You’ve heard it before: You need credit to build credit. This is because most cards require you to have a certain minimum score to qualify and at least some credit history (with the exception, of course, of credit-building cards). But there are other options if you want to work on your credit
Extra is the first debit card to help you build credit and earn reward points. It reports to credit bureaus and shows up in your credit report, and it also earns rewards on your spending. The Extra app offers tools to help you track your spending and budget more effectively so you can work on more than just credit.
Sound like something you can get on board with? If you can get past the membership fees and a couple of other disadvantages, this could be the card for you. In this Extra Debit Card review, we’ll share our honest impressions of this one-of-a-kind card along with some pros and cons to consider before signing up.
What is it?
Extra is a debit card. You don’t use it to borrow and can’t spend any more money than you already have. Instead, you link it to your bank account and use this to continuously pay it off.
Extra was created as a solution to the problem of needing credit to get credit and an alternative to credit cards. It’s designed as a safer way to add to your credit history because there is no risk of going into debt.
As a rule, Extra users are able to improve their credit scores when they use their debit card regularly and follow other credit best practices like making their bill payments on time, keeping their credit utilization low, etc.
Pros & cons
- Build credit — Extra reports your payment activity to two credit bureaus to add to your payment history and help boost your credit score.
- Rewards — You’ll earn Reward Points every time you use this debit card to make a purchase if you have the more advanced membership plan.
- No credit check — If you have a poor credit score or limited credit history, avoiding a credit check is always a good thing.
- Membership fees — You need to pay an annual fee of $200 or $265 a year to use the Extra debit card. You may be able to make this up with rewards, but you could earn more cash back or points with a credit account.
- Does not link with all banks — Extra works with thousands of different banks but not all banks. If you’re a member of a smaller local bank or credit union, there’s a decent chance you won’t be able to link an Extra debit card. Find out before applying.
- Reports to only two credit bureaus — Unlike most credit cards, Extra does not report to all three credit bureaus. This means your activity will not show up on your TransUnion credit report, and this could impact your ability to borrow in the future.
How does the Extra Debit Card work?
The Extra Debit Card works almost like a hybrid between a traditional unsecured credit card and a debit card. Here are the steps you’ll take to get your account set up.
Connecting your bank
To get started, you’ll link an existing bank account. This is what Extra uses to cover your purchases.
Bank accounts must be compatible with Plaid, a payment transfer platform that facilitates transactions between institutions like banks and other apps and services, to connect with Extra. You might have used it before to link your bank account with a budgeting or transfer app, for example, or to make a payment.
If your bank or credit union doesn’t work with Plaid, you won’t be able to work with Extra.
When you send your application, Extra won’t perform a credit check and you won’t be required to put down a security deposit as collateral (a requirement of secured credit cards). Instead, they’ll review your bank account and activity to determine your spending limit. The amount of debt and credit you have doesn’t matter.
This spending limit is referred to as your “Spend Power” and it’s how much you’re allowed to spend on your debit card at any given time. This does not count as a credit limit so it won’t contribute to your credit utilization ratio.
Payments and spending
Usually, you don’t build credit with a debit card because you’re just making payments directly from your bank account and these never show up in your credit report. But Extra puts a step between each transaction and your checking account, and you’re not withdrawing directly from your money.
Essentially, Extra pays for your purchases or spots you in the moment as you use your debit card. Then, they automatically withdraw the money you’ve spent from your checking account to “pay themselves back” the next day.
At the end of every day, Extra combines all of your transactions into one called your Daily Spend. This is what gets reported to the credit bureaus rather than all of your individual transactions. You’ll see your Extra activity in your credit report right alongside your loans and credit cards. The next day, the money you spent the day before is withdrawn directly from your linked bank account with processing usually taking a few days.
This differs from a credit card because you pay your balance off daily instead of monthly and you don’t have to make payments yourself. Rather than a 30-day statement period and a bill at the end of the month, you’re always paying Extra back and resetting your card. And because you’re not really borrowing, Extra does not charge interest.
Features and benefits
The Extra debit card is the only product of its kind. You use it just like you would any debit card by swiping at checkout and punching in your PIN. It’s what goes on behind the scenes that makes this card different.
Let’s talk about the features of this card, Extra membership, and the mobile app.
The Extra debit card helps you build credit by reporting your payment activity to two credit bureaus. Extra puts together one bulk transaction called your Daily Spend that includes all of your spending from that day and takes this from your checking account, and this shows up in your credit as a payment to Extra.
