Editorial Review

Deserve Pro Review: A Rewarding Way to Build Credit

The card offers a cash-back rewards option for professionals and certain immigrants to the U.S. — and in some cases, a credit history may not be required.

Melissa LambarenaOctober 23, 2018

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take


NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: What makes this card most attractive is the potential to qualify without an established credit history. Its rewards on travel, entertainment and dining are decent for a no-fee card.

Deserve® Pro Mastercard

on Deserve's website

Annual Fee


Regular APR

17.74% to 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR


Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
Annual Fee
Intro APR

Pros & Cons

  • Bonus cash back categories

  • 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 – 18 month BT offer

Unlimited rewards for those with good 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

Annual Fee


Annual Fee


Annual Fee


Regular APR

17.74% to 24.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

13.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR


Intro APR

0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

When you lack a credit history, it doesn't matter what job you have or how much money you make; you probably won't meet the traditional requirements to qualify for a credit card.

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard doesn't follow a traditional model. The card is designed for individuals with established credit, but Deserve’s underwriting process may allow exceptions for certain applicants who can meet income and employment verification requirements.

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

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard offers professionals and new immigrants — with an L1 visa, H1-B visa or green card — cash-back rewards and an opportunity to build credit in the U.S.

Deserve® Pro Mastercard: Basics and benefits

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard launched in October 2017 as part of a rebranding by the company formerly known as SelfScore. It offers:

  • Card type: Cash back.

  • Rewards: The cash-back rates are relatively rich for a no-fee card, but they are capped:

    • 3% cash back on travel and entertainment.

    • 2% cash back at restaurants.

    • 3% and 2% rewards are available on up to $500 in combined spending per billing cycle.

    • 1% cash back 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 17.74% to 24.74% Variable APR.

  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

  • Other benefits: The issuer waives the late fee on your first late payment. You can earn referral bonuses for introducing others to the card. And you get Mastercard Platinum benefits: Cardholders can call 1-800-Mastercard number when their car breaks down and, for a fee, receive roadside assistance. The Deserve® Pro Mastercard also offers extended warranty protection, which can double the length of an original manufacturer warranty by up to a year. Other Mastercard Platinum benefits include price protection, travel assistance and car rental collision damage waivers.

Benefits for those looking to build credit

For applicants with established credit, the application process through Deserve is the same as it is for other credit cards. There is a “hard pull” on your credit report when you apply, but the small dent it causes to your credit score is temporary.

Although the card is designed for those with established credit, exceptions are possible. For example, Deserve can underwrite L1 and H1-B visa applicants based on employment and income verification without requiring a credit history, according to Deserve CEO Kalpesh Kapadia. In general, the card requires a Social Security number.

Like many other issuers, Deserve doesn’t accept co-signers, so you must meet requirements on your own in order to qualify for this card.

Other credit-building benefits:

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

  • Credit limits up to $10,000. 

  • A report to two credit bureaus. Deserve reports your payment activity to TransUnion and Experian.

Why you might want the Deserve® Pro Mastercard

With the Deserve® Pro Mastercard, you can:

  • Potentially qualify with no credit history. Deserve’s underwriting process measures credit potential by relying on applicants’ financial documents and a proprietary algorithm. The issuer evaluates income, employment and U.S. bank account balances to determine 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.

  • Save money on fees. The annual fee is $0, and you get to skip foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad. The waiver for the first late fee can save you up to $25.

  • Get broad international acceptance. This card travels well internationally. Unlike American Express and Discover networks, the Mastercard network is widely available and more likely to be accepted by merchants abroad.

  • Earn bonus rewards. The 3% category for travel and entertainment applies to travel-related purchases, which include airfare, hotels, Airbnb, Uber and LiveNation, according to Kapadia. The 2% cash back at restaurants  includes restaurant delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats.

  • Earn bonuses for referrals. 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.

Drawbacks and potential alternatives

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard has a lot to offer, but there are still a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Bonus rewards are capped. The 3% and 2% rates apply only to the first $500 spent in those categories per billing cycle. After that, you get 1% cash back. That's a bummer for those who travel or go out a lot.

  • No sign-up bonus or 0% intro period. Other credit cards with tiered rewards may require good to excellent credit to qualify, but they often offer introductory bonuses. Many also give new cardholders a year or more at 0% interest.

  • No cash advances. Not having a cash advance option will save you money on fees and interest, but you might miss it if you need the cash.

For those with a short credit history or no credit at all, the Deserve® Pro Mastercard can be an excellent credit-building tool. But if you have established credit and a good credit score, you may qualify for more options.


Gas and groceries: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

With an annual fee of $0, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card gives 3% cash back on gas or your choice of one of five other categories, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and unlimited 1% on all other purchases (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).

Travel:  Discover it® Miles

The Discover it® Miles offers an unlimited 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on all purchases. It has an annual fee of $0 and an introductory sign-up bonus, which Discover puts this way: "Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get." Discover has limited acceptance abroad, but the sign-up bonus might take you farther when you travel.

Flat-rate cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer earns 2% cash back — 1% on every dollar you spend and another 1% for every dollar you pay off. If you don't necessarily spend tons of money in the categories of travel and entertainment, this is a good option to earn juiced-up rewards on all of your spending. The annual fee is $0.

Keep in mind that with no credit at all, getting approved for these cards would be unlikely. Secured credit cards are an option, but those cards require a security deposit. The Deserve® Pro Mastercard doesn’t have this requirement.

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 only ideal if you pay your bill in full every month. Otherwise, the cost of interest on ongoing balances will eclipse any rewards earned.