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Cleo Credit Builder Card review

Build credit with this online banking app and secured card.

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Our verdict

Cleo is a fintech company and financial app. Its Credit Builder Card is a secured credit card designed to help build credit. It requires an opening deposit that sets the credit limit, and has no interest charges. You also decide how much you want to deposit, a little as $1. There's no hard credit pull when you apply and Cleo reports to all three credit bureaus. But you'll need the Credit Builder membership which costs $14.99 per month. The membership also gives you access to cash advances, cashback rewards and challenges, a Cleo wallet, budgeting and an AI chatbot. Compared to traditional credit cards, paying the equivalent of nearly a $180 annual fee is on the expensive side, but if you can't qualify for other cards it might be worth the cost.

Best for: Those who want to build credit.

Pros
  • No credit check or interest charges
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
  • Opening deposit as low as $1
  • Cashback, budgeting and AI chat
Cons
  • $14.99 membership fee required
  • Must repay balance in full each month
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Fee

$14.99 per month

Minimum deposit to open

$1

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Cleo Credit Builder Card

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Who is the Cleo Credit Builder Card best for?

Since Cleo’s secured card doesn’t check your credit, it’s best for borrowers who want to start building or repairing their credit.

It’s also best for those looking for a secured card with extra features like cashback rewards, budgeting and access to cash advances, since you’ll need to pay $14.99 per month for the membership.

But if you already have good credit, consider a traditional credit card and ones with no annual fees.

How the Credit Builder Card works

The Cleo Credit Builder Card is a secured credit card. It requires an opening deposit, which can be as low as $1. The amount you deposit also determines your credit limit. The deposit provides some extra security for the lender, because if you can’t repay your outstanding balance, the deposit simply covers it.

You can have your balance repaid automatically with your security deposit or make payments with a linked account. You can also add more money to your security deposit in the app to increase your credit limit anytime, giving you more flexibility than traditional unsecured credit cards.

Cleo’s card can get away without charging APR because you’re required to repay your balance by the end of the month. If you don’t repay the balance, the security deposit you made will cover the amount owed.

What we like about Cleo

The Credit Builder membership gets you the secured card, cashback rewards and access to cash advances. The app also gives you access to modern banking perks, such as the Cleo Wallet, budgeting features and the AI chatbot. The secured card is designed to build credit. If you already have decent credit, you don’t have to get the paid membership and can just use the free features.

0% APR and no hard credit check

Like other credit-building cards, the Cleo Credit Builder Card has no credit check and charges no interest. Requiring a deposit as low as $1, you can also add more money to your security deposit to increase your borrowing limit anytime. This allows for more flexibility than other secured cards, which typically require a one-time $200 deposit.

Cleo also reports to all three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. The only thing it doesn’t report with the Credit Builder card is credit utilization because a secured card doesn’t have a preset credit limit.

Cashback rewards and challenges

Not many secured credit cards offer cashback rewards, but Cleo’s does. Cashback rewards are included with its Cleo Plus plan ($5.99/month) and Credit Builder plan ($14.99/month).

You can view cashback offers in the app, complete challenges and score limited-time cashback offers. However, you can only earn up to $5 in cashback per transaction. If you earn cashback, it’s transferred to your Cleo Wallet, which is an account you receive upon signing up for Cleo.

Get roasted or hyped by an AI

Cleo’s AI chat feature is one of our favorite features, and something we haven’t seen anywhere else. Cleo features an AI chatbot that analyzes your spending and savings habits to either praise you, or hand out tough love.

If you want to get roasted, Cleo shows the example, “12 trips to McDonald’s this month. Any more, and I’ll start listing it as a bill.” If you want praise, you may get something like, “Look at you spending less on travel this week. You little introverted legend.”

It’s one of the most commonly referenced features in reviews, with customers saying it’s a helpful tool that helps them keep track of their spending with some light-hearted sass, playfully pointing out weaknesses and strengths.

Cleo cash advances

Cleo’s Credit Builder membership also offers access to its cash advances. You need either the Cleo Plus or Credit Builder membership to qualify, so by getting the Credit Builder membership to get the secured card, you’ll already be halfway there to accessing the cash advances.

