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Credit Card Startups Race for Space in Your Wallet

June 19, 2017
Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards, Low Interest and No Fee Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Student Credit Cards
Credit Card Startups Race for a Space in Your Wallet
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It takes a serious optimist to look at the big names and complicated regulations in today’s credit card industry and think, “There’s an opportunity for an entrepreneur!” But during the past few years, multiple startups have dived into the market. Credit card spending in the U.S. is making a comeback, and these businesses are hoping their bets pay off. Here’s what they’re offering.

SelfScore: Easier credit access for international students

Target customers: International students who want to build credit in the United States.

If you’re an international student going to college in the U.S., it’s very hard to qualify for a credit card — especially without a Social Security number or a co-signer. SelfScore, founded in 2013, provides a cost-effective solution.

The company offers two credit cards. Neither charges an annual fee or requires a deposit, co-signer or Social Security number.

“We provide you access to credit, whether you are a no-file customer or a thin-file customer, using alternative data — not [credit] bureau data,” says Kalpesh Kapadia, SelfScore’s co-founder and CEO. Those alternative data include an applicant’s bank account activity, such as deposits, withdrawals, debits, credits and fees.

If you get an SSN after receiving the card, you can call the number on the back of your SelfScore card and add it to your account, Kapadia says. After that, you’ll be able to pull your FICO score, which will reflect the payment history on your SelfScore account.

SelfScore has cardholders from 126 countries, Kapadia says.

Final: More secure online payments

Target customers: Avid online shoppers and those trying to avoid the headaches that come with card fraud

EMV-chipped cards are everywhere, but credit card fraud, especially online, is still common. Final, founded in 2014, allows customers to generate additional credit card numbers tied to one credit account so they don’t need to update card information with every merchant if one number is compromised. The card offers 1% back on everything and doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Final customers get a plastic card with a 16-digit number and access to an online dashboard, where they can generate new credit card numbers for remote purchases. They can use a number just once or assign different numbers to different merchants.

“If [cardholders] put a merchant-locked card on file with Netflix … that card gets locked to Netflix on the first transaction, and no other merchant can use the card, which helps reduce the risk of fraud,” says Alex Cramer, head of cards at Final.

Some major issuers also offer limited-use card numbers, but they’re not as easy to customize and track as Final’s. This past year, Final’s beta waitlist has attracted more than 100,000 sign-ups, Cramer says. The card became available to the general public in June.

Blispay: Better in-store rewards and financing offers at small businesses

Target customers: Small businesses that want to offer in-store financing and people with good credit looking for financing options or big rewards

Store credit cards are cash cows for big-box retailers, but they’re often out of reach for smaller merchants. Blispay, founded in 2014, lets these retailers offer promotional financing and a robust rewards card at the register.

The Blispay card pays 2% cash back on everything and doesn’t charge interest or require payments on purchases of more than $199, if paid in full within six months. It doesn’t charge an annual fee.

“The hero of our product is the value of it — particularly around financing — for merchants and consumers,” says Greg Lisiewski, founder and CEO of Blispay. The 2% cash-back rate is one of the best available. The card is a Visa, so it’s accepted almost everywhere, including Costco.

To date, Blispay has partnered with over 500 merchants, most of which are midsize businesses that sell expensive items, such as guitar shops and bridal boutiques, Lisiewski says. You can apply in stores that offer the card or online.

Claire Tsosie writes about credit cards at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ideclaire7.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by Forbes.