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Deserve credit card review: three cards for U.S. newcomers

Deserve has designed three credit cards with U.S. newcomers in mind. While these cards are also available to U.S. residents and citizens, Deserve offers benefits and perks that might appeal to those who moved to the country and has yet to build credit.

Nova Credit receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but this content is not provided by them. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Louis DeNicola
Personal Finance Writer

Deserve has designed three credit cards with U.S. newcomers in mind. While these cards are also available to U.S. residents and citizens, Deserve offers benefits and perks that might appeal to those who recently moved to the country and has yet to build credit. There’s a card for international students, one newcomers who don’t have any credit history and a rewards card for after you establish credit.

Below, we highlight a few Deserve cards that can help you build your credit history here in the U.S.

An overview of the three Deserve credit cards

Deserve’s three cards are the Deserve® Classic, Deserve® Edu and Deserve® Pro. With all three, you’ll need to connect a U.S. bank account (or share bank statements) as part of the application process. Deserve can then use the information to verify your identity and let you open a card regardless of whether you have a U.S. credit history. 

All of the cards also share helpful features and benefits, and there are a few factors that distinguish the cards from one another. 

Shared card benefits and drawbacks

In addition to the features listed above, all three Deserve credit cards come with several cardholder benefits

There are also a few drawbacks to the cards to keep in mind, including: 

  • None of the cards offer intro bonus rewards for new cardholders.

  • They tend to have a high annual percentage rate (APR), which can impact how much interest accrues if you don’t pay your bill in full each month. These variable APRs can increase or decrease over time, but the high starting rate means it’s best to avoid carrying a balance on these cards if you can. 

  • You can’t use the cards to do a balance transfer to your account if you’d like to move a different credit card’s balance to your new Deserve card. This might not impact you if your Deserve Mastercard is your first credit card. But if you have high-interest credit card debt, you can sometimes save money by transferring the balance to a card with a lower APR.

  • You also can’t use Deserve cards to get a cash advance, when you withdraw cash at an ATM or financial services center. However, cash advances generally have high fees and interest rates, and it’s often best to store and use cash from your bank account rather than relying on a credit card. 

  • Deserve doesn’t report to Equifax, the third major credit bureau in the U.S. If you only have a Deserve card and apply for another credit card or loan, the lender won’t get any information back if it tries to review your Equifax credit report and a credit score based on the report. The lender may still be able to evaluate your creditworthiness by requesting information from Experian or TransUnion, but there could be a delay in your application process.  

Now, on to the specific differences that could make one card a better or worse fit based on your circumstances.  

Deserve® Classic

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The Deserve® Classic is one of our top picks for the best credit cards for people without a credit history in the U.S. You can get approved for the card with up to a $1,500 credit limit and start building your credit right away. Additionally, you may be able to upgrade your account to the Pro or Edu versions later.

The downside is there’s not much extra with the Deserve® Classic. There are no cash back rewards or special cardholder perks beyond the Deserve basics. 

Deserve® Edu

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The Deserve® Edu is one of our top international student cards and as with other student credit cards, you need to be a student to qualify. However, you don’t need an SSN

If you’re an international student, Deserve will ask for a copy of your student visa, passport, school documents and statements from a U.S. bank account (which you’ll need to qualify). For U.S. citizens and Green Card holders, you may need to share your SSN and connect a U.S. bank account. 

Using the card, you can earn 1% cash back on all your purchases and get up to $59 in statement credits if you use the card to pay for an Amazon Prime Student subscription. There are few downsides, although this isn’t the only student card that offers perks or rewards, so it’s still worth comparing your options.  

Deserve® Pro

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The Deserve® Pro is the next step for people who’ve established good credit in the U.S., or for well-qualified college students (including international students). The card offers all the basic benefits plus cash back rewards and one free year. There’s also an intro bonus for a free one-year Priority Pass membership if you make $1,000 worth of purchases within your first 90 days with the card.

While you can earn the most potential rewards with the Deserve® Pro, what’s not initially clear is that you only earn 2% or 3% cash back on the first $500 in combined restaurant and travel purchases each billing cycle. You’ll still get 1% after that, and the limit resets at the start of the next billing cycle. However, you may quickly hit the limit if you frequently travel or eat out. 

What else to consider 

The three Deserve credit cards allow you to establish and build your credit in the U.S., and their benefits and lack of fees make them worth holding on to in the long run. But they’re not the only options.

If you have credit in it in Australia, Canada, India, Mexico or the UK, a new partnership between American Express and Nova Credit lets you apply for an American Express® Card using that credit history. Learn more in Nova’s latest guide.

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