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Your credit score is one of the most important financial metrics that you’ll ever have.
Designed to measure how likely you are to repay your debts on time, this three-digit number has the potential to affect countless aspects of your life, including:
- Whether or not you are approved for a loan
- How much money you can borrow
- The interest rate you pay on the debt you carry
- Whether or not you are approved to rent an apartment
- Whether or not you get your dream job
- and more
With so much importance placed on your credit score, it only makes sense that most people would want to start building their credit score as early as possible.
Unfortunately, there are very few ways to build your credit score before you turn 18 years old. Traditionally, the only way to do so is to be added to somebody else’s credit card as an authorized user. But this only works if you have someone who is willing to make you an authorized user. And you’ll only benefit from the arrangement if that person has a stellar credit score — and if they keep it in the long term.
And once you turn 18, you’ll only be able to open a credit card of your own to begin building up your credit history if you a.) have a job or other source of recurring income, or b.) open your account with a cosigner. (Editor’s note: Once you turn 21, these rules no longer apply.) And even then, a credit card will only help you build your credit score if you use it responsibly. One late or missed payment can lower your score quickly, and take years of good behavior to recover from.
If you’re a college student without a job, who wants to start building your credit history without relying on mom and dad as a cosigner, it may seem like you’re out of options. Looks like your dream of achieving an “Excellent” credit score will have to wait until after graduation, right?
Not so fast. With the Fizz debit card, you can begin establishing a credit history — and, by extension, your credit score — without becoming an authorized user, without a cosigner, and without proving that you have a job.
Below is our review of the Fizz Debit Card. Here, we explain what Fizz is, how it works, and walk you through the process of opening an account. We also answer other questions you may have about the company. Our goal is to provide you with as much information as possible, so that you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not Fizz is right for you.
What is the Fizz Debit Card?
Fizz is a debit card that is specifically designed to help college students build their credit score.
It works like this: When you open your Fizz account, you’ll link it to a checking account that has at least $150 in it. The app will then give you a credit limit, based on how much money is in your checking account. This limit is recalculated daily, and will never exceed the amount in your checking account.
Bonus: Worried about a credit check affecting your budding credit score? No need! Fizz doesn’t run your credit. That means no hard inquiry to impact your score.
You can then use your Fizz card just like you would any other debit card. At the end of the day, Fizz tallies up all of the purchases you made with your Fizz card during the day and deducts that amount from your linked checking account. At the end of the month, Fizz reports the total of all repayments to the major credit bureaus as payments on a line of credit.
This means that every time you use your Fizz debit card to make a purchase, you are earning credit for good borrower behavior and building up your credit history. And because Fizz doesn’t charge interest or fees, you’re doing this for free.
Editor’s note: As of March 2023, Fizz is only available to iPhone users. That being said, an Android app is in development, and is expected to be released in the second half of 2023.
“We had a bunch of friends of all backgrounds who graduated and were either victimized by credit cards they didn’t understand, or regretting that they didn’t start building credit earlier on,” says Scott Smith, co-founder and COO of Fizz. “Helping students build credit is our first step in building the financial ally of our generation.”
Why use the Fizz Debit Card?
Here’s a quick list of all the reasons we think Fizz is a great option for college students (and other young adults) looking to build their credit score:
- Fizz is completely free: No fees, interest charges, credit check, or security deposit.
- It’s easy to sign up: It takes less than 5 minutes to sign up, and you can start using your digital Fizz card as soon as your account is approved.
- You get a physical card: Don’t like digital cards? You’ll receive a physical Fizz debit card, typically within 5 to 7 business days, which you can use just like any other physical card in your wallet.
- You can earn cash back: Through Fizz’s rewards program, you can earn cash back from a variety of online and brick-and-mortar retailers, including many specific to your college campus. Some of these rewards can be quite generous, ranging from 3%-25% cash back, with the average reward falling around 5%.
- Refer a friend and you both get paid: If a friend uses your Fizz referral link to join Fizz, you’ll earn $100 for every three friends that join.
- Autopay makes things easy: While you can choose to pay your tab manually every day if you want, autopay makes it easier than ever to stay on top of your bill so you don’t even have to worry about missing a payment.
- It’s getting popular: Students on more than 150 college campuses are using Fizz to start building their credit score.
We discuss each of these benefits in greater detail in the sections below.
Fizz Debit Card Pricing
The Fizz debit card is completely free to use. There are no fees for opening an account, no security deposit, no monthly maintenance fees, no fees of any kind. And Fizz doesn’t charge interest on your daily payments.
When they say it’s free, they mean it.
You may be wondering, then: How exactly does Fizz make money?
According to Scott, the company makes money entirely through interchange fees. This means that when you make a purchase with your Fizz debit card, the retailer pays Fizz a tiny portion of the purchase price. For context, this is the same way that credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard earn the bulk of their revenue.
Fizz Debit Card Features
The Fizz app is built around four key screens, each of which includes different functionality. These include a:
- Home screen
- Card screen
- Credit screen
- Rewards screen
Fizz Home Screen
Fizz’s home screen is designed to show you at a glance all of the most important information about your account. This includes:
- How much money you have available to spend through your Fizz card
- Whether or not autopay is enabled
- A list of your recent transactions and payments
At the top of the home screen are icons that will take you to both your account settings and live chat. Toward the middle of the screen is a button that will bring you to the referral program. And at the bottom of the screen are icons that will allow you to toggle between the other main app screens.
