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This article was last updated Nov 25, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If you’re looking to improve less-than-stellar credit, the Self Visa® Credit Card is a unique card that might help. Though it’s a secured card, it doesn’t require an additional deposit if you already have an open Credit Builder Account with Self.
Self is a financial technology company that helps people who are new to credit or who might not have access to traditional financial products by offering credit builder loans.
By offering a credit card in tandem with a credit builder loan, Self also gives customers the opportunity to get “revolving credit” — and having both can be good for your credit score because it contributes to your credit mix, a component that makes up 10% of your credit score.
We’ll examine where the Self Visa® Credit Card stands out, where it falls short, and whether or not it could be a good addition to your Credit Builder Account.
In this article:
- Where the Self Visa® Credit Card stands out
- Additional benefits
- Where the Self Visa® Credit Card falls short
- Compare it with the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
- The bottom line
Where the Self Visa® Credit Card stands out
No credit check. There’s no hard inquiry when you apply for this card, so if you’re concerned that a bad credit score or something on your credit report might prevent you from getting a card, or if applying for this card will ding your credit score further, worry not.
No additional up front deposit. Before you can apply for the Self Visa® Credit Card, you must have a a credit builder loan with Self. This type of loan designed to help you build your credit profile by paying a certain amount each month over a set period of time, with Self reporting your payment history to the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). While you’re paying, Self puts your payments into a certificate of deposit at a partner bank. Once you finish your payments, you’ll get the money you paid back, minus fees and interest.
It’s important to note that even though this is a “loan” product, it does not provide immediate access to money. The goal is to demonstrate responsible payment behavior and build your credit score.
Once you have a Credit Builder Account, you’ll need to meet the following criteria before you’re eligible for the Self Visa® Credit Card:
- Have an account in good standing.
- Reach at least $100 in your savings progress.
- Have made your last three monthly payments on time.
If you meet those criteria and you’re approved for the card, you’ll be able to choose what portion of your savings progress ($100 or more) will go toward your security deposit. That amount will be your credit limit. You can keep the credit card once you finish paying off your Credit Builder Account, but when you receive your money for paying off the account, it will be minus the amount of the security deposit. The only time you’ll get your security deposit back is if you close the credit card and your account is in good standing, with no outstanding balances or fees.
Flexible credit limit. Many secured credit cards require a minimum deposit of around $200. The fact that the Self Visa® Credit Card has a minimum deposit of $100 — and that you build up to that over the course of several monthly payments toward your Credit Builder Account — could make it easier to get a credit card if you don’t have a lot of cash immediately available.
Reports to all three credit bureaus. Self partners with Lead Bank, which is based in Kansas City, Kan. on the Self Visa® Credit Card. Lead Bank reports to Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Educational materials. Self’s website has a “How Credit Works” section, which addresses credit scores, credit reports and more. If you’re trying to learn about credit and how to build or improve yours, these materials are a good resource. (It’s worth noting you can access these guides even if you don’t have a Credit Builder Account or a Self Visa® Credit Card.)
Where the Self Visa® Credit Card falls short
Annual fee. The $25 annual fee isn’t extremely expensive, and it might be worthwhile if you’re seeking additional avenues to build up your credit score quickly. However, there are secured cards that don’t charge an annual fee, but do require a security deposit of $200 or more, such as the Discover it® Secured.
2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
Credit line will equal your security deposit of $200 or more*
No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment. No penalty APR*
- No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
- It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
- Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
- Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
- 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
- INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
- Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Secured
Can’t be used internationally. You can use the Self Visa® Credit Card anywhere in the United States that Visa is accepted, but you can’t use it outside the country.
Tied to a credit builder loan. If you already have a Self Credit Builder Account, this isn’t a downside for you. And if you’re looking for a faster way to improve your credit, it might actually be a plus. However, if you just need a credit card, it’s inconvenient that you can’t apply for the Self Visa® Credit Card without tying up extra time and money in a credit builder loan.
There’s a non-refundable administrative fee of $9 to open a Credit Builder Account. Options for monthly payments range from $25 to $150 as of the date of publishing.
Compare it with the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Like the Self Visa® Credit Card, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is a strong choice for consumers looking to rebuild from bad credit because it doesn’t require a credit check when you apply. And, like the Self Visa® Credit Card, there’s an annual fee attached to the card.
Here’s how the two compare:
|Self Visa® Credit Card||OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card|
|Regular purchase APR||23.24% variable||19.14%|
|Foreign transaction fee||N/A||3% of each Transaction in U.S. dollars|
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card has a slightly higher annual fee than the Self Visa® Credit Card. However, if you just want a credit card and don’t want to commit to a credit builder loan, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card might be the better choice.
Plus, if you think you might need to use your card outside the U.S., the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card lets you do that (though it charges a fee for each such transaction).
Free Credit Bureau Reporting
$200 - $3,000 Credit Line*
- Build Your Credit fast with our monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus.
- Choose your credit line as low as $200 up to $3000, secured by a fully-refundable* security deposit.
- Security deposit needs to be submitted before the credit card can be issued.
- No credit check necessary and no checking account required; apply in less than 5 minutes.
- Extra credit when you need it, increase your credit line up to $5000.
- Access to online financial education.
- *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.
See additional details for OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
The bottom line
The Self Visa® Credit Card is a practical option with a lot to like. It’s a secured card that doesn’t require you to come up with more than $100 up front, which removes a barrier some may face in getting a secured card. It also doesn’t require a credit check, which gives those with poor credit a second chance.
If you are willing to plan ahead, you can boost your credit score faster by having a mix of products reporting to the credit bureaus. You might also find the Self Visa® Credit Card’s lower minimum deposit appealing, as well as the fact that you cover the deposit with funds added via several monthly payments into a Credit Builder Account.
However, if you just need a credit card and aren’t interested in committing to a credit builder loan with Self for a year or two, this probably isn’t the card for you. The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is an alternative worth considering, and you can find additional recommendations in our list of best credit cards for those with bad credit.