What to Know About Chime's Credit Builder Card

Michael Collins
March 18, 2021

Who is Chime? 

Chime is a startup bank that is based out of San Francisco. However, Chime is not your typical bank. Unlike traditional banks, Chime is a digital bank. Like a traditional bank, Chime still has your typical checking and savings accounts, along with a credit card. Instead of having brick and mortar locations, Chime is instead completely digital and practically everything within your bank account is handled from the Chime app on your smartphone. 

While there are certain drawbacks to using a digital bank like Chime like a lack of in-person stores to help you with serious banking issues, if you are all-in on embracing the new era of digital finances, Chime could be a great online bank for you to use. With features like high-yield savings accounts, free mobile payments to friends and families, and an awesome savings feature all in a clean, sharp, and easy to use app can make Chime a great way to manage your money from the palm of your hand. 

Chime’s Credit Builder Card

One of Chime’s great features that they offer is called the “Chime Credit Builder Visa Secured Credit Card.” A secured credit card is a form of secured debt. This means that when you get secured debt, you put something up as collateral to guarantee the loan. If you fail to pay back the secured debt, your lender has the right to legally take whatever you put up as collateral. Unsecured debt on the other hand does not require you, the borrower, to put anything up for collateral. 

As you might be able to see, unsecured debt like unsecured loans and unsecured credit cards are less risky for the borrower and more risky for the lender. On the other hand, secured loans and secured credit cards are more risky for the borrower and less risky for the lender. 

For this reason, lenders are more willing to offer secured loans and secured credit cards to people with poor credit. This is why lenders and a credit card issuer like Chime will offer secured credit cards to people with poor credit scores in order to help them build up their credit score. With a poor credit score, you might not be able to get a normal credit card. However, when you get a secured credit card from a company like Chime, as you pay back this credit card over time you will build credit history. Over time, this will increase your credit score. 

How it Works

To start, you must have a Chime “spending account” open and must have some amount of money in there. This account offers a “high yield” savings account of .5% APY. Next, you will need to set up direct deposit with this spending account. You will need to show about $200 worth of direct deposits in the last year, and you may need to show a source of steady income as well. 

Setting Up Accounts

Once your spending account is created and established, you create the “Credit Builder secured account” with Chime. This is the account where you will be putting money in to use on your secured credit card. With Chime’s “Move My Pay” feature, you can move money from your spending account to the credit builder account with a simple button anytime you make money. The amount of money that is in your account at any given time determines how much you will be able to spend with your secured credit card from Chime. 

Using Your Card

Once everything is taken care of with the accounts and such, you can begin spending with your new secured credit card! Anywhere in the world that Visa card is accepted, you can use your Chime credit card. Just be aware that any money you might want to spend needs to be transferred into the bank account first. However, unlike many other money transfer apps, this process only takes about 60 seconds instead of the typical 1-3 day process you see with other companies. Unlike the typical credit card, if you have $100 in the account and want to make a $200 purchase, you cannot make the purchase until you have transferred the extra $100 into the account. This may seem unfortunate, but we will discuss later why this is actually a benefit! 

Building Credit

In terms of building your credit score, Chime’s credit builder card works to improve the most important aspects of your credit score. If you’ve read some of our earlier articles, you might recall that payment history is the single thing that impacts your credit score the most. According to FICO, who is responsible for your FICO credit score, your payment history makes up 35% of your total credit score! 

At the end of every month, you can pay off all of the purchases you made in that month by paying it off with the money in the Chime “secured account” that you had to open. Once you successfully do this and pay off the sum in full, Chime will report this successful payment to the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Chime doing this helps to boost your credit score over time. 

With the Chime credit builder card, consistently using your chime credit card over a period of time will result in your payment history being built up. In turn, this begins to increase your overall credit score over time. The longer you use the card, the more your credit score will start to see the benefits. 

Remember however, that missing payments on credit cards is one of the biggest reasons credit scores can take a beating. To fix this, you can turn on the “Safer Credit Building” feature with Chime to ensure you are building credit. This uses the money in your secured account to automatically pay the remaining balance on your credit card. This can help you to make every single payment so your credit score doesn’t take a hit. 

Conclusion

In short, Chime’s secured credit card actually works more like a prepaid debit card. You are essentially funding your account and the money you can spend on your card is the money that is in your account. However, normal debit cards won’t build your credit score. Chime’s credit builder card is awesome in that you can have controlled spending while building your credit score at the same time. 

