WHEN Vrinda Gupta was rejected for a credit card she helped create, she knew something had to change and went on a credit building mission.
Fast forward to today, five years later, the savvy entrepreneur is behind Sequin – a debit card that helps women boost their credit scores.
Vrinda, who’s turning 31 this month, had worked at Visa for a few years when she was rejected for the credit card in August 2016.
But it wasn’t until that moment that she really starting thinking about credit and realized that she’d primarily been using a debit card.
Her credit card spending was mainly on her dad’s card as a secondary user.
By doing that, it meant she had access to the card’s credit, but because she wasn’t responsible for paying the balance, she wasn’t building her credit history either.
The San Francisco-based entrepreneur told The Sun: “Credit scoring agencies and these issuing banks aren’t taking your income into account.
“So even though I was making a decent living working at Visa, I just lacked credit history.”
Her situation is similar to that of many women, who are more frequently rejected for credit, are offered lower credit lines and get higher interest rates.
Determined to close the credit gap for women, Vrinda left Visa in 2018 to go to Haas School of Business at the University of California.
While there, she did an MBA summer internship at design agency IDEO, where she pitched the idea that is now Sequin.
In October 2019, she officially incorporated the company and then started working on it full-time in 2020.
The initial idea was to create a credit card with “amazing rewards” that were focused towards women, but Vrinda decided to create a new type of debit card that builds credit instead.
She said: “Most of the credit cards today on the market are designed with the male traveller in mind, and that’s why there are so many travel and dining benefits.
“And I decided it was really important to start with credit building, because if I launched this credit card, then maybe I would also have to reject some amazing women because their credit scores weren’t where they needed to be.
“So I wanted to start off as a ramp to help these women get credit and really understand the system and set themselves up for success.”
Sequin works by forwarding the money for the purchase to the merchant on your behalf and then pays itself back by automatically withdrawing money from your connected bank account.
It reports those repayments to credit bureaus, meaning your credit score should improve.
It’s currently only available to a few hundred women, but you can sign up to a waiting list on its website ahead of its wider launch next year.
Going into a male-dominated fintech industry as a woman and first-generation immigrant wasn’t always easy, but Vrinda made it work.
Later she also brought in a technical co-founder, Mark Thomas, who has 10 years of experience at Paypal.
Vrinda added: “My family and I moved to the US [from India] when I was young.
“My mom has always been my inspiration for this because she always really feared the financial system in the US, especially credit.
“I felt if I didn’t do something with my background, then my future daughter would be sitting in my same desk at Visa somewhere else having the same experience.”
Vrinda’s top tips for boosting your credit score
If you’re struggling with a bad credit score or a lack of credit history, Vrinda has two main tips.
The first one? Make sure you have any credit under your own name so you can improve it as you spend.
Secondly, she advised consumers to keep their credit utilization low, which is the percentage used of your overall credit line.
The credit utilization ratio is one of the key factors that credit reporting agencies and lenders look at.
Using more than 30% of your available credit can reduce your score, but Vrinda recommends to keep it even lower at below 10% at all times.
She said: “It’s really important to make sure that you keep your credit utilization below 10% at all times of the month, because you don’t know when your issuer is going to be reporting your utilisation to credit bureaus.
“So even if you’re paying in full and then an on time at the end of each month, your credit utilization can be reported as too high, which affects your credit.
“As a rule of thumb, paying off your credit once a week versus once a month should usually get you there unless you’re making some really large purchases.”
Plus, we reveal why paying off your debt early could cause your credit score to drop – but it’s still a good idea.
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