Unlike most secured cards, the Self Visa Credit Card lets you build up your security deposit gradually over time instead of forcing you to come up with a deposit of $200 or more all at once.
The following post has been sponsored by our partner, Self Financial, Inc. The analysis and opinions in the story are our own and may not reflect the views of Self Financial. Learn more about our editorial policy
If you’ve had a few financial stumbles and are looking for a way to rebuild your credit, signing up for a secured credit card is a solid first step. But since many of these cards offer tiny credit limits, require large upfront cash deposits or carry a ton of fees, finding a good fit is easier said than done.
Enter the Self Visa® Credit Card, a new secured card that pairs with a Self Credit Builder Account to help you build your credit without having to come up with a big security deposit all at once. With the Self Visa Credit Card, you can build into your security deposit over several months, choose your own credit limit and then raise your limit over time as you make payments into your Credit Builder Account.
Qualification is simple, and Self will let you know exactly how you’re tracking towards the card. Once you’re eligible, you’re approved.
We’ve broken down the basics of how a Self Credit Builder Account and the Self Visa Credit Card work together, how you can qualify and what you need to know to get started.
Start with a Self Credit Builder Account
Before you apply for the Self Visa Credit Card, you’ll need to open a Self Credit Builder Account. As its name implies, a credit builder account is designed in large part to help you build credit. Unlike personal loans – which offer money up front in a lump sum that you must pay back over time – credit builder loans hold your funds in an account while you make payments. This lets you prove that you can pay back what you’ve borrowed and gives you a chance to build your credit in the process.
Here’s a quick overview of how Self’s Credit Builder Accounts work:
You apply for a Self Credit Builder Account. There’s no credit check required to open a credit builder account – just a one-time, non-refundable administrative fee of $9*. If you’re approved, one of Self’s partner banks will issue you a small loan (typically between $500 and $1,700)* and hold it in a secured CD (certificate of deposit).
You make payments for 12 to 24 months*. You set your monthly repayment commitment when you apply and can see exactly how much you’ll pay in fees and interest*, along with the full amount you’ll receive at the end of your loan period. Simply make your required monthly payments until your loan is paid off.
You build credit history and add to savings. Your loan payments are reported to the national credit bureaus. Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score, so if you make them on time and in full, you’ll be building positive payment history and could see your credit score build. In the meantime, you’ll be growing your account balance with each monthly payment (minus fees and interest).
You get the full loan amount back at end. Once your loan balance reaches zero, your CD or savings account is unlocked and you get access to the full amount you borrowed, minus interest and fees.
Before you apply, Self’s online slider tool lets you pick how much you’ll pay each month and see how much you’ll get back in 12-24 months. Visit self.inc/pricing for the most recent pricing options.
How to qualify for the Self Visa Credit Card
Once you’ve set up a Self Credit Builder Account, qualifying for the Self Visa card is pretty simple. You become eligible for the card after you’ve met the following criteria:
- You’ve made at least your last three monthly credit builder loan payments in full and on-time.
- You’ve saved $100 or more in your credit builder account.
- You have no outstanding fees.
If you meet these requirements, you can apply for the Self Visa card with no credit check, even if you haven’t finished paying off your credit builder account. You’re automatically approved and won’t have to come up with any extra money as a security deposit or damage your credit by submitting your credit report to a hard inquiry.
See related: Soft pull vs. hard pull
Self Visa Credit Card features
The Self Visa Credit Card offers a number of unique features and perks that make it especially useful for anyone looking to build or rebuild credit. Some of the card’s biggest highlights include:
You can build your deposit over time
Unlike other secured credit cards, which typically require you to put up a security deposit of $200 or more up front before you can use them, the Self Visa Credit Card uses the money that’s already in your Self Credit Builder Account to secure your line of credit. When you open a Self Credit Builder Account, you can pick the monthly commitment that works for you and build up your security deposit over several months instead of having to come up with hundreds of dollars in one lump sum.
You set your own credit limit
You choose your card’s credit limit based on the amount you’ve saved in your credit builder account. For example, if you’ve paid $500 in principal toward your Self Credit Builder Account, you can access a credit limit of up to $500 without putting up any additional money. This could really help you manage your credit utilization, since you can set a credit limit that makes sense based on your spending habits, not how much money you can afford to tie up in a security deposit. And to further help you stay on top of your credit, the Self app and website feature a credit utilization tracker, making it easier to see where you stand.
It’s low on fees
The Self Visa card’s fee and penalty policy is much more forgiving than that of most credit cards, making it a great choice for credit-rebuilders and anyone new to credit cards. Unlike many cards, the Self Visa Credit Card does not penalize you with a higher APR because you struggle with paying on time. The card also charges no late fee the first time you make a late payment. And if you do slip up again, the card’s late fee is $15 – less than half the maximum late fee of $40 charged by many other cards. That said, other typical fees such as insufficient funds fees and debit card convenience fees still apply.
You can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted
Unlike other credit-building options like store credit cards and online credit accounts, the Self Visa card is a real credit card: You can use it online, in-store, at the gas station and anywhere else where Visa is accepted in the U.S. to make purchases, up to your credit limit.
The card reports to all three credit bureaus
Your Self Visa card payment activity is reported to all three credit bureaus, so be sure to make at least the minimum payment due toward your statement balance each month to build credit. Plus, since the card pairs with a Self Credit Builder Account, you can demonstrate responsible credit habits with multiple credit types.
If you’re serious about building or rebuilding your credit, the Self Visa Credit Card could be a great option, offering a low entry barrier, forgiving terms and a chance to build your security deposit gradually over time.
Instead of trying to cobble together hundreds of dollars all at once to secure your card, you can open a Self credit builder account, choose the monthly commitment that works for you and start saving for your deposit with the help a straightforward payment plan. Once you’re eligible, you can get the card without a credit check, set your own credit limit and build your credit on multiple fronts.
* Sample product: $25 monthly payment, 24 month term with a $9 admin fee at a 14.92% Annual Percentage Rate. Sample product: $48 monthly payment, 12 month term with a $15 admin fee at a 15.65% Annual Percentage Rate. Please refer to www.self.inc/pricing for the most recent pricing options.
** All Credit Builder Accounts made by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, Sunrise Banks, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. Subject to ID Verification. Individual borrowers must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security Number are required. All loans are subject to ID verification and consumer report review and approval. Results are not guaranteed. Improvement in your credit score is dependent on your specific situation and financial behavior. Failure to make monthly minimum payments by the payment due date each month may result in delinquent payment reporting to credit bureaus which may negatively impact your credit score. This product will not remove negative credit history from your credit report. All loans subject to approval. All Certificates of Deposit (CD) are deposited in Lead Banks, Member FDIC, Sunrise Banks, N.A., Member FDIC or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.