Editorial Review

Petal Card Review: A Fee-Free Credit-Building Alternative

Petal's issuing bank may opt not to rely solely on credit scores to determine eligibility, and the card promises 'no fees whatsoever,' making it an excellent starter product.

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Our Take

4.3

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: You'll get rewards, plus you'll get simplicity and transparency — not to mention a pass on security deposits and fees.

Petal Credit Card

on Petal's website

on Petal's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 26.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Qualify with average credit

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • None

Alternate Pick: Up to 3% cash back

Deserve® Pro Mastercard

Earn bonus rewards as you build credit

This card targets applicants with established credit, but its underwriting process may allow exceptions if you meet income and employment verification requirements. It earns 3% cash back on travel and entertainment and 2% cash back at restaurants for purchases up to $500 per billing cycle (combined), and 1% back elsewhere. Annual fee: $0.

Read our review

Full Review

The Petal Visa® Credit Card offers an alternative no-fee path to credit for those with little or no credit history.

That's because Petal's issuing bank, WebBank, can look at more than just traditional FICO scores to determine creditworthiness. The bank also has an algorithm that can take into account things like income, savings and spending. Unlike many starter cards, no security deposit is required, nor will you pay a yearly fee to hold the card. It even offers a cash-back rewards program comparable with those on cards for people with good to excellent credit.

The Petal Visa® Credit Card is an ideal option if you want to avoid fees as you start the clock on your credit history.

Petal Visa® Credit Card: Key features

Card type: Starter.

Annual fee: $0

Security deposit: None.

Rewards: Up to 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Details:

  • You start by earning 1% cash back on all purchases.

  • Make six monthly payments on time, and your rewards rate rises to 1.25% cash back.

  • Make 12 monthly payments on time, and the rate rises to 1.5% cash back.

APR: The ongoing APR is 15.24% - 26.24% Variable APR.

Penalty APR: None.

Credit limit: $500 to $10,000, depending on creditworthiness.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other perks:

  • Payments reported to three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian).

  • Account management and budgeting tools via the app (iPhone and Android) or mobile-optimized website. For instance, before making your monthly payment, you can see exactly how much it will cost in interest to carry a balance if you don’t pay in full.

  • Certain Visa partnership benefits, like auto rental collision insurance, theft coverage and roadside dispatch. Petal also supports Visa Local Offers, a way to earn Uber credits.

Why you might want the Petal Visa® Credit Card

Evaluation based on multiple factors: You must be a U.S. resident with a valid Social Security number or an individual taxpayer identification number to qualify for the Petal Visa® Credit Card, but Petal's issuing bank may opt to weigh more than just your credit scores. It can also evaluate creditworthiness with an algorithm that also analyzes your income, savings and spending, according to co-founder and CEO Jason Gross.

No security deposit: Many cards designed for those with limited credit are secured products, meaning they require an upfront cash deposit as collateral, usually at least a few hundred dollars that's equal to your credit limit. You get the deposit back when you close the account (or upgrade it to an unsecured card), but it's money you've got to come up with on the front end. The Petal Visa® Credit Card has no such requirement.

A solid rewards program: The 1.5% maximum cash-back rate on the Petal Visa® Credit Card equals the ongoing rate on stalwart cards like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. You'll need a year of on-time payments to work your way up to the top rate, but even the 1% base rate is better than what you'll get on most starter cards.

No fees: Petal Visa® Credit Card cardholders pay no fees. That means a $0 annual fee, no late fees, no foreign transaction fees or any other fees. You also won't be charged a penalty APR if you're late on a payment (although paying late can affect your credit scores). The company makes money from merchant transaction fees and interest paid on revolving balances. You can avoid interest charges by paying your bill in full every month. Paying on time will also keep your credit scores in good shape.

Potentially high credit limit: Starter cards are known for low credit limits, but the Petal Visa® Credit Card offers up to $10,000 for those who qualify for such a limit (based on creditworthiness). With secured cards, your credit limit generally is only as high as the amount of your security deposit. Other alternative credit cards like the AvantCard Credit Card and Deserve Classic offer lower credit limits. Petal plans to review accounts from time to time to assess credit limit increases.

Worthy travel companion: The Petal Visa® Credit Card is a travel-friendly card that can save you money when you’re abroad. It has no foreign transaction fees, which generally range from 1% to 3% per transaction for other credit cards. As a Visa card, it also has broad international acceptance.

Why you might want a different card

No bonus rewards: When you're new to credit, rewards aren't the most important thing — building credit is. But rewards are still a factor, and it's worth weighing your options. Flat-rate cash-back cards like the Petal Visa® Credit Card are popular because they require minimal effort. But a card that offers bonus cash back in certain categories might be a better fit for your spending. For instance, the Deserve® Pro Mastercard is designed for applicants with established credit, but the company's underwriting process may allow exceptions for those who can meet income and employment verification criteria. The card earns 3% cash back on travel and entertainment and 2% cash back at restaurants, on up to $500 in combined purchases per billing cycle. For all other purchases, it earns 1% back. The annual fee is $0.

No cash advances: Cash advances are short-term loans that you can get at a bank or ATM with your credit card. They can end up costing you dearly in fees and interest, but just know that if you happen to be in need of cash quickly, you won’t be able to draw any against the Petal Visa® Credit Card. The AvantCard Credit Card — another card designed for thin credit files — does offer cash advances, but again you'll pay for those, and you'll also owe an annual fee of $29.

Permanent minimum payment due date: Petal doesn’t allow you to change your minimum payment due date. If that’s a deal breaker, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® lets you choose a date that works for you. That card does require a security deposit, but depending on your creditworthiness, it might accept one as low as $49. The annual fee is $0.

Is the Petal Visa® Credit Card right for you?

The Petal Visa® Credit Card joins a growing list of alternative credit cards designed for applicants who may not meet traditional credit card qualification standards.

You'll get rewards, but more importantly with a starter card, you'll get simplicity and transparency: no deposit requirement, no fees, a decent travel companion, and possibly a higher credit limit than you'll find elsewhere in its category.