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Review of the Deserve Classic Mastercard

Updated Sep 09, 2021 | Published Jan 19, 201810 min read

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Deserve Classic Mastercard

Min Credit Level Limited Credit History
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 24.49% Variable
At a glance

The Deserve Classic Mastercard is no longer available for new applicants. Deserve now only offers the Deserve Edu Mastercard.

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The Deserve Classic Mastercard is no longer available for new applicants. Check out the Deserve Edu Mastercard instead.

The Deserve Classic Mastercard is designed for people without a traditional credit history.

This card is different than most. It will take more than just your credit history and current financial situation into account when you apply. That makes it more accessible than most cards, providing a way to start building credit for people who couldn’t be approved otherwise.

There are no rewards, but there’s no annual fee either. And for many people it could be the perfect way to break into the world of credit and credit cards.

Deserve Classic Mastercard
  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR24.49% Variable

Our Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

We gave the Deserve Classic credit card 3 out of 5 Stars because it’s a decent offer considering the terms and fees. Although you won’t earn any rewards, this card is designed only to help you build or improve your credit. And it has the capability to do that quite well.

This is because Deserve will take into account more factors than just your credit history and financial situation when determining whether or not to approve you. They will also check your education, future employability, and earning prospects. This gives people who are new to credit a way in, allowing them to eventually qualify for more rewarding credit cards.

There are a few other favorable features, like a waiver for your first late fee if necessary and no foreign transaction fee. You can get a $30 statement credit for every friend you recommend who is approved for a Deserve card, and a $200 bonus if you recommend 10 friends.

Your maximum credit limit will be pretty small at only $1,500. But despite that this card is still a strong option if you have poor credit, or no credit at all, and are looking for a way to improve it.

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • Consider the Deserve Classic if you want to start building up your credit, or have had trouble getting other credit cards. Deserve considers more than just your credit history and current financial status when you apply.
  • Pay your bills on time and in full each billing period. This will keep your credit line open and prevent interest from accruing, and it will be great for your credit too.
  • Tell your friends about the Deserve credit cards. You’ll earn a $30 statement credit for every friend you refer who successfully applies for one, plus a bonus $200 if you refer 10 friends in total.
  • If you’ve already established a bit of credit history, check out the Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review). Or if you’re a student look into the Deserve Edu Mastercard.

The Rewards

You won’t earn any cash back or points with this card. Instead, it’s only meant to help you improve your credit.

Once you’ve established a positive credit history, you may be able to upgrade to the Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review) or qualify for a different reward credit card.

The Benefits

This card comes with some basic shopping and travel protections. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you won’t be able to add authorized users to your account.

Lemonade Insurance Rebate

Get a $10 statement credit after making three consecutive payments for Lemonade Renters and Home Insurance. This credit is only available once.

Feather Furniture Rental Rebate

Get a $100 discount on your first month’s rental from Feather. To get the credit, pay with your Deserve card and use promo code “DESERVE100”.

Late Payment Waiver

Your first late payment will be waived as a courtesy.

Refer Friends for Statement Credits

Refer a friend to get a Deserve credit card and you will receive a $30 statement credit for every approval. If you refer 10 friends you’ll get a $200 bonus, for a total of $500 in statement credits.

Cell Phone Insurance

Charge your monthly cell phone bill to your Deserve card to get up to $600 in coverage against damage and theft.

Extended Warranty

Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for eligible purchases, up to a maximum of 12 additional months.

Price Protection

If you find an item you bought with the card being advertised for a lesser price within 60 days of the purchase, you can be reimbursed for the price difference.

Travel Assistance Services

Provides emergency and non-emergency assistance when you’re traveling more than 50 miles from home. Cardholder is responsible for any third-party costs. Call 1-800-Mastercard for help, including pre-trip information like what documents and immunizations you might need.

Roadside Assistance

If you have a problem on the road, call 1-800-Mastercard to get help like towing and fuel delivery. Cardholder is responsible for any third-party costs, but you may save money with pre-negotiated fees.

Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Provides coverage against theft and collision, as long as the car rental company’s own insurance is declined.

Fraud Protection

You are not held responsible for unauthorized transactions on your card.

ID Theft Protection

Provides access to identity theft resolution services if your identity is compromised.

