When it comes to building or improving your credit score, the options out there can feel limited. A secured credit card, which is a typical solution, often has high fees and interest rates. Chime’s credit builder Visa credit card works similar to these secured credit cards.
But it doesn’t have an annual fee, a minimum-security deposit, or even run a credit check to open. The Chime Credit Builder card doesn’t even charge interest.
Are you starting to build your credit? Or perhaps you’re trying to improve your credit score from some past mistakes. In this Chime Credit Builder review, we’ll talk about the credit builder card from Chime so you can decide whether it’s the right tool to work on your credit.
What is Chime Credit Builder?
Chime is a financial technology company that started out offering an online-only banking platform (Chime Bank) for people to use as a checking and savings account. They’re well known in the industry for not charging overdraft fees and other charges.
Chime is not a bank. They partner with other banks like Stride Bank and The Bancorp Bank for the banking services provided.
Through these partnerships, customers of Chime can get a debit card and FDIC insurance on their accounts.
Its credit builder card is a secured credit card that helps people build, improve, or repair their credit.
You borrow money against the amount that you place in a secured account. Chime doesn’t charge interest for you to do this. There’s also no annual fee to have a Chime Credit Builder card.
The result is that Chime offers people the chance to work on their credit score without the risk of accruing extra debt or paying additional charges.
What is a Secured Credit Card?
A secured credit card works a lot like a traditional credit card. The main difference is that you must pay an upfront cash deposit that becomes your credit line.
This money is used to guarantee your credit line and will be used if you fail to repay your credit card bill.
By making on-time payments with your secured credit card, you can build or improve your credit score. The credit card issuer will report these payments to the credit bureaus.
Chime Credit Builder Visa Card
Below are the key details of the Chime Credit Builder card:
- No monthly or annual fees
- No Regular to Intro Annual Percentage Rate
- No balance transfer fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- No cash advance fee or cash advance APR
- Reports to all three credit bureaus
- Credit limit is equal to your deposit; No minimum deposit amount
- Your Credit Builder deposit can be used to pay your balance
- Credit check is not required to open
- Must have a minimum of one direct deposit to your Chime Spending Account that’s for $200 or more within 365 days of your application date
- Can sign up for automatic monthly payments from your Chime Credit Builder account
- Card limit reduces if you pay your bill using funds from your original deposit
How does a Chime Credit Builder work?
To use the Chime Credit Builder to build credit, you must have at least one direct deposit of $200 into the Chime Spending account. To be eligible, that deposit must be made in the last 365 days.
To use the Chime credit card, that money must be transferred to your linked Credit Builder account. The maximum amount you can transfer to your Chime secured account is $10,000.
You can’t charge over this amount like you can a debit card and incur overdraft fees.
Your secured account balance becomes your credit limit. So every time you make a purchase, Chime will automatically set aside money from your secured account. That covers your purchase, lowering your available funds.
To pay your bill, you can use any bank account to make manual payments. Chime’s Safer Credit Building feature is another option. It will automatically pay your balances using the funds in your secured account.
Failing to pay your balance by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on the next business day after your date, puts your account into default. Chime will use the funds in your secured account to pay off the balance. Your card account might also be suspended.
It is important to understand that Chime Credit Builder works like a charge card. Charge cards require that the full balance be paid each month.
That’s different from a credit card that allows cardholders to carry a balance from month to month.
The Chime Credit Builder doesn’t charge interest rates or late fees. These features are unique when compared to other secured credit cards. However, it lacks a rewards program that many of the top secured cards offer in the form of cash back on purchases.
Chime Credit Builder Features
Premium Metal card
If you make 40 purchases within 60 days, Chime will upgrade you to a free premium metal card. The Visa credit card looks slick as you make your everyday purchases.
Fee Free Credit Builder
Unlike other secured credit cards, using Chime’s Credit Builder card is basically free. Common fees like an annual fee, late fee, and interest charges are absent. That enables safer credit building for cardholders.
Industry-standard security protocols like fingerprint and two-factor authentication are used to secure your account. If you lose your card, you can turn it off using the app.
Reports to all three Credit Bureaus
Chime reports to all three major credit bureaus each month to help build your on-time payment history. Making on-time payments has the highest impact on your credit scores.
Chime reports payments at the beginning of each month to Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. If you have access to your credit report, you will see these entries in your credit history about 14 days later.
Chime Credit Builder card doesn’t offer a line of credit, so only on-time payments are reported to the three credit bureaus.
Doesn’t Report Credit Utilization
Credit utilization is the percentage of the credit limit that you use. For example, if you have a credit limit of $500 and your balance is $250, your credit utilization is 50%.
To build or improve your credit scores, you want to keep this percentage below 30%. That is challenging with most secured cards because they have low credit limits.
The Chime Credit Builder card doesn’t report credit utilization. Thus your credit score won’t get hurt from a low credit limit.
Chime Credit Builder Pros and Cons
Doesn’t Require a Credit Score
If you’ve never had a credit card or loan, you probably don’t have a credit score. A Chime Credit Builder card doesn’t require a credit score to open.
Safer Credit Building feature protects you from late payments
Building credit is safer with Chime because of this feature that will automatically transfer money from your account to pay the balance if you’re late. That keeps you on track to building credit, and late payments aren’t reported to the credit bureaus.