As long as you’re staying under your Spend Power and you always have the money you need in your checking to cover your spending, you should see a boost in your credit score over time with Extra.
This is the same way credit cards help you add to your credit history, but an important difference is that Extra only reports to two out of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax® and Experian® – while the vast majority of credit cards report to all three. TransUnion, the third credit bureau, does not receive any reporting from Extra.
It’s also important to differentiate this debit card from other similar products like secured credit cards and prepaid debit cards.
Extra vs. secured credit cards
With a traditional secured credit card, you make a security deposit when opening your account to serve as collateral. Usually, this is refundable and you can get it back after closing the card, but if you can’t pay off your debt, the issuer keeps the deposit.
Typically, your deposit is equal to your spending limit or credit limit, but you might be required to put down more or less depending on your credit. A secured card may or may not use a credit check to determine your eligibility, but they are often much easier to qualify for than the average unsecured credit card.
Both secured cards and the Extra Debit Card can help you build a positive payment history, but you need to remember to make your payments every month with a secured card and you can be charged interest if you carry a balance.
Extra vs. prepaid debit cards
The Extra Debit Card is not a prepaid debit card either. With a prepaid debit card, you load money onto your card and spend directly from this balance. It doesn’t withdraw directly from a checking account, so you can’t spend more than you load. Prepaid debit cards do not help with building credit.
You don’t transfer money to spend to your Extra Debit Card. Instead, you spend up to your Spend Power limit and the money comes from your checking account slightly after the fact.
Your “Spend Power” is kind of like your credit limit. This is how much you’re allowed to spend on your card. If you try to go over your Spend Power, your Extra Debit Card can be declined even if you technically have more money in your bank account.
Extra will determine your initial Spend Power when reviewing your application by looking at your bank balance and other factors. Newer members often start with lower Spend Powers, but you can increase yours by completing the “tasks” outlined in your account from the Spend Power section and building a positive payment history with Extra.
One of the nicest things about the Extra Debit Card is that you don’t have to worry about making on-time payments. Your Spend Power tracks your activity so it’s always adjusting as you use your debit card, so you’ll always know how much you have left to spend.
The Extra Debit Card can earn up to 1% in rewards points on your purchases.
This isn’t your typical rewards program. Instead of getting cash back or points you can redeem in a variety of ways including statement credits and direct deposits, you’ll only be able to use your rewards points in the Extra store. For every $1 spent, you earn 5 reward points. 5 reward points can be worth up to 1 cent depending on what you choose to redeem in the store.
Only Rewards + Credit Building members earn points when they use their Extra Debit Card.
The Extra mobile app is available for both Apple and Android users. It currently has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars in the App Store and 4 out of 5 stars in Google Play. You can use it to view your Spend Power, track your payment activity, and shop with your rewards points.
What does the Extra Debit Card cost?
To use Extra, you’ll need to choose between two annual plans: the Credit Building plan and the Rewards + Credit Building plan.
- The Credit Building plan is the more basic account type and comes in at an annual fee of $200 (currently discounted at $149).
- The Rewards + Credit Building plan has an annual fee of $265 (currently discounted at $199).
Both plan types have access to the Extra mobile app but only the Rewards + Credit Building plan earns rewards. Both report to two major credit bureaus. Note the discounted pricing promotion is subject to change.
Who is it good for?
The Extra Debit Card can help anyone build credit, but there are a few types of people it would be perfect for.
Young adults and students
If you’re working on building credit from scratch, the Extra Debit Card can help you do that consistently while potentially earning rewards. It’s safer than a credit card since you can’t overdraw your account and go into debt. And because it doesn’t require a credit check, it doesn’t matter how little history you have or what credit score you’re starting with.
You’ll need to find room in your budget for the high annual fee, but the long-term impacts of having better credit may be worth it.
People with poor credit and/or debt
If you have bad credit for any reason, this debit card can help you change that without taking on more debt. Unlike a secured credit card or unsecured cards you can get with bad credit, you won’t pay interest because you can’t carry a balance and borrow money. If you don’t have the Spend Power to cover a transaction, it’ll just be declined.
This may be frustrating at times, but it’s a good way to keep your spending in check.
People who need support budgeting
Especially if you’ve had trouble overspending in the past with a credit account, this alternative can help you continue to safely build your score while taking control of your spending. And the Extra mobile app makes it easy to track your purchases and see where your money is going.
Once you’re ready, you can consider applying for a credit card or continue using this.
Who is it not ideal for?
The Extra Debit Card isn’t really a bad fit for anyone, but there are better options out there for certain people. Here are a couple of readers we don’t think will find what they’re looking for with this card and things they should consider instead.
