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Self Secured Visa Review: A New Way to Build Credit

Self - Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card review
KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • The Self - Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn’t require a credit check or traditional security deposit.
  • You start with a secured credit-building loan and unlock access to the credit card after at least three months of on-time payments.
  • The Self Secured Visa Credit Card comes with an annual fee of $25 and can’t be used internationally.
  • Because this option involves an installment loan and a credit card, it’s good for your credit mix and can help you improve your credit score.
SUMMARY

The Self Secured Visa Credit Card provides a holistic tool for building credit. Those who can make the monthly loan payments and manage their credit card accounts well can improve their credit mix and payment history at the same time.

The full review below details how the Self credit-building products work and answers questions such as:

  • What benefits do you get with the Self Secured Visa credit card?
  • How can you apply for the card?
  • What are the credit limits associated with this card?

Equipped with this information, you’ll be able to decide if the Self Secured Visa card is the best credit card for you.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No upfront deposit
  • No credit score requirement
  • Contributes to credit mix

Cons

  • Can’t use the card immediately
  • Have to commit to 2 years of payments
  • Doesn’t earn rewards
Self - Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card
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Key Information
No rewards earning. Helps you to easily build credit through saving money. This card has a $25 annual fee.

Is the Self Credit Builder Card worth it?

The Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card may be a good choice for individuals who want to take a holistic approach to building credit, as it can help you address factors including timely payments, credit mix and credit utilization.

You don’t need good credit to get Secured Visa Credit Card — Self doesn’t even do a hard inquiry for approval. With this credit building credit card, you do have to start with the credit-building loan, however, and use the value you unlock with your loan payments to secure your credit limit for the card.

We’ve listed out the card’s main pros and cons below to help you get a better idea of its fit with your needs.

Pros and Cons of Self Secured Visa Credit Card

  • You don’t need good credit, and there isn’t a credit check
  • No security deposit
  • May improve your credit mix
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
  • You have to wait a few months before you can open the credit card account
  • You need to commit to 24 loan payments
  • No rewards structure
  • No path to upgrade to a better card from the lender

Learn More About Self Credit Builder

How does the Self Credit Builder with Secured Visa work?

The Self Secured Visa Credit Card is a unique credit card product, and your journey to it actually begins with a Self Credit Builder Loan. The lender uses this process to bypass hard inquiries on your credit report and the typical security deposits that other secured credit cards require.

The process works like this:

  1. You establish a Credit Builder Loan
  2. You make at least three monthly payments on the Credit Builder Loan ensuring those payments are enough to reach at least $100 in savings associated with the loan.
  3. Choose the amount of that savings you want to use to secure a credit card.
  4. Order, receive and activate your Self Secured Visa Credit Card.
  5. Begin using the credit card and managing your account responsibly.

If you’re not familiar with the Self credit-building loan product, this may sound confusing. Consider the hypothetical example below to better understand how the process works.

Emily’s experience with the Self Credit Builder

Emily opens a Self Credit Builder Account. Like all account holders, she will pay a $9 administrative fee to establish the account and then make a monthly payment of her choosing for 24 months into the account. Because Emily knows she wants to also get a Self Secured Visa card, she chooses to make monthly payments of $48. That way, after her first three months of payments, she would have established more than $100 in savings and can use it to secure the credit card limit for her Self Secured Visa Credit Card.

Even after Emily gets the Self Secured Visa, she will continue to make the $48 monthly payment. At the end of 24 months, if Emily has paid all of her monthly payments, she will get back $992 from the Certificate of Deposit her Self credit-building loan funds were held in.

If you do the math, you’ll see that Emily doesn’t get back all of the money she put in. That’s because the credit-building loan comes with an APR between 15.88% and 15.92%, depending on the size of the loan. That interest is accounted for in the monthly payment, which means Emily paid interest on top of the principal throughout the 24 months.

Learn more about Self Credit Builder

Self Secured Visa Credit Card benefits and features

As a sort of add-on product to the Self credit-building loan product, the Self Secured Visa card offers some interesting benefits.  

