If you’ve struggled with poor credit or are completely new to credit, you know how hard it can be to build a strong credit score. The lenders who offer the best credit products and the lowest interest rates seem only to want to deal with clients with excellent credit. But how do you build credit without a credit card?
To help, an increasing number of fintech companies are developing credit-builder loans and other products to help people establish or rebuild their credit. Some are more successful at it than others.
In this Fizz review, I’ll explain how one company aims to help college students build credit and create healthy financial habits. But how does Fizz work, and is it safe to use?
I’ll answer those questions and more in this Fizz review.
Table of Contents
What Is Fizz?
Fizz is a fintech company that helps college students build credit and manage their spending free of charge. It was founded by a group of college students frustrated by what they considered the “unfair complexity of building credit as students.”
Like most fintechs, Fizz is not a bank but partners with a bank (in this case, Evolve Bank) and also with Mastercard to conduct transactions. Because Fizz partners with Mastercard, you can use your Fizz card anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
How Does Fizz Work?
When you sign up with Fizz, you will receive a line of credit that is connected to your primary bank account. Fizz will provide you with a Mastercard-branded student debit card. Your credit limit mirrors the balance of your bank account. In other words, you can only spend as much money on the credit line as you have in your bank account.
When you spend with your Fizz debit Mastercard, the money will come from the line of credit. Using an Autopay system, Fizz will collect the money owed to the line of credit from your bank account the following day (you can opt to transfer the funds manually, too.)
The transfers to the line of credit are reported to the credit bureau as payments, which over time, will help to build your credit history and improve your credit score.
How Does Fizz Make Money?
You may wonder how Fizz makes money when they don’t charge any monthly fees, interest, or transfer fees. It almost sounds too good to be true.
According to Fizz, they make all of their money from interchange fees. Whenever you use your debit card to make a purchase, the retailer pays a small percentage to the card issuer; in Fizz’s case, that would be Mastercard. Mastercard then sends a percentage of that fee to Fizz.
Key Features of Fizz
Fizz’s main features may be able to help you build credit, learn how to control spending, earn rewards and learn about money management. Let’s take a closer look at each of these potential benefits.
To help you build credit, Fizz offers users a debit Mastercard with a line of credit attached. When you pay for purchases with your Fizz debit card, Fizz reports those purchases as reportable credit transactions to the three major credit bureaus.
The following day, Fizz transfers the total amount of the previous day’s purchases out of your checking account to cover the balance owing on the line of credit.
Because your purchases are being made from a borrowing product, Fizz can report the transactions as payments to the credit bureaus. From a credit-building standpoint, it beats the alternative of becoming an authorized user on your parent’s credit card, as you’re not building a credit score of your own.
You aren’t subject to a credit check when you open a Fizz debit card, so you won’t be denied the card because of bad credit (or no credit).
Fizz recommends that users have at least $150 in their checking account when they open their Fizz card. Keeping a balance close to the $150 mark gives you more money to make daily purchases with on your Fizz card.
Fizz can help you control your spending by only linking to your checking account. You can’t connect your credit card to Fizz.
Fizz chooses the daily spending limit it gives you based on what it sees in the daily balances of your checking account. This ensures that you’re not spending more than what you have in your checking account.
Combined with a good budgeting worksheet, Fizz can help you manage your money in a way that works for you.
Fizz partners with national retailers, restaurants, coffee shops, and even local stores to provide cash back rewards to its users. National brands include Chipotle and Starbucks.
While Fizz is available to students at any public university or community college, they tend to have more retail partners on campuses where there are a lot of Fizz users.
Any cash back you earn is subtracted from your daily Fizz bill
Learn About Money
The Fizz website has a Community page where you will find numerous articles related to personal finance subjects of all kinds, student interviews, and more.
If you want to know how credit cards or student loans work, what a credit utilization ratio is, or the answer to a host of other money questions, visit Fizz’s community webpage
Pros and Cons of Fizz
- May help you build credit
- No monthly or transaction fees
- No credit check required
- Only for college students
- Daily spending limits can vary
While Fizz is geared toward college students, there are other debit cards out there that can help you build credit. Let’s take a closer look at two Fizz alternatives.
Extra Debit Card
Like Fizz, the Extra debit card helps you build credit by connecting your Extra debit card to your bank account.¹
Like Fizz, you make purchases with the Extra debit card, and the balance is paid back daily via withdrawals from your bank account.
Extra reports your spending transactions to two of the three major credit bureaus, Experian and Equifax.¹ Fizz reports to all three of the major credit bureaus.
Also, Extra charges a monthly fee of $20 or more, depending on which plan you choose.
Extra does have a rewards program, but the rewards you earn must be spent at Extra’s online rewards store.² For more information, check out our Extra Debit Card review.
¹ The Extra Debit Card is issued by Evolve Bank & Trust or Patriot Bank N.A. (Member FDIC), pursuant to a license by Mastercard International. The bank does not sponsor spending limits or credit reporting. Loans provided by Lead Bank. Extra is responsible for credit reporting and reports on time and late payments, which may impact a credit bureau’s determination of your credit score.
² Rewards points only available with rewards plan.
The Sesame Cash debit card is similar to Fizz. There are no monthly fees to use Sesame Cash, and the card can help you build credit.
With Sesame Cash, you need to open a Sesame Credit Builder spending account. This is where the money for your debit card purchases will come from.
That means you’ll have to make transfers to your Sesame Credit builder account from your main checking account if you choose not to use Sesame Cash as your main account.
The Sesame Cash debit card pays cash back on purchases and provides other rewards as you improve your credit score.
Is Fizz Safe?
Yes, Fizz is safe to use. Not only is its debit card connected to the global Mastercard network, but Fizz is also PCI-DSS compliant, and they incorporate security measures, such as Face ID.
In case you’re wondering, PCI-DSS is a set of requirements followed by companies in the payment card industry to maintain a secure environment.
When you sign up with Fizz, you are applying for a line of credit. By making purchases using the line of credit and then paying off the balance daily or monthly, you build credit. That’s because Fizz reports your transactions to the credit bureau.
Fizz is free for all users now, whether you’re in college or not.
Fizz is not a secured credit card. While it features the Mastercard logo, it is a debit card, not a credit card. Unlike a secured credit card, Fizz does not require you to put down a cash deposit to use their card.
Currently, Fizz is only available on iOS; however, they are developing an Android app, and you can join the waitlist here.
Fizz Debit Card Review: Final Thoughts
What I like about Fizz is that it’s free for users. Too many credit builder companies charge high fees with the promise of helping you build credit, but the value isn’t always there.
I think the important thing to note is that you won’t be able to rely solely on a program like Fizz to achieve an excellent credit score. Consider it a starting point or one step on a long journey. And that’s not a bad thing. The cash back rewards and learning center are nice add-ons but aren’t worth joining Fizz for on their own.
If you’re a college student, the Fizz debit card gives you an opportunity to build your credit by connecting to your main checking account and reporting purchases to all three major credit bureaus.
The bottom line? If you’re a college student looking for ways to build credit or get your first credit card, Fizz is a better option than many of the paid credit builders.