Hi, I’m Quinn Askeland. In 2016, I started Transumo after experiencing expensive, slow, and frustrating international transfers and payments through banks. My mission is simple: to help others simplify and reduce the cost of transfers and payments. Fortunately, today, there are excellent alternatives for international money transfers and payments. See My Full Bio.
It’s no secret not having a credit score in the U.S. can be a big problem – makes it hard to get a cell phone plan or even a place to rent…
Sable is can be a way to solve this problem with their cards (debit and credit – powered by MasterCard), which are linked to their fully functioning and digital checking accounts.
But whats the catch?
On their website they proudly show the 4.8/5 stars they have in the apple store but for android they have a 3.9/5 and a 1.2/5 on Trustpilot.
Here’s the good, bad, and ugly about Sable cards and accounts in the US – based on real user reviews (not just what we think).
Let’s dive in.
Disclosure: This post may contain offers and affiliate links to help save you money and it also helps us to keep providing the best information. For more information, see our disclosures here.
- Get both debit and credit cards with no credit checks
- No fee to sign up, No minimum balance
- Linked to an online checking account backed by a real bank in the U.S. (insured up to $250,000)
- Integrates with Venmo, CashApp, Zelle, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
- Inexpensive international transfers
- Not a real bank
- No contactless payments on the card
- Not a savings account
- Only access account via mobile app
1. What is the Sable One Card Really?
Sable provides both debit and credit cards powered by MasterCard to US and non-US citizens.
The cards are linked to a fully digital online checking account backed by Coastal Community Bank and your funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000 USD. There are no fees to open and maintain the account or a minimum balance requirement.
The debit card is also easy to travel with and works internationally.
And the great news is: there are no credit checks to open an account and newcomers to the US can apply for the card without a social security number.
However, you need to provide a US residential address to get your account approved and receive the physical debit cards. We dive into how to get your Sable account and cards set up below (Making Sable Work for you).
You can use the Sable checking account to receive your salary/student grants, shop in-store or online, and pay your utility bills.
The Sable credit card is optional and they offer secured credit cards – ideal if you have a low credit score or no credit history in the US. These cards are easily approved and you can set the credit limit with an equivalent deposit into your Sable checking account (which gets locked in as collateral) as you rebuild your credit score.
2. When it Works and When it Doesn’t
2.1.1 Building your credit score in the US
Sable offers both secured credit cards that you can use to build your credit score.
To get a secured credit card, you need to deposit a certain amount of money which then becomes your credit line for the card.
The Sable app has in-built credit building guidance that tells you how much of the credit line to use, when to pay your bills, when to apply for a credit limit increase, etc. which gradually builds your credit score.
2.1.2 Getting a checking account in the US
Sable sets you up with a fully functioning checking account even if you have a low credit score or are new to the US.
This account works like a regular high street bank account and can be used for sending and receiving money in the US and from abroad, paying rent and utilities, shopping online or in-store, etc.
2.1.3 Send money back home (or overseas to anyone)
Currently Sable offers international transfers with Wise (review) in 70+ currencies at the mid-market rate. And we highly recommend Wise so this can be really useful for sending money home or to friends and family living abroad.
2.1.4 Traveling internationally
The Sable debit card is automatically approved for international usage and can be used in 200+ countries wherever MasterCard is accepted.
You can withdraw money from ATMs (foreign transaction and currency conversion fees applicable) as well as pay for any goods and services while traveling abroad.
2.1.5 Shop online and offline (with cash back)
Sable provides both virtual and physical debit cards that can be used online as well in stores in the US and worldwide.
You can also earn 2% cash back on Amazon, Netflix, Uber and others with 1% for others.
2.1.6 Withdraw cash
You can withdraw cash you hold in your Sable checking account with the debit card, usually fee-free at all MasterCard ATMs in the US. Other ATMs may charge fees.
2.1.7 Free payments to friends and family in the US
Sable integrates with Zelle, Venmo, and CashApp which lets you send money fast to other US bank account holders for free.
When it Doesn’t Work
2.2.1 Money is locked up
In order to build or re-build a credit score, Sable makes it possible to get a credit card without a credit check.
