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No credit score? This company thinks you deserve a shot at a credit card

John Egan
February 21, 2018
deserve card for those with no credit score

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For young adults in America, many who have no credit score, trying to get a credit card can be frustrating.

If someone doesn’t have a credit score, it can be difficult to qualify for a traditional (unsecured) credit card. The odds of obtaining a secured credit card — one that requires a cash deposit — are much better if you lack a credit score.

But what if you want to act like a “real” grown-up and get a “real” credit card? The options are limited.

However, a company in Northern California has rolled out three credit cards aimed at millennials and Generation Z that don’t rely on credit scores to determine whether you’re worthy of getting a card.

You’re more than a score

As reported by TV station KGO, the ABC affiliate in San Francisco, the company, called Deserve, bases its card-issuing decisions on your credit potential, not your credit score.

How does Deserve do that?

It looks at your payment history for things like a cell phone bill or a Netflix subscription. Deserve also examines your bank account, with limited “read only” access, to check your financial stability, such as whether you’ve bounced checks and whether you’ve got money automatically being deposited into your account. And Deserve also looks up your credit reports, if any are available.

After assembling that information, Deserve relies on a proprietary algorithm to predict your credit potential — including examination of your education, current financial health and future employability — instead of depending solely on your credit history to judge your creditworthiness.

Here’s the trio of cards Deserve offers to those with no credit score:

Deserve’s cards, issued by Utah-based Celtic Bank, come in three varieties:

  • The Deserve Classic Mastercard, designed to help a cardholder build credit. It has an annual percentage rate (APR) of 24.24% (as of Feb. 19, 2017), a credit limit up to $1,500, an annual fee of $39 and no foreign transaction fee. This card doesn’t provide any special perks.
  • The Deserve Edu Mastercard, designed to help college students build credit. It has an APR of 19.99%, a credit limit up to $5,000, no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. You earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • The Deserve Pro Mastercard, a rewards card geared toward people with established credit. It has an APR of 17.24% to 24.24%, a credit limit up to $10,000, no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. You earn 3% cash back on travel and entertainment, 2% cash back at restaurants and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The Deserve Edu card requires verification of college enrollment, while the Deserve Classic and Deserve Pro cards require verification of employment and income.

One benefit of the Deserve cards is that your payment record is reported each month to the three credit-reporting bureaus, enabling you to build a credit history.

Rethinking the process

Previously known as SelfScore, the 4-year-old company initially served international students who were struggling to obtain credit cards. In 2017, the company rebranded as Deserve, and broadened its scope and card offerings.

“When I immigrated to America in 1995, one of the hardest parts of settling down in a new country was my lack of financial security and independence,” says Kalpesh Kapadia, co-founder and CEO of Deserve. “A credit card is one of many tools that was not accessible to me. This is why I wanted to implement technology that rethinks the process for offering access to fair and simple credit. Deserve represents that mission.”

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