With steep interest charges, hidden fees, and the possibility of accruing insurmountable credit card debt, plenty of young people feel they’re better off just avoiding credit cards entirely.
That’s why Chime®offers a safer credit-building solution to people who need it. The Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is a secured credit card that can help people build credit history without worrying about going into debt. Plus, there are no annual fees and no interest charges, making it a much less intimidating way to build credit.
What is the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card?
The Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is a good option for people with limited credit history. It can help you build credit and establish a track record with credit bureaus, without worrying about going into debt or paying unreasonable interest rates.8
The card charges neither interest nor annual fees, and there’s no hard credit check required for approval.9
How does the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card work?
Unlike standard credit cards, the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card works similarly to a prepaid debit card. Instead of borrowing amounts under a certain spending limit set by your bank and paying it off with funds from another account, you set aside funds in advance that can later be used to pay your Chime Credit Builder bill. That way, you’re less likely to miss a payment.
To do this, you have to first set up a Chime Checking Account with qualifying direct deposits of at least $200. Funds can then be moved from the Chime Checking Account into your Chime Credit Builder account.
Even though your payments are secured in advance and there’s no interest charged, Chime still reports your payment history to major credit bureaus to help you establish and build your credit score.
Who is responsible for the operations?
Chime, the entity responsible for launching this secured card, is not a bank, but rather a financial technology company. As a financial technology company, it can offer users innovative ways to spend and borrow money. However, since it is not a bank, it needs assistance from other financial institutions to provide banking services to its clients.*
That’s where Stride Bank and Bancorp Bank come in. Stride Bank is responsible for issuing secured cards to users, while both Stride Bank and Bancorp Bank work together to handle the banking services provided to clients. Both of these institutions are members of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), so deposits up to $250K into your Chime Checking Account or Credit Builder account are insured.
Is this card considered a credit card?
The Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card, as its name implies, is indeed considered a credit card, although it works very differently from most of the credit cards you’re probably used to. That’s because it’s a specific kind of card that is intended exclusively to build credit history rather than to borrow money from a bank. This is called a secured credit card.
What is the difference between a secured credit card and a traditional credit card?
The key to understanding the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is that it’s a secured card. This is a specific type of financial tool that is distinct from a standard credit card in a variety of ways. Let’s take a closer look to better understand the difference between these two credit utilization methods.
Traditional credit card
Most people have a pretty solid understanding of how a traditional credit card (or an ‘unsecured’ card) works, but we’ll explain it anyway for the sake of comparison. With a standard, unsecured credit card, a bank will run a credit check on an applicant to determine how reliable they are based on their borrowing history. Using this information, they issue a pre-set credit limit on the card. This is the maximum amount of money the cardholder can borrow from the bank.
After borrowing the money, the cardholder will be obligated to make on-time payments before a predetermined date each month. Banks can then charge a fee for late payments as well as interest on outstanding balances carried over across multiple months.
Secured credit card
Secured cards work differently. Their primary purpose is to report a cardholder’s monthly payments to the major credit bureaus, which can help improve a credit score for someone with poor credit or minimal credit history. The card issuer can take a risk on a secured credit card applicant who has a poor credit score, because the cardholder must provide a security deposit, which serves as collateral against their credit card purchases.
What is the credit limit for Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card?
When you use your Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card, you get a little more freedom than with standard secured credit cards. One big draw for Chime cardholders is the adjustable spending limit. Unlike having your maximum available funds determined by the bank based on your credit score, Stride Bank allows users to set their own limits and change them as needed.
Unfortunately, you can’t just give yourself an unlimited line of credit. The limit is based on the amount of money you deposit into your Chime account. So you have to have the funds already to extend your available credit to a certain amount.
Can users borrow money from their cards?
Using the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card isn’t the same as borrowing money from a bank or any other money lending institution. It’s more like borrowing money from yourself. You can only spend as much money as you’ve deposited into your Chime account, and you’ll end up using those funds to pay off the balance each month.
The benefit here is that your activity gets reported to all the major credit bureaus, allowing you to build a good credit score without worrying about any of the adverse risks traditionally associated with accumulating too much credit card debt.
Can the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card hurt your credit?
There is very little risk associated with using secured cards, but some specific situations could end up negatively affecting your credit score. Luckily, these are easy to avoid.
Because Chime reports your monthly payments to credit regulating institutions, you must always pay on or before the due date. If your payment is ever more than thirty days late, this tardiness will be reported to the relevant authorities, which can have undesirable consequences for your credit score.
However, this situation is rather unlikely since you’ll always have the money to pay your bills in your Chime spending account. If you’re worried about forgetting to transfer money on time, you can set up your account to automatically pay your monthly bill for you.
What information does Chime make available to credit bureaus?
Chime does need to report certain information to the three main credit bureaus in the U.S. — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to build up your credit score. However, with secured cards, the information is somewhat limited to reduce risk.
For instance, Chime does not report credit utilization to the three credit bureaus. So there are no drawbacks to maxing out your limit, provided you make your payments on time. However, your payments will be reflected in your credit report, so the credit regulating institutions will be informed as to how punctual you are with paying off your monthly balance.
How much does it cost to get a Chime account?
There is no initial set-up fee and no recurring annual fee for the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card. You do have to make a security deposit into your account, but any amount you have in your account will be returned to you when you close the account out in good standing.
