Deserve Pro Review: A Rewarding Way to Build Credit

It's possible to qualify for this $0-annual-fee cash-back card with no credit if you meet certain criteria.

Melissa LambarenaOctober 23, 2018
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This page includes information about the Deserve® Pro Mastercard currently unavailable on NerdWallet.

Our Take


NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: This card is a top-notch option for those who are new to credit — including newcomers to the U.S. — and can meet certain income and employment requirements. Its rewards on travel, entertainment and dining are more generous than what most starter cards offer.

Deserve® Pro Mastercard

Deserve® Pro Mastercard

Annual Fee


Regular APR

17.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR


Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons


  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fee


  • No sign-up bonus

  • No intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

Alternate Pick: 2% back on everything

Citi® Double Cash Card
NerdWallet rating 

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Unlimited rewards for those with excellent credit

If you have already established credit, you can do better than the capped rewards on the Deserve® Pro Mastercard. The Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® MasterCard - Limited Time Offer $150 Cash Back gives you 1% cash back on every dollar you spend and 1% on every dollar you pay off.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Deserve® Pro Mastercard

Deserve® Pro Mastercard

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual Fee


Annual Fee


Annual Fee


Regular APR

17.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

17.39% Variable APR

Intro APR


Intro APR

10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Intro APR


Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard offers cash-back rewards for an annual fee of $0 — and in some cases, you won't need a credit history to qualify. Professionals who meet certain income and employment verification requirements and have a Social Security number could get approved with little or no credit due to Deserve's unconventional underwriting model. That's good news for many who are new to credit, including foreign citizens in the U.S. on L-1, O-1 or H-1B visas and immigrants with green cards. And if you already have established credit and still want this card, it's also possible to qualify with good or excellent credit.

Nerd tip: If you're a student, you might be interested in a different credit card from this startup company: the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students. Visit our review of that credit card for more information.

Deserve® Pro Mastercard: Basics and benefits

Card type: Cash back.


  • 3% cash back on travel and entertainment and 2% cash back at restaurants (on up to $500 in combined spending on 3% and 2% categories per billing cycle).

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Rewards redeem automatically as a statement credit when your earnings hit $25.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 17.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Other benefits:

  • No security deposit required. The Deserve® Pro Mastercard is a regular "unsecured" card.

  • Credit limits up to $10,000. 

  • Cell phone protection for up to $600 if your cell phone is stolen or damaged as long as you use the card to pay your cell phone bill.

  • Waived late fee on your first late payment.

  • Referral bonuses. You get $30 in statement credit whenever you refer someone who qualifies for the card; that person earns $30 for joining. There’s no limit to the number of people you can refer. You also earn $200 for every 10th referral.

Like many other issuers, Deserve doesn’t accept co-signers, so you must meet requirements on your own to qualify for this card. Deserve reports your payment activity to the three major U.S. credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

Why you might want the Deserve® Pro Mastercard

Potential to qualify with no credit history

If you can satisfy certain income and employment verification requirements and have a Social Security number, you can potentially qualify for this card with no credit history. Deserve’s underwriting process measures credit potential by relying on applicants’ financial documents and a proprietary algorithm. The startup company evaluates income, employment and U.S. bank account balances to determine your ability to pay. Deserve also considers your contact information, including your physical address, email address and phone number. It weighs how that information has changed over the years to determine whether you'll remain easy to reach. You don't have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify; the card is available to those with L-1, O-1 or H-1B visas or green cards.

No annual fee

The annual fee is $0, making it easy to get plenty of value from this card even if you're not a big spender.

broad international acceptance

This card travels well internationally. It doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, so you won't have to pay an extra 3% on every international purchase. And unlike American Express and Discover networks, the Mastercard network is widely available and more likely to be accepted by merchants abroad.

Valuable bonus Categories

This card is more generous with rewards than other credit cards for limited credit. Earning any rewards when you have a short credit history is a rare and welcome opportunity, especially if the card offers more than 1% back on your purchases. The 3% category for travel and entertainment applies to travel-related purchases, which include airfare, hotels, Airbnb, Uber and LiveNation, an events promoter that sells tickets to venues online. The 2% cash-back category for restaurants includes restaurant delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats.

Low-Cost Airport Lounge access

Even rarer on an entry-level credit card are certain side benefits like the ones that this card offers. You get discounts on some services and other perks like a complimentary one-year membership to Priority Pass after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after activating the card. The pass allows you to access over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide for a $27 charge per visit.

Why you might want a different credit card

Richer benefits

Getting into airport lounges for $27 a visit for a year is nice, but it's not a particularly lucrative perk. If you already have a good credit history in a different country, in some cases you might be able to qualify for a card with far richer benefits through American Express. Through a partnership with Nova Credit, a credit-reporting startup, AmEx allows immigrants and expats in the U.S. to use certain international credit reports to qualify for AmEx credit cards without a U.S. credit history. If you use this option, a Social Security number isn't required on your application. AmEx's feature, which uses Nova Credit's technology, is integrated into the online application and can access credit reports from five foreign credit bureaus, one in each of these countries: Australia, Canada, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom. This feature is available on all AmEx consumer cards, so if you're eligible, you'll have plenty of rewarding options to choose from.

Consider the American Express® Green Card, for example. Its rewards and benefits are similar to those on the Deserve® Pro Mastercard, but much more generous. The card doesn't have spending caps, earning 3 points per dollar spent on eligible travel and transit purchases, 3 points per dollar spent on restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. It also offers up to $100 per year in statement credit for LoungeBuddy single-visit airport lounge pass purchases, among other benefits. The annual fee is $150, but you can easily offset this cost with the card's perks and rewards. Terms apply.

Simpler rewards

The Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card can also use its own underwriting model to evaluate creditworthiness by considering factors such as income, debt, expenses and savings, and it offers a straightforward cash-back rate of up to 1.5% on all purchases. You can qualify with fair credit. If you don't want to worry about bonus categories or spending cards, this card's simple flat-rate rewards could make it a stronger choice than the Deserve® Pro Mastercard. The Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card also promises “no fees whatsover,” meaning it has a $0 annual fee, no late fees, no foreign transaction fees or any other fees.

Is the Deserve® Pro Mastercard right for you?

If you’re employed and looking to establish credit, the Deserve® Pro Mastercard offers a chance to build credit and earn relatively rich rewards in the process, all with no annual fee or security deposit required. It's a solid option.

But remember that a rewards credit card is ideal only if you pay your bill in full every month. Otherwise, the cost of interest on ongoing balances will eclipse any rewards earned.

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The American Express® Green Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.


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