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Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card review: A good bet to bolster your credit profile

Pairing a secured credit card and a credit builder loan is a one-two punch that jump starts your credit-building journey.

 /  13 min
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Snapshot

3.1

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 3.1 stars out of 5

Bottom line

You can only get the Self Secured Visa if you open a Credit Builder Account with the issuer, make three on-time payments and have at least $100 funded to the account. This isn’t the most traditional method of getting a secured card, but this pairing is a potentially faster way to build your credit score. However, the card lacks perks and rewards, which makes its annual fee hard to justify.

Best for building a credit mix
  • Cost of membership
    Rating: 2 stars out of 5
    2 / 5
    Ease of building credit
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 2 stars out of 5
    2 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
    3.8 / 5
No Credit History
Info
Recommended Credit

28.74% (Variable)

Regular APR

$25

Annual fee

Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card overview

If you’re working on getting a credit card and you’ve considered self-reporting credit services or credit-builder loans to help your score, the Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa Credit Card might be a convenient combo for you.

However, its three-month minimum start-up period means Self’s secured card isn’t a true “instant approval” credit card. It’s a good option if you can’t provide the upfront deposit for a traditional secured credit card, but like other credit-builder loans, the Self account and card combo might not be the most efficient or cost-effective way to build your credit.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • This card does not offer rewards

    Expert Appraisal: Typical

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • Annual fee: $25
    • 26.99 percent APR (variable)

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Fair
    Credit-building features
    • No deposit required
    • Improves credit mix
    • No hard pull on your credit report
    • Reports to the three major credit bureaus

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    You can qualify for a credit card with no additional security deposit or hard credit inquiry.

  • Checkmark

    Issuer reports loan and card payments to all three credit bureaus, improving your credit mix.

  • Checkmark

    Provides basic Visa credit card benefits.

Cons

  • It’s possible to simultaneously owe both credit card and credit-builder loan interest, limiting this product's affordability.

  • The card’s $25 annual fee adds another cost that could be difficult for credit builders or rebuilders to shoulder.

  • It takes three months of on-time loan payments before you’re eligible for the credit card.

How the Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card works

You must start with a Credit Builder Account to be eligible for the Self Secured Visa. This account is similar to a credit-builder loan and Self holds it in a certificate of deposit (CD) account, which accountholders pay off in fixed, monthly installments. You apply for the account with Self, choose a pay-off plan at varying interest rates and pay the upfront (non-refundable) administration fee. Then, you start making payments, plus applicable interest and fees, for 24 months until you pay off the amount.

After you make three on-time payments totaling at least $100, you’re automatically eligible for the Self Secured Visa credit card. You can choose the your security deposit amount and starting credit limit based on what you’ve deposited in the Credit Builder Account. Then, you can order the card and receive it in the mail. Once you have the card, it works like any other secured credit card, and you can start using Self’s card and account to build your credit score.

Why you might want the Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card

This card and credit builder loan combo can be great if you’re building credit and want to speed up the process. You may be able to boost your score because the Self — Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa provides a unique approach to credit building that traditional cards can’t match.

Credit-building features: Improve your credit mix without a hard pull

The Self card and account combo expands your credit mix beyond credit utilization and reporting to include a loan account balance. A combo like this could improve the rate at which you build credit because your credit mix accounts for 10 percent of the overall factors impacting your score.

Making a fixed loan payment each month demonstrates that you are a responsible borrower with ongoing financial stability. Although credit utilization and payment history make up most of how credit bureaus calculate your credit score, meeting a regular financial obligation can only help you — no matter how big the balance is.

It’s possible to build credit without a credit card — a credit-builder loan is just one way — but it may be helpful to complement your credit-builder account with a credit card. However, if you’re exploring your credit-building options, you could start with the credit-builder account without the card and ease your way into the full benefits of this product later on.

No security deposit: Access a decent line of credit without a deposit

The Self secured card does not require a traditional secured credit card deposit. It does require you to meet a minimum deposit amount, but those funds will come directly from your credit builder loan account — which is unavailable for you to withdraw from in the first place.

After meeting the Self Secured Visa eligibility requirements, you can open your card account without additional financial commitment. If you were to open a different secured card, you’d need to put down a security deposit. However, another secured card would not give you the opportunity to establish a healthy credit mix with both a loan and card account. You could open a secured card and a credit-builder loan independent from one another, but then you’d be potentially juggling multiple banks and apps just to stay on top of your finances.

The Self card and account combo consolidates your deposited money in one place. Plus, once your credit builder account’s term ends, you’ll earn your deposit plus all monthly payments back, minus finance charges, a one-time administrative fee, any unpaid card balance and interest charges.

Why you might want a different secured card

Although the Self card and account combo can be great for building credit, there may be better choices for most credit builders. If you want to keep costs low and credit-building simple, you may be better off with a traditional secured card or another credit-building card.

