Aqua Credit Cards
It’s possible that Aqua may not be a brand name that you have heard of before. It’s a more specialised credit card provider, which looks to provide credit to those who may not be able to obtain it elsewhere. Founded in 2002, Aqua is part of the larger NewDay group which also includes the likes of opus and Fluid. Operating solely online, it has helped over 1 million customers on their credit journey since it started.
While credit rebuilding and account management are the building blocks of these cards, Aqua also offers some more attractive benefits. On a selection of its cards you can find features such as cashback rewards, or no foreign transaction fees, showing that Aqua is a provider that still wants to offer a full package, even if you are someone who has credit issues.
What does Aqua do well?
What Aqua sells itself on and delivers is offering credit to those who find they can’t get approved for a card elsewhere. Be it that you have had debt issues in the past, or that you are self-employed or a student, Aqua promises to look beyond your credit score and say ‘yes’ where possible.
It’s not only the more accommodating eligibility criteria that Aqua has to offer. One common theme to its cards is the financial tools which aim to encourage cardholders to improve their borrowing practices. One key feature it has put in place on most of its cards is manageable credit limits. Its starts borrowers off with a low credit limit so that they are not tempted to rack up lots of debt. Then if they show they can stay within their credit card limit and make their minimum monthly payments, the amount of credit available to them could be increased. For another of its cards, there is the potential to reduce your interest rate over time if you manage your account well.
Aqua also offers a good level of support to customers. It looks to educate them on how to rebuild their credit score through its Credit Hub, and customers receive free access to their credit score with CreditView. They also receive text alerts to make it easier to stay on track, and there is a mobile app available 24/7.
Some credit card providers are one trick ponies. Where Aqua stands out is that while it is known as a provider that works with customers with ‘bad credit’, it still offers features such as cashback rewards and no fees on non-sterling spending. These are features sometimes saved for the more premium brands on the market, but Aqua attaches no annual fees to its card and offers these benefits on a selected products in its portfolio.
Where does Aqua fall down?
While you may benefit from being accepted even if your credit score is poor, the downside is that your credit limit will be kept low. Initial credit limits for Aqua cards are between £250 and £1,200 depending on your personal circumstances. These can be increased on some of the cards if you manage your account well, but if you are looking for higher levels of credit you are unlikely to find it here.
Another downside to cards designed for those with no credit history or a poor credit score is that they carry very high interest rates — and Aqua is no exception. The average APR for a standard credit card sits around 18%, but for credit builder cards like these, APRs are more often in the mid-thirties. The main impact of this is that if you don’t clear your card fully at the end of the month, then any outstanding balance would incur interest at this high rate. Therefore, it is very important that if you are taking out a card like this to improve your credit score, that you clear your balance at the end of each month to avoid incurring those high interest charges.
Understandably, as these cards are more focused on helping customers ingrain good borrowing practices, you won’t find any introductory offers. These are things such as interest-free periods on purchases or balance transfers. As borrowers with no credit history or who have a poor credit score are considered riskier to lend to, these sort of features aren’t included because they could encourage overspending or poor account management.
Finally, this may be an obvious point, but if you already have a good credit score (good job!), then Aqua is probably not your best choice. If your credit score is on the higher end, you can find lower APRs and better features from other providers.
What will you find in Aqua’s card portfolio?
What you will find with Aqua credit cards is the potential to improve your credit score. Here you could be accepted for a card despite your poor credit rating or low income, and then benefit from manageable credit limits, free access to your credit score and education and support. Aqua then also offers the opportunity to improve your credit situation if you manage your account well, either in the form of a higher credit limit or a reduced APR.
What you won’t find in Aqua’s credit card portfolios are any of the best buy table introductory offers. Here there are no interest-free periods, because the focus of the cards is keeping balances under control. But it’s not all work and no play, some of the cards do feature attractive benefits that you don’t typically see with credit builder credit cards.
How to apply
Applications can be made through Aqua’s website. You will be required to provide personal details, contact details, your residential status, employment status and information regarding your income. Applicants are also required to provide details for a current UK bank or building society account.
Aqua also offers an eligibility checker, which will allow you to see if you are likely to be accepted without affecting your credit rating. While it does say that it will consider applicants that may not be accepted elsewhere, it does have some eligibility criteria. These include not having been declared bankrupt in the past 18 months, not having any ongoing bankruptcy proceeding against you, no CCJs in the past 12 months and that you have not already had an Aqua card, marbles card, opus card or Fluid card in the past 12 months.