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The CreditStacks Mastercard is a unique credit card, designed for professionals recently relocated to the U.S. It’s tough to start building credit from nothing, because credit cards and other financial products typically require an established credit history to qualify.
Without a U.S. credit history and Social Security Number (or ITIN), you won’t be able to apply for most credit cards. But the CreditStacks Mastercard is different. It doesn’t require a credit history to be approved, and has other features that make it easier to get than most cards (applicants living in the U.S. for more than a year will need to submit to a credit check, however).
You won’t need an SSN to apply for this card, although you’ll need to get one within 60 days of card activation and provide it to CreditStacks. When applying you’ll need to submit your passport and visa information, along with proof of income in the U.S., including a work address. But if you’ve been living in the U.S. for at least a year, you will need to provide an SSN while applying.
Anyone can start the initial application process to see if he or she is pre-qualified. Full applications are available for those expecting to relocate to the U.S. within 60 days.
The CreditStacks card has no annual fee, and comes with a credit line up to $5,000 (Rates & Fees). There’s no foreign transaction fee, and no penalty APR.
This card comes with Mastercard benefits, including some travel perks like the Priceless Cities offers and Airport Concierge services.
There are no rewards with the CreditStacks card, but that’s not the purpose of the card. Instead, if gives you an opportunity to establish a strong credit history without needing to resort to a secured credit card.
Elnor Rozenrot, CEO and a co-founder of CreditStacks, outlines the vision for his company in an interview with Israel Daily:
“Essentially, we help high-quality immigrants, professionals that relocate to the U.S., get access to a credit card on the day they land in the country, which is revolutionary, because up until now it took several months and quite a lot of pain in order to be able to get that first quality credit card.”
CreditStacks, a fairly new company based in San Francisco, California, was the judges’ winner of the 2018 PitchIt competition, at the LendIt Fintech financial services conference. Their card is issued by First Century Bank.
Should you be using the CreditStacks Mastercard to establish a credit history and lay down a record of positive payments? Keep reading to learn more about this card and find out.
We give the CreditStacks Mastercard 4 out of 5 Stars, because it reduces some of the traditional barriers for people who have just moved to the U.S and are new to credit. It doesn’t have stellar rewards and benefits, but it’s a simple, potentially free way to establish a credit history.
There are no rewards for using the CreditStacks card, like points or cash back. Instead, use it to help establish a credit history of on-time payments. Eventually, as your credit improves, you’ll be able to qualify for cards with reward programs and more valuable benefits.
The CreditStacks Mastercard comes with some basic shopping and travel protections. These are common to most cards, even those designed for poor or no credit. The Deserve Classic and Citi Secured Mastercard both come with very similar protections.
More than that, however, the CreditStacks card also comes with a few travel perks that are rarely found on cards like these. They can make the card more worthwhile, although you’ll need to explore them a bit to learn how to use them. We’ve listed those valuable benefits first.
You’ll have access to a wide variety of convenient and money-saving offerings through Mastercard’s travel services. These perks can include:
You can learn more and see your travel options at the Mastercard Travel and Lifestyle Services website.
Cardholders can find exclusive events and experiences in over 82 countries around the world through the Priceless Cities service. There are many different types of experiences to choose from, ranging from the fairly inexpensive ($28) to the extravagant ($12,000).
If you’re looking for something to do and have at least a few bucks to spare, you might want to check out some of these offers. For the most part they’re only available in large cities or travel destinations, however, like NYC, London, Dubai, Bali, and Hong Kong.
The different types of offers and experiences come in three general categories:
|Entertainment||Arts and Culture||Sports|
|Explore history||Go behind the scenes||Go on an adventure||Take a lesson||Tour the city|
|Family time||Outing with friends||Weekend getaways|
Here are a few examples from each category.
Many of these experiences seem pretty interesting, especially if you’re planning an itinerary that includes several major cities. Who wouldn’t want to tell a story about relaxing at the spa in Rome after learning to fly falcons in the Dubai desert?
A 15% discount is available for Mastercard Airport Concierge services, providing speedy escorts through airports.
There is a wide variety of services to choose from, whether you’re arriving, departing, or making a connecting flight. Some airports may offer more services than others.
