Underbanking is a serious problem that annually impacts millions of Americans and foreign nationals. According to statistics from the FDIC, approximately 4.5% of American households are underbanked, meaning they lack access to banking and credit services. Now Zolve, a new fintech, is tackling the problem of banking and credit access. Here’s what you need to know about the company and its line of products.
Building Credit: A Daunting Task for Many
Access to credit is an issue for millions of Americans – not to mention the scores of foreign citizens who come to live and work in the United States each year. The biggest obstacle to overcome for many such individuals is the lack of a Social Security Number (SSN). Fortunately, however, there are lenders who offer payment cards without an SSN.
Applying for a credit card without an SSN requires another means of government verification, such as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Here’s a list of major U.S. banks and lenders that accept an ITIN instead of an SSN:
|American Express||Bank of America||Capital One||Chase|
Related Article: Who Can Apply for a U.S. Credit Card?
Trying to “Zolve” the Problem of the Underbanked
Another option is Zolve, a fintech company whose mission is to enable fair access to financial products for global citizens. In fact, Zolve consists of a family of products designed to cater to changing credit needs throughout one’s financial life. Zolve’s products include auto and student loans; health, renters, and pet insurance; deposit accounts; low-cost international money transfers; and, you guessed it, credit cards.
The company claims to have over 400,000 international users, and it is easy to see why. Beyond the lack of an SSN requirement, Zolve waives foreign transaction fees for cardholders and offers low-cost (or even free) international money transfers depending on your card product.
How to Get Started with Zolve
The primary focus of Zolve is providing banking and credit access in the United States to international students, immigrants, and individuals without a credit history. Because of this, life for most in the company’s ecosystem begins with a credit builder checking account: Zolve Azpire. Applying for that card is simple:
- First, download the free Zolve mobile app, available in the App Store or Google Play Store
- Sign-up with your basic information, namely e-mail address, phone number, birthdate, and birthplace. This is known as a “Know Your Customer Check” and is common with all banks
- Provide documentation for verification. This includes either an SSN, ITIN, or a valid passport number
- Provide your United States contact details
- Upload proof of an approved U.S. F1, H1B or H4 Visa
The Azpire Credit Builder Card
The Zolve Azpire Credit Builder Card combines a checking account and a standard payment card. Unlike other cards, however, there is no “preset” credit limit, with the overall credit limit being the total funds moved into the Zolve Azpire FDIC-insured checking account, up to a $10,000 maximum.
As you make purchases using the Azpire Card, just as you would with a traditional debit card), Zolve reports these positive payments to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S. – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – and those on-time payments can help you build credit.
One of the great features of the Zolve Azpire Card is that new accounts may qualify for an upgrade to the unsecured Zolve credit card in as little as four months after opening an account. Upgrading does not close the Azpire account but instead provides access to a new, unsecured line of credit. The Azpire account can be used as a traditional banking and debit card product.
Zolve’s Rewards Credit Cards
Every Zolve Card (including the Azpire) is a cash back credit card. That card, the credit-builder option, earns an unlimited 1% back on all purchases – a rewards rate that is the same as the unsecured Zolve Classic Mastercard.
Just how much you’ll earn in cash back rewards depends on which card you hold. Each card variant offers bonus accelerators with select brands in the Zolve mobile app – up to 5% back. Here’s how the rewards compare between the different credit card products:
|Annual fee||None||$99 if billed annually ($9.99/month)||$299 if billed annually ($29.99/month)|
|Unlimited cash back||1%||1%||1.5%|
|Bonus cash back||N/A||3% on "Everyday" purchases||5% on purchases at select merchants|
|Credits||$100||$230 (Lyft, DoorDash, etc.)||$260 (Lyft, DoorDash, etc.)|
Is Zolve Worth It?
Zolve’s credit card products offer a unique and tailored solution to individuals who are new to the U.S. or with limited credit histories. By providing accessible credit options and focusing on credit building, Zolve helps its users pave the way to a stronger financial future in the United States.
But regarding the higher-end rewards cards, the Zolve Black doesn’t match up with other offers from larger banks. Sure, Zolve promises high credit limits of up to $5,000, but for applicants with strong credit histories, those limits are easily attainable with bigger banks like Chase.
Ultimately, however, the Zolve credit card platform is a great entry point into the United States banking system. If you are new to the country, a visiting student or even an underbanked American looking to brighten your financial future, the Zolve Card might be right for you.
Related Article: 3 Unique Cards To Help You Build Credit – Debit Card Edition
Featured image by Zolve
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