5 Things to Know About the Current Build Card

The Build card doesn’t require a credit check or minimum security deposit, but there’s no upgrade path, and rewards come with several caveats.
Jae Bratton
By Jae Bratton 
Edited by Kenley Young

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The Current Build Card — from the financial technology company Current — is similar to several other recent alternative credit cards promising low barriers to entry for those with bad or limited credit.

Image courtesy of Current

Issued by Cross River Bank, the Build Card does have a lot going for credit newbies. It doesn’t require a credit check or a minimum security deposit, and there's no annual fee. Moreover, because there's no annual percentage rate (APR) either, your risk of getting into debt trouble is slim to none. On top of that, the card also offers the ability to earn rewards. That's an impressive combination.

However, the card also comes with the same kinds of drawbacks that are particular to alternative cards backed by fintechs. And it lacks perks that can be found in more traditional secured credit cards from major issuers.

Here are five things to know about the Current Build Visa Credit Card.

🤓Nerdy Tip

While any credit card's rewards, benefits and fee structure can be adjusted at any time, new cards from startup financial technology companies are particularly prone to significant changes as they find their place in the market. Keep that in mind as you research your credit card options.

1. It requires a Current account

You must open a Current account before applying for the Build Card. Funds transferred into the Current account become your security deposit, and thus your credit limit, for the card. Unlike traditional secured cards, which typically require a $200-$300 security deposit upfront to open the credit account, the Build Card doesn’t have a minimum required security deposit.

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After you make a purchase with the Build Card, Current automatically holds the amount of that transaction, decreasing your amount of available credit. In this way, Build cardholders can’t spend beyond what they can afford to pay, a crucial difference from unsecured cards.

In fact, technically — despite its official name — the Current Build Visa Credit Card works like a charge card, not a credit card. There's no APR because you literally can't carry a balance month to month.

These kinds of debt guardrails are common among Current's competitors in the alternative credit card market. The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card, the Tomo Credit Card and the Varo Believe Secured Credit Card have similar built-in training wheels that can be helpful for those who are just getting started with credit cards: no credit checks, no interest rates and a lot of deposit flexibility.

Chime says the following:

  • The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Card is issued by Stride Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.

  • 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 from 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, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.

  • On-time payment history may 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.

  • Money added to Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your Credit Builder Visa card, which means you can spend up to this amount on your card. This is money you can use to pay off your charges at the end of every month.

  • Out of network ATM withdrawal fees may apply. See here for details: https://www.chime.com/chime-credit-builder-visa-credit-card-agreement/

2. It has some credit-building features

A hard credit pull isn’t required to get the Current Build Card, so potential cardholders don’t have to worry about a temporary loss of points to their credit scores when they apply.

However, the Current Build card reports to just one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus: TransUnion.

That's not ideal because different lenders may review reports from different bureaus when they're evaluating your credit in the future. Because Build only reports to TransUnion, your history of on-time payments won't be captured by the other bureaus.

3. It’s light on some fees, but not on others

The good news: The Build Card doesn’t have an annual fee or charge interest.

The bad news: There are other possible fees you can incur with the card, including the following:

  • Out-of-network ATM fee: $2.50 per transaction.

  • Late payment fee: 3% of the total outstanding balance.

  • Foreign transaction fee: 3% of the total transaction amount.

  • Card replacement fee: $5 per card ($30 for expedited delivery).

  • Cash deposit fee: $3.50 per deposit. 

The card's terms also mention the possibility of "third-party processing fees."

Foreign transaction and late fees aren’t unusual among credit cards, but a card replacement fee is. And there are plenty of banks that don’t charge any ATM fees or offer reimbursements for out-of-network transactions.

4. It earns rewards at certain merchants

The Build Card earns rewards, but there are a lot of caveats in terms of how much can be earned and where:

  • To earn rewards, you need to opt in within the card’s mobile app. 

  • Rewards can be earned in-store and online at participating merchants such as Gap, Sam’s Club and Auntie Annie’s. (As of this writing, Current was partnering with more than 14,000 retailers to offer rewards.) A map of participating merchants as well as their reward rates can be found in the app. 

  • Rewards rates vary from 1x to 7x, depending on the merchant.

Points can be redeemed within the app, and cash back to your Current account is the sole redemption option. Points are worth 1 cent each.

On the plus side, there’s no limit to the number of points that cardholders can earn, and points don’t expire.

5. It has no upgrade path

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Current doesn’t offer an unsecured card that Build cardholders can graduate to after responsible use. Instead, when cardholders are ready for an unsecured card with better benefits, they’ll have to apply for a card from another issuer.

That's a common drawback among fintech cards in Build's class, and it's compounded by the fact that Build and other cards like it may leave you unprepared to move to traditional unsecured credit cards — products that dispense with the guardrails and absolutely will come with high interest charges, along with an assortment of potential fees.

If you're seeking a starter credit card with an upgrade path, consider more traditional secured cards from major issuers. The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, for example, might grant you a $200 credit limit with a lower initial deposit if you qualify ($49, $99 or $200, depending on your credit). Or with the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, which requires a $200 security deposit, you can earn ongoing rewards on all purchases, not to mention a sign-up bonus. And both of those cards have potential upgrade paths to better products within their respective portfolios.

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