The downside of this is that they effectively lock up some of your money while you are rebuilding your credit score.
The good news though is that you can “graduate” to an unsecured credit card that does not require an funds to be locked up “in as fast as 4 months”
2.2.1 Contactless card payments
Currently Sable one cards don’t support contactless payments in stores. However, they integrate with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, which means you can make contactless mobile wallet payments if your phone or wearable supports it.
2.2.2 Build your savings
Sable doesn’t offer a savings account and the money you hold doesn’t accrue interest.
2.2.3 Large international transfers or transfers to exotic currencies
While Wise is known for their affordable rates for small international bank transfers (below $7000$/£4500 GBP/€4500 EU/$9500 CAD AUD), we think there are better alternatives.
2.2.4 Multi-currency support
Even though the Sable card works internationally, you can’t load it up with any other currency except US dollars, and this can turn out to be quite expensive with all the fees if you’re a frequent traveler.
Usually, it’s cheapest if you pay in the local currency when you’re traveling abroad and the Wise multi currency account (review) can help with that. Wise lets you hold, manage and convert between 55+ currencies and even get local receiving accounts in 10+ currencies so you can spend without currency conversion fees.
See the latest for the Wise multi currency account for your country.
No harm in getting both!
3. Sable GOLD
Secured credit card and no credit check for digital checking accounts
Sable was founded in December 2018 with a mission to make banking easy for newcomers in the USA, international students, and those who have a low credit score.
They don’t perform hard or soft credit checks to approve your account and make it easy to open an account even if you have no credit history in the US as an immigrant. Learn more about opening your Sable account without a driving license, utility bill, or social security number below – Making Sable work for you.
They’re also one of the few digital financial institutions to offer credit cards to their users. Most importantly, the Sable sable credit card has a purpose: to build up the user’s credit score and create healthy money management habits.
4. Real Costs
One of the best things about Sable is that you don’t have to pay monthly or annual fees to open or hold a card or account. However, there are some fees but to be fair they are pretty darn low.
4.1 Account fees
Monthly and Annual charges: $0
Minimum balance: Not required
4.2 Sending and Receiving money
Domestic Wire transfer: $5 USD
ACH transfers: free
International transfer: mid-market exchange rate + other fees based on amount, target currency, and payment method
Regular ACH: Free
Same-day ACH: Free
Domestic wire transfer: $3
International wire transfer: $15
4.3 Card Fees
Interest: Current APR is 6.99% + prime rate (on the secured card which is very competitive)
Card issue fee: $0
Card delivery fee: $0
Expedited card delivery fee: $20
Domestic ATM withdrawal: Free
International ATM withdrawal: Free (currency conversion charges applicable at 2%)
Foreign transaction fee for purchases: 2%
5. What do Sable Customers Say (Including Negative Sabe Card Reviews)
That is a huge range and we wanted to know why.
But once we dug deeper into the reviews – both positive and negative, there’s lots more to uncover.
First, the positives.
- Easy and fast sign up
- Credit boost as promised
“Signup was easy. I’m an American graduate student who had a modest credit score and student loans. Sable helped me get a credit card and build my score by two hundred points in a matter of a few months. Its very convenient. I recommend Sable as a means to easily manage money between accounts and banks, and to build credit. No issues.”– Troy Okum on Trustpilot
“Sable has the most efficient onboarding process that I’ve ever been through (it took less than 10mins). And by letting me build a US credit history, they helped boost my credit score from 680 to 720 in the first 2 months alone. The $350 I’ve received in cash back rewards over the past 6 months doesn’t hurt either. I’ll definitely be recommending Sable to all newcomers to the US!”– Sébastien Villeneuve on Trustpilot
Since Sable is a pretty revolutionary service, we noticed a lot of misunderstanding between what you can and cannot do with Sable.
As a result, the most common complaints related to Sable include:
Blocked access to account, card, or money:
This can be due to a number of reasons:
- Not providing the right identity documents
- Going over the card and account limits for sending, receiving, or withdrawing money (See Sable limits)
- Not understanding how secured credit cards work (the money you deposit while applying for a secured credit card is considered your credit line and you don’t have access to this money)
Money transfer delays and unexpected fees
There are a number of ways you can send and receive money on Sable – some of which are free while attracting a fee. The payment method you choose determines the speed and the fees.
