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

The pairing of a secured credit card and a credit builder loan is the one-two punch to jump start your credit building journey.

 /  6 min
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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Snapshot

3.1

Bankrate rating
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Rating: 3.1 stars out of 5

Bottom line

First-time credit builders will find an interesting takeoff point with this dual feature credit building tool. You can access a credit card without a credit history or a hard credit check, and you’ll get a head start on building up multiple credit types, also known as the “credit mix” portion of your score, with the credit builder loan.

Apply Now Lock
On Self's secure site

Rewards rate

N/A

Annual fee

$25

Intro offer

N/A
Info

Regular APR

26.99% - 26.99% variable

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info

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

If you’re working on obtaining a credit card and you’ve considered self-reporting credit services or credit-builder loans to help your credit score, then the Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card might seem like a convenient one-two combo. By being in good standing after three months of on-time payments and having $100 paid into Self’s Credit Builder savings account, you’ll automatically be eligible for the Secured Visa card—no credit history or “hard” credit check required.

However, its three-month minimum trial 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.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Checkmark

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

  • Checkmark

    Improves the “credit mix” FICO score factor (10 percent) by reporting both loan and card payments, two different credit types.

  • Checkmark

    This tool reports to all three major credit bureaus, making it easy for the bureaus to track your credit building progress.

  • Checkmark

    Provides basic Visa credit card benefits

Cons

  • Possible to owe both credit card and credit-builder loan interest simultaneously, eating into this tool’s affordability.

  • Annual fee: $25

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: N/A
  • Welcome offer: N/A
  • Annual fee: $25
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 26.99% (Variable)

Current welcome offer

Secured credit cards typically don’t offer sign-up bonuses or other intro offers, and the Self Secured Visa card and Credit Builder Account are no exception.

Although chasing a sign-up bonus shouldn’t be your priority if you’re trying to build credit, some credit-builder cards offer a chance to earn one. For example, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card’s welcome offer makes it a more enticing deal, as Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned within your first year.

Rewards Rate

Neither the Self Credit Builder Account nor the Secured Visa card earn rewards, which is common among products designed for cardholders with no credit history.

While having no rewards program shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for credit-builders, there are a few credit cards for those with limited credit that do offer rewards. Student credit cards may carry the best rewards and benefits if you can qualify. Otherwise, you might want to reconsider the Discover it Secured for its 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent back on other purchases.

Other cardholder perks

You won’t get many extra perks from Self outside the product’s credit-building potential, but you do get a few basic benefits through Visa with the secured card.

Improving your credit mix

The Self credit-builder products set themselves apart by reinforcing an often overlooked aspect of your credit score, your “credit mix.” This factor accounts for 10 percent of your FICO credit score and might be hard to nurture if you’re new to credit, so the opportunity to diversify your credit lines with both a loan and card could expedite your credit journey.

No deposit required

Unlike most secured credit cards, the Self Secured Visa card doesn’t require a security deposit upfront. The payments you’ve saved up in Self’s certificate of deposit* (CD) savings account acts as your security deposit and credit limit instead. Due to this set up, the only upfront costs is $25 annual fee.

Just keep in mind that you’re also paying monthly interest on your credit builder loan, which isn’t necessary for other secured card deposits. This also means that your credit limit is capped at the amount you’ve contributed to your CD so far. Self will also review your account periodically to grant you unsecured credit limit increases beyond your deposit, but you can’t request these reviews. Self also doesn’t specify how frequently they review your account or how much of a credit limit increase you could receive.

Visa Traditional Credit Card benefits

All Visa credit cards—including the Self secured card—come with these basic perks:

  • Cardholder inquiry service
  • Lost or stolen card reporting
  • Emergency card replacement and cash disbursement
  • $0 liability for unauthorized purchases
  • Pay-per-use roadside dispatch

Rates and fees

It’s important to remember that you’ll be paying any applicable rates and fees for both your credit-builder loan and your secured credit card. You can avoid the costly 26.99% variable on the secured card if you don’t carry a balance, but you’ll still owe monthly APR and finance charges on your credit-builder loan.

Please refer to www.Self.inc/pricing for the most recent pricing options. Make sure you read the Self secured card’s terms and conditions carefully beforehand to see how they will impact your journey to a higher score.

Make sure you read the Self secured card’s terms and conditions carefully beforehand to see how they will impact your journey to a higher score.

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

Self’s credit-builder loan and secured card combo may complicate the credit-building process with extra costs and restrictions, so it’s easy to see how paying a security deposit for a normal secured card may be better in the long run.

Please refer to www.Self.inc/pricing for the most recent pricing options. Make sure you read the Self secured card’s terms and conditions carefully beforehand to see how they will impact your journey to a higher score.

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
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 2%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info
Bankrate Score
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

Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card vs. BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card

One of the most important elements to keep in mind while building credit with a credit card is your credit limit. Along with paying on-time and in full, maintaining a low credit utilization ratio is key to improving your credit score. Unfortunately, the Self Secured Visa card’s credit limit may be too low for many credit-builders, as your limit increases slowly with monthly credit-builder loan payments and a $25 chunk is taken out by the annual fee. Depending on your loan, your Self card’s credit limit may also only reach $500 to about $1,700.

Even with a limited or bad credit history, many secured cards allow you to set a much higher credit limit via an upfront security deposit. For example, the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card offers a limit of up to $4,900 based on your deposit.

Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card vs. Capital One Platinum Secured

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card only requires an initial deposit of $49 or $99 if you can’t swing the typical $200 deposit. This upfront cost is higher than Self’s $25 annual fee, but could end up being more cost effective in the long run, as you’ll only have to pay the bill for your spending each cycle after that initial deposit. Plus, cards like the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card offer periodic account reviews that may allow you to upgrade to an unsecured credit card if you’ve shown responsible credit habits.

Unless improving your credit mix is a top priority, these other secured cards might be more valuable alternatives.

Best cards to pair with this card

The Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card is already a pretty unique pairing. A good addition to these tools could come with getting your hands on some rewards. One of the most affordable options is the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card. This card isn’t secured, so a security deposit wouldn’t be a requirement even though it’s still formulated for people with limited to no credit history. There are also no annual fees, no foreign transaction fees, no late fees and no returned payment fees, making the card fairly affordable while still offering modest reward rates.

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 is a unique pairing that allows those 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 a card without a credit check and to diversify your “credit mix” factor. However, the additional costs and restrictions you’ll face from tacking on a credit-builder loan could make traditional secured cards a more appealing option.

The information about the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

*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.

Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Credit Card Reviews Writer

Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.

* 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.