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Top debit cards that build credit

Explore cards that can help improve your credit score.

Our top cards

Secured credit cards can be secured by a cash deposit or a deposit account. Credit cards backed by a deposit account are often called credit-building debit cards or debit-credit cards. When you use a secured card that’s linked to a deposit account, your credit limit is determined by your deposit account’s balance — meaning you can’t spend more than you have, helping you avoid excessive debt while also building a credit history. And to top it all off, these unique secured cards usually don’t have annual fees or interest charges.

Second-chance credit building

Chime® Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card

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  • No annual fees
  • No credit check to apply, no interest and no minimum security deposit
  • Apply with a Chime Checking account and qualifying $200+ direct deposit

Build credit & earn up to 5% APY

Varo Believe

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  • $0 monthly fees
  • No credit check or APR
  • Must have Varo bank account to apply
  • Build credit plus earn up to 5% APY
  • $30 referral bonus

Cashback rewards

Extra

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  • Starts at $20/month
  • No credit check and no APR
  • Earn up to 1% back in points
  • Connects to more than 10,000 bank accounts

Compare debit cards that build credit

Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Requirements Credit Bureaus Offer
Chime® Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card
Finder Score: 5 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime® Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card
$0 per month
$0
Must have a Chime Checking Account with eligible direct deposits to qualify.
Equifax, Experian,TransUnion
Varo Believe
Finder Score: 5 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Varo Believe
$0 per month
$0
Must have a Varo Bank account with no negative balance or an overdue Varo Advance and have received at least $200 in incoming deposits in the past 31 days to qualify.
Equifax, Experian,TransUnion
Varo is running a Referral Bonus Promotion through April 11, 2024 that gets both existing and new customers $30 when signing up for a Varo Bank account.
Extra
Finder Score: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
Extra
From $20 per month
$0
Requires an existing bank account.
Equifax, Experian
Cleo Credit Builder Card
Finder Score: 4.4 / 5: ★★★★★
Cleo Credit Builder Card
$14.99 per month
$1
Requires bank account
Equifax, Experian,TransUnion
Cushion
Finder Score: 4 / 5: ★★★★★
Cushion
From $4.99 per month
$0
Must be at least 18 years old, have an existing US bank account and a Social Security number
Experian
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How do credit-building debit cards work?

Most debit cards come with deposit accounts, like checking accounts. With these, you can typically only spend up to your account’s available balance. Since you’re not borrowing, traditional debit cards aren’t part of your credit history.

Credit-building debit cards are like a debit and credit card hybrid. They’re basically an alternative secured credit card but with a different security deposit.

Credit-building debit cards are usually secured with an existing, linked bank account. The linked bank account balance acts as your security balance and sets your spending limit. When you use the card to make purchases, the balance is typically repaid with the linked bank account. Those payments are then reported to the credit bureaus, which can help you build a positive credit history.

Most secured and unsecured lines of credit charge interest. But most credit-debit cards are free, and most don’t charge annual fees or an APR like a traditional credit card.

Benefits of credit building debit cards

One of the best benefits of credit-building cards is the opportunity to build a better credit history, and usually, that means fewer fees than traditional credit cards.

  • Usually no APR. Most credit-debit cards don’t charge interest.
  • Fewer fees. Unlike credit cards, most credit-building debit cards don’t charge annual fees — and many don’t charge monthly maintenance fees either.
  • The account is secured. Most have some type of security, whether it be a linked bank account or a security deposit, making them a safer way to borrow due to the lower risk of accumulated debt you can’t repay.
  • No credit check. The majority don’t require a hard credit pull, and if they do, the requirements are easier to meet than traditional credit cards or loans.
  • Credit-building loans create a nest egg. These products are like savings accounts that you’re required to contribute to, and once the term is up, you get access to the funds.

What to watch out for

Credit-building products are considered safer than traditional borrowing methods, but with that safety comes some downsides.

  • Low spending limits. Because these credit-building debit cards often require a security or deposit, the spending limits are typically much lower than traditional credit cards.
  • Often requires linked bank accounts. Most require you to link an existing bank account, and most require you to open a specific checking account to qualify.
  • Check where they report. Some credit-building products don’t report to all three credit bureaus. For example, Affirm only reports payments to Experian.
  • Credit building loans take time. Unlike traditional installment loans, credit-building cards with loan installments won’t let you access funds until the term is over.

Who are credit-building cards best for?

Credit-building debit cards are great for anyone who wants to start improving their credit history. And if you have a poor credit history, most don’t require a hard credit pull at all, so your credit history isn’t a factor during the application process.

However, you’ll need a security deposit or a linked bank account that’s funded for credit-building debit cards to actually work. They won’t build credit on their own — you have to use the card so that repayments get reported to the credit bureaus.

Bottom line

Building credit takes time — often years of hard work. But many of these credit-debit cards can help push you in the right direction if you consistently use them and make all your payments on time. But taking on credit-building products isn’t the only way to boost your credit history — see more tips on how to build credit here.

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