, I would almost always recommend erring on the side of having a higher credit score.

Ease up on applications for other credit cards

The other big reason I was denied for my past Capital One card application was for having too many recent credit card applications or accounts. What can I say? Guilty as charged.

I typically open three to five cards per year. Other than slowing down on card applications with other banks, which makes sense for lots of people, you could get around this by opening small business cards from certain banks. Again you would have to qualify for small business cards, but as I already explained that is easier than most people think.

The reason small business cards are a work around is because most banks don’t report business credit cards to your personal credit report. I’ve opened business cards with these banks and they haven’t appeared on any of my personal credit reports:

  • Chase
  • Barclays
  • American Express
  • Bank of America

Note: If you’ve applied for a business card with Discover, TD Bank, or Capital One, the card account will show up on your personal credit report.

Also, Capital One has been known to deny applications for personal cards if you already have two or more credit cards with the bank. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you’ve already got two personal Capital One cards you’re much less likely to be approved for a new one.

Note: Capital One is known to automatically decline folks if they have more than two personal cards with the bank.

Be sure you don’t have a freeze on your Equifax report

As Capital One pulls from all three main credit bureaus when they process your application, having a freeze on your credit will be a detriment to your application. I know some folks place a security freeze on their credit reports to prevent identity theft, but readers tell me you will not get approved if you have a freeze on your Equifax report. It’s a good idea to remove the freeze before applying.

Call if you’re denied or not instantly approved

If you get a denial, it can’t hurt your Capital One approval odds to contact application services at 800-625-7866. I’ve done this in past with other banks when my application was pending and had success answering just a few questions and getting the application approved.

Personally, I haven’t had success getting Capital One to reverse a denial, but then again, I’ve only tried once. So it’s a small sample size. If you’ve had success or failure in getting Capital One to change their decision on a card application let me know in the comments.

If you’re applying for a business card be prepared with documentation which could include proof of address, invoices, or tax returns. For more tips on how to handle a bank credit card reconsideration call, read our post on credit card reconsideration.

Have you had trouble (or success) in getting approved for a Capital One credit card? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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