Most credit cards require you to have a credit score in order to qualify or have you make a security deposit to access credit. That can make it difficult to access credit for beginners or folks looking to improve a poor credit score. Fortunately, thereâ€™s a growing list of alternative options out there, including the new Petal Credit Card â€” the brainchild of Jason Gross, a former corporate and regulatory attorney based in New York. To differentiate itself from traditional unsecured cards, the Petal Credit Card charges no fees and requires no credit score to qualify. Instead, applicants link their bank account during the application process, and Petal uses an algorithm to analyze their bank statements and other data including income, spending and bill payments to determine eligibility. And, unlike secured cards, a common credit card alternative for building credit, Petal does not require an upfront cash deposit.Petal is trying to help consumers access credit thatâ€™s â€śsimple, more honest, [and] more accessible,â€ť Gross said.
The result is a card that stands as a solid alternative to both secured cards and unsecured credit cards. In this review, weâ€™ll discuss what Petal is, how the card works, what we like and donâ€™t like about the Petal Credit Card, and provide alternative cards.
Lack of fees. Cardholders can use the Petal Credit Card fee-free. That means there is no annual fee, no late payment fee, no foreign transaction fee or any other fees â€” whatsoever. If youâ€™re prone to incurring fees with your credit card, the Petal Credit Cardâ€™s lack of fees can reduce the cost of using your card. The lack of fees will mean they make less money than other credit card companies, says Gross, who sits on an advisory board for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Currently their goal is to put cardholders in a position to financially succeed, with the hope they can become a long term partner. The Petal Credit Card charges interest at 14.74% – 25.74% Variable APR, so when cardholders carry a balance month to month, Petal makes money that way.
Alternative application model. The application process is fairly simple and asks for the typical personal info and financial info, such as income and housing payment. However, it differs by requiring you to connect active bank and credit card accounts prior to determining your eligibility. During the application process, accounts can be linked by simply logging in to your bank account. Afterwards, Petal will analyze various factors of your financial record to see if you qualify. Factors that influence your application include how much money you make and spend and whether you consistently pay bills on time every month.
An education-first approach. In addition to no credit requirement and no fees, the Petal Credit Card has a helpful feature that can allow cardholders to see the potential effects certain actions may have on their account. For example, before a cardholder carries a balance past their due date, Petal will show how much it will cost in interest charges if they carry a balance. This makes the card transparent and allows cardholders to make an educated decision on whether to carry a balance or not â€” however, we recommend always paying on time and in full each month, but understand there may be times when thatâ€™s not possible.
There are several situations where the Petal Credit Card may benefit you more than other credit cards:
If youâ€™ve struggled to be approved for other cards or lack the needed cash deposit for secured cards and credit builder loans. When you donâ€™t have credit or have a less than stellar score, your options are fairly limited for building credit. While secured cards and credit builder loans can help you build credit, they require a cash deposit upwards of $200; depending on your financial situation, this may not be an option. Thatâ€™s where the Petal Credit Card comes in handy â€” you can build credit without a credit history or a security deposit.
If youâ€™re looking to build or rebuild credit. The Petal Credit Card can help people who are new to credit or who have bad or fair credit work there way to a good credit score â€” as long as you practice responsible credit behavior. By following several credit tips, like paying your bill on time and in full each month and not overspending, you can see your credit score improve over time and eventually qualify for some of the best credit cards.
If you often travel outside the U.S. This card does not charge a foreign transaction fee â€” typically 3% â€” on purchases made abroad. This can save you a good deal of money when you travel outside the U.S. For example, if you used a card with a 3% foreign transaction fee on a vacation to Italy and spent a total of $3,000 on food, merchandise and sightseeing, then you would incur a $90 fee. But, with the Petal Credit Card, thereâ€™s no fee.
If you need a higher credit limit than secured cards offer. The minimum credit limit for this card is higher than many cards for people with less than perfect credit. Youâ€™ll receive at least a $500 credit limit depending on approval, compared to other cards that may start you off with $200. Alternative cards for people who are new to credit or have bad creditÂ tend to be secured cards that require deposits â€” typically $200 to receive a $200 credit limit â€” but the Petal Credit Card is an unsecured card, so you wonâ€™t need to make a deposit to receive the above-average $500 credit limit. Depending on your creditworthiness, your limit can be as high as $10,000.
This card is very basic. You wonâ€™t receive rewards, cash back, or standout perks with this card. However, the main draw of this card is the lack of fees, so that could be enough of a benefit for some people. If itâ€™s not, you can consider alternative cards that may offer rewards and other perks â€” but beware: theyâ€™ll have more fees than the Petal Credit Card.
If you struggle to be approved for a credit card or want an alternative way to build credit, you can consider a credit builder loan. A credit builder loan is not like a typical loan, where you borrow money from a bank for a given time period. Instead, you deposit money into a CD account and youâ€™ll repay it with fixed monthly payments over your loan term. Once you pay off your loan, youâ€™ll receive your initial deposit back plus any interest that accrued on your account. Credit builder loans report to the credit bureaus, so if you make consistent on-time payments, you can begin building a good credit history. Just beware that credit builder loans often charge administrative fees and an APR on the amount of your loan.
If you decide to take out a credit builder loan, you can consider those provided by Self Lender. They offer credit builder loans with terms of 12 or 24 months and at various amounts â€” $525, $545, $1,000 or $1,700.
A secured card is just like a regular, unsecured card, but it requires you to make a security deposit â€” typically $200 â€” to access a line of credit. The deposit can be refunded if you pay off your account and close it or if youâ€™re upgraded to an unsecured card.
Here are two of our favorite secured cards:
The Discover itÂ® Secured is consistently our top pick for a secured card, since it provides the opportunity for cardholders to earn rewards while building credit. You earn 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, plus 1% cash back on all your other purchases. In addition, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.
The Capital OneÂ® Secured MastercardÂ® is another option for a secured card and is ideal for people who may not have $200 available for a security deposit. This card has deposits for $49, $99, and $200, depending on your creditworthiness. And, if you qualify for the $49 or $99 deposits, youâ€™ll still receive a $200 credit limit. You can also receive a higher credit limit â€” without an additional deposit â€” if you make your first five monthly payments on time.
We found one other no-fee card, the PenFed Promise VisaÂ® Card that, according to PenFed, has no fees whatsoever like the Petal Credit Card. This card doesnâ€™t have rewards either, but it does offer a sign-up bonus where new cardmembers can receive a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days from account opening. This is a great perk considering there are no rewards and sets the PenFed Promise VisaÂ® Card apart from the Petal Credit Card.
The Petal Credit Card is a great no-fee card for people with less than stellar credit and it can help you save money on fees compared to other cards. When used responsibly, you can use this card to establish credit or rebuild a poor credit score. This card is especially helpful for people who use their card outside the U.S. or are prone to missing payments since you wonâ€™t incur any fees on those actions, compared to other cards that typically charge fees. If you already have a good credit score, you should check out or roundup of the best credit cards that can help you finance new purchases, earn rewards, benefit from exclusive perks, and more.
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