For example, a domestic wire transfer is fast but it also attracts a fee, while sending money with Zelle or a regular ACH can be free but also slower.
Overall, Sable do deliver on their promise of getting a bank account and building your credit score fast.
If you are open to learning their (pretty awesome) way of helping to build your credit score you are much more likely to want to give them 5 stars.
6. Making Sable Work for You
6.1 Opening your account and getting verified
For US citizens:
If you’re a US citizen, you only need your name, email, and social security number to open an account.
For Non-US citizens:
You will need the following to open an account:
- Your Passport
- International address
- Your U.S. Visa or Non-Tourist I94 entry of your US visit
Note: Even though you don’t need a social security number to sign up at first, you need to submit the details once it’s issued.
It takes 5-10 minutes to get verified on Sable and once you’re done, you’ll be prompted to download their app. Your Sable account cannot be accessed on a web browser, so downloading the app is mandatory.
6.2 Adding funds to your account
Once your account is verified, you’ll need to add funds to your account to start spending or using your virtual debit card.
If you are sending money from within the US:
You have the option to make a direct deposit with ACH (cheaper and slower) or a wire transfer (expensive and faster). See ACH Vs Wise Transfer for more.
You can also choose to link your pre-existing US bank account with Sable and verify it with a micro deposit to transfer money between these accounts.
If you’re sending money from outside the US:
You can fund your Sable account from abroad with a money transfer with Wise (cheaper and awesome) or a Wire transfer (more expensive).
Note: Wire transfers are only supported from certain countries: Check if your country is on the list here.
6.3 Activating your Sable debit card
Your Sable debit card will be sent to your US address (provided at the time of opening the account) within 7-10 days. You can opt for expedited deliver (with a $20 fee) to receive the card in 3-5 days.
To activate the card:
- Log in to the app
- Select “Cards icon 💳”
- Select debit or credit card
- Set the 4-digit PIN (this PIN works for both virtual and physical cards)
6.4 Applying for your Secured Sable One Credit Card
Once your account is set up, you can apply for the Secured Sable One Credit Card on the app. Simply set a credit limit and fund your Sable account – this amount gets locked in and functions as your credit line for the card.
After that, you receive the card in the mail and you can activate it in the same way as your debit card.
Every month, you will receive a credit card statement and a due date for your payment. Making regular payments and using a certain portion of your credit line builds your credit score overtime.
Note: the deposit you make at the time of applying for the card cannot be used for making the credit card payment as that’s considered collateral for the card.
7. Is the Sable Safe?
Yes, both the Sable account and cards are completely safe to use.
Sable also guarantees you won’t be held liable if unauthorized purchases show up on your cards and provides coverage for most new items purchased with your Sable credit card that are damaged or stolen within 90 days of the date of purchase.
You also get instant notifications for all account activities and can set up two-factor authentication for the mobile app.
The Sable Card can be like gold, helping to build or rebuild your credit score with or without a social security number or U.S. citizenship.
Getting a credit score then means it much easier to do a lot of things like getting rented accomodation and a mobile phone plan.
There is some downsides, but these can be eliminated in time (as we showed) and the benefits can far out-weight the negatives.
Generally, we don’t recommend Sable as the only solution long term for banking in the US but a potentially a great way to get started.
Once you have a decent credit score you can opt for a savings account that earns interest and use the Sable card and account for the day-to-day.
Happy Credit Building!
How does the Sable Card actually build credit?
They start by giving a secured credit card which means you have to deposit money to cover the credit limit you give yourself. Then their App helps you to build your credit and “graduate” to unsecured credit where you will be able to continue to increase your credit limit.
What is the catch with Sable Card?
Of the many thousands of reviews left by people we found Sable has some negative themes which seem to get repeated. For example, their sign up and approval process is different but awesome. Also to use their credit card you need to effectively lock-up some money (a secured deposit).