People with good or better credit
If you don’t need this card for the credit-building benefits because your score and history are already in great shape, you don’t need this card. Membership isn’t cheap and the rewards aren’t worth paying for unless you’re also making full use of the credit advantages.
Instead, check out a free checking account or a rewards credit card, depending on what you need. Focus on credit building and rewards that will save money, not cost you money.
People who want to earn rewards
If you’re after this card because you want to earn rewards for your spending, you’ll be disappointed. The Extra Debit Card rewards program is lackluster compared to rewards credit cards and the plan that pays them is expensive. Plus, you can only redeem your points for purchases in the Extra store.
There are a number of free credit cards that earn 1.5% cash back on everything and even higher rates on categories.
People who can’t link their bank or credit union
Although Extra does connect with more than 10,000 different banks, there will be banks that don’t work with this debit card.
The Extra Debit Card is not a good fit for members of small credit unions and banks because these may not be compatible. Find out if your bank can be linked before signing up. You may be willing to open a new bank account just for this, but it’s up to you to decide if that’s worth it.
Extra Debit Card vs. competitors
The Extra Debit Card may be the only credit-building debit card out there currently, but there are other accounts and products that can serve similar purposes and offer many of the same benefits. Check out some of Extra’s competitors and good alternatives to this debit card below.
Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card
The Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is an excellent secured credit card for people with poor or new credit.10 It’s a little different from the average secured card because you move money from your Chime® Checking Account to spend. There’s no minimum security deposit11 and no credit check is required to apply.
Rather than giving you a set spending limit, you get to decide for yourself what you can spend by just loading your card with whatever you can afford to move. As you pay off the balance, Chime reports your payment activity but doesn’t report your percent utilization to all three of the credit bureaus8, so using your entire balance won’t count against you. There’s no fee to apply, no annual fee, no interest.9
If you don’t want to open a new account through Chime or you really want to earn rewards, this isn’t the card for you. Otherwise, the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card may be a better choice than the Extra Debit Card.
* Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.
8 On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Chime will report your activities to Transunion®, Experian®, and Equifax®. Impact on your credit may vary, as Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations.
9 Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven location or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
10 To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be made by your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to thich Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposits are not qualifying direct deposits.
11Money added to Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your Credit Builder Visa card, which means you can spend up to this amount on your card. This is money you can use to pay off your charges at the end of every month.
Self Credit Builder Account
The Self Credit Builder Account is a credit-builder loan. It’s very different from a credit or debit card. Self doesn’t use hard credit pulls, so you can qualify with poor credit or a thin history.
A Self Credit Builder Account can help you boost your credit score and your savings with on-time monthly payments. This credit-builder loan does not require credit to qualify and gives you the money you’ve paid at the end of your term.
- Flexible credit requirements
- Low monthly payments
- Early payoff options
- Fee for debit card payments
- Negative reporting for late payments
With this credit-builder loan, you aren’t really borrowing. Instead, you’re saving. First, you choose from one of four payment plans with either 12- or 24-month repayment terms and different payouts. Self sets the amount of whatever payout you’ve chosen aside in a CD for you. Each month, you make payments toward your loan that get reported to all three bureaus. At the end of your term, you receive the full amount you’ve paid minus interest and fees. If you need a spending account too, the Self Visa® Credit Card is a secured card that lets you use your loan payments as your security deposit.
There’s no annual fee, but you will pay administrative fees and interest (but instead of paying interest every month, the total amount you owe is deducted from your final payout).
If you want help saving and building credit at the same time, this could be a great fit. But if you don’t want to pay interest or want to earn rewards, Extra is probably a better choice.
The concept of a debit card that builds credit is new and exciting, and we can see the Extra Debit Card working out for a lot of our readers to add positive credit history to their reports with less risk.
But this debit card isn’t perfect. Membership fees are steep and activity isn’t reported to all three major credit bureaus, which are drawbacks to keep in mind if you’re thinking about signing up. Consider credit cards for poor credit, rewards checking accounts, credit-builder loans, or prepaid debit cards instead if the Extra Debit Card doesn’t seem right for you.
The Extra Debit Card is issued by Evolve Bank & Trust or Patriot Bank N.A. (Member FDIC), pursuant to a license by Mastercard International. The Bank does not sponsor spending limits or credit reporting. Extra reports on time and late payments, which may impact a credit bureau’s determination of your credit score. Rewards points only available with rewards plan. Please refer to extra.app/policies for additional details.