How Does Chime Credit Builder Work? Safely Build Your Credit Score

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Chime is a free credit building app that will help you build your credit score, not affect it. Whether you love or hate them, banks are constantly finding new ways to get their hands in our pockets.

One way they have been able to do this is by establishing a monopoly on credit cards. In order to truly reap the rewards of having a credit card, you have to value it enough to carry a balance from month to month, thus incurring interest or fees for your trouble.

What is Chime Credit Builder Card?

Chime Credit Builder Card aims to help users build a credit score, a score that briefly tells a lender how well you have managed your credit in the past and may help predict how responsibly you will use future credit.

Chime Credit Builder Card works by adding users as authorized users on someone else's Chime Mastercard account. Chime lists who have been added to its users' accounts, so lenders can see Chime users have other lines of credit.

Chime Credit Builder Card reports your payment activity to all 3 major consumer reporting bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) on a monthly basis.

Chime does not report information about Chime Credit Builder Card to the bureaus until you are no longer an authorized user on someone else's Chime account.

Chime is very transparent about its reporting, which is unusual in the credit card industry. Chime Credit Builder Card offers the ability to build credit score with no annual fee or late fees for most users; Chime also waives the initial set-up fee of $25 for people with low credit scores (640+ FICO).

How Does Chime Credit Builder Card Work?

Chime requires you to opt-in when adding users—current Chime users or non-users. You can add authorized users for free up to 3 total users at a time.

The authorized user will start reporting their payment activity to the three main credit bureaus once they receive an email with their new card.

Authorized users' payment activity will continue to be reported so long as they remain authorized users on someone else's Chime account.

Chime Credit Builder Card helps you build a credit score by reporting your payment activity, not affecting it.

Chime Credit Builder Card is free and there are no monthly fees or hidden costs. It offers the ability to build credit scores with no annual fee or late fees for most users; it also waives the initial set-up fee of $25 for people with low credit scores (640+ FICO).

Chime Credit Builder Card is an actual card accepted wherever Mastercard is accepted. All payments are processed by Mastercard so you can use it to book flights, shop online, etc.

Pros and Cons of Chime Credit Builder Card:

Pros:

  • No credit check:

Chime does not check your credit score. Chime credit builder card is approved even if you have no established credit history.

  • No minimum security deposit:

Chime does not require a security deposit. Chime credit builder card is an unsecured card.

  • No application fee:

Chime does not charge an application fee when applying for a Chime credit builder card.

  • No annual fee:

Chime does not charge an annual fee for Chime credit builder cards. Chime Credit Builder Card gives you the ability to build your credit without paying a yearly fee.

  • Cell phone protection:

Chime provides cell phone protection when you make purchases with Chime Credit Builder Card. Chime Credit Builder Card users can call Chime if they lose their phone, Chime will help users get a temporary card.

  • No late fees:

Chime does not charge late fees for Chime credit builder cards.

  • No penalty APR:

Chime's Credit Builder Card has the same interest rate at all times. Chime does not have penalty APRs. Chime credit builder card users can call Chime if they miss a payment and Chime will extend the payment due date.

Cons:

  • No reward program:

Chime does not offer a reward program as Chime's credit builder card is just for building credit.

  • No cash back:

Chime does not offer cash rewards because Chime Credit Builder Card is just for building a credit score.

  • No introductory APRs:

Chime Credit Builder Card does not offer an introductory APR.

  • Must have a Chime account:

Chime Credit Builder Card is only available for Chime account users. Users must have a Chime bank to apply for a Chime credit builder card.

  • Must have social security number:

Chime Credit Builder card requires a valid social security number.

How to build your credit score using Chime?

To build your credit score using Chime, first create a one-time payment on the card by providing debit or credit card information. Then make more payments or purchases with Chime.

Once you've spent at least $500 for four months on the card consecutively, your one-time payment will turn into a revolving line of credit. If you're still using cash and checking accounts, it's probably because you don't want to deal with banks.

And that makes sense: Banks require a lot of personal information and charge fees even for mediocre products. You can avoid this hassle by signing up with Chime and getting a free card without worrying about annual fees or interest rates.

Chime keeps things simple by only providing you with a free card without a credit score check or application fee. All your purchases are digitally charged to your bank account, which means they won't appear on your credit report until you make payments.

This means Chime will not affect your credit score. Authorized users' payment activity will continue to be reported to the primary cardmember's credit report.