Pros and Cons

Just like everything else in the financial world, there are pros and cons. We already went over many of the best features of the chime credit builder card that makes it an awesome way to build credit, but we have not explored the drawbacks yet. While there are no hidden catches or scam-like features of Chime’s card, it is still important to understand its limitations. Knowing the pros and cons of cards like Chime’s can help you to make an informed decision for your financial health. With that being said, let’s look at the pros and cons of Chime’s credit builder card. 

Pros 

  • Does not report credit utilization: Referring back to things that impact your credit score the most, your credit utilization comes in second as the thing that impacts your credit score the most. Not far behind payment history, your credit utilization makes up 30% of your credit score! To quickly explain, your credit utilization is how much of your credit limit you are using every single month. If your limit is $1,000 and you use $500, your credit utilization ratio is 50%. If your credit utilization ratio is 30% or lower, it can boost your credit score while it can actually begin to hurt your score if it is more than 30%. Chime does not report credit utilization to the major credit bureaus. This means that you can use every single dollar on your Chime secured credit card without having to worry if it will impact your credit score. This is something that barely any traditional credit card has  and this really helps to separate Chime’s card from the others. 
  • No fee: If you have a bad credit score, you will find that many of the credit cards you will have access to have fees associated with them. This can be frustrated and can make getting your credit card more difficult and more expensive than you initially planned for. Sometimes this annual fee is  hidden in the fine print and can blindside you when it comes time to pay them. According to Chime, there are no additional fees associated with setting up your accounts and setting up your credit builder card. How nice!
  • No interest: Getting charged interest is a very frustrating part of credit cards. Not only are interest fees frustrating but they can also be expensive. If you are struggling to make ends meet, having to pay expensive interest on your credit card can only hurt your situation. If you have a poor credit score, the few credit cards you will have access to will charge much higher interest than if you were to have a good credit score.  Thankfully, Chime does not charge any interest on their credit card. With their card, you don’t need to worry about the stress of having interest charges looming over your head!

Cons 

  • No rewards: While there aren’t too many credit cards that individuals with poor credit scores can get that offer them rewards upon signing up and upon using the card, many cards still have rewards that can save you money. For example, a card might give you 1% back on everything or 2% back on specific things like groceries and gas. There are no such rewards for Chime’s card. If you are using Chime’s card very frequently, you could be missing out on saving money through rewards with other credit cards. 
  • Declines overlimit charges: One of the main reasons people use credit cards versus debit cards is that they are able to have access to money they do not necessarily have at the moment. However, this is not the case with Chime’s card. Like we mentioned earlier, Chime’s secured credit card works more like a prepaid card than a traditional credit card. If you want to make a purchase that uses more money that you allocated to your Chime account, the purchase will get declined. If this is your only card at the moment, you may be out of luck if you are trying to make a payment that goes over your limit. 
  • Doesn't teach you good habits: A benefit of typical credit cards that gets swept under the carpet is the good spending and money management habits that it can teach you. With a normal credit card, you often learn the hard way when it comes to making your payments on time and in full. This can cause you to start budgeting or taking up other good habits to make sure you aren’t feeling the burn of failing to make payments. This can have good implications for you down the road when you start to accumulate more wealth. While the features of Chime’s secured credit card can help you not miss payments and such, you will not learn anything important about money management. In fact, you may even develop a reliance on Chime’s features and it may hurt you down the road when you graduate to a better credit card that doesn’t have the same cushiony features. 

Alternative to the Chime Credit Builder Card: Possible Finance

Here at Possible Finance, we do not offer a credit card. However, we also understand that a credit card will not solve all of your money problems, especially a “credit card” that works more like a prepaid card. 

If you live paycheck to paycheck like many Americans do, a single unexpected payment or emergency expense can really put you behind. Life can come at you fast and you may not have the finances to cover your back in such a situation. Situations like these often cannot be remedied with credit cards and you may need to get a loan to help stabilize your finances. However, if you have bad credit it might seem like you can only get payday loans and other expensive and predatory forms of debt. 

At Possible, our credit builder loan is up to $500, and we do not check your credit score when you apply for them. As you begin to pay back our loan over weekly installments over the course of a month, your payment history will begin to build. Like Chime’s card, this will build credit history over time. If you are struggling to make a payment, you can extend your payment up to 29 days right within the app. 
At Possible, we don’t want to see you fail and stay in a cycle of debt like other lenders. We hope to graduate you out of needing debt like our loans so you can be financially free one day! Interested in getting one of our loans? Learn more about us on our website or download our app today!

Michael Collins

Michael has a passion for writing and has since brought that passion to Possible. He enjoys reading everything there is to know about film, sports, and finance. His studies in college allow him to be on the forefront of business knowledge so he can better inform his readers.

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