Annual fee: This card costs more to hold than other options

This card costs $25 annually, and the Self Credit Builder Account requires a $9 administrative fee to get started. These costs are on the low end of credit card fees, but other secured cards don’t charge them.

Secured credit cards require refundable deposits to get started. However, these start-up costs are returned to you when you close your card account in good standing. The Self charges the card’s $25 annual fee every year in addition to any initial deposit you transfer from your Credit Builder Account. Although the card can be costly to your credit-building strategy, it may be worth the extra cost if you want a healthy credit mix on your credit report. 

If you aren’t interested in paying fees in addition to a deposit and the potential interest charges that come with using credit, you might be better off with a secured card with low or no fees.

Finance charges: Costs may be greater than other secured options

In addition to your annual fee and potential interest charges, the Self Secured Visa card is linked to a required Credit Builder Account with finance charges.

You’ll pay a finance charge with your credit builder account based on your chosen payment plan. This amount can be anywhere between $89 and $533. Pricing information on Self’s website can give you a better idea of how much you should expect to pay.

You’ll build credit history as you make payments, but this makes the Self Secured Visa a relatively costly card. Considering the money you pay each month will sit in your deposit account until your loan term ends, it can mean tying up thousands of dollars into an account you can’t withdraw from for up to two years.

Consider the minimum credit builder account payment of $25 monthly. Over two years, this is $600 of your money you can’t use — except for expanding your Self Secured Visa card’s credit limit. Then, when you close your account, Self will charge you an $89 finance charge and any other outstanding charges before returning the remainder of your deposit to you. This deposit amount is much more than the minimum required on a secured credit card. Over two years with another secured card, you could build credit using a lower deposit amount and possibly benefit from credit limit increases or account reviews that open the gate to unsecured cards.

A diverse credit mix is a great way to build credit, but traditional secured cards can be more affordable if you just want to hold a credit card to build credit with.

Maintenance: Complicated start-up and upkeep process

Compared to a traditional secured card or a credit card for bad credit, the Self Secured Visa may be the most complicated option. Because you link your Secured Visa to your Self Credit Builder Account, it can be tricky for first-time cardholders to maintain good standing with the fixed payment loan account and their credit card balance.

If you’re looking for simplistic, easy-to-track payments, the Self card might be more complicated than you’re hoping for. A secured card can be more straightforward because some allow for automatic payments and don’t have the added layer of a credit-building loan.

Staff experience: Here’s what our experts say

When he was working on his credit score, Bankrate writer Ryan Flanigan focused his efforts on improving his score quickly so he could qualify for better cards and reap more benefits in the future. He thinks the Self combo could make a lot of sense as a starting point, giving you a chance to build credit and then move forward without paying a ton of fees.

I never liked the idea of tying up money for months on end in a security deposit, so I like that you don’t need an upfront deposit for this card — you can just pay a low annual fee as you build a better score. One thing I learned when starting my credit journey was to check my score frequently and move on as soon as I was eligible for better cards. I wanted to get out of credit-building mode as quickly as possible so I wouldn't be stuck paying excessive fees and missing out on rewards.

— Ryan Flanigan, Writer, Credit Cards

 

How the Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card compares to other secured cards

Although it may boost your credit score, Self’s credit-builder loan and secured card combo may complicate the credit-building process with extra costs and restrictions. It’s easy to see how paying a security deposit for a secured card may be better overall.

Image of Self - Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Self's secure site

Annual fee

$25

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info
Image of Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
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Rewards rate

1% - 2%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info
Image of Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info

Who is the Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card right for?

The Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa isn’t the best choice for everyone, but it may be the right card for you if you identify with these groups:

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card worth it?

The Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card allows anyone with limited or damaged credit to build payment history on two different credit lines: a loan and a credit card. This tool can be great if you want to build credit quickly with a credit-builder loan and a card but want to avoid multiple hard credit checks. However, the additional costs and restrictions you’ll face from tacking on a credit-builder loan could make traditional secured cards more affordable 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 Bank, Member FDIC, Sunrise Banks, N.A., Member FDIC or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.

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We analyzed over 50 of the most popular cards designed for students and people with no credit history, bad credit or a fair credit score and scored each based on where its key features stood in relation to others in its category. 

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Written by
Brendan Dyer
Associate Editor, Credit Cards

Brendan Dyer holds a Master of Fine Arts in Journalism from Western Connecticut State University and worked previously as a content editor for Regional News Network, a hyper-local TV news station contracted by Verizon FiOS1 News. As a national service volunteer, Brendan exercised a passion for helping underserved communities and demographics through direct, community service. He constantly seeks to apply his expertise as a journalist to the field of personal finance with the goal of helping people navigate the complexities of the credit card industry.

Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.