Full Review of Self Visa Credit Card
Qualification is relatively easy
Builds credit while earning interest on savings
No immediate access to funds
Can be relatively expensive
- Qualification Is Relatively Easy: Receiving the Self Visa is a less onerous process than for some other secured cards. Unlike some competitors, this card doesn't require a standard credit check (ChexSystems is used in lieu of a credit check) or a traditional security deposit. To qualify for the Self Visa, you need to make as few as three on-time payments to your "Credit Builder" account, totaling at least $100, and have an account that's in good standing.
- Builds Credit While Earning Interest on Savings: After you open the credit builder account associated with this card, one of Self's bank partners provides you with a small loan. Because your payments repay that loan, they’re reported to credit agencies and can so help you to build credit factors such as payment history. In turn, the loan funds are held in a FDIC-insured Certificate of Deposit that earns interest. When your loan term ends, the CD unlocks and you get back not only the principal amount but the interest you've earned (which isn't much, given current CD rates) minus fees and finance charges. If you've opened a Self Visa account, Self will hold onto your funds as a security deposit. You'll receive your security deposit back when your credit card account is closed, minus any outstanding charges on the account.
- No Immediate Access to Funds: The flip side of this card skipping a credit check or security deposit is that you must wait to actually get the credit it provides. You must, after opening your account, make at least three on-time monthly payments, totaling at least $100, before you're eligible to receive a card.In addition, you can't access the funds that accumulate in the credit-builder account until your 12- or 24-month repayment period is up, or when the credit card account is closed if you decide to open one. While it’s possible to pay back the loan early, you might incur an early withdrawal fee for doing so. You could also miss out on the benefit of building your credit payment history through making multiple on-time payments.
- There Are Fees and Charges: Where some secured cards have no annual fee, the Self Visa costs $25 a year, plus there's a one-time $9 non-refundable administrative fee. There are also interest charges on the Credit Builder loan. In combination, these expenses make this card relatively expensive compared to some other secured cards. That’s especially the case if you choose a longer repayment term, which means you pay more overall in interest charges.
This Card is Best For
Motivated to create positive credit history
The Self Visa credit card is designed for those who seek to build credit but have neither much money nor any credit record to help start the process. The monthly payment can be as low as $25 and no credit history is required.
But the card is also for those with patience, since you don't get a Self Visa card until you're a few months into the process—specifically, after you’ve made three on-time monthly payments on your loan account and have built up $100 in savings, which can be longer than three months if you opt for a lower payment. While no upfront security deposit is required, you can choose to prepay $100 on your Credit Builder account and then make three on-time payments loan to increase your available credit when you are eligible for a Self Visa. You can also prepay on your loan to increase your unlocked CD amount after receiving the card. For example, if you have $200 saved, you can prepay $100 on your account and increase your unlocked CD after getting your Self Visa.
It's also a great card for someone who would like a credit card that can double as an enforced savings plan. After you complete paying off the loan, typically after either 12 or 24 months, and any card balance and remaining fees are deducted, you receive any interest earned from the security deposit in the account. This is, then, a card for those who are willing and able to pay to build their credit record. interest (finance) charges on the loan are assessed at rates between 15.65% and 15.97%, depending on your repayment plan. That’s far from the highest rate for those with minimal or poor credit, but is a much higher rate than those with excellent credit can now pay for two-year personal loan. There’s also an annual fee on the credit card and one-time administrative charge to open the self credit builder account. The APR on the credit card is 23.74% variable, which is separate from the APR on the loan.
Here’s how the math might work. Let's say you choose at the start to pay $25 installments over a 24-month period. After the two years are up, assuming you paid off your charges to the card every month—which best serves your credit record—you'd have $520 in the account. You pay $9 upfront to set up the account and make $600 in payments ($25 x 24) less $80 in finance charges. That leaves you with $520, plus you have been able to borrow against at least some of those funds for 19 months in this scenario.
Self Visa Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits
- No upfront cash security deposit required
- No credit check required
- Credit Builder account that earns interest
- Reports to three major credit bureaus
- Card can be used everywhere Visa is accepted
Self is not included in the J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, but the company overall has received a strong score of A- from the Better Business Bureau. Customers can contact Self through their website, via live chat, or by calling 877-883-0999.
Self offers safety and security measures that are standard for credit cards issued by U.S. financial institutions. All card accounts come with multi-level encryption and regular vulnerability scans to keep data secure.
The Credit Builder loan is secured by an FDIC-insured certificate of deposit.
The Self Visa credit card provides a solid option for individuals who otherwise might not qualify for a secured card due to absent or poor credit, or a lack of funds for the security deposit that most such cards require to get started. The lack of a credit check or upfront security deposit makes the Self Visa accessible, and the loan component of the card allows you both to build credit and save some money. And you choose the monthly payment, which can be as low as $25 if you wish.
However, this card can be more costly in the long run than some other secured cards and, unlike those, it doesn't provide immediate access to funds.
Those seeking to build their credit record who have more cash on hand might consider a secured card that’s more traditional than the Self Visa. The Citi Secured Mastercard, for example, has no annual fee and reports to all three major credit bureaus. It requires at least a $200 security deposit.
Another option is the Discover it Secured, which earns cash-back rewards. There's no annual fee and it offers 2% cash-back rewards at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 per quarter. It also automatically matches all of the cash-back you've earned at the end of your first year.