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Self - Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card

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By : Mr Credit Card


Self (formerly Self Lender) is a startup based in Austin, Texas and they have teamed up with Lead Bank to issue the Self Visa Secured Credit Card. This card is targeted at those who want a secured credit card but do not have the money to put up a security deposit that is required by all secured credit cards (most require a minimum of $200 deposit). Self (which started as Self Lender) started off as a company that provided credit builder loans. They have added a secured card offering to it in a unique way.

To help applicants save enough to get the Self Visa, they require you to set up a "credit builder account". This is how it works. You set up the "credit builder account" and you are given a loan (You do have to pay a one time fee of $9). In a typical loan, you actually get cash or money deposited in your bank account. However, in this case, you do not actually get the cash or money deposit. Rather, you have to pay back the loan in installments every month. The term of the loan is typical 1 to 2 years and the minimum payment for you is $25. You will only get the loan once you have "paid off". Here is a very important thing to note: There is no hard pull when you apply for the credit builder loan.

The monthly installments you make are deposited in a CD (but it does not pay any interest). Once you have made three consecutive payments and have reached $100 in your CD, you can then get the Self Visa. The amount in your CD will act as your security and your credit limit (you can choose the amount that you want to use as your security deposit). However, once you have decided on the amount of security deposit, you cannot "add" to it in the future so it is very important to decide on the amount you want as your security deposit (which becomes your credit limit) before you get the secured card. In the meantime, your payments of this "credit builder loan" will also be reported to the three major credit bureaus.

Credit Builder Loan Details

Self's website has a pricing page (shown below) where you can set your monthly payment and it will give you information about the term of your loan, interest rates and all other details. You will be asked to choose a monthly payment starting from $25. Or you can choose $35, $48 and $150. The term is for 24 months.

See pricing page here.

Below are screenshots of the page.

self credit builder pricing page 1self credit builder pricing page 2self credit builder pricing page 3


Secured Card Details

Here are the key terms for the Self Visa secured card.

Annual Fee: $25

APR: 23.24%

Min Security Deposit: $100

Additional Deposit: Cannot increase or add additional deposit.

Requirements - You need to have at least $100 in your credit builder account and have made at least 3 on time and in full $25 monthly payments.

The most important thing you have to remember about this card is that you cannot add any additional credit limits to your card once you agree to the initial credit. Since you need a minimum of $100 as a collateral, many folks will be tempted to get your secured card as soon as you have met the minimum amount in your credit account. I suggest you wait until you have enough to fund a credit limit that you need.

The other thing to take note of is that before you can get the secured card, you need at least $100 to be already deposited in your credit builder account CD (that does not include interest payment) and you must have made at least three $25 monthly payments.


Self Visa$3523.24%N.A.NoNoOpensky$3518.89%N.A.NoNoFirst Latitude$025.99%N.A.NoNoDiscover It Secured$024.49%YesYesYesCiti Secured$023.99%N.A.NoYesCapital One Secured$026.74%N.A.YesNo
  Card Annual Fee APR Rewards Free Credit Score Graduates to Unsecured

As you can see from the table above, the Self Visa has fees and rates that are quite comparable to their peers. While there are secured credit cards with no annual fee, a $25 annual fee is well within the average among it's peers. It's APR is actually pretty reasonable compared to it's peers. It does not have features like cash back rewards, free credit score etc that some secured cards from big banks have. And because they do not have any unsecured credit cards, you cannot graduate to an unsecured offering.

Pros and Cons


  • No Hard Pull for both Credit Builder Account and Secured Credit Card - You will experience no hard pull on your credit reports when you apply for the Self Credit Builder Account and Secured Card.

  • Allows you to save and build credit score at the same time - Getting into the Self Credit Builder program allows you to "save" and build your credit at the same time.

  • Great for those who do not have enough cash for a security deposit - Many of you are struggling to come up with the cash for your security deposit. The credit builder program allows you to save for that.

  • Seamlessly transition from Credit Builder Account to Secured Credit Card With the Same Company - In theory you could get a separate credit builder account or start a savings account, build up your savings and then apply for a secured credit card of your choice. However, for those of you who are strapped for cash, Self offers a seamless route to your secured credit card.

  • Reasonable Fees and Rates - The annual fee and interest rate of the Self Visa is competitive and comparable to a typical secured credit card.


  • Other Credit Builder Programs With Lower Rates - The APR for the credit builder loan is in the mid teens. While this is very reasonable for those of you with very bad credit, there are other credit builder loans with lower rates. But it comes at the expense of inconvenience when you want to seamlessly get a secured credit card.

  • Cannot Increase Security Deposit - Under the terms and condition page, it says that you cannot add to the credit limit or security deposit once you have decided the amount. That means that if you want a larger limit than the $100 minimum, you have to wait longer and pay your monthly payments for a longer period before you can get the Self secured card.

  • Secured Card has No Rewards Program and Other Perks - The better secured credit cards today have rewards programs and other perks like free fico scores. Self Visa does not have these perks.

Our Take

At it's core, the Self Visa is a secured credit card targeted at those looking to rebuild their poor credit score but either do not have enough funds in their bank account to fund a security deposit or who have been rejected by many other secured credit cards.

Before you can get their secured card, you have to to apply for and get their "credit builder account" (which is formerly self-lender). And this is how the "credit builder account" works. You are given a loan amount (technically speaking) but do not have access to any cash. Instead, you are given a payment schedule to pay off your loan and these payments will be reported to the three major credit bureaus. Once you have made three payments in full or having $100 or more in your savings (credit builder account), you can then get the secured credit card and your savings will act as your secured collateral and credit limit.

The annual fee for the Self Visa is comparable to most secured cards and in fact, this is a very typical secured credit card.

If you are looking to rebuild your credit and yet do not have enough money (typically $200) to fund a a security deposit to fund a secured credit card, then this card may be an option if you are willing to go through the process of opening a credit builder account. Alternatively, you could simply save up until you have enough money to fund the security deposit of a secured credit card.

If you are considering this card because you have been denied other secured credit cards (even though you have enough money to fund a security deposit), you could apply for a no credit check secured credit card like Opensky (which by the way, also have the same annual fee as the Self Visa).

You could also open your own credit builder account with a bank or credit union that offers one, and after a period of a few months where you have had some positive credit history, you could try to apply for a secured credit card that is not Self Visa.

To sum up, the Self Visa is an option for someone who at the present needs to rebuild the credit but does not have the money for a security deposit. The credit builder account allows you to "save up" money in a CD while still rebuilding your credit history. If this describes you, then the Self Visa might be the card that suits you.

* All Credit Builder Accounts made by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, Sunrise Banks, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. Subject to ID Verification. Individual borrowers must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security Number are required. All loans are subject to ID verification and consumer report review and approval. Results are not guaranteed. Improvement in your credit score is dependent on your specific situation and financial behavior. Failure to make monthly minimum payments by the payment due date each month may result in delinquent payment reporting to credit bureaus which may negatively impact your credit score. This product will not remove negative credit history from your credit report. All loans subject to approval. All Certificates of Deposit (CD) are deposited in Lead Banks, Member FDIC, Sunrise Banks, N.A., Member FDIC or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A., Member FDIC. The Self Visa® Credit Card is issued by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.