The Grow Credit Mastercard is a new type of digital card that can help you build credit by paying subscription fees on a timely basis.
Unlike traditional credit cards, it offers hard limits on spending and is focused solely on paying ongoing services – not day-to-day purchases. In this in-depth 2024 review, we’ll cover how it works, its pros and cons, and alternatives you may want to consider.
What the Grow Credit Card Does (and Doesn’t Do)
The Grow Credit Mastercard operates very differently from typical credit cards in a few key ways:
- Limited Spending Ability
You can only use the Grow Credit card for paying monthly subscription services from an approved list. The maximum monthly spending limit ranges from $17 to $150, depending on the membership tier you select. So you won’t rack up debt on daily essentials like groceries or gas.
- Payments Come From a Linked Bank Account
When your monthly subscriptions bill, the charges are paid automatically from a bank account you link to the card. So you don’t need to worry about missing payments and damaging your credit.
- Reports to All Three Credit Bureaus
Within 60-90 days of your first on-time payment, Grow begins reporting your responsible subscription payments to Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. This can help you establish or rebuild credit history.
- Virtual Card – No Physical Plastic Card Provided
You receive a virtual credit card number to enter into your online subscription accounts – there’s no physical card to carry or lose. The numbers are stored securely in the Grow app or online account dashboard.
How Membership Plans with Grow Work
Grow offers four membership levels with varying features, spending power, and annual fees:
- $0 annual fee
- $17 monthly spending limit ($204 annual limit)
- Build credit history
- $29.99 annual fee
- $17 monthly limit ($204 annual limit reported)
- Requires $17 refundable security deposit
- $49.99 annual fee
- $50 monthly spending limit ($600 annual limit reported)
- Access to premium merchant subscriptions
- $99.99 annual fee
- $150 monthly spending limit ($1,800 annual limit reported)
- Pay cellphone bills
- Highest level of subscription and merchant access
The Key Pros of the Grow Mastercard
Some major benefits this unique virtual credit card provides includes:
- Credit Building Made Simple: The Grow card streamlines building credit by handling subscription payments for you and reporting them to bureaus. You don’t need to worry about when bills are due or making manual credit bureau reports.
- Helps Establish Credit History: If you’re just starting to build credit or have past mistakes to overcome, Grow provides an accessible starting point to demonstrate responsible spending behavior.
- Interest and Fee Free: Since it pulls payment amounts directly from your bank, you’ll never accrue interest charges or late fees like most credit cards. The only fees are transparent annual membership fees.
- Free Credit Score and Tools: All Grow members get access to a free FICO credit score, financial literacy materials, and budgeting tools to understand their standing.
Drawbacks and Considerations to Note
While the Grow card offers plenty of unique benefits, it does come with a few limitations to note:
- Low Spending Limits: For some, the monthly spending limits may prove restrictive over time. Spending maxes out at $150 per month/$1,800 per year.
- Can Only Pay Certain Subscriptions: If you want broad spending flexibility, this card falls short. You’re limited to paying monthly subscriptions from Grow’s list of 100+ approved vendors.
- Premium Features Cost Extra: To access higher spending power, pay cell bills, or subscribe to certain premium merchants, you’ll need to pay annual membership fees up to $99.99.
Viable Grow Credit Card Alternatives
The Grow Mastercard meets a specific need for subscription management and credit building. But plenty of traditional credit card options exist if you want more flexibility or purchasing power. Here are two top alternatives to consider:
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Discover’s popular secured card allows you to establish credit while earning cash back rewards. It provides flexible everyday spending capability and doesn’t charge an annual fee. You also get access to tools to monitor your FICO score for free.
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Like the Grow card, Capital One’s secured credit card helps establish credit history by making regular monthly payments. But the spending power is far greater at a $200 minimum and it can be used to purchase anything anywhere.
Is the Grow Credit Card Right for You?
The Grow Mastercard offers a unique way to demonstrate responsible spending behavior to credit bureaus by managing subscription payments.
If you want to establish credit history through a controlled, limited-use digital card, it provides an interesting option. But those wanting maximum spending flexibility or purchase rewards may prefer a traditional secured credit card.
Assess your priorities to decide if this specialized card aligns with your credit building needs.
How to Get Approved for the Grow Credit Card
If the Grow Credit Mastercard seems like a helpful way to build your credit history, here is a step-by-step guide to getting approved:
- Check If You Pre-Qualify
Go to Grow Credit’s website and enter some basic personal details to see if you pre-qualify without needing a hard credit check. This initial eligibility check is soft and won’t impact your score.
- Select a Membership Plan
Browse the four membership tiers – Build Free, Build Secured, Grow, and Accelerate – to choose the one fitting your budget and needs. Higher spending limits and capabilities come with higher annual fees.
- Provide Personal Information
Next complete the full application form with details like your name, birthdate, Social Security Number, and contact information so Grow can verify your identity.
- Link a Funding Bank Account
To pay your monthly subscriptions, you’ll connect a checking or savings account that Grow can pull payment amounts from each billing cycle.
- Use Your Virtual Card Details
Once approved, you’ll receive virtual Mastercard details including your card number, expiration date, and security code to enter into online subscription accounts.
And that’s it – you can immediately use your new Grow Credit Mastercard to start paying monthly bills and establishing positive credit history that gets reported to the major bureaus
Still have questions about whether the Grow Credit card fits your situation? Check out Grow’s FAQs for more detailed information.
And don’t forget to explore other credit-builder cards to compare fees, credit limits, and perks across options popular in 2024. With a little research, you can identify the right match to help build your financial foundation.