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SelfScore is a financial services company that has a specialty credit card aimed at international college students. It was founded in 2012 by former international students, Michael Hallinan and Kalpesh Kapadia, who had experienced difficulties accessing credit and building their credit score after moving to the U.S. They wanted to help current international students access fair credit and learn how to build their credit score once they came to America. In this SelfScore review we will take a look at who should consider their credit cards, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of getting one.
Who is Served by Their Products?
What many people don’t realize is that a credit score isn’t something that follows you across national boundaries. If you have good credit in England and move to the U.S., your great credit score doesn’t come with you. Instead, you start from the beginning to build your credit score in your new country. Starting with no credit file or no Social Security Number often means that you’ll have significant difficulties accessing credit – especially if you’re a student who isn’t earning income.
SelfScore offers a MasterCard aimed at international students that does not require a Social Security Number or a security deposit in order to qualify.
What Are the Benefits of SelfScore’s Mastercard?
Almost all credit cards require a credit check or a Social Security number in order to be approved. For those people who do not have a credit score because they have a thin credit file, a security deposit is often required since they can only qualify for a secured credit card.
But many international students don’t have a Social Security number yet and they might not be able to pay for the deposit that’s required for a secured credit card. The biggest benefit of a SelfScore credit card is that their MasterCard doesn’t require a deposit or a SSN. In fact, SelfScore is the only U.S. company that offers a MasterCard for international students without a security deposit or Social Security number. They use alternative underwriting data to gauge your ability to repay your credit card such as your college major, education, source of initial funding, and future employability. They want to provide credit to a population that is usually ignored.
The SelfScore credit card has zero annual fees, no fees on foreign transactions, 1% cashback on all purchases, and 0% APR for the first six months. After the first six months, they have a reasonable interest rate that starts at 19.74%. This rate is relatively low compared to other credit cards – especially those that are aimed at people who are a credit risk.
The application is relatively quick. Once they receive all your information and copies of your passport, student visa, recent U.S. bank statements, and form I-20, they take up to three business days in order to review your application and let you know if you qualify. Currently, they also report your credit to credit bureaus which allows you to build a credit score. You can update SelfScore when you get your Social Security number to make their reporting more accurate.
Negatives of SelfScore’s MasterCard
Given that there are few alternatives on the market for international students, the negatives that exist are often outweighed by the positives, but there are some negatives. For example, SelfScore only reports your credit behavior to two credit bureaus – TransUnion and Experian. That means that if you apply for credit in the future from a creditor that uses Equifax to gauge your credit, your SelfScore credit history will not show up.
The card does not offer a cash advance option and while the cashback benefits are better than nothing, they are not as attractive as cashback options on other types of cards. Also, while the interest rate is lower than the rates of other credit cards for people who have thin credit files, it is higher than you would pay for a student loan.
Finally, one big downside of SelfScore is the limited number of people who would qualify for credit. Currently, they only work with a limited number of universities. Another downside that limits the number of people who would qualify for the card is that one of the ways they gauge your ability to repay is how much you might have moved over the last few years and how many times your contact information like your address, email address, and phone number has changed. The more that you have moved, the less likely they will be to approve you.
What’s Special About SelfScore?
SelfScore offers an extremely unique credit card in that they use alternative lending criteria in order to approve international students without a Social Security number or a deposit.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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