Building credit with your debit card

Varo Bank’s Believe card is advertised as a hassle-free way to build credit, but does it really work? That’s what we like to answer with this Varo Believe card review.

We’ll explore all the features of Varo Bank and see how the Believe card can help you build your credit.

Pros

No minimum secured balance

Disadvantages

Funds in the deposit account are blocked

It does not specify a credit limit

$500 deposit required

Who is Varo Bank?

Varo Believe Card Review: Varo Bank Homepage

Varo bank is an online bank that offers a complete set of banking functions. This includes checking accounts, high-yield savings accounts, a loan account, and more.

Varo was founded in 2015 and has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2017. Varo is also a fully chartered, FDIC-insured bank. This is worth noting as similar products (ie Chime Credit Builder) are often supported by separate banks.

In this review we will focus on the Varo credit building account, Varo Believe. This account is a marriage of a secure card et un Debit Card. Your purchases with the Believe card are always secured by the balance in your deposit account.

This may help you build credit without risking excessive spending and debt.

Let’s dive deeper into this Varo Believe card review to learn how to use the card.

How does the Varo Believe Card work?

The Believe card works and earns credit in a unique way. This Varo Believe card review will explore the entire process, from application and funding to credit building and cancellation.

Varo Believe Card Review: Varo Believe Builder Credit Card - Page

How to log in?

To qualify for a Varo Believe account, you must meet two qualifications:

  1. Keep your Varo checking account in good standing.
  2. $500 or more deposits on your Varo check in the last 90 days.

If you meet these two requirements, you can apply for a Varo Believe account. Applications yes No require a credit check. There is no minimum account balance either.


How do you use your Varo Believe account?

Once your Believe account is approved, you will get access to a new Varo Believe deposit account. This deposit account is used to fund your card. You can think of it as bail.

Account Funding

You can transfer money from your existing Varo checking account or another external account to fund your Believe account. The amount you transfer becomes your spending limit. You cannot spend more than you transfer.

Spending with the card

Every time you make a wish with the Believe card, the matching total is locked into your deposit account. For example, if you buy a cup of coffee for $5.95, the $5.95 balance in your account will be blocked. Locked funds cannot be spent.

Balance payment

At the end of the month, your locked balance (what you’ve spent) becomes your total statement.

You can set up an automatic payment (SafePay) that will automatically pay your balance with your locked funds. Or you can manually pay the total amount using an external account and the locked funds will be released within 3 days.

If you use automatic payment, you’ll also want to use Move your paycheck for cash back into your Believe deposit account every month.


How does Believe help you build credit?

reports Varo the following information to all 3 major credit institutions each month.

  1. The amount of your statement
  2. The amount of your payment
  3. Whether the payment was on time or late

By paying your Varo Believe bill on time, you can positively impact the portion of your credit payment history that makes up 35% of your credit score. If you do not pay your bill on time, you will be credited with a negative result (and your account may be closed).

Varo does not affect:

  • Credit utilization (they do not show a credit limit, so there is no basis for calculating credit utilization).
  • New credit (no need to ask when applying).

You can view yours credit score and receive notifications of changes to your score using the Varo app.


Cancellation of Varo Believe

While the Believe card is great for building credit, the collateral requirement makes it a poor long-term option.

In our review of the Varo Believe card, we noted that you will need to contact customer service to cancel the card. Unfortunately, this will require you to use in-app support during business hours (Mountain Time). Varo has phone support but will not cancel your account over the phone.

If you keep your Varo checking account, your Believe funds can be transferred there, which is likely to be faster than waiting for a physical check.

Once you close your Varo Believe account, you can not apply for the card again in the future.


Additional services and functions of Varo

Another thing we wanted to focus on in our Varo Believe Card Review is the ancillary services aspect. The Varo Believe program comes with several features to build your credit, including:

  • Setting a spending limit
  • Automatic payment with SafePay
  • Reporting to all 3 credit institutions
  • Vantage Credit Score Update

But that’s only part of the whole Varo package. Varo also offers checking and savings accounts with their own unique features.

Checking account:

  • Free of charge
  • Early payment
  • Payments with Zelle
  • Cashback
  • More than 40,000 free ATMs

Savings account:

  • 5% APY up to $5,000 balance
  • 3% APY unlimited
  • Rounded savings
  • Custom transfers

In addition to these specific account features, Varo offers general features such as the Varo Advance program, debit card security, robust mobile apps, and money management resources.

Fees

Varo Believe is a zero fee account. In this Varo Believe card review, we’ll highlight some common fees that other cards charge, but Varo doesn’t.

APR None
Late payment fee $0
Monthly or annual fee $0
Minimum deposit No minimum

You are never charged a late payment fee. However, failure to pay on time may result in account closure.

Access to Varo Believe requires you to have a free Varo checking account. You will only encounter the $3 fee if you are using an out-of-network ATM.

Varo AdvanceVaro’s low-limit cash advance program is the only Varo feature with a fee.

Loan amount Fairy
20 dollars $0
50 dollars $4
75 dollars $5
100 dollars $6
150 dollars $9
200 dollars 12 dollars
250 dollars 15 dollars

It’s worth noting that you’ll need to meet specific qualifications before you can use Advance.

Customer reviews

Most of the general reviews about the bank are great. People seem to like all the features of Varo.

For example, this reviewer really loves the early repayment feature.

Varo Believe Card Review: Positive BBB Card Rating

And this customer praises a number of services.

Varo Believe Card Review: BBB Positive Varo and Card Reviews

Many of the reviews focused on the Believe card are less than complimentary. The biggest complaints revolve around the lockout time (30+ days) and lack of customer service.

This review is from a Varo customer who was previously happy with the bank but not so happy with the Believe card.

Varo Believe Card Review: Negative Varo reviews on TrustPilot

Other reviewers report that customer service has recently taken a turn for the worse.

Negative reviews of Varo on TrustPilot

Overall, Varo Bank has an average rating of 3.58 Better Business Bureau (BBB) and approximately 2.7 diameters from Trustpilot.

Varo Believe Alternatives

Varo Believe is one of the many credit debit cards on the market. Below we highlight some alternative options and how they compare to Varo Believe. It is worth noting that Varo and all these alternatives report to all 3 credit institutions.

Cred.ai Unicorn Card Chime Credit Builder Visa Credit Sesame – Sesame Cash Varo Believe
APR 17.76%* None None None
Fairy None None $9.99/month* None
Bail No minimum No minimum No minimum No minimum
Credit limit $1000** ON ON ON
Activity reported Payment history and usage Payment history Payment history Payment history
Cashback No No Yes Yes
Credit check Soft credit and ChexSystems inquiry No No No
Assessment Assessment Assessment

* can be waived
**may be higher or lower depending on your banking history

The biggest outlier here is Cred.ai. Their Unicorn card is the only one that has a credit limit and reports usage.

Statement

We hope this Varo Believe card review will help you choose the card that best suits your financial needs. Building credit with the Varo Believe card is pretty simple, but it won’t work for everyone. Varo states the following:

Some customers won’t see an increase, but customers with bad or poor credit are likely to see the biggest positive impact on their score by using Varo Believe and making consistent, on-time payments.

As further proof, Varo cites that 90% of their customers who previously did not have a credit score were able to generate one after just 1 month with Varo. And those with existing credit scores saw an average 42 point increase after 3 months.

If you are an existing Varo customer looking to build credit, then Believe could be a good choice. Or, if you’re looking for a full-fledged bank with credit-building options, Varo could be a good choice.

But for those looking for maximum impact on their credit or easy-to-access customer service, you’ll likely be better served by other banks/products.

Leave a Comment