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The Grow Credit Mastercard is a credit card designed to help you build credit by paying the bills that you already have.
The credit card is virtual and links to your bank account for processing automatic payments. There is no hard credit check or interest charges.
And with their basic service, you can improve your personal credit scores for free.
Our Verdict: Grow Credit is a great alternative to a secured credit card. It allows you to build credit with the bills that you’re already paying at a very low cost.
So let’s take a look at all of the features and functions of the Grow Credit program, and explore how the card can put you on the path toward achieving good credit.
Grow Credit Pricing and Plans
|Plan||Price||Monthly Spending Limit||Credit Limit||Note|
|Build Free||Free||$17||$204||Requires approval|
|Build Secured||$2.99/mo + $17 deposit||$17||$204|
|Grow Membership||$4.99/mo||$50||$600||Access to premium subscriptions|
|Accelerate Membership||$9.99/mo||$150||$1,800||Access to premium subscriptions|
How Does Grow Credit Work?
Grow Credit provides its customers with a virtual credit card specifically designed to pay for common subscription services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.
When you sign up for the Grow Credit Mastercard, you’ll be able to select your plan. Each plan comes with a different range/dollar value worth of subscriptions they support.
Upon approval, you will receive your credit card information. (Grow Credit only performs a soft pull on your credit.) You will never receive a physical card. The Grow Mastercard is a virtual credit card.
Once you have the card, you can change the payment information on your subscription accounts. After that, you’ll simply need to enter your Grow Credit information like you would any other credit card.
Each month Grow Credit will pay for your subscription(s). They will then draft an automatic payment from your linked checking account.
Grow Credit will then report this payment history and the other facts of your account (balance, credit limit, etc.) to Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
(Keep in mind that most bills don’t help build credit unless you use a third-party service to report your payment activity to the credit bureaus.)
Note: Subscriptions and cell phone bills are the only eligible purchases you can charge to your Grow credit card. This includes subscriptions for internet, TV, music, insurance, delivery services, and more. But it does not include traditional utility bills like gas and electric.
Different Plans and Pricing
Grow Credit offers four different plans and price points.
Their base service, Build, is offered in two forms, free and secured. For many of their customers, the service is free. Still, those that do not meet the underwriting criteria of Grow Credit may only qualify for the secured card.
The Build plan comes with a monthly spending limit of $17. This will only cover one or maybe two subscriptions. The secured version of this account will require a one-time deposit of $17 and a monthly fee of $2.99.
The Grow Membership plan costs $4.99/month and comes with a monthly spending limit of $50.
Their top-tier plan, Accelerate, costs $9.99/month and comes with a monthly spend limit of $150. It also supports the payment of phone bills.
Both the Accelerate and Grow plans come with access to premium subscriptions, and all of the plans come with a free FICO score.
In general, there are multiple ways to build credit. For example, you can take out loans, open credit cards, or sign up for utility reporting services.
But by opening a Grow Credit account, there are a few added benefits when it comes to improving your credit scores. Below are the top three.
Pro 1 – They Report to all 3 Credit Bureaus
The Grow Credit Mastercard reports your account to all three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
They will report your credit limit, account opening date, balance, and payment history each month.
Your balance will include the subscriptions you paid with the virtual credit card that month and the credit limit that is reported is your annual limit.
For example, the Build plan’s maximum balance that will be reported is $17, while the credit limit reported would be $204 ($17 x 12 months).
Pro 2 – They’re a Financial Tradeline
Even though you are only paying subscriptions (and/or telephone bills), this service reports as a financial tradeline and not a utility tradeline. This is way better for boosting your credit!
A utility tradeline only reports payment history and the account opening date. It is also usually limited to two years worth of reported activity.
Grow Credit plans are reported like revolving tradelines. In addition to payment history and account opening date, they report the balance and credit limit, which will positively impact your credit utilization.
Also, revolving accounts report more than two years’ worth of positive payment history.
Pro 3 – They Have a Huge List of Supported Subscription Services
Grow Credit works with many subscription-based services. This includes big-name brands such as:
- Amazon Prime
- Metro Wireless
- Comcast Xfinity
This is only a fraction of the subscriptions they support. For a complete list, check out their subscriptions page. And if you don’t see your favorite subscription listed, you can use their recommendation for a new subscription option to suggest it be added.
