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Credit cards are one of my favorite financial tools—but they have a light side and a dark side. When you use credit cards the right way, they can help build a better credit score, add a security layer between your transactions and your bank account, and earn you special rewards like cashback and travel points.
Their dark side, meanwhile, is one that all too many people are familiar with. Overspending on credit cards can lead to a mountain of debt that keeps growing taller as the high-interest charges accumulate. Missed or late payments can drag your credit score down with them.
If you’ve had experiences like the latter, you may be wary about getting back into the world of credit. Or you may struggle to find cards that will approve you with a low credit score (or limited credit history). That’s where secured credit cards like the Self Visa credit card come in.
In this review, we’ll look at how secured cards work, specific details about the Self Visa credit card, who can benefit from a card like this, pros and cons, and how to apply.
How does the Self Visa Credit Card work?
The Self Visa Credit Card is a secured credit card, so let’s quickly review what these are and how they differ from traditional cards.
Secured credit cards are similar to a debit card in that your line of credit is secured by money you deposit into a connected account. This means that even if you have a poor credit history, you don’t pose a risk to your lender—because if you miss a payment, they still have a way to get their money. (But don’t take this as an excuse to miss payments, which cancels out the credit benefits for you!)
Unlike a debit card, secured credit cards report to credit agencies. This is why they’re considered a great tool to rebuild your credit. By using a secured card and making payments on time, you get the chance to demonstrate responsible credit usage and raise your score over time.
Secured cards can also be helpful if you haven’t had credit cards before and are starting from scratch. They’re easier to qualify for and can get you accustomed to using credit cards.
Opening a Self Visa Credit Card
To be eligible specifically for a Self Visa secured credit card, you need to first have a Self Credit Builder Loan Account.
This is similar to the credit card in that it’s a secured personal loan that also helps build your credit. You apply for the loan account and make payments, but the difference is that you don’t receive your loan sum until you're done making payments. Just like secured credit cards, this system eliminates the risk to the lender while giving you the chance to demonstrate responsibility and consistency with your loan payments.
Steps to getting a Self Visa Credit Card
- Visit this page on the Self website.
- Apply for a Self Credit Builder Account.
- Once you’re approved for this account, you’ll have to make 3 on-time monthly payments and reach $100 in savings progress to become eligible for the Self Visa Credit Card.
- When you meet eligibility requirements, you’ll receive a notification inviting you to apply for the card.
- Follow the steps to order your card and choose your credit limit. Your limit can be as high as the amount of savings in your Credit Builder account.
Some credit cards have enticing special benefits like cash back and travel rewards. While these cards can be a great part of your future credit strategy, they are typically harder to qualify for. Secured credit cards like the Self Visa are like rungs on the credit score ladder to help you reach the level where better cards are accessible.
With this credit card, the main benefit is simply that it reports to all three major credit bureaus and helps you build credit. Combined with the Credit Builder Loan, it can be a great, targeted way to lift your score.
Another perk: once you’re notified that you’re eligible for the card, there’s no credit check or intense application process—you’ll be instantly approved. You don't even have to make a new security deposit, since your card will be secured by the funds in your existing Credit Builder account.
Finally, while this benefit isn't card-specific, having a Self Credit Builder Account essentially acts as forced savings. As you make your loan payments, the money is placed into a Certificate of Deposit (CD), and you receive all that money (minus fees) at the end of the loan term. If you’ve struggled to save in the past, this can give you a headstart on an emergency fund or money to start an investment account.
Fees & costs
Because you’re required to have a Self Credit Builder Account before you can get the card, let’s look at the fees for both.
Self Credit Builder Account loan fees
- One-time, non-refundable administrative fee: $9
- Finance charge: Between $89 and $146, depending on your chosen monthly loan commitment
- Annual interest rate: Between 14.14% and 14.87%, again depending on your loan choice
- Late fees: 5% of your monthly payment amount, so between $1.25 and $7.50 depending on your loan.
The loans are designed to take 12-24 months. You can choose to pay them off early, although you may not want to since the point of the loans is to establish payment history. You’ll also be charged an early withdrawal fee of less than $5.
Self Visa Credit Card fees
- Annual fee: $25
- APY: 23.74% variable (meaning it can change from month to month)
- Late fee: The first one is waived; subsequent late fees are $15
- There is no extra security deposit. Because this card is connected to your Credit Builder account, your security deposit comes right from the money you’re already saving in that account.
Unlike the loan, you do not want to carry an ongoing balance on your credit card. Pay your entire statement balance every month, not just the minimum payment. For example, if you spend $50 on the card one month, you should pay off the entire $50 when your statement closes. If you do this, you will build your credit and never pay any late fees or interest.
Self Financial uses the following security measures:
- Your Credit Builder loan savings are placed into an FDIC-insured CD.
- They request documents to verify your identity.
- Your data is encrypted and they have emergency systems in place.
Do you have a question or issue? Here’s how to get in touch with Self Financial customer service:
- Visit the Contact page and choose your question category.
- If the automatic answer doesn’t take care of your question, select “I’d like to contact support.”
- Send a message with your phone number, email, and a brief description of your query, or click for live chat.
Pros & cons of the Self Visa Credit Card
Keeping in mind everything we’ve learned so far, here are some quick takeaways of this Self Visa Credit Card review.
- If you already have a Self Credit Builder Account, this card is very easy to get and doesn’t involve any credit checks or additional deposits.
- It reports to all three credit bureaus, so it can help you build your credit as long as you make payments on time.
- If you don’t have a Self Credit Builder Account, the process to get this card is more complicated. You’ll have to open a loan account and maintain it for at least three months before becoming eligible for the card.
- The card has an annual fee of $25, while some other secured cards are annual-fee-free.
- It has no special rewards. This isn’t uncommon for a secured credit card, but there are alternatives that may give you cashback.
Who's a good candidate for the Self Visa Credit Card?
If you are in the market for a secured credit card, it important to explore the various options that exist. Ultimately, I’d recommend the Self Visa Credit Card to people who fall into the following categories:
- You’re on a mission to rebuild your credit through multiple avenues (secured loan + secured credit card)
- You may have been denied for secured cards with better terms
- You’re confident that you can make all your payments on time to avoid late fees and interest
Here's to finding the perfect stepping stone to better credit!