Chime Credit Builder Review: A Secured Card With Guardrails

There's no credit check, no interest and no minimum required security deposit. The card lets you allocate money toward your credit limit; you can spend only as much as you put aside.
Sara RathnerNov 17, 2021

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Our Take

4.7

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

The card is basically debt-proof, but you'll have to be OK with opening a Chime account. Also note that there are no rewards or upgrade paths, and other unsecured cards you may get later won't provide the same training wheels.

Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card

on Chime's website

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No credit check
  • No APR
  • Adjustable credit limit

Cons

  • Must open a Chime account
  • No rewards
  • No upgrade path

Alternate Pick: Cash-Back Rewards

Discover it® Secured Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

New Cardholder Bonus

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter (then 1% back), plus 1% cash back on all other purchases. New cardholders are eligible for a bonus offer, which Discover phrases this way: "INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match." The annual fee is $0.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$35

Regular APR

N/A

Regular APR

22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

17.39% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card shares the same purpose as traditional secured credit cards: It can help you build a credit history if you have no credit or bad credit.

But the similarities end there because the $0-annual-fee card, issued by Stride Bank, requires no minimum security deposit, and it even lets you adjust your credit limit. There's no credit check necessary either, and perhaps even more surprisingly, it doesn’t charge interest; you essentially set money aside in advance to pay your credit card bill. In some ways, it resembles a reloadable prepaid debit card, except that it reports your activity to the credit bureaus.

These kinds of unique features can certainly help you along your credit journey, but you'll have to be willing to open an account with Chime. Plus, the card’s guardrails could leave you unprepared to manage other kinds of credit products later on. And on that topic, there's no upgrade path to a traditional, unsecured, rewards-earning card once you're ready.

Nerdy tip: On July 6, 2021, the nonprofit news organization ProPublica reported that Chime customers had their accounts closed without notice, leaving them without access to funds. In ProPublica’s report, Chime said many account closures were linked to fraud, but it also admitted that several of the closures had been mistakes. If your account is closed by Chime or other neobanks without notice, there are some steps you can take to potentially remedy the situation. Act quickly by contacting the neobank to explain the situation. And, if you aren't helped by the neobank, you may file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Key features of the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card

Card type: Secured.

Annual fee: $0.

Security deposit: No minimum security deposit is required. The money you transfer from your Chime Spending Account to your Credit Builder secured account is how much you can spend with the card.

Bonus: None.

Rewards: None.

APR: N/A.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other perks:

How the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card works

To have the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card, you must open a Chime Spending Account that has had at least $200 in direct deposits made to the account within the past 365 days.

Instead of a one-time security deposit that becomes your credit limit, you “assign” money to your Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card by moving it from your Chime Spending Account to your Credit Builder secured account — which you can do on the Chime app. You can move money back into your Chime Spending Account through the Chime app if you need access to cash, and you can use your Chime ATM card to withdraw money.

Benefits of the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card

No credit check

Most credit cards — even secured ones — will conduct a hard inquiry on your credit report when you apply, which helps the card's issuer evaluate your creditworthiness. Even if you're then approved for the card, these hard pulls can temporarily ding your credit scores by a few points, which isn't ideal if you're new to credit. But the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card does not check your credit when you apply, meaning it's a good fit for those with poor credit or no credit.

Adjustable credit limit

The money you move from your Chime Spending Account to your Credit Builder secured account is the amount you can spend on your card. You can move money automatically every time you get paid, or you can move money manually. Money transfers are nearly instant, taking around a minute. You can use the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card to make purchases wherever Visa is accepted. Other secured credit cards have set credit limits, and you may have to use the card for several months before becoming eligible for a credit limit increase.

No interest charges

The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card charges no interest because it doesn’t let you spend more than what you have available in your Credit Builder secured account. In some ways, it’s a credit card that bears similarities to a reloadable prepaid debit card. This is helpful because you can’t get into credit card debt with this card. Other secured credit cards charge high interest rates, making it possible to take on expensive debt at a time when you’re trying to establish a credit history.

Maxing out the card won’t affect your credit score

Your credit utilization isn’t reported to credit bureaus, so you don’t have to be mindful of the percentage of your total available money you can spend. But unlike with a prepaid debit card, your payment history and other factors will be reported, so making on-time payments is important. If you miss a payment, your card will be disabled until you pay the balance. And if your payment is more than 30 days late, this will be reported to credit bureaus and can affect your credit scores.

Autopay feature makes on-time payments effortless

The Safer Credit Building feature — which is a variation on the autopay option available on more traditional credit cards — can prevent an accidental missed payment.

Whenever you use the card to buy something, the total purchase amount is put on hold in your Credit Builder secured account. Once your bill is due, the on-hold money is automatically used to pay it. This keeps you from paying late and not having the money available to pay your bill in full.

Drawbacks and alternatives

A Chime Spending Account and direct deposit is required

The link between the Chime Spending Account and the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card facilitates the card’s unique user experience, but opening an account and getting direct deposits can be a hardship for some. Many other secured credit cards also require a bank account in order to fund the security deposit, but the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card can be an option for anyone without a bank account. You can fund the security deposit with a debit card or check, but also with a money order or through Western Union.

No rewards or sign-up bonus

It used to be pretty rare for a secured credit card to offer rewards, but that's been changing in recent years. Unfortunately, the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card isn't a part of that trend; it doesn't offer any kind of rewards program.

Of course, when you're working to strengthen your credit, rewards aren't the main priority. But they're nice to have, and they're findable among cards in this class. For instance, the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Secured Credit Card earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter (then 1% back), plus 1% cash back on all other purchases. New cardholders are eligible for a bonus offer, which Discover phrases this way: "INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match."

No upgrade path

The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card can help you strengthen your credit, but once that happens, there's no higher-tier card to move to. Hence, there is little reason to continue using this one. If you decide you're ready for a credit card that offers rewards and other benefits, you'll have to open up a brand-new account with an entirely different issuer.

It doesn’t provide practice for managing more traditional cards

The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card makes it very easy to stick to a budget and pay your credit card bills on time. This is good news for your credit scores, but any credit card you eventually graduate to will function very differently.

Once you start using an unsecured credit card with an interest rate and fees, the training wheels come off in a major way. Revolving credit cards allow you to spend up to your credit limit, make just a small minimum payment while taking on debt and then spend up to the limit again. And if you make a late payment, you could get slapped with a late fee, a higher interest rate and a big dip in your credit scores.

The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card will certainly help you build credit, but before you apply for another credit card later on, familiarize yourself with how they work.

Should you get the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card?

If your goal is purely building credit, the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card removes many of the stumbling blocks that can trip up anyone who is new to using credit cards. But some other starter credit cards offer cash-back rewards, though they charge interest and require a fixed security deposit. If you do opt for the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card, know that any unsecured credit cards you use later on will not have the same guardrails.

Frequently asked questions