Capital One Classic Credit Card Review: The Credit-Builder Card for You?

Capital One Classic Credit Card Review: The Credit-Builder Card for You?

The Capital One Classic card is a simple but reliable option for those trying to improve their credit history

Good for

  • Checking eligibility before you apply
  • Those with past CCJs or defaults
  • Receiving free text/email alerts and a mobile app

Bad for

  • Those with no UK credit history
  • Those looking for a low interest rate
  • Carrying a balance from month to month

Editor's Rating


The Classic credit card is Capital One’s most popular UK card, open to those trying to improve their credit rating. This credit-builder card is a solid offering from a solid company. Applicants can use the QuickCheck tool to perform a soft credit check (which won’t leave a mark on you credit record for other lenders to see) and tell you if you’ll be approved before you apply. The Classic is open to those with CCJs or defaults in the past.

Capital One Classic Credit Card Review

The Capital One Classic credit card is a solid, all-around credit-builder card, due to the pre-application eligibility check plus the mobile app and text/email alerts to help you manage your finances—staying on top of payment due dates and under the credit limit are key factors for someone rebuilding their credit history.

The Classic is a basic card, without any rewards or perks, aimed at providing credit to those with marks on their credit history. Once you have the card, paying on time and staying within your credit limit should improve your credit history. It can take months to see an improvement in your credit rating, so a bit of patience is required, too!

Capital One Card Credit Acceptance: As a credit-builder card, Capital One will consider you even with an imperfect credit history. A number of stipulations on their website indicate who is more or less likely to be accepted. Capital One is...

More likely to accept you if you...Not likely to accept you if you...
Are at least 18Haven’t had credit in the UK before
Have shown a history of managing credit (even with CCJs or defaults in the past)Have declared bankruptcy in the past 12 months
Are on the electoral roll at your current address

Bottom Line: The Capital One Classic card is a really good option for those with a spotty credit history who need a credit card. The QuickCheck eligibility checker is a great feature to know if you'll be approved before you apply, plus the mobile app and alerts help you stay on top of your account.

Capital One Classic Benefits & Features

Capital One Classic Credit Card Features
Credit Limit£200 to £1,500
Credit Limit IncreasesCardholders may be eligible for up to two credit limit increases a year
Free Mobile AppHighly rated in the App Store
Text/Email AlertsTo help you stay on top of your account
Eligibility CheckerTo see your odds of being accepted
Annual Fee£0
APR34.9% variable APR on purchases, cash withdrawals, balance transfers and money transfers

Pre-eligibility check: Checking your odds of acceptance before you submit an application is important because applying and getting denied can be damaging to your credit rating. Technically speaking, other lenders won’t see if you’ve been denied, but they will see the hard credit search. And too many hard credit searches can be a red flag to potential lenders.

Those with poor credit are wise to avoid repeated hard searches resulting from multiple application denials. (It’s fine to have a hard search IF you are accepted and get your credit card.) Capital One stand by their QuickCheck answer, unless certain information pops up in fraud prevention databases or they can’t verify your identity. Being registered on the electoral roll will really help with the id verification process.

Mobile App: Capital One's free mobile app for iPhone or Android can keep you on top of your account. Using a 6-digit passcode to log in, you're able to:

  • View your current balance
  • Check your credit limit (and how much you have left to spend)
  • View latest transactions
  • Check payment information (e.g., when and how much to pay next)
  • Make a payment to your Capital One card

Text/Email Alerts: Capital One will set you up with free SMS/text or email alerts to let you know when your balance is near your credit limit, you've gone over your credit limit or payment details, such as when your Direct Debit will be taken, when a payment is due or if you've missed a payment.

Capital One Classic Credit Card Monthly Payments: Most people know the importance of making an on-time payment each month, in order to maintain or improve their credit rating. There's another very important consideration to keep in mind when it comes to your monthly payments—the size of your payment. Will you pay the minimum amount only, or more?

By paying only the minimum payment, you are extending the time to be debt free and increasing the amount of interest charges you will pay in total over the life of your debt. Instead of paying the minimum amount only, paying a higher amount—really as much as you can afford—will reduce your total interest charges as you pay down the balance.

The following chart illustrates for a £1,000 outstanding credit card balance, charged at 34.9% APR, how total interest charges are reduced with higher and higher monthly payments. Note, we have calculated the minimum payment as 1% of that month's outstanding balance plus any interest charges for the month.

Chart showing How Total Interest Drops with Larger Monthly Payments
How Total Interest Drops with Larger Monthly Payments

Minimum monthly payments can be very costly in the long run, because the absolute pound value of the payment drops over time (because it is calculated as a percentage), extending the time you pay interest. You can see the repercussions of a falling minimum payment in the following chart. By paying only the minimum each month, cardholders won't pay back the debt for 20 years!

Chart showing How Time to be Debt Free Drops with Larger Monthly Payments
How Time to be Debt Free Drops with Larger Monthly Payments

How does the Capital One Classic Card Compare to Other Credit Cards?

To better understand the value of the Capital One Classic Credit Card you need to look at it in the context of other available options. We compared this card to other rewards cards so you can see which may be more suitable for you.

Capital One Classic Credit Card vs Marbles Credit Card

The Marbles Credit Card is another good credit card for those with an imperfect credit history; even those with CCJs or bankruptcy in their past will be considered. Marbles also offers a soft credit check eligibility checker that you use before you apply; the FastCheck eligibility checker lets you see your likelihood of being accepted without leaving a mark for other lenders to see. This is an invaluable feature for a credit builder, as you need to avoid multiple hard searches on your credit history. Cardholders may receive a credit limit after 4 months, which may serve to help your credit rating.

Quick Takeaway: The Marbles card and the Capital One credit card have many similarities: pre-application soft credit checks, free text alerts and a mobile app. If you're keen on using a mobile app, it's worth noting that the Capital One app is rated 4.8/5 stars in the App Store, while the Marbles app is only rated 2.1/5 stars.

Capital One Classic Credit Card vs Aqua Classic Credit Card

The Aqua Classic Credit Card is Aqua’s most popular credit card, and will consider applications from those with poor credit, including the self-employed, individuals who've had trouble with late payments in the past and those with a low income. Aqua has recently introduced a pre-application eligibility check, which we'd advise using. Initial credit limits run between £250 and £1,200. If you manage your account well (i.e., pay on time and stay under the credit limit) then your credit limit may rise (which may help your credit rating).

Quick Takeaway: The Aqua Classic is another solid credit-builder option for those with poor credit, that offers a pre-application check and free text messages.

Capital One Classic Credit Card vs Aqua Advance Credit Card

The Aqua Advance Credit Card is another of Aqua’s credit-building cards, with two different benefits. First, by staying within the credit limit and paying the minimum payment (or more) on time each month, your interest rate should drop by 5% a year for three years. Theoretically, a drop in interest rate should have a positive impact on your credit rating. Second, the Advance can be used when travelling abroad without any added charges, as it doesn't charge non-sterling transaction fees.

Quick Takeaway: With no FX fees on foreign purchases and the opportunity to lower your interest rate, the Aqua Advance can be a great option for frequent travellers who are looking to improve their credit.

Comments and Questions


The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.