The Self Visa Credit Card is a great secured credit card for current Self customers. Unlike other secured credit cards, it allows you to get started without much money upfront.
But it lacks some of the good features that other secured credit cards have.
We’ll break it down below.
How You Start With Self Credit Card
The Self Visa credit card is a secured credit card that allows you to build your credit and can help you save money at the same time. Before you apply for the credit card, you will need to open a Self credit-builder account, which is a type of personal loan account.
Once you have this account in place then you only need to meet Self bank’s three qualifying criteria:
- Make at least 3 on-time payments
- Have a minimum of $100 of savings progress in your credit-builder account
- Keep your account in good standing
Once you meet their criteria, order the card and choose your credit limit. It’s that simple, no credit check, no approval process. If you meet the qualifying criteria when you order, the Visa card is yours.
Now you can start using the card as you would any other Visa credit card or debit card. As you make purchases each month and pay off your balance, your history will be reported to all three credit bureaus. And now you can sit back and watch your credit score rise.
There is no credit check
$100 minimum (taken from credit-builder account balance)
Graduate to Unsecured
No unsecured products offered
The fine print:
The Self Visa® Credit Card is issued by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.
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.
Next, we’ll take a look at the Pros and Cons of the Self Visa credit card.
Pros and Cons of Self Lender Credit Card
|The card is easy to get||You need a credit-builder account first|
|Reports to all three major credit bureaus||Minimum balance and payment requirements|
|Impossible to be turned down||Annual Fee and other penalties|
|No upfront payment required||Zero Perks|
In reviewing the Self Visa credit card, there are 4 key advantages for getting and maintaining the card. These are the areas where Self financial excels in helping their clients get their credit on track.
It’s Easy to Get
There is no minimum credit score, additional deposits, or any other hoops that you will need to jump through to get this card. It doesn’t matter if you have bad credit or no credit, all you have to do is meet the qualifying criteria for the Self Visa credit card.
Once you do, then you can order the card, set a credit limit using your credit-builder account balance, and activate the card.
That’s it, it really is that simple.
Reports Activity to All Three Major Credit Bureaus
The biggest benefit to the Self Visa credit card is its ability to have a positive impact on your credit report. Unlike other credit products, the Self Visa reports to all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Whether you have zero credit history or you have poor credit, as you make payments each month, this will impact your credit report in three key ways:
- Adding to your on-time payment history
- Adds an installment loan to your credit report
- If used correctly, it will help you establish the correct amount of credit usage/utilization
These factors alone make up 75% of your credit score. By reporting to all three bureaus, the Self Visa can help you see an increase in your FICO credit score across all three.
Impossible to be Turned Down
You cannot be turned down for the Self Visa secured credit card for having poor credit. You cannot be denied for not meeting an income threshold or having a certain bank account balance. Since there is no application process, you can’t be rejected for any reason whatsoever.
Instead, you just have to meet Self lender’s set criteria and then simply order your card. That’s it. If you don’t meet their criteria, then you won’t be able to order the card.
The no application process has the added bonus of eliminating the risk of a hard pull which could negatively impact your credit score.
No Upfront Payment Required
For most people, the biggest obstacle to getting a secured credit card is the upfront cash needed. Most secured credit cards require a minimum $300 security deposit per card.
Self solved this problem. After you’ve been making payments for three or four months, you’re eligible to open up a secured credit card using the money that you already paid as collateral.
If you’re already a Self customer who needs a credit card to beef up their credit report, this is a no-brainer.
As we discuss elsewhere on the blog, you need three credit cards and one installment loan on your credit report to get 800+ credit scores. So this could be credit card number 1 or 2 for you.
As with all credit cards and other financial products, there are some disadvantages to the Self Visa credit card. Here are four ways Self Visa is lacking compared to other credit building products.
You Need a Self Credit Builder Account to Get the Card
To get the Self Visa credit card you first have to have Self’s credit-builder account. This account is a type of credit rebuilding personal loan.
Let’s say you apply for this account and after a Self lender review are approved for $1000. That $1000 does not go into your bank account, instead, it gets locked away in a CD.
Unlike a savings account, you cannot draw this money out. Instead, you make monthly payments to the bank to unlock the funds in your account.
Using this account as a security deposit for obtaining the Self Visa once again locks away those funds out of your reach.
The funds you used towards your credit limit can only be withdrawn when you close the card. And if you don’t close the card, the annual fee will start eating into your balance.
It also limits your ability to increase your credit line if you have a small monthly payment set on your credit-builder account.