Everything you need to know about your credit score can be found on Credit Sesame, including your current credit score, how it is calculated, and why they are important.

By understanding what effect Chime may or may not have on your FICO score, you'll be able to make informed decisions about Chime and build your credit.

What is a FICO Score?

The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) developed the FICO score, which is commonly used by lenders to assess how risky it would be to lend money to someone. The three different credit bureaus utilize their own proprietary formula when calculating your score.

The most widely used credit score in the United States is known as "FICO Score 8". FICO scores range from 300 to 850 and that scale is the same for each of the three credit bureaus.

Generally, a FICO score above 650 will qualify you for favorable rates on loans while a score below 620 could mean your application is rejected. Higher scores equal better interest rates on loans and credit cards, while lower scores could mean higher insurance premiums or worse treatment when applying for jobs.

When you open a Chime account, especially if it's one of the first few accounts you've opened in years, your FICO score will usually be below. According to FICO, roughly 30% of credit reports contain errors that can affect your score.

The longer it's been since you've opened an account, the fewer data about your repayment history and creditworthiness there will be to calculate your score.

Having a bad score is where Chime comes in to help build credit: By making small purchases and paying them off on time, you'll start to see your score increase.

As an added benefit, both authorized users and the primary cardmember benefit from earning rewards. Authorized users' payment activity will continue to be reported to the primary cardmember's credit report.

If your FICO score drops because of missed payments or other negative information found in your credit report, that won't affect your Chime account or the authorized users.

The only time you'll be affected is if it drops below a certain level, in which case you might not qualify for more rewards on purchases. Also, if your score is too low to be approved for a card from any of the major issuers, Chime may be the only way for you to obtain a card.

Chime's rewards program is free and doesn't have any limits on your ability to earn points, unlike many of the major credit cards which may have minimum spending requirements on some purchases. If you pay off your monthly balance every month, then Chime won't affect your FICO score.

Is Chime safe?

Since Chime is a prepaid MasterCard, there should not be any overdraft or other penalty fees. And since the user's account isn't associated with a credit card plan, there are no interest rates to worry about.

Chime has additional security features, like real-time alerts sent to your phone when your card is used and settings to opt-out of international transactions. There's also a daily spending limit for purchases and ATM withdrawals, preventing your card from being used in a way you didn't intend.

Your Chime account is FDIC insured up to the maximum amount allowed by law, which is $250,000 per depositor per bank at the time of this article.

How is the customer support service of Chime?

Chime has a secure online chat service that can be used to contact its customer support team. Chime also responds to requests made through Facebook Messenger and Twitter, so you have many different ways of contacting them if needed.

You'll also find links to resources for more information in the footer below the login page on chime.com.

Is Chime a good option for someone building their credit score?

It might not be the best choice for your first card, but it could be an excellent way to raise or maintain your credit score by taking advantage of the rewards program. For people unable to qualify for cards from major issuers, it's one of the few options available.

How long does it take your FICO credit score to update with Chime?

Credit bureaus are required to add all new information from a creditor within 30 days. That means your FICO credit score should show up on your report after about a month of being added. However, the time it takes for it actually to be calculated depends on several factors and many times can take longer than a month.

Do Chime account and authorized users' payment activity continue to be reported to the primary cardmember's credit report?

Yes, both the primary and authorized cardholders will benefit from having their payment history included in their credit reports. Since it is considered an installment loan, your balance will continue to age during payments just like a traditional credit card.

Conclusion

If you're interested in a prepaid card with the opportunity to earn rewards, Chime might be a good option. It can help you raise your credit score and offers more than just the ability to tap into your free savings account.

If you've decided to get a card through Chime, make sure you read all the fine print. It's not like most cards with an annual fee or interest rates; if you end up spending more than you planned since it isn't linked to your bank account, then that could hurt your credit score.

Overall, Chime is an excellent option for customers who might not qualify for a credit card from a major issuer. It's also beneficial to those who want the ability to earn rewards and raise their credit score and offers an FDIC-insured checking account with no minimum balance requirements.

Michael Restiano

I lead product content strategy for SaltMoney. Additionally, I’m helping our broader team of 4 evolve into a mature content strategy practice with the right documentation and processes to deliver quality work. Prior to Instacart, I was a content strategy lead at Uber Eats and Facebook. Before that, I was a content strategist at SapientNitro, helping major Fortune 500 brands create better, more useful digital content.

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