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Self Visa Secured Credit Card Review 2023


Establishing good credit can often feel like an uphill battle. While there are resources like *Experian Boost™ and secured credit cards that can assist in the process, they can sometimes introduce additional stress due to prerequisites, like applications and security deposits.

However, the Self Visa® Secured Credit Card operates differently. Prior to opening a credit card, Self requires you to open a Credit Builder Account — an installment loan that allows you to build a payment history and a savings habit simultaneously. Once you meet the requirements that put your account in good standing, you can then qualify for the credit builder card.

Below, CNBC Select analyzes how the Self Visa® Secured Credit Card works and whether it makes sense for you.

Self Visa® Secured Credit Card

  • Rewards

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • No credit check
  • Relatively low security deposit

Cons

  • $25 annual fee
  • No rewards program
  • Lengthy process required to qualify for credit card

What we’ll cover

How does the Self credit builder card work?

The Self Visa Secured Credit Card stands out from traditional secured credit cards because it doesn’t require a cash deposit or an application. Instead, it offers alternative steps that bypass a hard inquiry, an application and any additional deposit.

Here’s how you can qualify:

  1. Open a Self Credit Builder Account that’s held in a certificate of deposit (CD) at one of Self’s bank partners.
  2. Pay a one-time, non-refundable $9 administrative fee.
  3. Repay the account through fixed, monthly installments over the loan term. This payment history is reported to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).

Once you save $100 or more in the certificate deposit, make three on-time monthly payments and keep your account in good shape, you’ll qualify for the credit builder card. You can then use the $100 or more you’ve saved for your minimum security deposit to secure your card and set your limit.

The card itself functions similarly to other secured cards, but you’ll want to note that the Self card can’t be used internationally and does not allow balance transfers.

Benefits and perks

The Self Visa Secured Credit Card comes with a range of benefits and perks, including the following:

No hard inquiry on your credit

One of the credit card’s standout features is that the qualification process doesn’t require a hard inquiry on your credit, which temporarily lowers your credit score.

No traditional deposit

Many secured credit cards require you to deposit some cash with the issuer that acts as collateral in case you can’t pay your bill. Usually that money just sits with the issuer and doesn’t earn any interest. However, you secure your Self card by putting money in a CD, which is an interest-bearing account.

Automatic qualification

It’s simple to qualify for a Self card — after making three on-time payments totaling at least $100 to your credit builder account, you’re automatically eligible for the Self Visa Secured Credit Card. All you need to do after that is order the card.

Rates and fees

The Self Visa Secured Credit Card charges a $25 annual fee, in addition to the $9 administrative fee to open the Self Credit Builder Account. While that’s low, many other secured cards have no annual fee at all. The card also comes with an ongoing 29.24% variable APR.

You can also be hit with certain penalty fees, such as:

  • Returned payment fee: Up to $15 for every failed payment
  • Late fee: If you don’t make your minimum payment by the due date, you have a grace period of 15 days before incurring a late fee. After that, you will be charged either a $5 fee (if your minimum payment due is $25 or less) or a $15 fee (if your minimum payment due is greater than $25).

In addition to the card’s fees, the Self Credit Builder Account also comes with its own fees, such as a return fee, late fee, a convenience fee for using a debit card to pay your account, and an early withdrawal fee.

How do other credit-building cards compare?

Although the Self Visa Secured Credit Card offers valuable features for credit building, it falls short in terms of rewards and a path to upgrade to higher-tier credit card options.

If you’re someone who values such perks, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa® Secured Card offers 4X points per dollar spent on dining, 2X points per dollar spent at grocery stores, gas stations and streaming services and 1X points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases, all for no annual fee. Over time, if you spend within your credit limit and pay your bills on time, U.S. Bank could upgrade you to the unsecured U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Secured Visa® Card

Information about the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa® Secured Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    4X points per dollar spent on dining, 2X points per dollar spent at grocery stores, gas stations and streaming services and 1X points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. Cardmembers are also eligible for a $15 credit for annual streaming service purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

For a minimum deposit of $200, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card also offers a robust cash-back program of 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Discover may also upgrade you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit if you qualify.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

On Discover’s secure site

  • Rewards

    Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • Welcome bonus

    Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Bottom line

The Self Visa Secured Credit Card is easy to qualify for, provided you have the cash to make the required payments to your Credit Builder Account. If you’re worried your credit or banking history will disqualify you from other secured cards, the Self card’s qualification requirements might make it the right fit for you.

However, if you’re looking for a secured card that offers a rewards program and a pathway to upgrade to an unsecured card, you may consider the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa® Secured Card or the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.

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Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every credit card review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of credit card products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics.

Catch up on CNBC Select’s in-depth coverage of credit cardsbanking and money, and follow us on TikTokFacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.





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