Review: Self Secured Visa Credit Card — Best for Building Credit?
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The Self Secured Visa is a secured card available only to Self Credit Builder Account customers. You have to meet certain requirements to get it, but there’s no credit check involved, which makes it fairly accessible.
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Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
We’re giving the Self Secured Visa® Credit Card 4 out of 5 Stars. The card’s features are barebones and there’s an annual fee, but its low barrier to entry makes it appealing if you’d like to build your credit scores and have nowhere else to turn.
Why We Like It
- It’s easy to get; there’s no standard credit application, hard inquiry, or lump-sum deposit necessary, and no chance of rejection if you have a Self Credit Builder Account in good standing
- Reports activity to all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), allowing you to build credit if you use the card wisely
- Managing a credit card while paying an installment loan (your Credit Builder Account) diversifies the variety of accounts listed on your credit reports, which may help boost your credit scores
- Near-universal acceptance thanks to the Visa network
Why It Could Be Better
- The $25 annual fee is in addition to any fees required to open a Self Credit Builder Account, so it’s less cost-effective than other secured options that charge no annual fee at all
- You need a Self Credit Builder Account to get the card, and while helpful to some, Credit Builder Accounts aren’t for everyone
- You can’t get the card until you’ve made three on-time payments and reached a total balance of at least $100 on a Credit Builder Account that’s in good standing
Since Self Financial’s founding, “Credit Builder Accounts” — the company’s take on credit builder loans — have remained its flagship product. The accounts are presented as a straightforward, relatively low-fee way to build credit, and in general, they appear to deliver on that promise when managed wisely.
In late 2019, however, Self took a logical step forward, introducing its own credit card: the Self Secured Visa Credit Card.
It’s not exactly a new product so much as it is an extension of Self’s credit builder loans. It works like your everyday secured credit card, but rather than requiring you to pay a deposit up front, your credit limit is secured by your Self Credit Builder Account savings balance. And there aren’t any rewards or benefits, either, though that’s common for cards primarily designed for building credit.
There’s no typical card application involved, and no credit inquiry necessary to get the card, either. You just have to meet a few simple requirements, which we’ll discuss later.
All in all, the Self secured card seems like a helpful extension to the company’s Credit Builder Accounts. You just have to use it wisely.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
- Treat it like a regular credit card: Make purchases as usual; the Self secured card can be used wherever Visa is accepted, which is basically everywhere credit cards are accepted.
- Use it responsibly: You should usually only use a credit card for purchases you can afford to pay off in full by the due date to avoid accumulating interest charges. That’s especially true for cards designed for applicants with poor or limited credit, as they often have higher interest rates. On top of that, carrying a balance will leave you with a higher credit utilization ratio, which may hinder your credit-building progress.
- Keep managing your Credit Builder Account wisely: Whether you qualify for the card in the first place depends on your Credit Builder Account’s good standing. Make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew by juggling the account and a credit card.
- Look elsewhere once your Credit Builder Account is paid off: If you successfully improve your credit during your time as a Self customer, consider moving on to something better. Try a basic unsecured rewards card with no annual fee, or a secured credit card with no annual fee if your credit’s not quite there yet.
How Do I Apply for the Self Secured Visa Credit Card?
The Self card’s most distinctive feature is that you can’t just apply for it like you can with most secured cards.
The card is exclusive to current Self Credit Builder Account users, and you have to meet a few requirements to get it. Here’s how it works:
- Have an open Credit Builder Account. The Self card is only available to Self accountholders in good standing.
- Make at least three on-time monthly payments in a row. Strive for an impeccable payment history to demonstrate your reliability as a borrower.
- Make at least $100 in payments on your Credit Builder Account. Your first three on-time payments might be enough to satisfy this requirement, or they may not. It all depends on your account terms.
- Make sure you’re all caught up on fees. You’ll have to take care of any outstanding Credit Builder Account fees before you can get the card.
- Choose your credit limit and request your card. Once you’ve met the above criteria, you should be able to get the Self Secured Visa. You pick your own credit limit (it can’t be any more than your Credit Builder Account balance), and that’s basically it — you should receive your card soon after.
