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The CreditStacks Mastercard is a unique credit card, designed specifically for professionals relocating 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.
You won’t need an SSN to apply for this card, although you’ll need to get one later 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.
If you’re in the United States or will be relocating here in the next 60 days, you can apply for the card now. Otherwise, you can go through the application process to see if you’re pre-qualified. Your card will be waiting for you when you arrive in the country.
The CreditStacks card has no annual fee, and comes with a credit line up to $5,000. 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.
Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
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.
Why we like this card
- No credit history, credit scores, SSN, or ITIN needed to apply
- Get approved up to 60 days before you move to the U.S.
- A maximum credit limit of $5,000, depending on creditworthiness
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- Mastercard benefits, along with some shopping and travel protections
Why this card could be better
- There is currently a waitlist to apply for the card
- No rewards to earn when spending
The CreditStacks card is unique in that you don’t need a credit history or an SSN to apply, making it one of the only unsecured card options available to newcomers to the U.S. There are some other options you can explore below, however, including secured credit cards which require a security deposit when approved.
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- Apply for the CreditStacks card if you’re an employed professional who will be relocating to the U.S. within 60 days. If your move date is more than 60 days away you can check to see if you’re pre-qualified.
- Use this card responsibly to start building a credit history in the U.S. because it reports activity to all three of the major consumer credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
- An SSN isn’t needed to apply, but applicants will eventually need to get one and report it to CreditStacks.
- Try to use the Mastercard benefits when traveling, like the Travel & Lifestyle services and Priceless Cities offers.
- After establishing a solid credit history of positive payments you’ll be able to qualify for more valuable reward credit cards, with higher credit limits and better perks. But don’t cancel this card, because it will continue to help your credit scores and there’s no annual fee to pay.
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.
Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services
You’ll have access to a wide variety of convenient and money-saving offerings through Mastercard’s travel services. These perks can include:
- 24/7 access to a travel advisor
- discounts and upgrades at airlines and hotels
- elite status at participating car rentals
- at over 2,000 participating resorts:
- complimentary breakfast for two
- room upgrades
- amenities like food and beverages
You can learn more and see your travel options at the Mastercard Travel and Lifestyle Services website.
Priceless Cities Offers & Experiences
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.
- $28 — A Broadway Making Music workshop with cast members of the hit show Waitress, where you’ll learn vocal dynamics and acting, and get a chance to perform a piece with a cast member.
- CZK 2,030 (about $93) — Create your own essential oil mixture in an exclusive workshop at Alchymystique in Prague.
- $500 — You and three friends can join DJ Swivel for a tour of the Crosby Recording Studios, where Beyoncé, Kanye, and other stars made their music. Listen to him mix and even have a chance to make your own tracks.
- €15 (about $18) — Take a guided tour of the Piazza Navona and the Ponte and Parione districts in Rome.
- 30% Discount — Save money at the QC Terme Roma Spas and Resorts in Rome, with exclusive access to Jacuzzis, fitness areas, and wellness gardens.
- AED 8,075 for two people (about $2,198) — A luxury tour of Dubai, starting in a Mercedes G63, moving to a seaplane, then a water taxi, then a monorail, then a cruise on a private yacht.
- $50 — An after-hours VIP tour of the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum, led by Jackie Faherty, senior scientist and senior education manager in the Department of Astrophysics.
- For bookings over $2,000 — At the Ministry of Villas in Bali, get airport transfer, welcome drinks and fruit basket, daily breakfast, and horseback riding on a quiet beach.
- AED 3,182 (about $866) — Fly falcons in the desert and learn from the Royal Shaheen Falconers, while drinking Arabic coffee and eating dates at a falconry hunting camp at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
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?
Mastercard Airport Concierge
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:
- Being welcomed by a Meet & Greet representative when you arrive at the airport
- An escort for expedited check-in and security screening, where available
- Assistance with visas or other documentation
- Assistance with inter-terminal transportation and other needs
- An escort to the curb or the aircraft gate, depending on where you’re going
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.
- You must purchase the item entirely with your card
- You must see either a printed advertisement or non-auction internet advertisement for the same product
- The advertisement must verify the same manufacturer and model number
- Coverage is available for 60 days after the date of purchase
- Keep all documentation related to the purchase
- Call 1-800-Mastercard or go to MyCardBenefits to initiate a Price Protection claim, or to check the status of a claim
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.
Purchases Not Covered By Price Protection (Partial List)
- Items purchased for professional, commercial, resale, or rental use
- Jewelry, art, antiques, or collectibles
- Used items
- Customized, personalized, or one-of-a-kind items
- Items purchased from auctions
- Plants, shrubs, animals, pets (no shrubbery insurance, even for knights)
- Land and buildings
- Motorized vehicles
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. The Discover it Secured, for example, is another card for limited or no credit that provides this service.