For example, If you have a monthly credit builder payment of $25, then it will take 4 months for you to be able to increase your credit limit by $100 on your Visa card.
There are also the fees associated with the credit builder account to consider.
There Are Minimum Payment and Balance Requirements
In addition to needing to have a Self credit builder loan account to get the Visa card, there are a few other account stipulations.
The first is that you have made at least three on-time payments. So, unfortunately, you can’t open both your credit-builder account and credit card account at the same time. This potentially delays your credit-building journey.
In addition to 3 on-time payments, your balance needs to have reached a minimum of $100. If your monthly payments are only $25/month, then it will take you at least 4 months to be eligible. Once again, this factor could slow down your credit-building journey.
The third factor is the requirement of your account to be in good standing. If you miss a payment or make a late payment, you could lose your eligibility. Or if you pay off your credit builder loan before getting the card, you could lose your eligibility.
Annual Fee and Other Penalties Can Eat into Your Savings
As mentioned before, the credit line on your Self Visa is secured by your credit-builder account balance.
The requirement of having a credit-builder account first means in order to qualify the card, you will need to pay an admin fee for the loan and continue to pay APR on the loan each month.
Having the Self Visa card isn’t free either. They charge an annual fee of $25. And if you want to keep a balance on the card, there are potential APR charges and late payment fees to consider as well.
There is also the potential for an early withdrawal fee in regards to the credit builder CD account.
All of these fees and penalties will quickly overcome any potential interest you might earn on the CD.
With so many other products out from other card issuers (Citi, Discover, etc.) that have no annual fee and lower interest rates, this is a major sticking point for this card.
There Are Zero Perks Outside of Building Credit
While cards for building credit are not well known for offering fantastic rewards, the Self Visa has zero.
Other secured cards like the Citi Secured Mastercard, and the Capital One Secured Mastercard offer no annual fee and the ability to graduate to an unsecured card. There are even cards like the Discover It Secured that allow you to earn cashback.
After a few months or more of correctly using the Self’s Visa card and credit-builder account, you will likely outgrow them, your credit score increasing enough to qualify you for unsecured credit cards and loans.
The lack of rewards on the Self Visa and the inability to transfer to an unsecured product make this card unappealing to hold onto long term.
Qualifying Criteria for the Card
As discussed earlier, the qualifying for the Self Visa card is straightforward. First, you need to apply and open their credit-builder account. This is a personal loan account that allows you to build credit by locking away the loan funds in an interest-bearing CD while you make monthly payments.
At the end of the loan term, you get the entire loan value as a CD returned to you minus any initial administration fees.
Once you have set up your credit-builder account, there are only three additional criteria that you need to meet.
- Make 3 monthly payments (on time)
- Reach a balance of $100
- Have your account in good standing
If you meet all three of these criteria, then you can order and activate your card, no application process, no credit check, no minimum score, and no additional funds are needed for a security deposit.
It is important to note that while you cannot be formally rejected for this card, you can cease to meet the eligibility criteria. If you previously met eligibility, but no longer do, then you will not be able to open a Self Visa secured credit card.
Who Is This Card Right For?
Since there is no minimum score required to receive approval, this card is ideal for those with zero credit history and those with bad credit who can’t get approved for other cards or credit-building products.
The fact that this is a secured card that allows you to set your own credit limit, can give you tight control over your spending, and being tied to the credit builder account means you won’t need to raid your bank account for the deposit.
And for those looking for a way to boost their credit scores in the shortest amount of time possible, making timely payments to the Self Visa and credit builder loan will help fill out your credit report and raise your credit score twice as fast as a traditional secured card.
This card is not designed for:
- People with good credit
- Anyone who qualified for an unsecured credit card
- Those wanting to avoid an annual fee
- Being used as a business credit card
The Self Visa credit card is a product for building credit that can be a lifeline for those struggling to qualify for other credit builder products. It can also be beneficial to those wanting to build credit and raise their credit scores quickly.
If you’re already a Self customer, it allows you to get a secured credit card with no extra upfront investment. In my opinion, that alone is totally worth it.
But if you’re not already a Self customer, the drawbacks of making clients obtain a credit-builder account and sticking them with an annual fee along with a variety of other fees, make this card a little less appealing.
If no other bank or credit union will take a chance on you, then yes, the Self Visa credit card might be ideal. Just check out the Self credit card reviews and testimonials from those this card has helped.
But if you can qualify for other secured cards or installment loan products from larger lenders like Discover, Citi, Bank of America, and others, then you might be better off skipping the Self Visa card in your credit building journey.
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.