If you have a low credit score or even no credit at all, you might consider the Extra debit card to help build your credit. Some users report it works, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Is it worth paying for? We'll give you our thoughts on this product along with some free alternatives.
What Is the Extra Debit Card?
The Extra debit card is similar to a charge card. You ‘pay with plastic’ but don’t have a credit line and can’t carry a balance. When you use your Extra debit card, Extra pays the transaction and automatically withdraws the funds from your linked bank account on the next business day.
The Extra debit card is best for consumers trying to build credit but who don’t qualify for traditional credit cards. However, the fees are high (more on this below), so it’s best to exhaust all other options first, including secured credit cards.
If you don’t have the money to spare for a secured credit card deposit, the Extra card can be a suitable alternative but it's not much cheaper. For example, the average credit card security deposit is around $200 and the cheapest option Extra gives you is currently $149.
To get the Extra debit card, you must be at least 18 years old, have a valid social security number and U.S. address, and have a bank account at one of the 10,000 Extra partner banks. You also need an iOS or Android phone to download the Extra app.
To use your Extra debit card, first connect it to your bank account. Extra then assigns you Spend Power or a spending limit. Your spending limit is based on your bank balance, history with Extra, and pending transfers. You Spend Power starts on the lower end but it can increase with responsible usage.
The Extra card is safe to connect your bank account to and use. Extra doesn’t store your bank account information. They use a third-party company named Plaid to connect to your bank account. Extra has internal fraud protection, alerting you if they think someone has hacked your card. Extra also sends you notifications for every purchase made. If you notice a transaction you didn’t initiate, report it immediately, and Extra can handle it.
As we mentioned above, the Extra debit card isn’t like a credit card. You can’t carry a balance and there’s no interest. With Extra, you pay for your purchases immediately (by the next business day). A credit card offers the option to pay the balance in full immediately or carry a balance and pay interest until you pay the balance in full.
How Does the Extra Debit Card Improve Credit?
When you purchase something with your Extra card, Extra pays for the transaction and withdraws the funds from your bank account. They continue to do this throughout the month. At the month's end, Extra reports your purchases to Equifax and Experian (Extra isn’t working with TransUnion right now).
The payment history can help you build credit. Extra shows that you pay your purchases immediately, so you don’t have any late payments hurting your credit score. Since your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, this can help your credit score significantly.
The Extra card also helps keep your utilization rate low, which is the second largest part of your credit score. Since you can’t carry a balance, your credit utilization resets every day. Without any credit balances, your credit utilization rate with Extra stays low.
How Much Does the Extra Debit Card Cost?
The cost is the downside of the Extra debit card. They have two plans, both of which have a hefty annual fee.
The Credit Building Plan includes ‘debit that builds credit,’ 24/7 customer support, the Extra spending app, and a debit card for $240 a year. Right now, Extra is offering this plan at $149.
The Rewards + Credit Building Plan includes everything in the Credit Building Plan plus reward points for each purchase, and access to the Extra Rewards store. This plan is $300 a year, right now offered at $199.
However, we can't find any information on Extra's website that mentions how many points you can earn with each purchase or how you redeem points. Some sites report rewards can equal up to 1% of your purchase. Even if that is the case, you’d have to spend over $20,000 a year on your Extra card to break even after paying the annual fee for the Rewards + Credit Building Plan, let alone earn a profit.
While the Extra card doesn’t charge interest since you can’t carry a balance, the annual cost is the equivalent of paying interest for a card that doesn’t offer a credit line or work like a credit card.
For more affordable options, check out our list of alternatives further below.
Extra Debit Card Pros and Cons
- No hard credit inquiry: When you’re trying to build credit, even a hard credit inquiry can hurt your credit. The Extra card doesn’t require a certain credit score, so you don’t have to worry about hurting your credit to apply for the card.
- Reports to Equifax and Experian: Having your information reported to the credit bureaus can help you build credit. Since they only receive positive information, it’s easy to build credit using this card.
