A year after it began offering credit cards to eligible international students, alternative lending company SelfScore is increasing its portfolio of financial products by adding a rewards credit card: the SelfScore Achieve for International Students. It offers a higher credit limit, cash-back rewards and an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 19.49% Variable.
The new card is available only to international students studying in the U.S., but the company plans a broader rollout to all eligible college students in the fall, says Kalpesh Kapadia, the company’s co-founder and CEO.
The best news for would-be cardholders?
“We will not be looking at credit scores,” Kapadia says. Instead, the company uses its proprietary scoring system, opening the card up to people who don’t have a FICO score, commonly used to qualify for credit cards.
More on that below. First, let’s look at the new card.
- Recommended Credit Score
- 350850Poor - Excellent
- Card Details
- Qualify with limited / bad credit
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- High APR
- Purchase: 19.49%, Variable
Bonus Offers1% cash back on all purchases
- 0% on Purchases for 6 months
- Additional Information
- Available to undergraduate and graduate students who hold an F1, J1 or M1 visa
- No SSN or deposit required
- 1% cash back on all purchases
- No fees on foreign transactions
- Helps build U.S. credit history
- SelfScore Classic MasterCard is also available to students who may not qualify for the SelfScore Achieve MasterCard
- Includes MasterCard Platinum Benefits like Purchase Assurance, Extended Warranty, Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver and Travel Assistance
- Refer a Friend and get a $30 statement credit. Once you refer 10 friends, get $200 additional bonus for a total of $500 in statement credits.
SelfScore Achieve for International Students: The basics
SelfScore’s first credit card product, the SelfScore Classic Mastercard, is fairly bare-bones. Credit limits start at $300 but can be increased to $1,500 once the cardholder meets certain requirements, like linking the card to a bank account and making several on-time payments. The Classic has no annual fee, and it doesn’t require a Social Security number. It does, however, help newly arrived students build a credit history in the U.S.
The new card has a little more meat to it:
- Credit limits of up to $5,000
- The annual fee is $0
- Unlimited cash back rewards of 1% on all purchases
- No foreign transaction fees
- 0% on Purchases for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 19.49% Variable
Both cards come with Mastercard Platinum benefits, including purchase assurance, extended warranty coverage, travel assistance and car rental collision waivers.
How to qualify for a SelfScore Mastercard
Traditional credit scores depend on how you’ve handled credit in the past. But what if you’ve never had credit before, or your credit history was left behind in your home country when you moved to the U.S.?
SelfScore says it wants to help creditworthy students, and eventually nonstudents, who are stuck in the conundrum of not being able to get credit because they don’t already have credit.
SelfScore evaluates creditworthiness by looking at documents common to international students, such as passports, student visas and financial documentation that foreign students must submit to their universities anyway.
“Funding sources matter,” Kapadia says. “You have demonstrated that to the university and to the embassy overseas. We are piggybacking on that.”
Expanding access to credit
Even though SelfScore doesn’t rely on traditional credit scores, the company recognizes that international students will need those credit scores as their financial needs change over time. SelfScore reports account activity to two of the three major credit bureaus — Experian and TransUnion — so responsible use of a SelfScore card will result in a better credit score over time.
But Kapadia isn’t keen on helping students build credit only to lose them when they can qualify for more enticing credit cards elsewhere. Hence the new rewards card and a hinted-at suite of premium credit cards in the future.
» MORE: The best student credit cards
Right now, SelfScore is sticking to its roots — helping international students get access to credit and build a credit history in their new country. But the company’s mission has expanded over the past year. It wants to help “deserving but underserved populations gain financial independence through access to credit,” Kapadia says.
A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated which credit bureaus SelfScore reports to. This article has been corrected.