About Build Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: May 23, 2017

The Build Card is a credit card designed for consumers with bad credit.

Having bad credit can put you in a tough spot because, like most consumers, you probably want a credit card to make purchases and use as a fallback just in case you have a financial emergency.

The Build could be your answer to that need, but you’ll have to remember that the card’s terms and rates are specifically designed to help you rebuild your credit, which can be a good and a bad thing.

Exactly why there’s a good and bad to this card is something that you’ll discover as you read through what we’ve written.

This review is going to work through the card’s benefits, rates/fees and the reviews it gets from other expert sites like HighYa.

AT the end of the article, we’ll do a quick list of the card’s pros and cons, then conclude it with our thoughts on who might be a good fit for this credit card.

The Build Card’s Short-Term Benefits

Whenever you sign up for a credit card, you usually get a list of benefits you receive in the first year of owning the card and beyond the first-year. We usually split these benefits up into short-term and long-term benefits.

A good example of short-term benefits are cards that give you a big chunk of points or frequent flyer miles if you can spend a few thousand dollars within the first 90 days of owning the card.

Unfortunately, credit cards for consumers with bad credit tend to have limited benefits. The banks and financial institutions who issue the cards think that you’re more of a risk to make late payments or go into default (late more than 120 days).

So, they don’t want to offer you any perks up front or, in many cases, over the long-term.

The Build Card’s main short-term benefit is that it doesn’t require a security deposit to open the card: it’s an unsecured card.

Cards that require a security deposit are known as “secured cards” because your security deposit is collateral. If you don’t pay your balance or are late, they use your security deposit to cover your late payments.

The advantage to the Build Card, of course, is that you can open up your account without having to front any cash.

Aside from this perk, the card doesn’t have any other short-term benefits.

The Build Card’s Long-Term Benefits

The Build Card has a few long-term benefits that can help you if you go over your credit limit or you have fraudulent charges on your account.

No Over-Limit Charge

If you happen to go over your credit limit, you won’t be charged a fee. However, the card’s fine print says that you will be responsible for any charges that put you over your limit.

Zero Fraud Liability

In the event that someone makes fraudulent charges to your account, you won’t be liable for those purchases. Basically, you won’t be expected to pay for the purchases that were made by whoever took your card/card number.

However, there are two things that you have to do to avoid paying for the fraudulent charges. These two conditions are part of Mastercard’s general terms and conditions:

  • You have to take care of your card and be vigilant “in protecting your card from loss or theft.”
  • You tell your financial institution as soon as possible.

If you can do these two things, Mastercard says, then you should be good to go.

Rates and Fees for the Build Card

Remember how we said that the Build Card is an unsecured credit card, meaning you don’t have to make a security deposit.

However, that offer is a little too good to be true.

Yes, you won’t pay a security deposit. However, you’re going to have to pay some other up-front fees that you won’t get back:

  • Account set-up fee: $53
  • Membership fee: $72 up front first year, $6/month second year

According to the Build Card’s terms and conditions, your initial credit limit will be $500 and the set-up and membership fees will be deducted from that when your card is opened. This means that your credit limit will actually be $375 until you pay off those fees.

You’ll only see these types of fees with unsecured cards designed for consumers with bad credit.

Now, it’s true that some of the best credit cards on the market have annual fees. The Chase Sapphire Preferred, for example, has an annual fee of $95.

However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you the ability to earn rewards points with nearly every purchase you make. The Build Card doesn’t have any of those perks, which makes the annual fee sting a little bit because you aren’t getting anything in return.

By contrast, the Discover it Secured card charges no annual fee and you get 1% cash back on all the purchases you make.

The Build Card’s APR

You’ll be charged 29.9% on all purchases you make with this card.

We were pretty confused when we first read this in the card’s fine print. Normally, a credit card company will only charge you APR if you don’t pay your balance in full. However, that’s not the case with this card.

Republic Bank, the financial institution who issues the Build Card, calculates your interest with something called the “daily periodic rate”.

Basically, they divide your APR by 365 to figure out how much interest you’re charged per day. Until you pay your balance in full, your daily interest rate will be applied to any purchases you make.

The lesson here: Pay off your purchases as soon as you make them. If this means you have to go to your online account to make payments every day, do it. Making this a habit will save you money in interest payments.

Consumer and Expert Reviews of the Build Card

At the time of publishing, the Build Card was brand new to the market and there weren’t any reviews of the card by consumers or by financial websites like HighYa.

That being said, we have several reviews of other bad-credit credit cards that shed some light on what you can expect from the Build Card.

First, past reviews have indicated that these types of cards will have low credit limits – anything from $200 to $500. Secured credit cards like the USAA Secured can have higher credit limits if you can make a bigger down payment.

