Establish credit history and boost your credit score with the no annual fee Capital One Platinum

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It’s difficult to get approved for the best credit cards for travel without a credit score of 700+.  That’s why readers sometimes ask if there’s a good card to help build a credit history.

Besides making you eligible for better rewards cards in the future, establishing a credit history helps if you’re looking to qualify for other types of credit, like car loans and mortgages. The no annual fee Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a great fit for:

  • Anyone new to the U.S.
  • Recent graduates
  • Anyone with a credit score of ~650

This card is not ideal if you’re looking to earn rewards, like cash back or miles & points. I’ll share tips if you’re new to applying for credit cards, and a quick review of the Capital One Platinum card.

This card could be your first (and critical) step toward free travel if you have tarnished credit score. (Photo by John Crux Photography/Getty Images)

Capital One Platinum Card review

Welcome bonus

This card currently has no intro offer as an incentive to open an account. The incentive lies more in the fact that this card is easy to get for those with average credit.

Benefits and perks

Get this: You will receive zero rewards for spending on this card. Even some debit cards offer more rewards than that!

This is a true starter credit card. I’ve found data points of cardholders reporting they’ve been approved for this card with a ~580 score. They also mention their credit score increased significantly after having the card for just a couple of months! THAT is the benefit of this card — planting seeds for a lush credit journey later on. This card can be the jumpstart you need to be earning 100,000-point welcome bonuses in just a couple years.

If approved for this card, you’ll typically have a lower initial credit limit. But you get access to a higher credit line after making on time payments for the first six months. Remember, you do NOT want to use a large percentage of your credit limit. Fccording to the FICO website, 30% of your credit score is determined by your outstanding balances and credit utilization.

And of course, this card has fraud coverage to keep you worry-free if your card is lost or stolen.

The upside of establishing a relationship with Capital One using the Capital One Platinum is that you can qualify to upgrade to the bank’s other cards later. For example, you can potentially upgrade to the no annual fee Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns you unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases! Just note that you won’t earn any welcome bonus when upgrading to another card.

Who is this card for?

As the Capital One Platinum earns no rewards, you should only open this card if you lack confidence to try for a card that earns cash back or points. You might consider the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One (no longer available), which has similar approval requirements and also offers 1% cash back on all purchases — and an extra 0.25% for paying bills on time.

Also remember that Capital One pulls your credit score from all three main credit bureaus, giving you three hard inquiries on your report! This is not ideal, because hard inquiries cause your credit score to temporarily dip. Too many hard inquiries can make it harder to be approved for future credit cards and other loans.

What to consider before opening a credit card

Credit cards are a great tool to have in your wallet. But we only recommend applying for a card if you plan to use it responsibly. This means tracking your credit card balances and paying them on time and in full each month. Most cards charge high interest rates when you carry a balance, and paying credit card interest can make it difficult to get ahead financially.

The MMS team has used miles and points credit cards responsibly over the years, which helped us earn enough rewards to travel to the Maldives, Switzerland, Peru, and many other destinations around the world. But these cards typically require you to have a 700+ credit score.

Bottom line

Anyone with a limited credit history or credit score between ~630 and ~700 might consider the no annual fee Capital One Platinum Credit Card.  Even if your score is in the mid to high-500s may qualify, based on data points I’ve seen!

When you use this card responsibly, you can boost your credit score and become eligible for more rewarding miles & points credit cards.  Or you might consider the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One, which has similar approval requirements.  And you earn 1% cash back on all purchases. Remember to only open credit cards if you can afford to pay your balances in full each month. This way, you’ll avoid costly interest charges.

Let me know if you’ve had experience with the Capital One Platinum! And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card info like this delivered to your inbox once per day.

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

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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