No security deposit required

You don’t need to come up with a cash security deposit, as your credit limit is secured by the amount you’ve already paid on your Self credit-building loan. You can choose your credit limit, starting at $100, depending on how much you’ve paid on your loan already.

No credit check required

Self doesn’t do a hard inquiry to pull your credit report, so it doesn’t matter what your credit history or score looks like. If you follow the process correctly and make your Self credit-building loan payments on time, you’re automatically approved for the credit card as long as you have income that lets you make your payments.

One reason that it’s so easy to get the Self Secured Visa card via this process is that there isn’t a lot of risk for the lender. If you run up a balance on your card and don’t pay it off, Self will simply use the balance you would have received back on your credit-building loan to pay your balance.

Reports to all three major credit bureaus

While Self doesn’t pull your credit report to approve you for the card, it does report your timely payments to all three major credit bureaus. That helps you build a more positive credit history. It also ensures your timely payments are reflected no matter which credit bureau a future lender might pull your report from.

Improve credit mix

Your credit mix — whether you have various types of credit on your report — accounts for around 10% of the overall factors that make up your credit score. Having only revolving credit accounts, like credit cards, or only installment accounts, like loans, can weaken your credit performance. When you have both a Self credit-building loan and the Self Secured Visa Credit Card, you have an installment and a revolving account. That improves your credit mix, therefore helping to raise your credit score.

Self’s CD account earns interest

The CD account that your loan funds are held in until you make all 24 payments earns interest. Although you won’t make money on this deal after you pay the fees and interest for the loan, you may end up better off than if you chose a credit-building loan where the funds are housed in a low-interest savings account.

No separate application for Self Secured Visa

You don’t have to complete two applications. Once you apply for and are approved for the Self Credit-Building Loan, you simply have to make your payments on time. Once you meet the payment threshold to qualify for the Self Secured Visa Credit Card, you can order your card.

Visa benefits

The Self Secured Visa card comes with all the basic benefits any Visa credit or debit card comes with. That means you can use it at any location where Visa is accepted in the United States — you can’t use this card internationally, however. You also get Visa’s zero liability protection, which means you don’t have to cover charges on your card that you didn’t approve or were fraudulent.

Self Secured Visa Credit Card rewards

The Self Secured Visa card is not a rewards credit card. You won’t earn cash back, points or miles when you use this card to make purchases, and there isn’t any type of sign-up or welcome bonus. 

This is fairly standard for secured credit cards. Most don’t offer any type of reward structure, but a couple of cards do offer cashback opportunities.

Self Secured Visa Credit Card fees, rates & limit

Understanding the cost of your credit — or the cost of building credit — is always important. When researching secured credit cards, pay attention to factors such as annual fees, maintenance fees and interest rates.

Self Visa Credit Card fees

You’ll pay a $9 administrative fee to open your Credit Builder Account. That fee is related to the loan product and is a one-time-only fee.

Later, when you order your Self Secured Visa card, you’ll pay an annual fee of $25 for the card account. That’s typically charged to your credit card. 

Other fees associated with the account and card include:

There are no foreign transaction fees with this card, as it can’t be used internationally.

Self Visa Credit Card interest rates

The regular APR for purchases with the Self Secured Visa card is 28.24% variable. This card doesn’t offer balance transfers, so there’s no balance transfer APR. It also doesn’t come with an introductory APR offer for purchases.

Self Credit Card limit

You choose your credit limit on the Self Visa, but the minimum is $100. The amount you can select for your credit limit depends on how much value you have in your credit-building loan account. Over time, you may be able to increase your credit limit if you continue to manage the loan and credit card accounts responsibly and make timely payments.

How the Self Credit Card compares to other secured cards

The Self Secured Visa Credit Card is a pretty unique product because it’s so closely linked to the Self loan product. That relationship creates benefits you can’t get with other secured credit cards, such as the lack of security deposit and the two-pronged approach to improving your credit mix.

When it comes to fees and interest, Self’s secure credit card is competitive with other options on the market. The annual fee is lower than you’ll get with most other secured credit cards, and the interest is within a few points of competitor offers.