Second, making consistent payments on your Build Card will contribute to higher credit scores if you can pay off your balance every month.

Third, there may be chances in the future to increase your credit limit if you make on-time payments and your credit scores/income increases.

As these types of things happen, the credit card issuer will consider you a more responsible consumer and may reward you with a higher credit limit.

Comparisons to Other Credit Cards

If we were to compare this card to another credit card for low credit scores, we’d say this card is most like the Total Visa.

The Total Visa has a starting credit limit of $300, which is a little lower than the Build Card. However, its APR of 29.99% is at the same level of the Build Card.

You won’t pay any interest on your purchases, though, if you can pay off your entire balance by your bill due date.

This fact makes the Total Visa a better choice for you if you don’t think you have the discipline to pay off your balance on a daily or weekly basis.

Here’s a chart that compares the fees and rates of the two cards, including the credit limit and APR we just mentioned:

Build Card Total Visa
Credit Limit $500 $300
APR 299% 29.99%
Processing Fee $53 $89
Annual Fee $72 $75/$48
Monthly Service Fee $0 $0/$75
Late Fee Up to $35 $38
Secured? No No

As you’ll notice, the Total Visa charges you a monthly service fee starting the second year. That service fee is charged at a rate of $6.25 a month, or $75 per year.

You might think that fee makes the Build Card better than the Total Visa and, just based on a side-by-side comparison of monthly maintenance fee, yes, the Build Card wins out.

However, you’ve got to think about the APR on the Build Card because that interest rate could cost you more than $6 a month.

Why Build Card’s APR Can Cost More Than a Monthly Service Fee

Remember how we said that your interest payments are determined by dividing your 29.9% APR by 365 days, then multiplying that number (0.0008) by your daily balance?

Well, let’s say you use your Build Card to buy $125 of groceries on the first day of the month and every week thereafter and you pay the balance off in one lump the last day of the month. All the purchases will get hit with interest until you pay off the entire balance.

Here’s a quick list of each purchase and what you’ll pay if you keep the balance until the last day of a 30-day month:

  • Week 1, $125: $3.00
  • Week 2, $125: $2.30
  • Week 3, $125: $1.60
  • Week 4, $125: $0.70
  • Interest: $7.60

If you choose to pay off your card the last day of the month, then you could end up paying more in interest payments on the Build Card than you would in monthly maintenance fees with the Total Visa.

Our advice? Since the Build Card’s interest rate kicks in as soon as you make a purchase, pay off your balance the day of or the day after.

Not only will this cut down on your interest rates, but it will also build a great habit.

If you want to know more about how the Build Card compares to other credit cards for people with bad credit, check out our reviews of two other cards:

Neither of these cards have an annual fee, processing fee or monthly fee. The Discover it Secured has a great cash rewards program, too.

Our Final Thoughts About the Build Card

Among credit cards for consumers with bad credit or who want to rebuild their credit, the Build Card is, based on our research, an average to below-average option: it has its strengths and weaknesses.

Pros of the Build Card

We like that the Build Card starts off with a $500 balance, which is higher than the Total Visa and the First Progress Platinum Prestige.

It goes without saying that the card’s other advantage is that it is unsecured, but we believe the fees you’ll have to pay for that privilege undercut the card’s value.

Cons of the Build Card

The Build Card’s initial processing fee and annual fee, as well as the ongoing monthly maintenance fee, guarantee that you’ll be paying a significant amount of money out of pocket every year just to use this card.

Now, these fees aren’t unique. You also pay a decent chunk of money every year to use the Total Visa, another unsecured card designed for people with bad credit.

However, what makes this card different than the Total Visa is the automatic daily APR you’ll pay on purchases. If you’re disciplined enough to pay off your balance every day, this won’t be a problem.

Who is a good fit for the Build Card?

If you’re looking for a credit card that doesn’t require a deposit to open an account and you are disciplined enough to pay off your balance every time you make a purchase, the Build Card is a great option for you.

The Final Word: There Are Better Options

Based on our research, we think there are better credit cards out there for you. We say this with the caveat that you’ll have to make a security deposit in order to open those cards.

Despite that, we still think a card like the Discover it Secured is worth your time and money. You’ll pay a $200 or $500 deposit to open the card, but you’ll get that back if you close the card or Discover makes the card unsecured.

You’ll never get back the annual and monthly fees you’ll pay on the Build Card, nor will you get the cash rewards available to Discover it Secured cardholders.

We admit that the options for secured credit cards are limited and that unsecured cards for bad credit are even more rare. However, this is the financial reality for those with low credit scores.

If you want to know how to raise your credit scores, read our comprehensive guide to good credit scores. The article has clear, easy-to-understand tips and information that will help you rehab your scores.

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