Note: Some subscriptions are only available with premium accounts.
The Grow Mastercard lacks a few highlights other credit-building credit cards offer. For example, there are no rewards and no balance transfers available.
And some of the features the card does have are confusing or lackluster. Below are three areas where Grow Credit falls short of expectations.
Cons 1 – No Traditional Utility Companies
While Grow Credit works with a variety of subscription services and a few telephone services, they do not support other kinds of utility providers.
Providers that are not supported include electricity, gas, trash or cable. Many internet providers aren’t included as well.
If, for instance, you have cable instead of these subscription services, then Grow Credit won’t work for you.
If you want your utility payments reported, you’ll need to use a different service.
Cons 2 – Pricing is Confusing
While Grow Credit does offer a free service, the price points get confusing after that.
There is no set fee for the card. As mentioned earlier, there are multiple plans, ranging from free to $9.99 per month.
You can get a discount your first year when you link a subscription. The discount is $1/month off the Build and Grow plans or $2/month off the Accelerate plan.
Cons 3 – Low Spending Limits
Grow Credit’s base service is free but comes with a $17/month spending limit. This limit might cover one monthly subscription or two if you are lucky.
Each of the premium plans has higher spending limits. Grow is $50/month and Accelerate is $150/month. So while you’ll be able to cover some subscriptions, you probably still won’t get them all.
For instance, the Accelerate plan lets you add a phone bill. However, with the average phone bill (as of 2020) being $127.37, the $150 spending limit will barely cover your bill, if it covers it at all.
The Grow Credit Mastercard offers a unique way to build credit. By paying your subscriptions with the card and linking it to your bank account, the program is a hands-off experience in building credit.
Many people are looking to build credit without getting into debt. If that’s you, the Grow Credit Mastercard is a wonderful way to do that. You can build payment history with the bills that you’re already paying every month, and at the same time put a new revolving credit line on your credit report.
The Grow card is an attractive alternative to a secured credit card, since you don’t have to put up a large amount of money just to have access.
Using the Grow card as part of a larger credit-building strategy could be a great way to achieve a good credit score.
If you are trying to rebuild credit, a credit builder loan is another great option. For more info, check out the best credit builder loans.
Is Grow Credit Legit?
Yes, Grow Credit is a legitimate company providing a virtual credit card and credit building service.
Grow Credit Inc. has been in business for three years, and they recently obtained accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. They have also been given an A business rating.
All of the complaints Grow has received through the BBB have been promptly addressed by customer service.
Customers can try Grow Credit for free (if they meet the underwriting approval process), with no interest rates/charges.
Grow Credit also works with the well-respected financial services company Plaid to provide services for linking your Grow Credit account to your bank account.
How Many Credit Bureaus Does Grow Credit Report To?
Grow Credit reports your account information to all three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, & Equifax.
Each month, Grow will report the following information:
• Your subscription charges as your current balance
• Your automatic payments as payment history
• Your annual spending limit as your credit limit
• Your account opening date
Your balance and credit limit will impact your credit utilization. In addition, your account opening date will affect your average length of credit history.
Each of the three major credit bureaus process information a little differently, so your updated Grow Credit account information may not appear on all of your credit reports simultaneously.
Grow advises that it may take 60-90 days after your first payment for your account to appear on your credit reports.
How Much Will Grow Credit Help Improve My Score?
According to Grow Credit, their average customer experienced a 51-point increase in their credit score after using the service for a full 12 months.
Your results will vary based on what your credit profile looks like.
If you have a thin profile, adding a Grow account will likely increase your credit score substantially.
On the other hand, if you have poor credit because of late payments or other negative remarks, then the credit score increase you see may be lower. And it will likely take more time for Grow to have a positive impact on your credit scores.
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Amanda Garland is a personal finance blogger living in Dallas, TX. 10 years ago she was living paycheck to paycheck and knew nothing about how credit works. She learned some hard lessons in her fight for financial stability. Now she has a friendly competition going with her husband to see who can reach a credit score of 850 first. She is also a poet, having obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.