The concierge procedure includes:
Additional services can be included for a fee, depending on availability at the airport. The possible extras are:
|Luggage Assistance/Baggage Porters||Premium Baggage Collection/Delivery||Executive Car Transfers/Limousine Service||VIP Wheelchairs/PRM Service Option||Un-accompanied Minors Service||Seating Assistance|
|Valet Car Parking Service||Tarmac Transfers||Electric Buggy||Car Park Jockey||Airport Courier||Cloak Room Service|
|Train Bookings||Lounge Bookings||Meeting & Conference Room Bookings||Personal Shopper||Gift Services on Arrival|
You can book a Meet & Greet concierge once you know your flight details. Expect to pay at least a couple hundred dollars in most cases, depending on the number of passengers and level of service you order.
If you make a purchase with your card and find that same item being advertised for a lesser price, you may be eligible for reimbursement for the price difference.
There are also many types of purchases that won’t be covered. This is to help prevent fraud and abuse, and for practical reasons, but it’s unfortunate that many expensive purchases aren’t eligible.
Many everyday items and gifts will be eligible for Price Protection, even though there are quite a few restrictions as well. There are also some expensive purchases for which it could come in pretty useful, like electronics and furniture.
Price Protection is a benefit that many credit cards offer today.
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|Prime + 12.24%||None||Prime + 21.74%|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$0 (Rates & Fees)||None||None||5%, $10 minimum|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|None||Up to $27||Up to $27|
The CreditStacks card has simple terms and fees. There’s a pretty low purchase APR, although we recommend always paying your balance in full each billing period. This will do several things for you at once:
Balance transfers are not available with this card. If you have limited or no credit history, you probably won’t be approved for a card with a good intro balance transfer offer.
There’s no annual fee to use the CreditStacks Mastercard, and no foreign transaction fee for using it outside the U.S. (Rates & Fees). This makes sense for a card designed for people moving from another country. Some other cards will charge a fee of up to 3% for those purchases.
The CreditStacks Mastercard will come with a credit limit up to $5,000, depending on your creditworthiness when approved.
This is a pretty high credit line for a card designed for people with limited or no credit history. There are some secured cards with even larger limits, like the Wells Fargo Secured Card, which has a maximum limit of $10,000. Secured cards require a deposit to fund their credit line, however, so if you want a $10,000 limit you’d need to deposit $10,000.
|Email Address||[email protected]|
Currently, the only ways to get ahold of CreditStacks’ customer service if you’re not a cardholder are web-based. You can use the email address mentioned above, or the contact form on their website (which will also send messages via email).
We sent some messages to CreditStacks, with some questions about the criteria they use for approval and the credit limit of card.
CreditStacks replied fairly quickly, but their response was a bit vague and unhelpful. So we asked for more information, but a week later we still haven’t yet heard back from them.
CreditStacks is a relatively new credit card issuer, and you could have some trouble getting in touch with them. You may have to be persistent. Cardholders might have an easier time getting a response.
Hopefully their customer support improves with time. We’ll update this section with any developments.
The CreditStacks Mastercard is designed for professionals who have just moved or will be moving to the U.S. It’s hard to break into the world of credit when you’re starting with nothing but your good name and money in the bank, but you have an option with CreditStacks.
In most cases you’d need to start with a secured card, but this card offers an unsecured line of credit up to $5,000. There are some decent travel benefits too, which could make a tour of the U.S. more interesting.
There aren’t any spending rewards to earn, but you can use this card to improve your credit completely for free because there’s no annual fee. As long as you avoid interest charges and other fees, the CreditStacks card can help you establish a credit history at no cost whatsoever.
If you don’t have a Social Security Number, or at least an ITIN with a U.S. address, it will be very hard to find another U.S. credit card you’ll qualify for. It might be impossible. But if you do have an SSN there is a world of options available to you. Check out some alternatives to the CreditStacks Mastercard below.
You can click the Apply Now button below to go to the CreditStacks website to apply for this card.
There is currently a waitlist to apply for the CreditStacks Mastercard, which you’ll need to sign up for. But according to customer service the wait is usually not very long, usually a matter of days. This delay comes from a manual review stage in their approval process, although they’re planning to fully automate the system so applications can be processed in seconds.
When you apply, you’ll authorize CreditStacks to check your credit reports if necessary, so you may see a hard inquiry.
Once you get an SSN, or at least an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), you’ll be able to apply for a wide variety of credit cards. But without an established credit history your chances of approval will be very low except for secured credit cards and a few others.