- Pay the annual fee. Bear in mind that the Self Card has an annual fee, which isn’t always the case with a secured card.
What Credit Scores Do You Need for the Self Secured Visa Credit Card?
Your credit scores have no impact on your ability to get the Self card, and there’s no hard credit inquiry necessary.
After all, the Self Credit Builder Account was designed to help those with poor or limited credit in the first place. The card is just an additional account feature. (See other cards for poor or limited credit.)Read more Credit Score Ranges — Good, Bad, and Excellent
The Self Visa doesn’t really offer anything in the way of benefits.
Where some cards deliver perks like travel insurance and statement credits, the Self card’s ease of access is its main “benefit.”
But that’s fine — the card wasn’t designed to compete with cards that do provide benefits. It’s meant to serve as a stepping stone on the path to better credit. You can apply for better cards with flashier features after you’ve further developed your credit history.
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|None||Up to $15||Up to $15|
You have to pay an annual fee to use the Self card. It’s a relatively low fee, but it’s in addition to whatever fees you’re paying for your Credit Builder Account. And while those fees aren’t bad, they’re there, and that can be an obstacle.
There are plenty of secured cards without annual fees, and you might want to try applying for one of those first if you’d like to save money. You can check to see if you’re pre-qualified for any cards before applying and getting a hard inquiry.
You also have to remember that if you carry a balance on the Self card without paying it off in full by the due date, you’ll be charged interest, just like with any credit card. So you’re better off using the card only if you can pay off all of your purchases on a monthly basis.
The Bottom Line
If you can’t qualify for a secured credit card with no annual fee, and you’re either an existing Self customer or someone who might benefit from a Credit Builder Account, then the Self Secured Visa® Credit Card is a potentially useful credit-building tool. The card’s low barrier to entry is a huge plus.
The fact that the card is secured by your Credit Builder Account balance, rather than an upfront deposit, is another perk, especially if you’re not sure you’d be able to fund a decent-sized deposit in one shot. Most other secured cards require a one-time upfront deposit.
The fees you’re charged for both the card and the account keep the Self card from being the best secured option, of course, but you could do worse. At least those fees are reasonable, and the straightforward application path makes it a more dependable option than most.
Overall, there’s not much to say about the card itself. Aside from its relationship with Self’s Credit Builder Accounts, the Self Visa is a very simple card that’s primarily designed for building or repairing credit. Swipe it wherever Visa is accepted, pay off the balance each month, and keep an eye on your credit scores. You might just see them grow.
The Self Secured Visa isn’t for everyone, but it’s about as good an option as you can expect if you’re having trouble getting approved for anything else.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Self Credit Card have rewards?
No. The Self credit card offers no rewards; it’s mainly meant to help you build credit.
In fact, very few secured credit cards offer rewards at all (though some do). You may have better luck finding a rewards card that suits your situation by browsing our list of the best first credit cards, or our top card picks for building credit.
Can you increase the credit limit of the Self Credit Card?
You should be notified via your account dashboard if you’re eligible for a limit increase. Your credit card account and Credit Builder Account must both be in good standing in order to qualify.
How do you get your security deposit back if you close the Self Credit Card?
If you close the Self secured card and your Credit Builder Account is still active, the deposit will be returned to that account.
If you close the card after your Credit Builder Account is paid in full, then the deposit will be sent either by check or via ACH.
Closing the account because you’d like to apply for something better? Try one of our favorite no annual fee credit cards.
Will my Self Credit Card be closed if I don’t use it enough?
No, your Self credit card account will never be closed due to inactivity.
Alternatives to the Self Secured Visa Credit Card
The Self Secured Visa is helpful if you’ve considered (or already have) a Self Credit Builder Account.
But there are several credit cards with no annual fee that may be worth trying first, even if your credit is in rough shape.
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Sean Messier works to empower individuals with the knowledge required to use credit cards responsibly and to their advantage. His writing- and research-based background has granted him experience in an array of topics, from finance to business and beyond. Sean distills the knowledge accumulated over years of experience in the credit space into consistent, actionable articles, guides, and reviews.
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