This feature is basically a variation of auto-pay that you see with other credit card companies. It will automatically withdraw money from your spending account to pay off your balance.
No Fees and Interest Charges
Most secured cards charge late payment fees, an annual fee, and other charges. The Chime credit card is free of these costs. You can build credit without the hassle of paying annual fees and other charges that make a secured card an expensive option.
No Credit Check Required
To open a secured credit card, there’s typically a credit check. A Chime Credit Builder account doesn’t require one. Therefore, your credit score won’t decrease temporarily when opening an account.
No Minimum Security Deposit required
The Chime Credit Builder card doesn’t have a minimum security deposit requirement. The account simply allocates money from your Chime Spending account as the security deposit.
Most secured credit cards require a minimum deposit of a few hundred dollars.
Easy Opening Process
A credit builder secured account is easy to open. It only takes a few minutes to get started.
Credit Utilization not reported to Credit Bureaus
One of the key disadvantages of a secured card is that they have credit limits. A couple of transactions equate to a high utilization rate. That percentage is reported to the bureaus and will show up on your credit report. The result is a lower credit score.
Chime doesn’t report your utilization on the Credit Builder card. Therefore it is not part of your credit history.
Ability to Adjust your Credit Limit
By moving money from your Chime Spending Account to your Credit Builder account, that amount becomes your credit limit. Money can be moved automatically when you get paid, or manually.
These transfers only take about a minute. Unlike a secured card with a set credit limit, you can adjust yours anytime. A credit limit increase will take months before you are eligible for these alternative options.
Requires a direct deposit and Chime Spending account
To open a Chime Credit Builder card, you must have a Chime Spending account. This wouldn’t be a huge issue if it didn’t require having a direct deposit too.
The qualifying direct deposit requirement isn’t going to work for everyone. Plus, you can’t link it to an existing bank account or debit card.
No sign-up bonus or rewards
The Chime Credit Builder card lacks a rewards program. So you can’t earn cashback or other rewards by making purchases. Some secured cards offer rewards as it has been a growing trend in recent years.
You could make the argument that if you have bad credit, rewards aren’t the top priority. It’s a nice to have feature, though.
Can’t Carry a Balance
The Chime Credit Builder Visa is intended to help you with building credit. So you can’t use it to help finance purchases.
There’s no Upgrade option
If you improve your credit score, there’s no higher-tier credit card available to move to. So once the Chime Credit Builder has helped you with your credit score goals, there’s no reason to keep using it.
At that point, it makes more sense to look for a Mastercard or Visa credit card that offers more benefits and rewards.
Doesn’t provide Experience with Managing a Credit Card
The way that the Chime Credit Builder card works are different from a traditional credit card. Chime has made it very easy to manage your Credit Builder card.
But an unsecured credit card works very differently. For example, credit cards have interest rates and many types of fees (i.e., cash advance fee). Credit cards are also revolving accounts that allow you to spend up to your credit limit.
You’re only required to make the minimum monthly payment. Doing this will increase your credit card debt, potentially putting you in a bad financial situation. Late payments can cause late fees, higher interest rates, and a dip in your credit.
Make sure you’re familiar with how credit cards work, before applying for one later on. The Chime Credit Builder Visa won’t give you the realistic experience of having a credit card.
Chime Credit Builder Review Ratings
Costs and Fees – 5/5
There is no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, interest charges, or other fees that are typically charged with this Visa credit card. Chime Credit Builder is a good option for those who want an inexpensive way to build or improve their credit.
Credit Building – 5/5
The Safer Credit Building feature allows you to build credit safely. You don’t have to worry about accruing late fees because the Chime credit card will automatically use your account to pay off a balance.
No late payments or credit utilization percentages will be reported to the bureaus. Opening an account doesn’t require a credit check either. The Chime Credit Builder Visa gives you plenty of guardrails to keep you and your credit on track.
Customer Service – 4.5/5
You can’t walk into a financial institution like you can with other options. But Chime makes it pretty easy to get help when you need it.
Get in touch with their customer service at 844-244-6363. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Chime also has a help page on their website for general questions. Using the Chime mobile app, you can also get help from a customer service rep.
Safety and Security – 4.5/5
Chime works with bank partners that allow them to offer FDIC insurance to all its customers. The mobile app is secure and uses the latest technology, including two-factor authentication.
Customers should feel secure using their accounts to help them build their credit. If they happen to lose their card, it is easy to suspend it from the mobile app.
Rewards and Benefits – 2/5
The Chime Credit Builder card is great for helping you build or improve your credit. It has all the safety features to keep you from harming your credit. With no annual fee or other charges, you also won’t incur extra costs by having the card.
However, there’s no incentive to keep the card after your credit score improves. Chime doesn’t offer a credit card that you can upgrade to afterward. There is no sign-on bonus or rewards to earn either. Essentially, you’ll need to look at other options for those types of benefits.
Conclusion: Is Chime Credit Builder Worth Using?
Building your credit from scratch or improving it after a few mistakes is hard. The Chime Credit Builder card is easy to qualify for. Plus, it gives you all the guardrails to prevent you from hurting your credit. You need to be ok with setting up a direct deposit with a Chime Spending account, having no upgrade path, or rewards before you open an account.