Other Shopping Protections
- Purchase Assurance: Your eligible purchases are covered for 60 days against damage, loss, and theft.
- Satisfaction Guarantee: If you’re unsatisfied with a purchase within 60 days and the merchant refuses to take it back, you may be eligible for reimbursement.
- Extended Warranty: Eligible manufacturer’s warranties of one year or less can be doubled by up to one additional year.
- Cellular Wireless Telephone Protection: Pay your cell phone bill with the CreditStacks card to get coverage against damage and theft.
- MasterRental Collision Damage Waiver: Eligible rented vehicles are covered against damage and theft, as long as you decline the rental company’s own insurance.
- Travel Accident Insurance: Cardholders, their spouses, and dependent children are covered against accidental death and dismemberment when traveling by common carrier.
- Baggage Delay Insurance: Emergency purchases of essential items are covered if your bags are delayed by 4 hours or more while traveling.
- Lost or Damaged Luggage Insurance: Provides reimbursement for lost checked or carry-on luggage, and personal property contained therein.
- Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption: If a trip is cancelled or interrupted for an eligible reason, you can be reimbursed for certain costs.
- Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for unauthorized purchases. Contact customer support immediately if you suspect fraud.
- Mastercard ID Theft Protection: Help contacting the authorities and restoring your identity if you become a victim of identity theft.
- Mastercard Identity Theft Alerts: Get notified if Mastercard detects that your personal information is being bought or sold online.
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|16.99% Variable||N/A||26.49% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$0||0%||N/A||5%, $10 minimum|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|N/A||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:
- You can completely avoid interest charges on purchases
- It will be good for your credit utilization, which helps increase your credit scores
- As long as you’re on time, it will generate a positive record of payments for your credit history
- Your credit limit will be freed up and ready to use again
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. This makes sense for a card designed for people moving to the country. Some other cards will charge a fee of up to 3% for those purchases.
What is the Credit Limit of the CreditStacks Mastercard?
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 Bottom Line
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.
How to Apply for the CreditStacks Mastercard
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. However, CreditStacks also states that they do not conduct a hard inquiry on your credit when you apply. So perhaps they will do a soft inquiry.
Qualifications and Requirements
- Must be 18 to apply
- Total annual income
- Employer name, job title, past employment history
- Education history
- Passport and/or visa information
- Must be a resident of the U.S., or moving to the U.S. within 60 days
- No SSN needed to apply, but must provide one later on
- No credit history needed to be approved
Alternatives to the CreditStacks Mastercard
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 Classic Mastercard (Review): Available to L1 and H1-B visa holders, doesn’t always require an SSN, no credit history required, no annual fee
- Discover it Secured® Card (Review): Requires an SSN to apply, security deposit of $200 to $2,500, no annual fee, 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants
- Citi® Secured Mastercard® (Review): Can apply with ITIN, security deposit of $200 to $2,500, no annual fee
- Stilt: Not a credit card, but this company provides loans to immigrants to the U.S. who don’t have a SSN.
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.
Terms & Fees
The Deserve Classic has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. The interest rate for purchases will be 25.24% 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:
- Price Protection: If you buy an item and find it being advertised for a lesser price elsewhere, you may be eligible for reimbursement.
- Social Security Number Alerts: Get notifications if Discover finds your SSN on any one of thousands of risky websites.
- Freeze it: Quickly freeze and unfreeze your card account, through Discover’s website or mobile app.
- Cash at Checkout: Get cash at checkout at participating merchants, by charging an extra amount over your purchase (like a debit card).
- FICO Credit Scorecard: Monitor your FICO 8 Credit Score, based on your TransUnion credit report, along with key factors influencing your credit scores.
You’ll get Price Protection with the CreditStacks card, along with quite a few other benefits, mentioned above. It doesn’t offer the other features of the Discover card, but you can potentially get more value out of the CreditStacks card’s benefits.
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.
Terms & Fees
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% Variable 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:
- Purchase Protection: If an eligible item you buy is lost, stolen, or broken, you can file a claim for reimbursement.
- 24-Hour Travel Assistance Services: Call 1-800-MC-ASSIST for help when traveling, including pre-trip info and emergency services.
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Decline the rental company’s insurance to get coverage against collision damage and theft for your eligible rented vehicles.
- Citi Identity Theft Solutions: If you become a victim of identity theft, Citi will help you learn what happened and take the appropriate steps to deal with it.
Terms & Fees
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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