What Is CreditStacks?
CreditStacks is a credit card designed for immigrants coming to the United States with work visas who have no U.S. credit scores or social security numbers but want a credit card to build credit and free up spending.
What makes the card unique is that its the only one we’ve reviewed that doesn’t require a credit check or SSN to complete an application.
Entrepreneurs Bob Hartheimer, Elnor Rozenrot, Jonathan Jacobi and Shahar Nechmad founded the company in 2015. CreditStacks is based in San Francisco.
According to company’s website, Jacobi lived abroad when he accepted a senior position at PayPal that required him to move to San Francisco. He was a high earner but couldn’t get a credit card because he didn’t have a social security number or any U.S. credit history.
As he learned from his own experience and from people in his situation, just because you don’t have a social security number or a credit history doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve or aren’t qualified for a credit card.
In this review, we’re going to cover the basics of the CreditStacks card and give you all the details you need to know before you sign up.
We’re also going to compare it to credit cards designed for people with bad credit so that you can get a sense of those bad- or no-credit cards compare to this one.
At the end of our review, we’ll give you our thoughts on what the card’s strengths and weaknesses are.
CreditStacks’ Features and Fees
Most credit cards that you check out will offer some sort of rewards structure, whether it be a certain number of points, miles or cash for every dollar you spend.
These cards also tend to offer a sign-up or welcome bonus that provide substantial points, miles or dollar amounts if you can spend a certain amount of money in the first three months.
The CreditStacks card does not offer any type of rewards for its cardholders: no points, dollars or miles. Cardholders get a set of benefits related to certain purchases you make with the card and you get a $5,000 credit limit.
In a minute we’ll talk about the benefits but before we get there we want to talk about why a lack of rewards isn’t a drawback for this card.
Most cards that offer rewards charge you higher interest rates and annual fees to offset the cost they pay to provide free miles, points or cash through their credit cards.
And, since the CreditStacks card is intended to be a first card for immigrants who have substantial income, rewards aren’t necessary.
It’s more important for the cardholder to build credit by making on-time payments and having low credit utilization, which is the ratio of your credit card limit to your credit card balance.
Not offering rewards means the company can cut costs and offer a card with simple terms and conditions, as well as a good set of benefits, which we’ll cover in the next section.
While the card may not offer rewards, it does offer a set of robust benefits that provide insurance-style coverage for things you buy, including cell phones.
When you use your card to buy a product that has a manufacturer’s warranty of one year or less, Mastercard will double the length of the warranty. Twelve months, for example, becomes 24 months.
When you file a claim, Mastercard’s insurance company will either repair the item or replace it up to $10,000.
It’s important to remember this benefit doesn’t cover everything you buy. Here’s a quick list of exceptions, as listed in the card’s fine print:
- Antiques and collectibles that don’t have a manufacturer’s warranty
- Motorized vehicles
- Perishables like plants animals, pets, and food
- Land and buildings
- Shipping charges
- Mechanical failures caused by normal wear and tear or by lack of maintenance or service
In order to file the claim, you need to have the original itemized purchase receipt and the claim has to happen within 60 days of the item breaking or malfunctioning.
Buying an item with your card entitles you to a 60-day return period if you’re dissatisfied with your purchase.
So, if you return an item to a store outside the store’s return window and they want to offer you store credit or just won’t accept the return, Mastercard will, as long as the purchase meets the requirements.
Now, remember, you’ll have to provide the receipt for your purchase in order to get the refund and, like the extended warranty benefit, there are some limitations. Here are a few:
- Items that are damaged or defective
- Customized or special ordered items
Cell Phone Coverage
This is one of the more attractive benefits offered by the card not only because of what it offers but because it’s not a common feature among the most popular credit cards on the market.
According to the Mastercard benefits guide for this particular perk, the insurance will pay out a maximum of $600 per claim and $1,000 per year.
If you have to make a claim, it will cost you $50 and you’ll have to file it within 90 days of the incident. Like the other coverages the card offers, this one has a list of limitations that include the following situations:
- Accessories aren’t covered
- Lost phones
- Phone stolen from checked baggage
- Unlocked phones
The main drawback to this coverage is that, if you bring an unlocked phone with you to the U.S., it won’t be covered, according to the following line in the “What’ is NOT covered” section of Mastercard’s fine print:
“Cellular Wireless Telephones that are not received as part of a recurring monthly plan from a cellular provider.”
Other Benefits: Travel, Price Protection
Some of the other benefits of the card include trip cancellation insurance, travel accident insurance and reimbursements for lost or damaged luggage. These are great perks and are usually associated with cards for those with good credit scores.
In addition to these travel-related perks, you’ll also get price protection. So, if you purchase something with your card and it goes down in price within 60 days of your purchase, you can get reimbursed for the price difference.
CreditStacks’ Rates and Fees
Here is a quick overview of this card’s interest rates and fees:
- APR: 16.74%
- Cash advance APR: 26.49%
- Annual fee: None
- Late/returned payment fee: Up to $27
The card’s APR is below the national average at the time of publishing. The card’s lack of an annual fee further reduces the cost of owning it.
As compared to the typical cards you’d get without having a credit history, this card’s terms are excellent. Cards like the Discover it Secured require a security deposit to open an account and those that don’t require a deposit usually have higher fees and, in some cases, a service/application fee.
The Final Word: Pros and Cons of CreditStacks
In our opinion, the CreditStacks card’s greatest strength is that those who move from outside the U.S. to the U.S. for work or school aren’t required to have a social security number or a credit check to get it.
Normally, a card issuer verifies a potential customer’s borrowing history to determine which interest rate they’ll provide as well as whether or not they’ll actually give the person the card. However, this card skips that step and uses income, among other things, as a means to verify you.
Another benefit to this card is that CreditStacks reports your payments to the credit organizations that create credit histories. So, as you make on-time payments and pay off your balance, you’ll start to build a credit history and credit scores that can work to your advantage when you’re ready to apply for financing or another credit card.
The downside of the card is that it doesn’t offer any rewards, but, again, the card isn’t meant to be a rewards card but a way for those in the U.S. on work visas to get credit without an SSN or credit history.
Another thing we want to point out is that the credit limit – $5,000 – is relatively low compared to other cards. This is, in part, meant to mitigate the risk of taking on customers that may run up their balances and not be able to pay them back.
In our opinion, this is an excellent credit card if you’re moving to the United States on a work visa and won’t have a social security number or a credit report that can satisfy the requirements of most credit card applications.
» For Further Reading:
- Making Sense of Your Credit Scores: Your Comprehensive Guide
- How to Get and Keep a Good Credit Score