5 Things to Know About Zolve Credit Cards

Zolve credit cards can offer a low-cost path to credit if you're willing to endure a few hiccups.
Melissa Lambarena
By Melissa Lambarena 
Edited by Erin Hurd

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The secured Zolve Azpire credit card and unsecured Zolve credit card are credit-builder cards that offer a low-hurdle path to credit for new immigrants, credit beginners and second-chance seekers.

You can't get the Zolve credit card without first proving you can manage the secured Azpire credit card. You can upgrade to the Zolve credit card in as little as four months, if you can qualify. The Azpire credit card is easy to get because it doesn't require a traditional security deposit upfront, a credit check or a minimum amount in direct deposits. The amount deposited for spending is flexible, so it's possible to choose an amount that best suits your budget.

Both credit cards are still somewhat new to the market and are anticipating improvements may be made. (It’s not uncommon for credit cards by fintech companies to modify products.) For now, though, you may experience a few small hiccups along Zolve's pathway to credit, but they may be worth enduring if you prefer a low-cost option.

Here’s what you need to know about the Zolve credit cards.

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1. A Zolve bank account is required to get started

Like some other credit cards in its class, the Azpire credit card requires opening a bank account with Zolve, but it distinguishes itself by not requiring a minimum amount in direct deposits. Aside from this requirement and a Social Security number, an individual taxpayer identification number or a passport, there aren't many other boxes to check to qualify.

The bank account is needed to fund the ongoing security deposit for the Azpire credit card. It doesn't impose a minimum balance requirement or upfront fees. And, while the terms and conditions state that a subscription fee may apply of up to $11.99 per month or up to $119.99 per year, Zolve confirmed that it doesn’t charge this fee (as of this writing in March 2023). The company has aspirations to expand and become a one-stop shop for financial products and may charge a subscription fee for access to those in the future.

2. You can’t maintain a balance on the Azpire card

Unlike traditional credit cards, the Azpire credit card doesn’t allow you to carry a balance from one month to the next. For this reason, the card doesn’t charge interest or fees, making it debt-proof because it’s not designed to allow you to borrow money.

It can be a good option if you’re worried about acquiring debt as a beginner or second-chance seeker. If you're a first-timer, though, the Azpire credit card won’t equip you to manage a traditional unsecured credit card because it doesn't function like one. Once you’re ready to qualify for a better option through Zolve or a different institution, you’ll have to do some research to understand what is involved in managing a traditional credit card.

For convenient features, also consider the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card: The $0-annual-fee Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card doesn’t offer a path to upgrade to an unsecured credit card, but it does provide helpful features that are worth exploring. It also doesn't charge fees or interest, and it requires an in-house checking account to fund the flexible security deposit. Chime's checking account has an overdraft service, SpotMe, that allows customers to overdraft up to $200 with no fee if they qualify. This option could be useful if you ever need to supplement your cash flow. The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card requires a minimum amount in direct deposits and a Social Security number to qualify.

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/

3. The Azpire card earns rewards

Not many credit-builder cards offer rewards, but the Azpire credit card is among the growing list of options. Rewards aren't as important as credit-building features when establishing credit is your goal. If they're offered, though, they can provide some value for your spending. The Azpire credit card’s app features merchants that offer rewards online and in store when you use the card for a purchase. Rewards can be redeemed for vouchers and gift cards.

You’ll also get access to exclusive deals with the company’s partners. For instance, eligible Zolve customers get a 1% discount on an annual percentage rate, or APR, for auto loans, and Zolve doesn’t charge fees for international money transfers. Partner fees for international money transfers may apply.

For a traditional credit card experience, consider: If you prefer an option that works more like a traditional credit card, explore whether you prequalify for the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card. This card is ideal for those who have low to fair credit or cash flow. It doesn’t require a security deposit, and it offers a credit limit ranging from $300 to $5,000, depending on eligibility. It comes with a high variable APR — 24.49% to 33.99% — as is typical with credit cards for less-than-perfect credit, so you’ll want to avoid carrying a balance whenever possible. Petal’s Leap program may also allow you to qualify for a higher credit limit if you make at least six consecutive monthly payments or pay 15% of your statement balance, whichever is greater. Terms apply. And you'll earn up to 10% cash back when you use the card to make purchases with certain merchants.

4. The upgrade path is a bit clunky

The Azpire credit card is one of a few credit-builder cards that offer a path to upgrade to an unsecured credit card, but it's a work in progress compared with other options.

In as little as four months, you might qualify for the Zolve credit card, depending on how much you load onto the Azpire credit card, your transactions, your creditworthiness and other factors weighed by Zolve’s internal algorithm, according to Anandapadmanabhan Ramabhadran, chief business officer and head of growth at Zolve.

Once you qualify, your new Zolve credit card is issued in place of the Azpire credit card. The company confirmed that after getting the Zolve credit card, you won't be able to use your Azpire credit card, which can remain open or be closed. There may also be a minimal negative impact to credit scores if you choose to close the Azpire credit card. The company is working on an approach to allow cardholders to keep the same card upon making the transition.

More established credit cards like the $35-annual-fee OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card and $0-annual-fee Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card can offer an easier path for upgrading to unsecured cards, but they will require a hefty security deposit upfront.

5. Despite hiccups, Zolve can be a rewarding choice

You'll have to weigh whether you prefer the smoother transition to an unsecured credit card that other options can offer or the low costs and credit-building features of Zolve's credit cards. The Zolve credit card functions like a traditional credit card, charging a variable APR of 16% for purchases (rate accurate as of March 2023). Compared with credit cards for people with less-than-ideal credit, that’s a decently low rate.

The Zolve credit card also earns a healthy rewards rate. Every quarter, you can choose five brands from a list of options to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back. You'll have to remember to select options every quarter to earn the higher rate or else rewards default to 1%. Rewards can be redeemed for gift cards, vouchers and statement credits, according to Zolve.

Zolve also confirmed that it has an automated algorithm that reviews eligibility for a credit limit increase every four to six months. A credit limit bump can help your credit scores because it can lower your credit utilization ratio, which factors heavily into credit scores. The Zolve credit card can offer a high credit limit of up to $5,000, if you can qualify. Both Zolve credit cards report to all three credit bureaus, which helps to build your credit history.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The terms for the Zolve credit card state that a subscription fee will apply, but Zolve confirmed that a fee is not charged as of this writing.

For an easier path to upgrade, consider: If you have a Social Security number, you may qualify for a simpler path to upgrade through the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Secured Credit Card. It requires a minimum $200 security deposit upfront, but you’ll get a sign-up bonus and ongoing cash-back rewards — 2% at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter and 1% on everything else. The rewards can give you back some money while the security deposit is on hold. Discover also starts to review your account after seven months to determine whether you qualify for an in-house unsecured card option. And if you maintain a good payment history, you’ll eventually get your deposit back after upgrading or closing the card.

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