CREDIT CARDSCREDIT CARDSCURRENT BUILD CARD: PLENTY OF PERKS FOR CREDIT NEWBIES

Current Build Card: Plenty of Perks for Credit Newbies

There's no credit check, no minimum security deposit, not even an APR, plus it earns rewards. But credit reporting is limited, there's no upgrade path, and those rewards come with caveats.
Jae Bratton Author Avatar
Oct 3, 2023 7:00 a.m. PDT
Edited by
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

4.2

NerdWallet rating
The bottom line:

All told, this card is a solid and affordable option for those wanting to build or mend their credit history with little risk of getting into debt trouble.

Pros
  • No annual fee
  • No credit check
  • No APR
  • Adjustable credit limit
  • Earns rewards
Cons
  • Must open a Current account
  • No upgrade path
  • Reports to only one credit bureau
Current Build Card Image
Current Build Card
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Rec. credit score

Apply Now
on Current's website
on Current's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

N/A

Apply Now
on Current's website
on Current's website
  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Rewards rate

    N/A

  • Bonus offer

    N/A.

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Ongoing APR

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of the full transaction amount

More details from Current
  • Get credit for every swipe - Just use your card, even at the ATM, to build credit with every swipe, earn points, and more.
  • Build credit not debt - Build credit using only the money in your account and enable AutoPay so you never miss a payment.
  • Credit for everyone - No matter what your credit history, there are no credit checks required to apply and build credit.
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster - With direct deposit get your paycheck up to 2 days faster, so you get the money you need exactly when you need it.
  • Earn points on swipes - Earn up to 7x the points on card swipes at over 14,000 participating merchants, then redeem them for cash back.

Compare to Other Cards

ANNUAL FEE
$0
REGULAR APR
28.24% Variable APR
Rates & Fees
INTRO APR
10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$35
REGULAR APR
25.64% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$39
REGULAR APR
35.99% Variable
Rates & Fees
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
Get more smart money moves — straight to your inboxBecome a NerdWallet member, and we'll send you tailored articles we think you'll love.

Detailed review: Current Build Card

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

Issued by Cross River Bank, the 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. There's no annual percentage rate (APR) either, so your risk of getting into debt is slim to none. The card also offers the ability to earn rewards. That's an impressive combination.

However, the Current Build Card also comes with the same kinds of drawbacks that are particular to alternative cards backed by fintechs. It currently reports to only one credit bureau, and it lacks perks that can be found in more traditional secured credit cards from major issuers.

🤓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.

Current Build Card: Basics

Card type: Secured and alternative.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: $0.

Rewards: 1x to 7x, depending on the merchant.

APR: N/A.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Benefits and perks

No minimum deposit required

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

No credit check required

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.

No APR

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

In fact, the Current Build 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.

It earns rewards

The Current Build Card earns rewards, but there are some caveats that dictate 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. 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. The minimum redemption amount is 100 points, or $1.

There’s no limit to the number of points that cardholders can earn, and points don’t expire.

Drawbacks and considerations

Limited credit bureau reporting

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. Even if you’ve used the Current Build Card responsibly and made on-time payments, a lender won’t be able to see that good credit history if they pull a report from Equifax or Experian — which may ultimately result in a denial for more credit.

No upgrade path

Current doesn’t have an unsecured card that Current Build Card holders 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 Current's class, and it's compounded by the fact that these cards may leave you unprepared to manage a traditional unsecured credit card — a product that dispenses with the guardrails and has high interest rates, 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 get 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 issuers’ respective portfolios.

Hidden fees can add up

While the Current Build Card has a $0 annual fee, you might incur other fees with this 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 that offer reimbursements for out-of-network transactions.

Alternate Pick: Clear upgrade path
Graduate to another card in as little as seven months

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card requires a minimum $200 upfront security deposit, but it earns straightforward rewards, has a sign-up bonus and doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement. And you can get that deposit back if you close the account in good standing or, better still, if you're eventually eligible to upgrade to a different Discover product.

How to decide if it's right for you

The Current Build Card could be an ideal fit for those who can't afford a traditional upfront security deposit of hundreds of dollars, or who don't want to tie up that money for months on end. And some of its guardrails — including no hard credit inquiry and no APR — could appeal to those who are looking to bolster their credit or avoid the temptation to overspend.

Just be aware that the card's biggest weaknesses are its limited credit bureau reporting and its lack of an upgrade path to an unsecured product, and there are several traditional secured credit cards that don't have those drawbacks.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

About the author

NerdWallet Pixel