Want to know more about how your “Available to Spend” limit is calculated? Simply click on your digital Fizz card at the top of the home screen, and you’ll be brought to a second screen that details this breakdown. It includes your spend limit, any pending purchases, the day’s Fizz payment, and any pending payments so that you can understand exactly why you have that much money available.
Fizz Card Screen
On the card screen, you can view your Fizz card’s details, including your card number and expiration date. You can also choose to add your digital Fizz card to your Apple Wallet if you want. (When the Android app launches, it’s expected to integrate with the Google and Samsung Wallet as well.)
From this screen, you can also change your card’s pin number and lock or unlock your card.
Fizz Credit Screen
On Fizz’s credit screen, you will be greeted by a reading of your credit score, calculated with your Experian credit report. It will be displayed as a number, as well as a quick explanation as to whether your score is Fair, Good, Very Good, etc. Your score is automatically updated each month as new data is reported to the credit bureaus.
The credit screen also contains a breakdown of the different factors affecting your score, such as your payment history, credit utilization rate, credit age, hard inquiries, and more. This makes it easy for you to see how each factor impacts your score, and may help you understand what changes you can make to improve your score.
Fizz Rewards Screen
The rewards tab brings you to a hub that stores everything you need to know about Fizz’s rewards program, where you earn cashback by using your Fizz card at select retailers. At the top of the screen, you’ll find a quick summary of how much rewards money you have available to redeem, as well as a tally of any rewards you have pending.
Below this, you’ll see a series of cards that detail the cashback offers near you, which detail offers near your college campus. These cards include the name of the retailer or restaurant and how much cashback you will earn if you use your Fizz card to make a purchase. It even tells you how far away you are. Online offers are also available.
Scott mentions that Fizz is constantly adding more cashback opportunities to the rewards program. Cashback offers typically range from 3% to 15%, with the average falling close to 5%.
Fizz’s Other Features
In addition to these in-app functions, Fizz offers a number of other features, including:
Fizz Referral Program
If you invite friends to join Fizz and they sign up using your referral code, earn $100 for every 3 friends who sign up using your referral code. They’ll also get a cash bonus too! You’ll both receive the reward after your friend makes their first purchase using their Fizz card.
You can access the referral screen from a number of spots within the app, including on the home screen and at the bottom of the rewards screen. Tapping into this screen allows you to view your referral code, which you can quickly share by text, email, or social media message. The screen also details your referral history, including how many referrals you’ve made and how much money you’ve earned from referring friends.
Fizz Live Chat
Got a question about your Fizz card? Clicking on the live chat icon at the bottom of the home screen will take you over to the customer service screen. Here, you can review FAQs about the app. If those don’t answer your question, you can start a live chat with one of Fizz’s customer support agents, who will typically respond within minutes.
Throughout the Fizz app, and on the Fizz website, you’ll find educational content designed to teach you the basics of personal finance and how credit works. This content is completely free (even if you’re not a Fizz user!) and can help you develop healthier money habits that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.
Opening a Fizz Debit Card Account
Interested in getting your own Fizz debit card? Opening an account is easy, and takes just minutes to complete.
Best of all, you can use your digital Fizz card as soon as you’ve finished setting up your account — even while you wait for your physical card to be mailed to you (typically 5 to 7 business days).
Editor’s note: As mentioned above, the Fizz app is currently only available on iOS. If you are an Android user, you are currently not able to open a Fizz account. The Android version of the app is expected to launch in the second half of 2023.
To open a Fizz card, all you need to do is download the Fizz app, either from the Fizz website or the Apple App Store.
Then, you’ll need to enter your first and last name, followed by an email address. If you have a .edu email address, Fizz encourages you to enter that so that you can receive campus-specific reward opportunities — but this isn’t required, and you can use any email address you have. You’ll then need to verify your email address by logging into it and looking for an email from Fizz.
Next, you’ll be asked to enter your birthday, which is used to confirm that you are at least 18 years old, as well as your physical address.
Once your address is confirmed, you’ll be asked to select your college or university, and to input your expected graduation date. As with the .edu email address, this information is used to build your rewards program with campus-specific offers.
The last piece of information you’ll need to provide is your Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). By law, Fizz must collect this information from you, just like other banks or financial institutions.
Finally, you will need to link your Fizz account to a checking account with at least $150 in it. You’ll do this by logging into your bank through Plaid, using the same login credentials (username and password) as you would if you were logging in through your bank’s website or app.
Once you’ve successfully linked your checking account, Fizz will calculate your spending limit based on that account’s balance. You will have access to a digital debit card as soon as this process is complete, which you can use to start making purchases immediately. A physical card will be sent to the address you entered while setting up your account, typically within 5 to 7 business days.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, I absolutely love Fizz’s mission, and I wish it was around when I was in college.
The Fizz debit card doesn’t just empower you to start building your credit score by notching up a positive repayment history. It also gives you the opportunity to earn cash — through both its rewards and referral programs. And with no signup fees, maintenance fees, or interest charges, it’s completely free to use. What could be better than that?
If you’re looking for a way to start building your credit score, but don’t want to be added to your parent’s credit card as an authorized user (or open your own account with them as a cosigner) then the Fizz debit card is a great way to do exactly that.