Personal Finance

5 Things to Know About the Credit Card

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The credit card, aka the Unicorn Card, is designed to help you build credit, and it includes features to protect you from fraud, overspending or making late bill payments.

The card — created by financial technology company and issued by WSFS Bank — can be a bit tricky to understand. In part, that’s because it doesn’t function entirely like a traditional credit card, but also because the card’s website is loaded with slick marketing copy. 

So let’s break down the buzzwords. At its core, it’s a card that puts up guardrails to keep you from getting into debt trouble. You’re assigned spending limits based on what’s available in your linked deposit account. As you make purchases, funds are set aside so that when the credit card bill is due, the money is there to pay it. And payments are automatically made so you don’t miss a deadline. 

Two drawbacks to note: You won’t earn any rewards on your purchases, and once you establish credit, there’s no other card to graduate to with more perks. Some secured credit cards, which require an initial deposit, offer both cash-back rewards and the possibility of upgrading to an unsecured card with careful use.

Here are five things to know about the credit card.

1. Applying won’t affect your credit score

You can apply for the credit card without the usual hit to your FICO score that you typically experience with credit card applications. According to the card’s website, a FICO score isn’t even required to apply — helpful for anyone who is new to building credit. You do need to provide other financial information, like your income, and approval isn’t guaranteed.

2. The card’s benefits all have cutesy names

The credit card offers several creatively titled features that sound high-tech. Here’s a translation:

  • Flux Capacitor: Get access to your paycheck up to two days early. You’ll also get a two-day heads up on any recurring charges (this is as part of a deposit account — more on that in the next section).

  • Stealth Card: This is essentially a virtual card number, which allows you to make purchases without giving the merchant your real card number. If the merchant’s data gets compromised, your information will remain secure. Many other credit cards offer this feature.

  • High Security: Set up limited-time authorization windows, which can be helpful if you’ve got a planned purchase but otherwise don’t want charges to a merchant to go through. Traditional credit cards don’t tend to allow you to create such self-expiring windows, though many do offer general card lock functionality.

  • Cred Optimizer: This refers to an algorithm the card uses to optimize your credit utilization, so you don’t overcharge to the detriment of your credit score.  

  • Friend & Foe: You can specify approved merchants (your “friends”) and any charges that get mistakenly denied will go through anyway. You can also list disapproved merchants (or “foes”) and purchases with those merchants will always be blocked.

  • Check Please: This feature claims it “eliminates the embarrassment of getting your card declined” at important meetings, events or even dates. It’s unclear how this feature works in practice, but some other cards do let you spend beyond your credit limit (to a point).

3. You get more out of the card with a deposit account

You can technically get the credit card on its own without also opening a deposit account, which is similar to a checking account. But the full functionality of the card is unleashed when you have both. You’ll have access to features including automatic payment and a safe spending limit. 

By default, you’re enrolled in automatic payment, and opting out renders you ineligible for the “ Guaranty,” which covers the cost of interest and fees if automatic payment fails for any reason.

4. The card is largely fee-free

The credit card charges no annual fee, foreign transaction fees or cash advance fees. (However, you may be subject to ATM fees with cash advances, along with a higher interest rate on the amount withdrawn, so proceed with caution there.) 

It technically charges a late fee, but as mentioned above, the automatic payment feature exists to prevent you from having to pay that fee in the first place.

5. It’s made of metal

The card is made of metal and features a snazzy silver unicorn design on a black background.

“It weighs more than those other fancy black cards,” the website states, though it doesn’t provide any actual numerical data to back this up. 

To be clear, the card won’t provide you with the unfettered, celebrity-like access to everything your heart desires that you’d get with the invitation-only American Express Centurion card (that’s the “other fancy black card”). But if you like your credit-building with a side of good looks, it delivers.

All information about the American Express Centurion card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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