The major drawback of the Self Secured Visa card compared to other options is that it takes a while to get it. You have to invest in the loan first and wait at least three months before ordering a credit card. You’re also still on the hook for the loan, and although you get most of your payments back, that may not be the right financial path for everyone.

Self Secured Visa Credit Card vs. Capital One Platinum Secured

Let’s compare the Self Secured Visa Credit Card with a competing product from Capital One to get an idea of how it stacks up. 

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is one of the few secured credit cards on the market that doesn’t have an annual fee, but its APR is slightly higher than the Self Secured Visa at 30.74% variable.

Unlike with the Self Secured Visa, you do have to pay a security deposit to get approved for this credit card, and the lender does pull your credit when you apply. The state of your credit history determines whether you’re approved for the card and whether you need to pay $49, $99 or $200 as a minimum security deposit.

Capital One reports to all three credit bureaus and provides an opportunity to increase your credit limit once you make six monthly payments on time. You can also work to earn your deposit back by making timely payments and managing your account well.  

Is the Self Secured Visa Credit Card right for me?

The Self Secured Visa Credit Card is a good option for individuals who want to build their credit and have plenty of time to do so. It’s especially helpful if you have poor credit and want to establish a better credit mix, as you can check the boxes for revolving and installment accounts at the same time.

However, if you aren’t interested in a credit-building loan or you want to get a secured credit card now rather than later, you may want to opt for a product such as Capital One’s Platinum Secured Credit Card instead.

If you’re not convinced the Self Secured Visa card is right for you, check out these guides and reviews to see if another card better suits your needs:

Apply for the Self Credit Card

While you don’t have to apply for the secured Visa credit card from Self, you do have to apply for the Credit Builder Account. You can learn more and apply for the Self Credit Builder Account online from the comfort of your own home.

You’ll need to provide your full name, a legal address, your Social Security or Tax ID number, and some basic information about your income to do so.

Once you’re approved for the Credit Builder Account, you’ll need to:

Once you get your card, you can activate it and start using it.

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How to maximize the Credit Builder Account and Secured Visa Credit Card from Self

The main reason to opt for this product is the credit-building benefits. To maximize those benefits, ensure you:

Choose a loan plan that works with your budget.

Selecting a payment you struggle to make negates the purpose of this product.

Make every payment on time.

That includes payments on the loan and credit card accounts.

Don’t make payments on your Self Card with a debit card.

You’ll pay a $3.50 expedited payment fee each time, and that small expense can add up.

FAQ: Self credit card

How long does it take to rebuild credit with the Secured Visa Credit Card from Self?

It takes at least three months of making timely payments on the Credit Builder Account to get a secured Visa from Self. Then you’ll need to demonstrate responsible account management for at least a few months to create a positive credit history.

What is the highest credit limit for the Self Secured Visa card?

The highest initial credit limit you can get for the Self Visa depends on your loan and savings progress. However, the maximum credit limit for the Self Secured Visa card overall is $3,000.

What credit score do you need for the Self Secured Visa card?

Self doesn’t have a credit score requirement. It doesn’t do a hard credit check to approve you for the card.

What bank is the Self credit card connected to?

Your Self credit card will be issued by one of two banks. They are SouthState Bank N.A. and Lead Bank. Both are official banks and are FDIC-insured.

Sarah Stasik
Sarah Stasik Personal Finance

Sarah Stasik is well versed in personal finance thanks to her previous role as a Revenue Cycle Manager for a Fortune 500 healthcare company. Using her inside knowledge and expertise, Sarah often covers topics ranging from insurance and the economics of private healthcare to personal finance and small business management.

Over the past 12 years, Sarah has contributed to numerous publications in the personal and small business finance sector, including content on budgeting, bankruptcy, small business accounting, and financial tech. Her writing focuses on making complex or seemingly daunting financial topics more accessible and providing helpful, relevant resources for readers.

* Opinions expressed here are those of the LA Times Compare Cards Team and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser or entities included within this content. See our editorial policy for more details.

All products or services are presented in this content without warranty. The information, including card details such as rates and fees, is accurate at the time of publish. Please visit each bank's website directly for the most current information.

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