Why I’m Building Sequin: The Credit Card that Pays Back the Pink Tax
As women, we’re fighting the gender pay gap and rethinking a world designed for the default male — but what about the gender credit score gap?
Today, I’m excited to announce that the waitlist for the Sequin credit card is live. Sequin’s mission is to pay back the absurd cost of womanhood — from the “pink tax” (estimated to cost us $1,350 per year) to the luxury tax on feminine care products (not a luxury). We’re aiming to address a 7 point gender credit score gap — which, by the way, exists because we’re paid less.
That’s right — the gender pay gap also makes borrowing money cost us more.
A credit card by women, for women.
I’m Vrinda Gupta, founder and CEO of Sequin. I spent many years at Visa Inc. building credit cards, but this one is different — Sequin is personal.
My inspiration for building Sequin is my mother, who has one major fear: the credit card. She believes that credit cards have secret fees and “gotchas!” that can be used against her, and insists on using a debit card instead.
This has two implications for my mom: first, her debit card is not building her credit history, so this independent woman becomes dependent on my dad if she ever needs to borrow money. Second, my mom’s debit card leaves her vulnerable when she shops online, which has resulted in her money being stolen multiple times. Consequently, I began to learn that financial tools are ultimately associated with power.
When I joined Visa and learned to build credit cards with experts, it was more than just a job. The opportunity meant that I could demystify some of the industry’s secrets for my mother, and empower the women around me — beginning with myself.
I was rejected from the very credit card I launched.
At Visa in 2016, my team was hard at work designing a credit card catered to “ultra-high-net-worth individuals,” and our efforts resulted in the wildly successful Chase Sapphire Reserve. It was an instant success with millennials, and I couldn’t wait to get one myself.
I went to the Chase website, applied, and got rejected.
Flustered, I called Chase who refused to explain why I was rejected, which stung even more. My credit score had undoubtedly taken a hit because of the rejection, and I had no clarity on what I should improve.
More devastating was I felt just as helpless as my mom always expected she would with credit cards. I believed that my industry expertise would have protected me from the “gotchas” of credit — how was I supposed to empower my mom, or anybody else, when I couldn’t even do it for myself?
I left Visa to understand women’s experiences.
I became obsessed with figuring out why so many women I knew seemed to be approaching the financial system differently than the men I knew — and I quickly learned some eye opening truths about women and credit:
- My mom isn’t alone in her fear of credit cards — women are twice as likely to feel anxious while using credit cards as compared to men.
- Anxiety around credit cards leads many women to prefer debit cards which do not build credit history, protect against fraud as effectively, or earn rewards — which means money left on the table.
- It’s no wonder credit cards don’t feel approachable to women — credit cards were designed for men as the default. In fact, women were only legally granted access to credit cards in our own names 45 years ago.
I left Visa Inc. to interview as many women as I could to further understand our shared experiences with credit cards. Every woman I talked to was intelligent and successful, however, I kept hearing three things:
- Credit cards feel unapproachable
- Credit card rewards and benefits aren’t relevant to my lifestyle
- I want to feel more in control of my finances
Let’s change the game and reimagine the credit card for the modern, empowered woman.
As a woman equipped with the knowledge to remove the barriers to credit cards, I decided it was time to act. I wanted to ensure that women like my mom, friends, and future daughters felt confident partaking in a financial system that is critical to our livelihoods — and confidence in ourselves.
And so, the concept of Sequin was born.
Sequins were a Venetian gold currency until the reflective metals became decorative accents. I loved the duality of a powerful and beautiful financial tool, and find sequins to represent the multiple facets that make up every woman.
The Sequin credit card is created by you, for you.
In addition to concierge services and zero fraud liability that you should expect from all high quality credit cards, Sequin offers the following:
- Pocket the Pink Tax: Women pay more than men 42% of the time for everyday products and services. Sequin pays back the pink tax with rewards on product categories like beauty, personal care, retail, feminine products, dry cleaning, and on every dollar you spend.
- Style & Substance: The Sequin credit card doubles as a mirror. It reflects you — literally! Additionally, Sequin partners with products and services similarly designed with women in mind to offer exclusive events and promotions, that accurately reflect your lifestyle — whether you’re working hard, working out, or treating yourself.
- By Women, for Women: The Sequin community helps you level up your finances through financial literacy events designed with women in mind and access to female-founded services that help you feel, look, and be your best.
In the upcoming months, we’ll be hard at work ensuring your Sequin card feels like you — from unboxing your Sequin card, to customizing your experience, and tracking how Sequin is rewarding your lifestyle.
I’d love to hear about your dreams for Sequin via our Instagram. We’ll be voting on product features, brainstorming rewards, and featuring members of the Sequin community and female-founded brands we love, so you can get to know your fellow Sequin sisters and allies — Sequin is open to all who identify with our mission.
Sign up for the waitlist to be first in line to apply! We promise to keep you in the know with exciting updates.
My hope is that every Sequin card we release is as unique and amazing as you are. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my love,
Founder & CEO of Sequin Financial, Inc.
For press inquiries, please reach out to email@example.com.
A very special thanks to Becca Chacko, Ali Cottong, and English Taylor for ensuring Sequin’s vision came through in this post. To Audrey Levy for designing the Sequin website and to Tanner Laguatan for the brilliant Sequin name. To Molly Zeins and the entire Sequin Squad for championing our amazing community. And finally, to Tara Tan, Brooke Teferra, and the IDEO CoLab for the endless support. The views in this article are my own and do not represent any of the organizations mentioned.