Deserve Pro Mastercard Review: A Rewarding Way to Build Credit

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When you lack a credit history, it doesn’t matter what job you have or how much money you make; you likely won’t meet the traditional lending requirements to qualify for a credit card.

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard doesn’t follow a traditional model. The card is designed for individuals with established credit, but Deserve’s underwriting process may allow exceptions for certain applicants who can meet income and employment verification requirements.

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard offers professionals and new immigrants — with an L1 visa, H1-B visa or green card — cash-back rewards and an opportunity to build credit in the U.S.

  • Recommended Credit Score
  • Card Details
    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee


    • Min APR: 17.24%, Variable
    • Max APR: 24.24%, Variable


  • Additional Information
    • More cash back on the things you enjoy the most: 3% on travel/entertainment, 2% on restaurants & 1% on all other purchases
    • Credit limit up to $10,000
    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted
    • Includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel Assistance, ID Theft Protection, Car Collision Damage Waiver & Extended Warranty
    • The rewards bonus rates of 3% on travel/entertainment and 2% on restaurants only apply to the first $500 in combined purchases each billing cycle. After $500 has been spent on these categories combined, standard rewards rate of 1% applies

Deserve® Pro Mastercard: Basics and benefits

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard launched in October 2017 as part of the issuer’s rebranding. It offers 3% cash back per dollar spent on travel and entertainment and 2% cash back at restaurants for purchases up to $500 per billing cycle (combined). On all other purchases, it offers 1% back.

For applicants with established credit, the application process through Deserve is the same as it is for other credit cards. There is a “hard pull” on your credit report when you apply, but the small dent it causes to your credit score is temporary.

In some cases, Deserve can underwrite L1 and H1-B visa applicants based on employment and income verification without requiring a prior credit history, according to Deserve’s CEO.

Although the card is designed for those with established credit, exceptions may exist. For example, Deserve can underwrite L1 and H1-B visa applicants based on employment and income verification without requiring a credit history, according to Deserve CEO Kalpesh Kapadia.

Like many other issuers, Deserve doesn’t accept co-signers, so you must meet requirements on your own in order to qualify for this card.

Aside from the rewards tiers mentioned above, cardholders can expect:

  • A Social Security number requirement
  • An annual fee of $0
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No security deposit
  • The ongoing APR is 17.24% – 24.24% Variable
  • A credit limit of up to $10,000
  • A report to two credit bureaus, TransUnion and Experian
  • Referral bonuses
  • A waiver of the first late fee
  • Mastercard Platinum benefits

Where the Deserve® Pro Mastercard shines

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard offers the opportunity to build credit while earning rewards.

With this card, you can:

Potentially qualify with no credit history. Deserve’s own underwriting process measures credit potential by relying on applicants’ financial documents and a proprietary algorithm. The issuer evaluates income, employment and U.S. bank account balances to determine ability to pay. Deserve also considers your contact information, including your physical address, email address and phone number. It weighs how that information has changed over the years, to determine whether you’ll remain easy to reach.

Deserve’s own underwriting process measures credit potential by relying on applicants’ financial documents and a proprietary algorithm.

Save money on fees. The annual fee is $0, and you get to skip foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad. Deserve waives the first late fee, allowing you to save up to $25. 

Get broad international acceptance. This card travels well internationally. Unlike American Express and Discover networks, the Mastercard network is widely available and more likely to be accepted by merchants abroad.

Earn rewards. The 3% category for travel and entertainment applies to travel-related purchases, which include airfare, hotels, Airbnb, Uber and LiveNation, according to Kapadia. You earn 2% cash back at restaurants. This category also includes restaurant delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats, where they’re available. You earn 1% cash back on everything else.

For the travel, entertainment and restaurant categories, you can only earn rewards for the first $500 spent on combined purchases per billing cycle. After that, you’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases. Rewards redeem automatically for statement credit when you earn $25.

Earn bonuses for referrals. Earn $30 in statement credit whenever you refer someone who qualifies for the card; that person earns $30 for joining. There’s no limit to the number of people you can refer. You also earn $200 for every 10th referral.

Enjoy Mastercard Platinum benefits. Cardholders can call the 1-800-Mastercard number when their car breaks down and, for a fee, receive roadside assistance. The Deserve® Pro Mastercard also offers extended warranty protection, which can double the length of an original manufacturer warranty by up to a year. Other Mastercard Platinum benefits include price protection, travel assistance and car rental collision damage waivers.

Deserve® Pro Mastercard: Pitfalls and other possibilities

The Deserve® Pro Mastercard has a lot to offer, but there are still a few drawbacks to consider:

  • No cash advances. Not having a cash advance option will save you money on fees and interest, but you might miss it if you need the cash.
  • No sign-up bonus. Other credit cards with tiered rewards may require good to excellent credit to qualify, but they also may offer introductory bonuses.
  • No mobile app. At least for now, cardholders can manage their accounts from a desktop or from their cell phone on Deserve’s mobile-optimized website.

For those with a short credit history or no credit at all, the Deserve® Pro Mastercard is an excellent credit-building tool. But if you have established credit and a good credit score, you might qualify for more options.


Grocery shopping: If you prefer to cook at home, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express also has a $0 annual fee. It offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on other purchases. You also get a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Dining out: If you spend a lot of money dining out, the Capital One® Savor℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card has a $0 annual fee, and it offers 3% cash back on dining, 2% on groceries and 1% on everything else. You also get an introductory sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Travel: The Discover it® Miles offers an unlimited 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on all purchases. It has an annual fee of $0 and an introductory sign-up bonus, which Discover puts this way: We’ll match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. Discover has limited acceptance abroad, but the sign-up bonus might take you farther when you travel.

Flat-rate rewards: The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has a $0 annual fee. It offers 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% – 24.74% Variable APR. It earns 1% cash back on every dollar you spend, then another 1% cash back for every dollar you pay off. If you don’t necessarily spend tons of money in the categories of travel, entertainment or dining out, this might be a good option to earn flat-rate rewards on all of your spending.

Keep in mind that with no credit at all, getting approved for these cards would be unlikely. Secured credit cards are an option, but those cards require a security deposit. The Deserve® Pro Mastercard doesn’t have this requirement.

Is the Deserve® Pro Mastercard right for you?

If you’re employed and looking to establish credit, the Deserve® Pro Mastercard may offer the chance to build credit and earn relatively rich rewards in the process, all with no annual fee or security deposit required. It’s a solid option.

But remember that a rewards credit card is only ideal if you pay your bill in full every month. Otherwise, the cost of interest on ongoing balances will eclipse any rewards earned.

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