Amazon releases credit card for people with bad credit

It could open the door to a huge segment of US buyers and drive loyalty to the company

Amazon has a brand new product that ties into its Amazon Prime membership program, but caters to a specific segment of the market - those who might not have good enough credit to get a credit card. The new Amazon Credit Builder tool lets users build their own secured credit card. That means they’ll have to put down a refundable security deposit of anywhere $100 to $1,000 to qualify for the card, and the credit limit will match it.

As Amazon explains, all users will have to do to improve their credit and move to an unsecured credit card is to pay at least their minimum payments on time each month. Synchrony Bank, which partnered with Amazon on this endeavor, will automatically issue an unsecured Amazon Store Card once the upgrade is available, and refund the security deposit, Amazon explains.

“There’s always going to be people that we can’t give credit to - this is a large population that we weren’t able to reach,” Synchrony executive CP and CEO of the bank’s retail card operation Tom Quindlen told CNBC. “It’s a new segment of the market.”

The card comes with some perks, including no annual fee, a $10 Amazon gift card as well as 5% cashback on purchases, that come with the popular Amazon Store card, which Synchrony also powers. That means you’d have to be a paying Prime subscriber to take advantage of the savings. The Amazon Credit Builder also comes with smart features that can help users track their improvements. That’s exclusive access to TransUnion CreditView dashboard and simulator, according to Amazon.

As Quindlen added, these rewards cards incentivise shoppers to use Amazon instead of an alternative and helps drive loyalty within its customer base. Banks such as J.P. Morgan have also bet on rewards cards that would theoretically make customers spend more and in turn bring in more interest and returns.

This new Amazon credit card could open the door to a huge segment of US buyers. According to a 2018 FICO survey, more than 11% of the population has a credit score below 550. About 4% of the population has a “bad credit score,” which according to FICO Score is between 300 and 499. Meanwhile according to a 2017 survey by the FDIC, 25% of US households are either unbanked or underbanked.

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