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The Self Visa Credit Card is a unique take on secured credit cards. It is secured by the balance you’ve built in one of Self’s credit builder loans, giving you the opportunity to access some of the money you’ve saved and offering another opportunity to build credit.

In this review of the Self Visa Credit Card, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the card and whether it’s right for you.

Self Visa Credit Card

3.6 out of 5

Self’s Visa credit card is a good choice for people who are already using the company’s credit builder loans. However, people who aren’t already working with Self might be better off with a traditional secured card instead.

Effectiveness
4.5 out of 5
Cost
3 out of 5
Ease of Use
4 out of 5
Support
3 out of 5

Pros

Automatic approval, no credit check

No deposit

Credit limit grows over time

Reports a revolving credit account to all three credit bureaus

Cons

You Need a Self Credit Builder Loan

$25 annual fee

Not clear what happens to the card after the loan term.

What is a Secured Credit Card?

A secured credit card is a special type of credit card designed to help people with poor or no credit to start building their credit score.

When you get a secured credit card, you offer a security deposit to the card issuer. Typically, this is a few hundred dollars and your card’s credit limit is equal to the deposit you provide. Once you submit the deposit, the card issuer sends you the card and you can start using it like a normal credit card.

Because you offer the security deposit, the lender takes on almost no risk, making it very easy to qualify for these cards if you have the cash to make a deposit.

Each month, you get a bill and must pay it. As you make payments, they show up on your credit report and improve your credit score. However, missing payments will damage your score, just like missing payments on other cards.

Once your credit score improves, you can either upgrade to an unsecured card and get your deposit back or open a different card that doesn’t require a deposit.

When you close your secured card, you’ll get your security deposit back.

How Does the Self Visa Credit Card Differ from Typical Secured Cards?

The Self Visa credit card differs from other secured credit cards in one key way. To qualify, you must open a Self Credit Builder loan. Self doesn’t allow you to apply for the secured card and submit a security deposit directly. Instead, it relies on the savings balance you’ve built in your credit builder loan.

Self Visa® Secured Credit Card

This makes it a useful tool to have in addition to a credit builder loan, but it isn’t a way for people to build credit from scratch.

Features

The Self Visa credit card has a few useful features.

No Additional Money Up Front

Self uses the savings balance you’ve built in your credit builder loan as the collateral for your secured credit card. Once you’ve built at least $100 in savings progress, you can apply for the card. There’s no need to deposit additional cash.

That can make it easier to apply, especially if you’d struggle to have a few hundred dollars saved up to apply for other secured cards.

Your Credit Limit Grows Over Time

You can choose whatever credit limit you’d like for the card as long as the limit is at least $100 and less than your credit builder loan’s savings progress.

That means that each payment you make toward your credit builder loan can increase your credit limit. As your credit score improves, Self may also offer to increase your credit limit.

Reports to All Three Credit Bureaus

The Self Visa Credit Card reports your payments to all three major credit bureaus. They are reported as a revolving account, which will help your credit mix, as you already have an installment loan from your Self credit builder loan. The combination can help you build credit.

As with any secured card, you will have to make every payment on time and keep your credit utilization low by keeping your balance below 30% of your credit limit. With credit limits as low as $100 you will have to keep close control of your spending to keep credit utilization low.

If you miss payments or let your credit utilization grow, you could harm your credit.

Automatic Approval

If you’ve qualified for a credit builder loan from Self, you’re automatically approved for the card once you meet the $100 savings progress requirement and make 3 on-time, monthly payments on your credit builder loan.

Self Visa Credit Card

What Happens When You’ve Paid Your Loan?

Self’s credit builder loans have terms of 12 or 24 months. Self’s website is not clear on what happens to your Self Visa Card once you complete the loan term. Since your loan payments secure the loan, it’s likely that you have to either keep the amount on deposit or open a new credit-builder loan if you wish to withdraw the sum of your payments.

Pricing

The Self Visa credit card carries a $25 annual fee. The fee will show up on your first card statement and then every twelve months thereafter.

This fee is on top of the cost of the credit builder loan and the interest you must pay.

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews for Self are relatively mixed. The company has a B+ rating from the Better Business Bureau but just 2.4 stars from TrustPilot.

Positive reviews note that the company does help build credit, but do mention the costs involved.

Negative reviews tend to focus on the high cost and the fact that the loans can also damage your credit if you miss payments.

Reviews of Self tend to focus on the credit-builder loan product. The Self Visa Credit Card, a newer offering, is only mentioned in a small number of reviews so it’s difficult to get a separate evaluation of the product.

Self Visa Credit Card Alternatives

Self is a unique secured card, but it isn’t the only option for people looking to boost their credit. Before you sign up, consider these alternatives.

Annual feeProsCons
Discover it Secured$0Earn cash back rewards
$200 minimum deposit
Get your deposit back automatically in as little as 7 months
Discover is less widely accepted than other cards  
Capital One Quicksilver Secured$0Earn cash back rewards
$200 minimum deposit
Automatic upgrade to unsecured card once you build credit
Higher APR than other cards
Chime Credit Builder Visa$0No minimum security deposit
Automate spending limit and payments from your linked checking account
Must have a Chime checking account and monthly direct deposits of $200 or more

Is a Self Visa Credit Card Worth It?

If you already have a Self credit builder loan, you don’t already have a credit card, and you don’t mind paying an extra $25 a year, the Self Visa credit card might be worth it. The card will give you a revolving account that will improve your credit mix and help you build credit.

Opening the card gives you a chance to get used to using a credit card and gives you the opportunity to add an additional monthly payment to your credit history, which might help you build credit more quickly.

However, for most people, it’s better to apply for one of the no-fee alternatives listed above. Those cards offer perks like cash back rewards, don’t charge an annual fee, and don’t require that you have a credit builder loan that comes with interest and fees.

If you already have a credit card there’s very little you can gain from the Self Visa Credit Card.

Verdict

A Self Visa credit card might appeal to people who already have a Self Credit Builder Loan, but most people will be better off with a traditional secured card. If you already have a credit card, don’t bother.

How We Reviewed This Product

We rate products by comparing them to similar products. In this case, that means comparison to other secured credit cards, and to a lesser extent to other credit-building tools. Here’s a summary of the rating criteria.

Effectiveness

This is based on the number of credit bureaus reported to, the type of account reported, and the length of history provided. Self reports a revolving credit account to all three major credit bureaus in addition to the installment account of a Self credit builder loan for a relatively high score. Just watch that credit utilization!

Cost

Building credit doesn’t have to cost money. The Self Visa Card puts a $25 annual fee on top of the existing costs of a credit-builder loan, making it a relatively expensive way to build credit.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is primarily determined by user reports from customer reviews. Most reports suggest that setting up a Self account is easy and straightforward, hence the high score.

Support

Support scores are also based largely on customer reviews. All products have some issues, and you want to be sure that you can get quick and effective solutions if something goes wrong. Reviews indicate some customer service issues with Self. These may be partly due to misunderstanding or unreasonable expectations on the part of some users, but there’s still cause for concern.