The Costs & Fees

Regular Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Maximum Credit Limit
24.49% Variable Not Applicable Not Applicable $1,500
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
$0  None Not Applicable Not Applicable
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None Up to $25; first fee waived Up to $37

As you can see, you’ll have no annual fee to pay. And you can’t use this card for balance transfers or cash advances.

Your maximum credit limit is quite small with this card, only $1,500. But if you pay your balance off in full every billing period or throughout the month you’ll be able to keep it open and ready to be used. You’ll also avoid accruing interest on purchases, and it will be good for your credit too.

There’s no foreign transaction fee with this card, so it’s a pretty good choice for traveling outside the country. Check out some travel credit cards for other options.

Customer Support

Phone Support

Customer Support 1-800-316-7258 Mon to Thurs 5 a.m.–7 p.m. PST, Fri and Sat 5 a.m.–3 p.m. PST

Deserve’s customer support team can be reached most hours of the day, most days of the week. When we’ve called, we’ve spoken to friendly and informative staff. After rebranding from SelfScore, it seems they’re determined to make their mark on the industry.

Their representatives have been able to answer all of our questions, even giving us a bit of extra information. We learned that when you apply for the Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review), you can select an option to automatically apply for the Deserve Classic if you aren’t approved for the Pro version.

The Pro version has no annual fee and offers cash back, so it’s a better option if you can get it. When it comes to these two cards, if you have any credit history established at all it’d be a good move to apply for the Pro with the Classic as your fallback.

Deserve’s team seems to be well-trained and able to help. As far as we’ve seen, you should have a relatively pleasant and easy experience calling them, compared to some other credit card companies.

Web Support

The Deserve website is pretty simple to navigate. There are only three card offers, so it’s easy to quickly get an overview of them.

Deserve also provides some credit education resources to help you learn about credit. The site has lessons on credit scores and credit reports, how to use credit cards, and how to work and budget while in school.

The Bottom Line

The Deserve Classic Mastercard is designed for anyone who needs to improve his or her credit, with no annual fee or rewards. It doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, although you’ll get a decent selection of benefits. Instead it offers a good way to improve your credit, eventually allowing you to qualify for better cards.

Use this card responsibly, paying your balance in full and on time. You’ll be adding a positive account to your credit reports, showing lenders that you can use credit properly.

In time, all other things being equal, you’ll be able to qualify for a card with some great rewards and benefits. There are other cards meant to build your credit that can help you get there too. Check out some alternatives to the Deserve Classic below.

How to Apply for the Deserve Classic Mastercard

The Deserve Classic Mastercard is no longer available for new applicants.

Deserve Classic Mastercard
  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR24.49% Variable

Alternatives to the Deserve Classic Mastercard

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Deserve Edu Mastercard
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR18.74% Variable

The Deserve Edu Mastercard (Review) is much like the Deserve Classic. But it’s designed for students in particular, to give them an opportunity to start building a traditional credit history.

There are a few differences between the Classic and the Edu. The most important different features of the Deserve Edu are:

  • No annual fee
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • One year of Amazon Prime Student for spending $500 in the first 3 billing cycles
  • No SSN required to apply — available to international students
  • Maximum credit limit of $5,000

So this is the much better choice for students. You’ll earn some minor rewards without having to pay an annual fee.

This card is a great option for international students coming to the U.S. who don’t have an SSN. You don’t need one to apply. And with Deserve’s more accepting standards you’ll have a better chance of being approved compared to other credit card issuers. You will need a U.S. bank account to apply, however.

The other terms and benefits are basically the same between these two cards.

There’s also one other Deserve card, the Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review). This card is meant for people with some established credit history already, but it still checks for that expanded set of factors so it’s available to more people.

With the Deserve Pro you’ll have the opportunity to earn some better cash back rewards. This card offers:

  • No annual fee
  • 3% cash back on Travel and Entertainment
  • 2% cash back at Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Maximum credit limit of $10,000

This card does require an SSN to apply for. But for no annual fee, it’s a good way for people with average credit to earn some rewards.

Discover it® Secured
  • Min. credit levelBad
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APRSee Terms

The Discover it® Secured (Review) is also designed to help you build or rebuild your credit. But this is a secured credit card, which is a bit different. That means it requires a security deposit when you’re approved, which will determine the credit limit you get. You’ll get the deposit back when you close out the card.

