Varo Bank’s Believe card is advertised as a worry-free way to build your credit, but does it really work? That’s what we aim to answer with this Varo Believe card review.
We’ll explore all of Varo Bank’s features and take a look at how the Believe card can help you build your credit.
Varo Believe Card
The Varo Believe card from Varo Bank is a debit card that helps you build credit. The card is secured by your Varo Believe deposit account and reports like a credit card to all 3 major credit bureaus.
No credit check
No minimum secured balance
Deposit account funds are locked
Does not report a credit limit
Required $500 in deposits
Who Is Varo Bank?
Varo Bank is an online-only bank that offers a full suite of banking features. This includes checking accounts, high-yield savings accounts, a credit building account, and more.
Established in 2015, Varo has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 2017. Varo is also a fully chartered, FDIC-insured bank. This is worth noting, as similar products (i.e., Chime Credit Builder) are often backed by separate banks.
In this review, we’ll be focusing on Varo’s credit-building account, Varo Believe. This account is a marriage of a secured card and a debit card. Your Believe card purchases are always secured by your deposit account balance.
This can help you build credit without risking overspending and going into debt.
Let’s dig deeper into this Varo Believe Card Review to learn how to use the card.
How Does the Varo Believe Card Work?
The Believe card works and builds credit in a unique way. This Varo Believe card review will explore the whole process, from application and funding to credit building and cancelation.
How Do You Apply?
To be eligible for the Varo Believe account, you must meet two qualifications:
- Have a Varo checking account in good standing.
- $500 or more in deposits to your Varo checking within the last 90 days.
If you meet these two requirements, you can apply for the Varo Believe account. Applying does not require a credit check. There is also no minimum account balance.
How Do You Use the Varo Believe Account?
Once approved for the Believe account, you’ll gain access to a new Varo Believe deposit account. This deposit account is what funds your card. You can think of it like a security deposit.
Funding the Account
You can transfer money from your existing Varo checking account or another external account to fund your Believe account. The amount you transfer becomes your spending limit. You cannot spend more than you transfer.
Spending With the Card
Each time you swipe the Believe card, the corresponding total will be locked in your deposit account. For instance, if you buy a cup of coffee for $5.95, then $5.95 of your account balance will be locked. Locked funds cannot be spent.
Paying your Balance
At the end of the month, your locked balance (what you’ve spent) becomes your statement total.
You can set up autopay (SafePay), automatically paying your balance with your locked funds. Or you can manually pay the total with an external account, and the locked funds will be released within 3 days.
If you use autopay, you’ll also want to use Move Your Pay to refund your Believe deposit account every month.
How Does Believe Help You Build Credit?
Varo reports the following information to all 3 major credit bureaus each month.
- Your statement amount
- Your payment amount
- Whether the payment was on-time or late
By paying your Varo Believe account on time, you can positively impact the payment history portion of your credit, which makes up 35% of your credit score. If you don’t pay your account on time, you will take a negative hit to your credit (and your account might be closed).
Varo does not affect:
- Credit utilization (they don’t report a credit limit, so there’s no basis for calculating credit utilization).
- New credit (there’s no hard inquiry when you apply).
You can view your credit score and receive notifications on changes to your score using the Varo app.
Cancelling Varo Believe
While the Believe card is great for building credit, the secured funds requirement makes it a poor long-term option.
In our Varo Believe card review, we noted that to cancel the card, you’ll need to reach out to customer service. Unfortunately, this will require you to use in-app support during business hours (Mountain Time). Varo has phone support but will not cancel your account over the phone.
If you are keeping your Varo checking account, your Believe funds can be transferred there, which will likely be quicker than waiting on a physical check.
Once you close your Varo Believe account, you cannot re-apply for the card in the future.
Additional Varo Services & Features
Another thing we wanted to focus on in our Varo Believe Card Review is the additional services aspect. The Varo Believe program comes with several features for building your credit, including:
- Setting a spending limit
- Autopay with SafePay
- Reporting to all 3 credit bureaus
- Vantage credit score updates
But this is just part of the whole Varo package. Varo also offers checking and savings accounts with their own unique features.
- No fees
- Early payday
- Payments with Zelle
- 40,000+ fee-free ATMs
- 5% APY up to $5,000 balance
- 3% APY unlimited
- Round-up savings
- Auto transfers
In addition to these specific account features, Varo offers general features such as the Varo Advance program, debit card security, a robust mobile app, and money management resources.
Varo Believe is a zero-fee account. In this Varo Believe card review, we’ll highlight some common fees that other cards charge but Varo does not.
|Late Payment Fee
|Monthly or Annual Fee
|Minimum Security Deposit
You are never charged a fee for a late payment. However, not paying on time could result in account closure.
Access to Varo Believe requires you to have a no-fee Varo checking account. You’ll only encounter a $3 fee if you use an out-of-network ATM.
Varo Advance, Varo’s low-limit cash advance program, is the only Varo feature with a fee.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to meet specific qualifications before you can use Advance.
The majority of general reviews about the bank are great. People seem to enjoy all of Varo’s features.
For instance, this reviewer really loves the early pay feature.
And this customer compliments multiple services.
Many reviews focusing on the Believe card are less complimentary. The biggest complaints revolve around the duration of locking funds (30+ days) and lack of customer service.
This review is from a Varo customer who was previously happy with the bank but not so happy with the Believe card.
Other reviewers indicate that customer service has recently changed for the worse.
Varo Believe Alternatives
Varo Believe is one of many credit-building debit cards on the market. Below, we’ll highlight some alternative options and how they compare to Varo Believe. It’s worth noting that Varo and all these alternatives report to all 3 credit bureaus.
|Cred.ai Unicorn Card
|Chime Credit Builder Visa
|Credit Sesame – Sesame Cash
|Payment history and utilization
|Soft credit pull and ChexSystems inquiry
* can be waived
** can be higher or lower depending on your banking history
The biggest outlier here is Cred.ai. Their Unicorn card is the only one that has a credit limit and reports utilization.
We hope this Varo Believe Card Review will help you choose the card that best aligns with your financial needs. Building credit with the Varo Believe card is pretty straightforward, but it won’t work for everyone. Varo states the following:
Some customers may not see an increase, but customers with bad or thin credit histories are likely to see the biggest positive impact on their score from using Varo Believe and making consistent on-time payments.
As further evidence, Varo quotes that 90% of their customers who did not previously have a credit score were able to generate one after just 1 month with Varo. And those with existing credit scores saw an average 42-point increase after 3 months.
If you are an existing Varo customer looking for credit building, then Believe could be a good choice. Or, if you are looking for a full-featured bank with a credit-building option, Varo might be a good fit.
But for those looking for maximum impact on their credit or readily available customer service, other banks/products will likely serve you better.