No Credit History? The Petal Card Wants to Help.

Fintech startup Petal wants to democratize credit for all consumers, especially underserved millennials and Gen Z. But how? Meet the Petal® Visa® Credit Card: a fee-free, high-limit credit card designed for “Credit Invisibles” looking to establish or build their credit from scratch.

“We attract a lot of first-time credit users, as well as many others establishing credit who are seeking a better experience,” said Petal CEO Jason Gross. “Many people just like the fact that we treat them as a human being and not a number.”

The company was founded in 2016 and has since partnered with FDIC-insured WebBank to launch the Petal Card. Petal has seen growth in sign ups since introducing its credit card to the public in October 2018, where demand has been particularly strong among younger consumers: more than 65% of Petal’s 50,000 customers fall within the millennial and Gen Z generations.

Reinventing the credit card experience 

Petal prides itself in taking your full financial picture into account — even if it’s your first credit card and you don’t have a credit score. Gross said the company can analyze creditworthiness with an algorithm that considers your income, savings and spending, unlike most credit card issuers that rely solely on credit reports.

But Petal doesn’t want to stop there quite yet — it also wants to facilitate financial learning through its mobile app. The app aims to be transparent and user-friendly, similar to Uber and Lyft, offering features that can help you manage your money and better understand your credit. 

Gross says Petal is using the same online technologies that revolutionized small business lending to change credit for the better. 

“The cool thing about a technology company designing a credit card (not a traditional bank), is that the product keeps getting better and better,” Gross said. “Most recently, we’ve launched budgeting, money insights and subscription management tools.”

Changing the industry to help “Credit Invisibles” 

Building good credit is essential for financial success, and yet, 26 million consumers have no credit history or credit score (as of 2010), according to a 2015 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report. Gross said the statistic exists, in large part, because there were very few good credit card options available to people before Petal. 

Gross, along with several other co-founders, said Petal tries to combat the statistic by offering a credit card alternative for newcomers who want to build credit responsibly.

“Where most credit cards are about high spending and mountains of debt, we’re encouraging our members to pay on time and manage credit responsibly,” Gross said. “Finally, we’re offering a truly modern solution in a space dominated by outdated technologies from traditional banks.”

Here’s how Petal works

The Petal Card is different from many starter cards in that it’s designed for people who might not meet standard credit card qualifications. The Petal Card may be the first of its kind, but it has some traditional pitfalls: It falls short when it comes to its high APR rates and its strict rules around applicants with bad credit. 

While the Petal Card aims to help those who are new to credit, it doesn’t accept people with negative credit report entries due to circumstances like delinquent accounts, late payments, debt collections, charge-offs, repossession, foreclosure and bankruptcy, among other factors. 

Looking ahead, Gross said Petal can maybe even replace the need for a traditional bank account one day, but for now, the company will continue to focus on its core credit card product.

“The Petal Card is on a mission to make the financial world honest, simple and accessible,” Gross said. “We’re always looking for more ways to make our members’ lives easier and help them on their journey towards financial success.”

Alex Gailey

Staff Writer

Alex Gailey is a writer at who specializes in personal finance topics. Her writing has been featured in Yahoo Finance, MSN, American City Business Journals, The Boston Globe, The Simple Dollar and elsewhere. For more about Alex, follow her on Twitter.