- You don’t need a deposit: Most secured credit cards require a security deposit so you can have a credit line. The Extra card doesn’t require a security deposit. Instead, it relies on your bank account balance to determine your Spend Power.
- High fees: Paying to build credit is frustrating. Instead of using your money to better your personal finances, you have to pay to build credit. There are other ways to build credit that are free.
- Doesn’t report your history to TransUnion: Many lenders pull TransUnion credit reports when you apply for credit. Extra doesn’t report to them, so it may not help you build the credit you need when you apply for credit from other creditors.
- Only works with specific banks: Extra card only works with banks that use Plaid to connect the bank account to the service. There are around 10,000 banks that use it, but that’s not every bank in the U.S.
What Extra Debit Card Users Are Saying
The reviews are mixed for the Extra debit card. It’s a nice thought to build credit with a debit card, but there are downsides, according to current users.
In the Apple store, one user raves about the app's user-friendliness and claims their credit score increased 51 points in the first month. The reviewer likes the reminders the app sends about Spend Power increases and balance alerts and the promptness of the customer service reps.
Another reviewer, however, isn’t as happy saying closing an account is nearly impossible. Another user reports Extra can turn off your card for being inactive despite already paying for the service.
What Reddit Users Are Saying
Reddit users are also on the fence about the Extra card. While most see the card's potential, the reviews are mostly negative.
One user states that their credit score increased 50 points with Experian, but their TransUnion score remained the same after one month of using the Extra card. This makes sense since Extra doesn’t report to TransUnion. This user claims they used the Extra card daily to make their credit score increase so much.
Another user had a $500 line of credit with the Extra card and used it consistently, but says Extra never reported the use for the first three months they had the card.
If you’re unsure whether Extra is right for you, investigate these free alternatives instead.
Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card
Your credit line is equal to the money you transfer from your Chime Checking Account to your secured credit card. Chime reports your payments to all three credit bureaus to help you improve your credit.3
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Card is issued by Stride Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.
1To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.
2Money added to Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your Credit Builder Visa card, which means you can spend up to this amount on your card. This is money you can use to pay off your charges at the end of every month.
3 On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Chime will report your activities to Transunion®, Experian®, and Equifax®. Impact on your credit may vary, as Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations.
Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
The card doesn’t have an annual fee, but the interest rate on the card is 29.74% if you carry a balance. The card also reports to all three credit bureaus.
Discover It® Secured Credit Card
The Discover It card pays 2% cash back on restaurant and gas station purchases on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter. You can also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you don’t carry a balance, the Discover It card can be a great option.
According to credit card data collected from public forums and listed below, someone with a credit score as low as 547 was approved for the card. Keep in mind that credit card issuers consider more than just your credit score when evaluating a credit card application.
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Experian Boost isn’t a credit or debit card. Instead, it’s a free service from Experian that reports your utility, cable, and TV streaming services to Experian to boost your credit score. This only works for Experian, not any other credit bureaus, but it’s free.
Learn more tips to improve your credit score here.
Is the Extra Debit Card Worth the Fees?
If we’re being honest, the Extra debit card isn’t worth the fees in most cases. You’ll be better off taking that $149 – $200 to get a secured credit card that reports to all three credit bureaus.
You can apply for one of the many secured cards available today, with as little as $100 – $200 down as a deposit. If you don’t carry a balance, most cards don’t charge fees, so you can build your credit score for free.
You’ll get your security deposit back when you close the card, so a secured card costs you nothing if you pay your balance in full each month. Some secured cards also have the option of upgrading to a non-secured credit card with responsible use.
The Extra debit card has no special features that would make the fees worth it over a free secured credit card.
Read our full list of Best Secured Cards to help build your credit here.
Before applying for the Extra debit card, consider your alternatives. There are many other ways to build credit without spending a dime. Unless you’re without any other method to boost your score, the Extra debit card may not be worth it.