Review of the week: Capital One Progress card

You may or may not have noticed, but the credit card market is changing. Gone are the days when one card fits all. Instead, providers are positioning their products at specific customer types.

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The leading deals – those with long interest-free periods, generous reward schemes and ultra-low standard rates of interest are only available to those with impeccable credit histories. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a credit card for you if your credit score is less than perfect.

A number of providers, including Capital One and Barclaycard, make it very clear about what type of people their various card deals suit. This is useful as it saves you wasting an application on a card you stand no chance of being accepted for – rejected credit applications can have a negative impact on your credit score which could then reduce the likelihood of you being accepted for other credit in the future.

Capital One has just launched some new cards, one of which is the Progress card which “can shrink your interest rate”. So what is it and who does it suit? We take a look.

What’s the deal?

The Progress card is a slightly quirky concept: the interest rate you initially pay is high at 34.9% but as long as you manage your account well and don’t exceed your credit limit or miss any payments it will reduce over time. After five months it drops to 29.9%, then 24.9% after 11 months and 19.9% after 17 months.

The same rate of interest applies for purchases, balance transfers and cash withdrawals, although as is the case with all credit cards, you should avoid using it to take money out of a cash machine. Interest is charged from the day the withdrawal is made – so you don’t benefit from the 56-day interest-free period you get if you use the card to spend on. You’ll also incur a 3% handling fee, with a minimum charge of £3.

Who’s it aimed at?

Capital One states that the Progress card is aimed at those with a “good credit rating”: you must be over the age of 18, on the electoral roll and be used to managing credit. You won’t be accepted if you’ve ever had any County Court Judgements issued against you or defaulted on any credit-related payments. Also, those with no previous credit history won’t get this card.

This acceptance criteria may seem a bit strange – why if you’ve got a good credit rating and have never defaulted on a credit payment, don’t you qualify for one of the leading credit card deals? Well, according to Capital One’s criteria, good isn’t quite good enough.

The key differentiator between a “good” and a “very good” credit score is time. In order to be eligible for one of Capital One’s most competitive credit card deals you need to have a “long” credit history. So if your track record only stems back a few years, you will probably not be accepted for one of the leading cards.

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Verdict

With credit card providers getting more choosy about who they’ll offer cards to, an increasing number of people with no blights on their credit history will have to accept that they may not be eligible for the most competitive deals. Instead a card such as Capital One’s Progress will be the best they can get.

You need to be realistic: the Progress card can be a good way of lifting yourself from the “good” to the “very good” and after a couple of years you may find you will be eligible for the leading products.

Top tip

Make sure you pay your balance off in full each month. This is an expensive card to borrow on even if your rate drops to 19.9%.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Products underlined can be applied for directly.

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