Updated June 6, 2024

Best Credit Builder Apps to Improve Your Score

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Want to improve your credit score? Explore the best credit building apps to help you build excellent credit fast.

    What are the best apps for building credit fast?
    Here are the best credit builder apps to improve your score:

    1. Kovo: best for cheap monthly payments
    2. Grow Credit: build credit using your subscriptions
    3. Kikoff: best free credit line
    4. Self: best credit builder loan
    5. Experian Boost: best fast score increase
    6. Credit Sesame: best rewards
    7. Credit Karma: best credit monitoring
    8. myFICO: best identity theft protection
    9. MoneyLion: best app features
    10. Cheese: best for minimal fees
    11. Extra: best for debit card
    12. CreditStrong: best for high credit limits
    13. StellarFi: best for bills reporting

A good credit score can open up opportunities like getting a home, better deals on loans, or even scoring that job.

If you're new to credit or made some past mistakes, it can feel tricky.

But good news! There are credit builder apps that can help you improve your credit naturally. Read on for the best apps to get you on the right track.

What is the fastest way to build credit?
The fastest way to boost your credit score is by making on-time payments. That can be hard on your own. So that's where credit-building apps, like Kovo and Self, can help out. They set you up with small payments that you can afford. Your credit improves as the payments are reported to the credit bureaus.

What's your credit score?

How Do Credit Building Apps Work?

Credit builder apps help you establish a positive payment history. There are different types of credit building apps:

  1. Credit builder loans: You pay a certain amount each month and at the end of the term, you get your money back minus interest and fees. Save while building credit - double win! Example: Self.

  2. Line of credit: Some apps offer a line of credit to let you make purchases. Pay back what you borrowed on time to get reported to the 3 bureaus. Example: Kikoff.

  3. Pay bills: Some credit builder apps let you get credit for paying everyday expenses, like subscriptions and utilities. Example: Grow Credit.

Hint: You can use one or more of these apps to build credit in multiple ways. The more strategies you employ, the faster you might see results!

The Best Apps for Building Credit Fast

Now that you know how credit builder apps work, let's check out some of the best apps on the market.

Kovo: Best for Cheap Monthly Payments

Kovo is a simple credit builder app. You pay $10 monthly on time for twenty-four months and gain access to online courses.

Think of it as an online subscription platform for educational courses. By signing up, you'll also tap into $400+ worth of courses, such as acing an interview, starting a business, or building confidence. Kovo helps you build more than just credit.

Kovo keeps track of your payments and reports them to four credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis.

For $10/mo[1], it's an affordable way to build credit, while learning some valuable life skills.

Another thing to like about Kovo: you can earn rewards. Make four on-time payments on your Kovo Installment Plan, and you'll unlock the chance to earn gift cards when you open a credit card or loan with their partner lenders.

Imagine building your credit score just by paying for Netflix or Spotify? With the next one, that's not just a dream.

Grow Credit: Build Credit Using Your Subscriptions

You probably use subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu, or Spotify. So why not get credit for something you're already paying? Grow Credit works by reporting subscription service payments to the three major bureaus.

It provides you with a MasterCard you use to pay for your subscriptions. They'll automatically withdraw payments from your connected bank account, so no need to worry about due dates.

On average, Grow Credit users who make on-time payments see a 44-point credit score increase.[2]

Grow Credit offers free subscription for 12 months. If you don't qualify for the free plan or you want a higher spending limit, there are three paid subscriptions to choose from. A higher monthly spending limit increases the number of subscription services you can add to your report.[3]

  • Build Free (No monthly fee for the first 12 months, $2.99 per month on succeeding months): $204 annual credit limit ($17 monthly spending limit)

  • Grow ($4.99 per month): $600 annual credit limit ($50 monthly spending limit)

  • Accelerate ($9.99 per month): $1,800 annual credit limit ($150 monthly spending limit)

Build Student plan
If you're a student, use your university or college email to qualify for the Build Student plan. You get a $204 annual credit limit ($17 monthly spending limit). However, there's a one-time security deposit of $17.

If you don't qualify yet to the paid subscriptions based on Grow Credit's assessment, you may go for their secured plans. Secured plans have the same fees and spending limits as the standard plans, but there's a one-time security deposit when you apply.

  • Build Secured: $17 security deposit

  • Grow Secured: $50 security deposit

  • Accelerate Secured: $150 security deposit

Security deposits will be refunded when your plan is upgraded, after 12 months of consecutive on-time payments, or when the secured account is closed.

Do you want a free credit line with no hidden fees? Check out the next app on the list.

Kikoff: Best Free Credit Line

Kikoff is a credit building lender that will give you a $750 credit line with no credit check, no interest, and no hidden fees. Plus, approval is virtually instantaneous.

You only need to pay $5/month for service fee and any purchases you've made from the Kikoff store.[4] There are no other fees!

For the purposes of building credit, Kikoff has very little downside. However, there are some stipulations you should be aware of.

