Jasper Mastercard Review: An Option Better Suited for U.S. Newcomers

Designed for working professionals without a credit history, this card lowers some of the traditional barriers to entry for credit cards, then helps you save on fees. No rewards, however.

Melissa LambarenaSeptember 23, 2020

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Our Take

3.4

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: For newcomers to the U.S., this is one of the few options that doesn’t require a Social Security number upfront. But if that’s not an obstacle for you, other options may have more to offer.

Jasper Mastercard®

on Jasper's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0*

Regular APR

15.49% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee*

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • No rewards

Alternate Pick: Earn up to 2% cash back

Discover it® Secured

Earn rewards while building credit

This card requires a minimum $200 security deposit upfront, but it offers rewards and a path to upgrade to an unsecured card. The annual fee is $0. A Social Security number is required. If you can’t meet that requirement, some American Express credit cards may facilitate access to credit without one.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0*

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.49% Variable

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

12.99% - 29.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The Jasper Mastercard® aims to help working professionals establish a credit history when they lack one. While it can deliver on that front, it's probably best suited for new immigrants awaiting a Social Security number while they start a job in the U.S.

Most credit card issuers require a Social Security number upfront. Jasper, formerly known as CreditStacks, is one of the few exceptions; qualifying applicants may have 60 days to report a Social Security number after activation.

Candidates with a Social Security number but no credit history may do better with the incentives and well-rounded credit reporting on other alternative credit cards. But the Jasper Mastercard® still merits a close look if you want to avoid a security deposit and other common obstacles on cards for people new to credit. Jasper doesn’t rely only on traditional credit factors when evaluating applicants.

Nerd tip: Jasper started shipping credit cards to qualified customers in January 2018, when it was operating under the name CreditStacks. The card initially was designed for working professionals who were new to the U.S. As part of its rebranding in May 2020, however, the Jasper Mastercard® now targets all working professionals who are new to credit, not just those who are also new to the country.

Jasper Mastercard®: Key features

Card type: Starter.

Annual fee: $0*.

Security deposit: None.

Rewards: None.

APR: The ongoing APR is 15.49% Variable.

Penalty APR: None.

Credit limit: Up to $5,000.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other perks:

  • No upfront Social Security number requirement for international professionals (though those applicants will eventually have to report one within 60 days of card activation).

  • Payments reported to TransUnion and Equifax.

  • Travel benefits, including a collision damage waiver for rental cars, insurance for lost or damaged luggage, travel accident insurance and trip cancellation/interruption reimbursement.

  • Safety benefits and other perks, including MasterCard ID Theft Protection, extended warranty, price protection and cell phone protection.

Why you might want the Jasper Mastercard®

leeway with SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

Cardholders who are new to the U.S. must report their Social Security number to Jasper within 60 days of activating their card, but it's not required upfront during the application process. Instead, applicants must provide their passport, visa information and proof of income in the U.S. Applicants who have lived in the U.S. for a year or longer must provide a Social Security number with their application and undergo a credit check.

NO CREDIT SCORE REQUIRED

Applicants who lack a U.S. credit history can still receive a credit card as long as they qualify in other ways. When vetting an applicant, the company says it looks at more than 360 data points to determine creditworthiness, including debt-to-income ratio, an applicant’s online presence and whether they’ve secured a job offer from an employer.

FEWER COSTS

The Jasper Mastercard® has an annual fee of $0*, so you won't pay to hold the card. There's also no penalty APR, meaning the issuer won't raise your interest rate if you pay late or miss a payment. And unlike with secured credit cards, an option for credit newcomers that requires upfront collateral, you won't need a security deposit.

A DECENT CREDIT LIMIT

Applicants may be eligible for a credit line up to $5,000 in credit. That's fairly high for someone new to credit in the U.S., although it's possible to find even higher limits in this category. Secured credit cards, by comparison, usually offer credit limits equal to your deposit. If you wanted a $5,000 limit, you'd need to deposit $5,000 (and the maximum deposit is usually capped at less than that anyway).

ADVANCE APPROVAL

The Jasper application process allows applicants to be approved up to 60 days before starting their new job in the U.S. With other card issuers, you may have to wait until you’ve already started your job in the U.S. before applying.

TRAVEL FEATURES

The Jasper Mastercard® is well-equipped for travel abroad. It doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which can cost as much as 3% per transaction on other credit cards. As a Mastercard, it also has broad international acceptance.

Why you might want a different card

LIMITED CREDIT BUREAU REPORTING

As of May 2020, Jasper reports account information to only two of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion. The ideal starter card should also report to Experian. Otherwise, the activity on the account won't be reflected in credit scores or reports pulled from Experian.

American Express cards report to all three credit bureaus, and they may be an option for some immigrants and expats in the U.S. from Australia, Canada, India, Mexico or the United Kingdom. A feature launched in 2019 facilitates translating some international credit reports into U.S.-equivalent credit reports during the online application process, eliminating the need for a Social Security number.

NO REWARDS

You won't earn any rewards with the Jasper Mastercard®. If this is important to you, look for secured or unsecured cards that offer rewards that you can qualify for. A solid option is the Petal® Visa® Credit Card, which also employs an alternative underwriting model to evaluate applicants. It considers factors like income, debt, expenses and savings. As a plus, this card offers up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases.

LONGER APPROVAL PROCESS

The approval timeline for the Jasper Mastercard® is currently two to three business days from a customer’s application, although CEO Elnor Rozenrot said the company is working on speeding things up. And exceptions may exist that result in a longer process. Contrast that with an application for a secured card from a major issuer, which will typically approve or deny an application within minutes. For a more streamlined process, you can apply for a credit card with an established issuer like Discover.

The $0-annual-fee Discover it® Secured, for example, could offer a decision faster than the Jasper Mastercard®. It earns 2% cash-back on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% on everything else. Discover also begins reviewing your account automatically after eight months to see if you can upgrade to regular card. You'll need a Social Security number to qualify.

MOBILE-ONLY ACCOUNT ACCESS

With the Jasper Mastercard®, you can manage your account only via the Jasper app. You won't be able to access your online account on a desktop computer. Rozenrot says the company wanted to be able to communicate with customers on a regular basis via push notifications and email to teach people how to work with the U.S. credit system. If you must have access via a computer, other starter credit cards for no credit can offer that type of user experience.

Is the Jasper Mastercard® right for you?

The Jasper Mastercard® is an excellent credit-building option for people who don't have their Social Security number yet. If you already have one, other cards may have more to offer in the way of credit reporting, incentives and features.

When you’re trying to establish a credit history, the ideal starter card should report to all three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. When you can't qualify for such options, this card allows you to take what you can get and start building your credit history.

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