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
17.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
Recommended Credit Score
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 – 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.
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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.
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 two credit bureaus, TransUnion 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
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.
The Petal® Visa® Credit Card also uses its own underwriting model to evaluate creditworthiness by considering factors such as income, debt, expenses and savings, and offers a straightforward 1.5% cash back 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® 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.
reports to All three credit bureaus
A report to all three major credit bureaus — the companies that gather the information used to calculate your credit scores — is ideal for building credit, but the Deserve® Pro Mastercard reports only to two. Consider the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® instead, which reports your payment history to all three: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You can also qualify for the card with no credit or poor credit. This card does require a security deposit, but eligible applicants may qualify to get a $200 credit line with an initial deposit as low as $49, depending on their creditworthiness. That amount may seem like a low credit limit to start, but the issuer may offer access to a higher credit line after you make the first five monthly payments on time. The annual fee is $0.
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.
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