3 things that helped me qualify for a Capital One card with a $20,000 credit limit my first year of college

Getting a credit card in college is very achievable if you take some steps ahead of time.

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Getting a credit card in college is very achievable if you take some steps ahead of time.
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  • I was pre-approved for a Capital One Platinum Credit Card with a $20,000 credit limit right when I started college. While many of my friends also got approved for cards, they had much lower credit limits.
  • Establishing good financial habits, opening a secured credit card, and working during high school helped my credit score and made me an ideal candidate for this card.
  • These steps will put you in a solid position to open up more premium rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, down the line.

In my first month of college, I received a pre-approved offer from Capital One for a Platinum Credit Card with a $20,000 credit limit. Though many of my peers had credit cards, most were restricted to a limit under $5,000.

In hindsight, there were a few simple things that helped me establish credit and become an ideal candidate for my first rewards card and a high credit line.

I learned simple banking practices early on

I’ve always been motivated to pursue independence in whatever way I could. I started at age 16 by signing up for a teen checking account at what was then Wachovia Bank. Having access to my own money motivated me to work as many odd jobs as I could.

Eventually, at age 17, I could help my parents with my car payment. For about a year, I wrote them a check for $250 each month and got in the habit of balancing my check register the “old-school” way.

Having some savings taught me how to have money, but not spend it – an essential skill for having a credit card. Especially with the $20,000 credit limit I have on my Capital One Platinum card, having the discipline to only spend what I can afford and paying off the balance in full each month is essential.

I signed up for a secured credit card

After I developed basic banking habits and built up a small savings, I was ready to apply for a secured credit card with a $500 credit limit. To this day I have never missed a single payment on any of my credit cards, all because I got into the practice early. This has been key in building a solid credit score.

I finished high school classes early and started working

Though I didn’t know what opportunities it would afford me, I worked hard to complete my required high school credits before it was actually time to graduate. Doing so allowed me to attend school part-time as a senior, and I used my spare time to work on days my peers were in school.

Finally, in September of my senior year of high school, I turned 18. I was able to convince a local urgent health care center to hire me, mainly because my mother worked there as a nurse. I made $15.50 an hour as an 18-year-old, and I was able to work enough hours to earn time and a half.

By the time I went to college, my 100% payment history, combined with a higher-than-average income for my age, led to the surprise I received in the mail. I accepted the offer graciously, and I still use my Capital One Platinum card today.

Use your networks and opportunities wisely

I was lucky to have many advantages like an early-fall birthday, good parents, and the ability to work at a well-paying job while going to school part-time my senior year. But most importantly, I used my circumstances to my advantage.

Building up a good credit history, earning higher-than-average income for my age, and learning the basics of managing my money were crucial for making the most of my circumstances and getting an early start on building credit.

Plus, all these things put me in a great position to continue improving my credit score and potentially opening more lucrative rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card down the line if I want to.

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