This is one of the better secured credit cards available. It even offers cash back, unlike most of them. You’ll get:

  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in spending each quarter)
  • 1% cash back everywhere else
  • Cashback Match: get double the rewards in your first year

The rewards are a rare find on a secured card. But the fact that Discover will double the total cash back you earn after one year is pretty impressive. That makes this a good offer even among reward cards.

Discover provides free access to one of your FICO 8 Credit Scores, based on your TransUnion credit report. You’ll also get tips and suggestions for improving your credit. This is a great feature when you’re working to rebuild your credit, which you won’t get with the Deserve card. Discover actually offers this service to everyone, whether you’re a cardholder or not.

There’s no annual fee for the Discover it Secured. Credit limits are available from $200 to $2,500, depending on your credit history and ability to fund the deposit.

Overall, the Discover it Secured is a great way to build or rebuild your credit. It requires a security deposit, unlike the Deserve card. But for that price you’ll get a variety of nice features along with the ability to improve your credit. The Deserve Classic, however, doesn’t require a credit history and will check more than just your credit and current finances when you apply. This gives you a better chance of approval.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • Min. credit levelBad
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR26.99% Variable

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card (Review) is a no-annual-fee secured credit card, with pretty basic features. It offers no rewards for purchases, and has some standard shopping and travel protections.

This card is meant only to help you build or repair your credit, and it has a few options designed with that in mind. Your initial required security deposit will be $49, $99, or $200, depending on your creditworthiness. This will fund your initial credit limit of $200. No matter how much you deposit, you’ll get a limit of $200. You can then increase your credit limit by depositing more money.

You may be automatically considered for a higher credit line after six months. This is a nice feature for secured cards, which typically come with low credit limits.

Capital One also provides the CreditWise® service, a handy tool. It lets you monitor one of your credit scores, your VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion. This may not be quite as useful as getting one of your FICO scores, but it can still be a good way to track your progress. Capital One provides this service for everyone, whether you’re a cardholder or not.

Capital One’s secured card is a good option to rebuild your credit, with good terms and features to help you along. It may be more difficult to get than the Deserve Classic, which looks at more than just credit history and current financial situation when you apply.

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securely on the issuer's website

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelBad
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.75% Variable

The DCU Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card (Review) is a simple secured credit card, with no annual fee and offering no rewards for purchases.

With this card you will be required to open a DCU savings account, and your credit limit will be based on that account. This functions just like a security deposit, funding your credit line.

There are some basic shopping and travel protections, like the other cards on this list. But that’s about all there is to this card. Use it responsibly and your credit scores will improve, and eventually you’ll be able to qualify for more rewarding cards.

The DCU Visa Platinum is basically on-par with the Deserve Classic in many ways. But the Deserve card doesn’t require a security deposit and will check more than just your credit and current finances when applying. So it will be more accessible for people without a traditional credit history.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$39
  • Purchase APR26.99% Variable

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) is designed for people with average credit. It’s an unsecured card, so it doesn’t require a security deposit.

It does have an annual fee of $39, however. So it will be more expensive than the Deserve Classic.

But you’ll also get some cash back with this card, a bit more than you’d usually expect for a card meant for average credit:

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase

So you can earn a bit back on your purchases as you improve your credit. You won’t be able to do that with the Deserve Classic. And if you spend $2,600 with the card in a given year you’ll earn enough cash back to offset the annual fee. That shouldn’t be too hard to do for most people.

When using the QuicksilverOne card, Capital One may automatically consider you for a higher credit line after six months. A nice feature, because cards meant for average credit typically come with low credit limits.

So the Capital One card is very similar to the Deserve Classic, but with 1.5% cash back rewards for every purchase. It will also be harder to get because it requires a credit history, though. The Deserve Classic doesn’t require a credit history, and will check more than the usual factors when you apply.

Looking for other credit cards to help build your credit? Read about Secured Credit Cards and see our picks for the best ones.

How do you like your Deserve credit card? Was it more easily available, and helping you improve your credit? Leave your own review of the Deserve Classic for other visitors, we’d love to hear from you!

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Written by

Brendan Harkness

Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high-quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.

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