Your credit line can only be used to buy items from the Kikoff store. These are primarily self-help e-books ranging from about $10 to $20 — and you must buy one item before Kikoff will report your information to the credit bureaus.

It's designed to boost your score by keeping your credit utilization low. If you use just $10 of your credit line at a time, that's under 2% utilization rate, which looks really good to credit bureaus.

Kikoff is available in all 50 states. To qualify, you simply need to be a U.S. citizen with a valid Social Security number and at least 18 years old.[5]

With the next option, you can improve your credit and while getting most of your payments back in the end.

Self: Best Credit Builder Loan

Self is a credit builder loan. You pick an amount that you can afford each month (starting from $25/mo), and Self will save it for you in a CD.

Starts at $25/month.
Sample loans: $25/mo, 24 mos, 15.92% APR; $35/mo, 24 mos, 15.69% APR; $48/mo, 24 mos, 15.51% APR; $150/mo, 24 mos, 15.82% APR. See self.inc/pricing

Your credit score will improve as you build a positive payment history.

At the end of 24 months, you get your little savings nest egg back (minus interest & fees). This is great if you want to save money and build credit at the same time.

And no worries - you're not locked in. If you decide to cancel early, you'll get your savings progress back (minus interest & fees).

The average user saw a 49-point increase - for those who started with a credit score under 600 and made on-time payments.[6]

Credit builder loans have been shown by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to work best for people who have no existing debt.

Is your budget tight? The next free option can help raise your credit score by reporting your payments.

Experian Boost: Best Fast Score Increase

This free option works by adding additional bills, like your cell phone, streaming services, and utilities, to your credit report. This helps by increasing the amount of on-time payments included in your report.

The average reported increase is 13 points,[7] but Experian Boost is really only helpful if you have a limited credit history with other financial services like credit cards and loans.

If you already have extensive payment history on your report, Experian Boost likely won't help boost your score.

The next app doesn't just monitor your credit; it rewards you for improvements. Imagine getting cash back as your score climbs.

Credit Sesame: Best Rewards

This free option offers credit monitoring services. But where Credit Sesame really stands out is cash rewards.

With Credit Sesame, you can get a Sesame Cash prepaid debit card where you will receive cash rewards for improving your credit score.[8]

This debit card also comes with cash back on qualified purchases at nationwide retailers like Home Depot, Sam's Club, and Uber Eats.

This app helps you build credit by qualifying your debit card expenses each month as "credit card purchases" up to the available balance in your Sesame Cash account. Credit Sesame then reports your payment history to all three credit bureaus at the end of each month.

In addition to using services like Credit Sesame, you can also earn cash back by using cash back apps for your everyday purchases - check out our top picks.

Credit Karma is one of the most popular tools for credit monitoring. Read on to learn how this free option can help improve your credit.

Credit Karma: Best Credit Monitoring

Since it was founded in 2007, Credit Karma has been the gold standard in credit monitoring.

It won't improve your score directly, but it can help you keep track of all the factors influencing your score and provide you with credit building recommendations.

Using Credit Karma, you can find hard inquiries on your report, credit utilization by account, and all your outstanding loan amount.

The free service will also explain to you how each factor contributes to your score.

Credit Karma will also suggest products like credit cards based on your personal approval odds.

While the next app excels in monitoring, it also offers top-notch identity theft protection. If you're looking for a comprehensive approach to credit management, this might be your best bet.

myFICO: Best Identity Theft Protection

This paid service is primarily a credit score monitoring tool. However, myFICO also offers $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance with all three payment tiers.

Keep in mind that myFICO has a hefty price tag. Here are the prices and main differences between the three tiers:[9]

  • Basic ($19.95/month) only monitors your Experian credit report and updates monthly

  • Advanced ($29.95/month) monitors all three major credit bureaus and updates every three months (including Social Security and dark web monitoring)

  • Premier ($39.95/month) monitors all three bureaus and updates monthly

myFICO also gives you your FICO score and approval odds for specific types of loans, like auto loans and mortgages. This is especially handy because your FICO score is the score most commonly referenced by lenders.

If you want to build credit and savings, yet find cash advance features useful for rainy days, read on to the next credit builder.

MoneyLion: Best App Features

MoneyLion offers credit builder loans. You can borrow up to $1,000 and pay it back in 12 months. To start, sign up for a Credit Builder Plus Membership, which costs $19.99/month.[10]

MoneyLion reports your payments to the 3 credit bureaus, and you get most of your payments back at the end of your term. You can track your progress via the credit monitoring features in the app.

Apart from building credit, the MoneyLion app offers:

  • Mobile banking features
  • Instacash for cash advance
  • Automated investing
  • Marketplace for insurance products and loans
  • Earn rewards from your activities

On top of that, if you pay your loan on time and keep your account in good standing, you can be eligible for up to $700 cash advance with 0% APR.[11]

Want to avoid hefty fees while you build credit? Cheese may be a better fit for your needs.