What features does the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card offer?
When you sign up for a Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card, you get access to a number of useful features that help you build credit in a secure and risk-free manner.
Let’s break down each of these unique benefits, so you can get a clear picture of what a Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card can do for you.
Opportunity to build credit history
Of course, the primary purpose of this card is to act as a safer credit-building vehicle than the standard borrowing options. The ability to pay off your card balance using funds that you already have in your Chime account helps you build up your credit score without taking any serious risks.
Adjustable credit limit
Perhaps the most attractive feature of a Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is that you have control over the borrowing limit. Unlike with a standard credit card, where the limit is set by the bank based on your credit score, your limit is determined by the amount of money you place in your Chime spending account. So you can make it as high or as low as you want!
A Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is super easy on your wallet. Chime won’t charge you an annual fee to use the card, and you won’t have to deal with any other unexpected charges such as a foreign transaction fee.9
It’s the perfect way to establish your credit score by making everyday purchases without having to pay an excessive amount of money to a bank.
No credit check required
With most standard credit cards (including many secured cards), the card issuer will evaluate applicants’ credit scores before approving the card or setting the credit limit. If the relevant financial institutions can’t verify that an applicant has at least the median credit score or higher, chances for approval are pretty slim.
With Chime, applicants don’t have to be subjected to this process. It’s easy to get approved for a Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card, and you just have to have a $200 direct deposit into your Chime Checking Account to quality for the Credit Builder.10
Chime is not in the business of nickel and diming their clients for financial services. That’s why they eliminate pesky extra costs like interest rates on card balances or the commonplace annual fee.
Convenient autopay setup
The only way that your Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card could possibly backfire on you is if you forget to make your payment for more than 30 days. Luckily, Chime has provided its users with a convenient solution to this problem. When you set up the automatic payment feature, your monthly bill will literally pay itself without you needing to remember!
You’ll always have the money you need in your account anyway, so this should never result in a difficult financial situation for the cardholder.
Who could benefit from using a Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card?
The Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is most useful to people with limited credit history or poor credit scores, like young people, new immigrants, or those emerging from bankruptcy. People in these groups can use the Chime card to establish a positive borrowing history in a safe and secure way.
Who would be better off using an unsecured credit card?
The Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card would not be as suitable for someone with an established financial history and an average or higher credit score. If you already have a decent credit score you can probably benefit more from an unsecured no annual fee card, many of which provide nice perks like cash back or rewards points.
Are there any drawbacks to using the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card?
A Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card has a lot of great benefits to offer consumers, but it’s not a perfect product for everyone. Like any credit utilization vehicle, this secured card has room for improvement.
Insufficient training for using a traditional credit card
While the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card works great for its intended purpose, it’s not the best for preparing the user to transition to a more traditional credit product.
Because it functions almost like a debit card, with the cardholder borrowing money from themselves, and doesn’t have some of the standard credit card stipulations like interest charges or an assigned credit limit, it doesn’t accurately simulate the experience of using an unsecured credit card.
No way to upgrade your account
Unlike many secured credit cards, the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn’t give users the opportunity to upgrade when their credit scores are high enough for more lucrative, unsecured credit cards.
When users are interested in switching to an unsecured card, they’ll have to close their accounts and move to a different financial institution.
Must use a Chime Checking Account
Some potential applicants might be turned off by the stipulation that they can only fund their Credit Builder account by opening a Chime Checking Account. Furthermore, not everyone receives the regular direct deposit required — for example, freelancers might have difficulty meeting this requirement.
Pros & cons
- Super affordable — You won’t have to worry about any annual fees or interest charges.
- No credit check needed — Even if you have bad credit, this is a credit card that won’t turn down your application.
- Adjustable credit limit — You have the freedom to control how much you borrow.
- No rewards — Some competing secured cards might offer cash back or rewards points.
- Not everyone will qualify — Some gig economy workers may not meet the direct deposit requirement.
How does the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card compare to other secured credit cards?
Of course, the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card isn’t the only secured credit card available to consumers. There are plenty of other secured credit cards offered by different financial institutions, and each one has its own set of unique benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at how the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card compares to the competition.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
OpenSky® is another institution working with Visa to provide similar services to the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card. Like the Chime card, the OpenSky® card is available without a credit check and responsible use is reported monthly to all three major credit bureaus. But unlike the Chime card, those who apply for the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card don’t have to open an additional checking account or qualify with a direct deposit.
That said, keep in mind that the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card charges a $35 annual fee — the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee.
Apply for the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card or learn more by reading our full OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card review.
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Like the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® doesn’t charge an annual fee and reports responsible card use to the three main credit bureaus. It also comes with some extra benefits, like free online access to your FICO credit score, which is a credit monitoring feature that’s really appealing for anyone who is actively trying to improve their score.
However, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® may fall short for some applicants because of its qualification requirements: Applications are subject to a hard credit check, and those currently in bankruptcy proceedings or who have been in bankruptcy in the two years prior to applying are ineligible for the card.
The Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is a great option for people who need to build credit but don’t want to go through a hard credit check, pay unnecessary fees, or rack up interest charges.
Provided you qualify — meaning you’re willing to open a Chime Checking Account and you’ll meet the $200 direct deposit requirement — this no annual fee secured credit card is an excellent credit building solution overall.
* 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.