Amazon partnered with publicly traded bank Synchrony Financial to find a way for more people to enjoy its rewards credit card. The partnership is set to launch a new program called “Amazon Credit Builder” which allows shoppers with no credit history or bad credit the chance to get an Amazon credit card.
“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,” Tom Quindlen, Synchrony executive vice president and CEO of the bank’s retail card operation, told CNBC in a phone interview. “It’s a new segment of the market.”
The Amazon Credit Builder card comes with the same perks as its popular Amazon Store card, such as 5% cash back on purchases for Amazon Prime members. Quindlen said that these rewards cards encourage shoppers to use Amazon rather than alternatives, while also gaining loyalty within its customer base.
According to a 2018 FICO survey, more than 11% of the population has a credit score below 550, while nearly 4% of the population has a “bad credit score,” which according to FICO Score is between 300 and 499. A 2017 survey by the FDIC showed 25% of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked.
The program offers financial literacy tools and tips to users, such as why someone should pay a minimum, Quindlen said. Once borrowers demonstrate that they can pay back the loans, they can eventually “graduate” to an unsecured Amazon credit card.
Risks could arise as Amazon reaches further down the credit line, though Quindlen said they’re mitigating that by issuing “secured” credit cards. Those wanting the card must deposit $500, for example, and have a $500 credit limit. “It’s putting credit in the hands of people in a responsible way,” he said.
The “Amazon Credit Builder” card application can be located next to the other Amazon cards. If a customer doesn’t get approved for an Amazon credit card, they will be directed to the new credit card and asked if they’d like to apply for it. After building enough credit history, they can then “graduate” to another Amazon store card, according to Quindlen.