Zero Card Review

By: Heather Hanks Nov. 19, 2019

The Zero card allows you to enjoy the simplicity of a debit card with the cash back rewards of a credit card. When you sign up for a Zero card, you’ll also get a checking account and a mobile app. You’ll get 1% to 3% cash back on everything you buy. Plus, you’ll be able to deposit money directly into your checking account through your app. Think of it as a cash back debit card.

The Zero card allows you to see immediate changes in your checking account, just like a debit card. When you spend money, your balance goes down. When you deposit money, it goes up. This allows you to better manage your finances. You’ll also like that your cash back points never expire. It’s truly the best of both (credit and debit) worlds. Here’s everything you need to know about the Zero card.

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What is the Zero Card?

The Zero card is brought to you by the Zero, which describes themselves as a next generation financial technology company. They state that they offer a business model that allows for better economics to their clients than traditional banks. The company is the first to offer a debit-style card with credit card rewards. The card is backed by a mobile app and comes in four different levels. Rewards vary from 1% to 3% cash back. T

he card has been in high demand since launching. The company has been featured in the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. They had approximately 25,000 people sign up for the waitlist within two weeks of launching. The idea came from CEO and founder Bryce Galen. He developed the company after seeing the need for a modern banking experience that helps people get the cash back they desire from the simplicity of a debit card. Zero is designed to minimize credit card statements, balances and due dates.

What Does Zero card Offer?

The Zero card offers the convenience of a debit card while also earning the cash back rewards of a credit card. Debit cards alone are great, but they can’t provide cash back. According to Zero’s website, this is because rewards come from the merchant’s processing costs that are paid to the bank. Credit cards provide greater rewards as the processing costs are much higher than those of debit cards. However, credit cards lack the simplicity of a debit card. They entice you with rewards and hit you with hidden fees. You often have to track your spending in several places as opposed to a debit card/checking account combo. It’s easy to overspend with a credit card because it’s tougher to keep an eye on your balance. Credit cards are also prone to high APRs, monthly or yearly fees, and debt.

However, the Zero card is technically a credit card. It processes on credit card networks. So, while it functions like a debit card, you still have the potential to boost your credit by making timely payments. With the Zero app, you’ll be able to see your purchases on your Zero card. You can also see your real-time net balance, which Zero refers to as your “current position.” The Zero card offers unlimited cash back with no category restrictions. They also offer a higher rate than other credit cards on the market. You’ll also like that there is no annual fee, maintenance fee, or foreign transaction fees.

Here is a breakdown of some of the key features of a Zero card:

The Zero card comes with a high-yield checking account and mobile app

You can see your real-time balance and monitor your spending to prevent overdrawing

It’s technically a credit card, but functions as a cash back rewards debit card

No annual fee, maintenance fee, or foreign transaction fee

You’ll earn 1% to 3% cash back, depending on your card type

No overdraft fee or ATM fees

24.99% APR

$27 late fee payment

$25 returned payment fee

How Does Zero card Work?

The Zero card is offered in four different tiers. You’ll start with the Zero card Quartz and earn more cash back as you move up to the Zero card Carbon. You’ll move up a level by meeting your minimum annual spending limit requirement or by referring your friends and family to Zero. The company loves it when you spend the word about their product and will reward you by allowing you to earn a higher level card.

To earn the full cash back rate on each card, you’ll need to make sure you pay your statement balance in full each month on your due date. You must also make payments from your Zero checking account. This enables you to maximize your benefits. Your friend or family member must apply for a Zero card and get approved to be qualified as your referral. They will need to receive one regular income direct deposit to their Zero checking account within 60 days of opening their account.

Here is a list of the four cards they offer:

1

Quartz

The Quartz card is Zero’s entry level card. It offers 1% cash back, but you’ll still enjoy the debit-style credit card experience.

2

Graphite

The Graphite card is a step above the Quartz card. It offers 1.5% cash back on purchases. You’ll also get 0.05% in annual rewards on your average current position (your real-time balance). You’ll need to refer one friend to become a Zero card holder or spend $25,000 annually to qualify for this card.

3

Magnesium

The Magnesium card is the second highest level card and features 2% cash back on purchases. You’ll also get 1% in rewards on your annual current position (real-time balance). To qualify, you’ll need to refer two friends to Zero or spend $50,000 yearly.

4

Carbon

The Carbon card is Zero’s highest tier card. It offers 3% cash back on purchases and 2% in annual rewards on your current position (real-time balance). This card requires you to refer four friends to Zero or spend $100,000 per year.

Zero Card Cash Back Example

You’ll get unlimited cash back with no category restrictions no matter what Zero card you have. The Zero card offers higher rates than other credit cards in the United States. You’ll have to pay your balance in full each month, but there are no annual fees, maintenance fees, or foreign transaction fees. You can use the app to track your spending along with your cash back rewards. You can see what your cash back rewards will be ahead of time by using the calculator on the Zero website. You’ll need to enter your average monthly spending and average monthly checking account balance. Then you can check out an estimate of your potential cash back earnings.