You can get up to $500 in cash advances by meeting requirements, such as setting up direct deposit, connecting a bank account and maintaining a positive account history with Cleo. You can apply right in the app, and Cleo will let you know if you qualify and for how much, and then you choose the repayment term.

Where it falls short

The biggest downside with Cleo’s secured card is that you must have the Credit Builder subscription for $14.99 per month. Plenty of secured cards exist with no annual or monthly fees, such as the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card.

However, the downside with other traditional secured cards is that they charge interest and require a hard credit pull, whereas Cleo doesn’t. If you’d rather avoid interest on your balance altogether, Cleo is worth considering, but if you’re sure you can avoid interest charges by staying on top of your balance, then a no-annual-fee credit card could save you cash.

Must repay balance each month

Cleo requires that you repay your outstanding balance on the Credit Builder Card each month. This is a little unorthodox compared to traditional credit cards, but as this card is designed to help its customers build a credit history, it may be for the better.

Cleo also offers something called Carefree Credit Building, which means your payments are automatically paid using the funds in your security deposit. But you can also pay your balance manually via a connected payment method linked in the Cleo app or with the Cleo Wallet.

Cleo Credit Builder Card‘s fees and access

Type of feeFee details
Monthly or annual fee$14.99 per month
Minimum deposit$1
Credit scoreNot required
APR0%
Balance transfer feeN/A
ATMs
  • Domestic: $2.50 fee for cash advances, operator fees may apply
  • International: $2.50 fee for cash advances, operator fees may apply
Foreign transaction fee0%, may be subject to VISA exchange rates
Overdraft or nonsufficient funds$0

Compare Cleo to other credit-building cards

See how Cleo compares to other credit-building cards to see which could be best for you.

Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Requirements Credit Bureaus Offer
Current Credit Building Card
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Current Credit Building Card
$0 per month
$0
Subject to approval, with no credit check involved.
Equifax, Experian,TransUnion
Get a $50 referral bonus by inviting your friends to join Current. Once the person receives the invite link and makes qualifying deposits of at least $200 within 45 days of opening the account, you and the referred friend each earn $50.
StellarFi
Not rated yet
StellarFi
From $4.99 per month
$0
Must be at least 18 years old and a US resident with a valid Social Security number.
Equifax, Experian
Extra
Not rated yet
Extra
From $20 per month
$0
Requires an existing bank account.
Equifax, Experian
Cleo Credit Builder Card
$14.99 per month
$1
You’ll need to choose the Cleo Builder plan and apply for the card separately.
Equifax, Experian,TransUnion
Kikoff Credit+ Cash Card
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Kikoff Credit+ Cash Card
$0 per year
$50
Must have a Kikoff Account
Equifax, Experian,TransUnion
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How to open the Cleo Credit Builder Card

To get the Cleo Credit Builder Card, first download the Cleo app. The app is compatible with Apple and Android devices. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Create a Cleo account and fill out your information, and you’ll get a Cleo Wallet.
  2. Link an existing bank account for money transfers.
  3. Sign up for the Credit Builder subscription plan for $14.99 per month.
  4. Apply for the Cleo Credit Builder Card.
  5. Make a security deposit of at least $1 to activate the card if approved.

Customer experience

Cleo does pretty well in the realm of customer feedback. It currently has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which is based on customer complaints and a business’s responsiveness to those complaints. There were just over 100 complaints in the last year, but it’s worth noting we normally see thousands of complaints for fintechs similar to Cleo.

Many of the BBB complaints reference Cleo’s subscription cost and issues with the cash advances. Quite a few complaints cite issues canceling their account with the AI chatbot and being unsuccessful. And like most other fintechs with banking services, a handful of people claim someone had stolen their information and created a fraudulent account. Cleo responds to these complaints rather quickly and states it refunds the victims and shuts down any fraudulent accounts.

On Trustpilot, Cleo’s reviews are glowing. Cleo has a high rating of 4.1 stars out of over 3,000 customer reviews. Happy customers sing praises for the Credit Builder card, cash advances, budgeting features and easy application process, and overall cite a great and seamless experience with the app.

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