Here are a couple of the best secured cards, along with an unsecured card from Deserve that doesn’t require a credit history.
Deserve cards are available to people with L1 and H1-B visas. You may be eligible to apply without an SSN if you contact their customer support and ask. You’ll need to provide employment and income verification.
The Deserve Classic has no annual fee, like the CreditStacks card. This allows you to build up your credit completely for free, as long as you avoid incurring interest.
The Deserve Classic is a Mastercard, and it comes with a standard set of shopping and travel protections.
These are in large part the same as what you’ll get with the CreditStacks, which is also a Mastercard. They include Price Protection, an Extended Warranty, Roadside Assistance, and several others.
Deserve also offers statement credits for every friend you refer who successfully applies for a Deserve card. You’ll get a $30 statement credit for every approval, and if you refer 10 friends successfully you’ll get a $200 bonus. That’s a total of $500 you can earn through referrals.
The Deserve Classic has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. The interest rate for purchases will be 24.49% Variable, quite high compared to the CreditStacks card. But this is typical for cards for limited or no credit, and you can avoid interest charges by paying your balance in full each billing period anyway.
The maximum credit limit for this card is $1,500, much smaller than the CreditStacks’ maximum of $5,000. If you’re looking for an unsecured card for no credit history with a high credit line, it will be hard to beat CreditStacks.
Read more in our Review of the Deserve Classic Mastercard
The Discover it Secured Card (Review) is the best secured card available, in our opinion. Secured cards require a security deposit and are made to help build your credit, so they don’t always come with very favorable terms. But the Discover it Secured, at no annual fee, is different.
This card will require a security deposit of $200 to $2,500 to fund the credit limit. Your credit limit will be equal to the deposit. Discover will review your account and your credit every 8 months, and they may decide to refund your security deposit and let you continue to use the card.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
So you can actually earn some rewards with the Discover it Secured, unlike almost every other secured card out there. This is actually a decent rewards program, even compared to unsecured rewards cards.
The Cashback Match means you’ll get 4% cash back in those categories for the first year, and 2% back for every other purchase. That’s not a bad offer at all.
Discover cards all come with the same benefits:
You’ll get more valuable perks with the CreditStacks card, as mentioned above.
Discover’s Credit Scorecard is a particularly useful feature, however, especially if you’re in the process of establishing a credit history and aiming for high scores. This tool lets you track your progress over time, and you’ll get information about credit and specific tips for improving your scores. Discover’s Credit Scorecard is available to anyone, cardholder or not. So if you’re new to the U.S. this would be a valuable service to sign up for.
The Discover it Secured has no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fee. Your maximum credit limit is $2,500, half that of the CreditStacks. But you’ll need to put down a matching security deposit to fund the limit of the Discover card.
The Discover it Secured also has a balance transfer offer, of 10.99% for 6 months. This is a rare find on secured cards. Although you’ll still end up paying interest if you use this offer, it could potentially be a good deal if you’re paying a balance at a higher interest rate on a different card. But in other cases it wouldn’t be a wise idea.
To use this offer, you’d first need to put down a deposit to fund the credit limit. Then you could transfer a balance over and start paying it off, accruing interest as you go. But instead of opening this card and paying the security deposit, you could just put that money towards your outstanding debt.
However, it may be a good strategy to use the balance transfer offer if you want this card for other purposes as well. If you can earn rewards and build a positive payment history, as you use some of your credit limit to pay down a balance at a lower interest rate, that may be the right option to take.
Read more in our Review of the Discover it Secured Card
This card requires a security deposit of $200 to $2,500 when you’re approved. Your credit limit will be equal to the deposit.
The Citi Secured card will likely come at the Platinum Mastercard level, with some basic shopping and travel protections. It won’t have the more valuable travel perks of the CreditStacks card.
The benefits of the Citi card will probably include:
The Citi Secured Mastercard has no annual fee, but it does have a foreign transaction fee of 3%, unlike the CreditStacks card.
If you have an SSN or ITIN and a U.S. address, you can use the Citi card to establish a credit history and build up a positive payment history, all for free. Just pay your balance in full each billing period to prevent interest from accruing. Always pay on time, and eventually, all other things being equal, you’ll be able to qualify for a reward credit card.
Read more in our Review of the Citi Secured Mastercard
Are you using the CreditStacks Mastercard to build your credit in the U.S. after relocating from another country? Leave your own review and let us know how you like it!
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