For example, if your monthly spending is $2,000 and your monthly checking account balance is $3,000, you’ll earn $1,110 per year with the Carbon card at a rate of 3% cash back. Using these same numbers for your monthly checking account balance and monthly spending rate, here is what your annual cash back rewards will be with the other Zero cards:

705

Magnesium card at 2% cash back

502

Graphite card at 1.5% cash back

300

Quartz card at 1% cash back

Other Zero Card Benefits

The Zero card does not charge for hidden fees. These include ATM fees. You can use your Zero card just like you would use a debit card. The only fee you’ll pay at the ATM is the one that the ATM owner charges. If you have the Carbon card, all ATM fees (including the one charged by the owner) are refunded. You’ll also like that your deposits are insured up to $250,000 by Zero’s partner bank, Evolve Bank & Trust (an FDIC member). Zero also offers a Mastercard Zero Liability Program that does not make you pay unauthorized charges.

The app also makes it easy to manage your account. You can look at your real-time balance, send referrals to move on the Zero card chain, and make deposits. Once you reach the Magnesium and Carbon levels, you’ll receive a metal card. There is also no limit to how much cash back you can earn. Redeem your cash back anytime you want it. The Zero card offers higher than average spending limits, which means you won’t be limited on your cash back potential. You can also use your card however you want. Every purchase you make will yield cash back potential.

Here are some other benefits of the Zero card that you’ll like:

Earn 1% to 3% cash back depending on your card type with up to 2% annually on your average current position (as long as you have a Zero checking account)

No ATM fees outside of what the ATM charges you (you’ll be refunded this fee if you have the Carbon card)

No hidden fees, including bill paying fees, maintenance fees, annual fees, ATM fees, foreign currency fees, or inactivity fees

Send paper checks from the app (coming soon)

Photo check deposits (coming soon)

Apple Wallet (coming soon)

ACH transfers

Direct deposit

The Zero Card: Pros and Cons

The Zero card is strictly designed for personal use. You can use it to buy everyday and household items. The company monitors your account to track your spending habits and will even close your account if they suspect you are using it as a business card. If you choose to pay your balance in full each month through automatic pay, then you’ll take the worry out of paying on time. You can do this by managing your account through the app.

As with any credit card, you can use your debit-style Zero cards to boost your credit by paying on time each month. The company does not currently offer joint accounts or services outside of the United States. The card comes with an APR of 24.99%. Late payments are up to $27, and returned payments are $25. The company relies on a referral program to get the word out about their card, which means you’ll score big when your friends sign up. Here are some other pros and cons of the Zero card.

Zero Card PROS

  • No hidden fees (annual fees, inactivity fees, maintenance fees, ATM fees, or foreign currency fees)
  • No ATM fees other than the ones charged by the ATM owner (your fees will be refunded if you have the Carbon card)
  • You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges
  • You can cash in your rewards from the app anytime
  • Compatible with Android and iOS platforms
  • Your checking deposits are insured up to $250,000
  • You can use the Zero card to boost your credit by making timely payments
  • Enroll in automatic pay to ensure your payments are made on time every month
  • Earn a better rewards card by referring friends or increasing your annual spending limit
  • Watch your balance immediately go up and down as you spend/make deposits
  • Mobile payment through Apple Wallet and photo check deposits (coming soon)
  • Earn 1% to 3% cash back, depending on which card you have
  • Metal card designs for Magnesium and Carbon cards
  • ACH transfers available
  • Send paper checks directly from app (coming soon)
  • No category restrictions on your cash back options
  • Check your real-time balance anytime from the app

Zero Card CONS

  • Late fees and returned payment fees are $27 and $25, respectively
  • APRs are 24.99%, which is higher than average
  • Not offered outside the United States
  • Card cannot be used for business
  • Does not accept cash deposits
  • No joint accounts

How To Apply Zero Card

You can apply for the Zero card by visiting the company’s website. Remember that doing so will likely mean that Zero pulls a hard inquiry on your credit file, and this can show up on your report.

You’ll need to provide the following information to apply:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Physical address (must be in the United States)
  • Phone number and email
  • Tax identification number or social security number
  • Copy of your government-issued photo identification

Once you’re approved, you’ll want to download the Zero card app. You can do this by visiting the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store on your phone. To qualify, you must be 18 years old (19 in Alabama or Nebraska), a United States citizen, and you must have a valid social security number. Zero states that you must also have a valid physical address in the United States. They encourage you to apply even if you have a thin credit history or no credit.

Disclaimer

CreditNervana promises to keep our information as accurate and up-to-date as possible. However, you should always consult a financial advisor for specific questions about personal or business finances and investment opportunities, especially if you are looking in your area. Working with a trained professional who is familiar with your case is a safe and guaranteed way to make the best investment decision possible. Please review our terms and conditions before making any decision based on the information we provide. Financial institutions are constantly changing. Because of this, it’s a good idea to cross check the information you read here with any company you are considering working with.

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