Cheese: Best For Minimal Fees

Like Self and MoneyLion, Cheese offers credit builder loans for building credit and savings. You can borrow $500, $1,000, or $2,000, and pay it off over 12 or 24 months.

You make payments every month, and Cheese reports them to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. At the end of your loan term, you get your payments back.

Best thing about Cheese: It has minimal fees. There are no admin or membership fees. You only need to worry about your loan amount and the APR, ranging from 5%–16% and varies per state.[12]

Keep track of improvements to your credit in the Cheese iOS app and Android app.

Extra: Best For Debit Card

Extra allows you to "build your credit without a credit card" by offering a credit line you can access using a debit card. Every time you swipe your card to make a payment, Extra reports these payments to the credit bureaus.

On average, members who swipe their Extra debit card have raised their credit score by 48 points. Some members who started with a credit score of 500 boosted their credit score by 99 points.[13]

You can choose between 2 plans from Extra:[14]

  • Credit Building ($20/month or $149/year): You get the credit line and Extra debit card

  • Rewards + Credit Building ($25/month or $199/year): You get everything in Credit Building and earn reward points that you can use in the Extra Rewards Store

If you're aiming for higher credit limits, the next option is your best choice.

CreditStrong: Best for High Credit Limits

CreditStrong offers secured revolving credit lines and credit builder loans as tools to boost credit. People who've used CreditStrong have increased their FICO score by 45–86 points on average.[15]

CreditStrong offers 3 main products. Here's what you get for each:

  • Revolv ($99/year):[16] $1,000 revolving credit line

  • Instal and CS Max (Starts at $28/month, with a $15/$25 non-refundable admin fee):[17] Credit builder loans from $1,000–$10,000 with a 24 to 60-month term

  • Magnum (Starts at $30/month, with a $25 non-refundable admin fee):[18] A credit account with limits ranging from $2,000–$30,000 with a 120-month term

For Instal, you can build savings and credit. CreditStrong reports your payments monthly, and you get most of your payments back at the end of your term.

For Revolv and Magnum, you can get additional credit, increasing your total credit and reducing your utilization. When you pay your fees on time to maintain your credit, your payment history and overall credit can improve.

Magnum, Instal and CS Max have administrative fees and interest rates, depending on your plan.

StellarFi: Best For Bills Reporting

StelllarFi helps you build credit by reporting your bill payments to Equifax and Experian. You can build your credit with daily bills like rent, phone bills, gym membership, and streaming services.

What's more, StellarFi also reports a credit line based on your plan's spending limit. That way, you can maximize StellarFi and add more positive transactions to your payment history.

Start building your credit with these packages from StellarFi:[19]

  • Lite ($4.99/month or $45.99/year): $500 spending limit reported to the credit bureaus, credit reports, overdraft protection, and credit monitoring

  • Prime ($9.99/month or $89.99/year): $25,000 spending limit reported to the credit bureaus, credit reports, overdraft protection, and credit monitoring

If you opt for the monthly Prime package, you can pay $0.99 for a 30-day trial. Then, StellarFi charges the monthly fee.

Make sure to change the payment method for added bills to your StellarFi card. That way, you can automate bill payments and not miss due dates every month.

Potential Dangers of Credit Building Apps

While free credit monitoring services like Credit Karma are risk-free, credit builder loan and credit line apps must be used wisely.

Making late payments or defaulting on these accounts will significantly lower your credit score. Additionally, many of these apps come with high fees in the form of monthly subscription costs or interest rates.

Make sure you can afford any credit builder service you use to avoid further damaging your score. Or better yet, opt for one of the free options listed above.

5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

By creating a budget and setting a plan in motion, you can easily improve your credit score significantly over a relatively short period of time. Here are five ways to improve your score:

  1. Lower Your Credit Utilization Ratio
    This is the percentage of credit you are using compared to how much you have available. For example, if you have a $1,000 credit limit on your credit cards and have a $500 balance — your credit utilization ratio is 50%.

    Having a high credit utilization ratio tells credit agencies that you are close to financial disaster.

    Aim for 30% or less to avoid credit score penalties, but your goal should be to pay off your credit card statement in full each month.

    Kikoff helps with this since you get a $750 credit line. But if you only use $10 or $20 of it at a time, your credit utilization will be super low.

  2. Join an Account as an Authorized User
    If you're just starting to build or repair your credit, joining a trusted family member or friend's credit card as an authorized user can be hugely beneficial.

    It will extend your credit age, increase your credit limit, and you will inherit all payment history for the credit card.

  3. Check for Fraudulent Information on Your Report
    To improve your credit score, be sure to monitor your credit report on a regular basis. Check for common credit report errors. Having incorrect or fraudulent information removed from your credit report can quickly improve your score.

    How to dispute an error on your credit report?
    If you believe there is an error on your credit report, contact the reporting company and the appropriate credit agencies (TransUnion, Equifax and/or Experian) in writing.[20]

    Include your name and contact information, any identifying information for the derogatory remark (such as the amount, date, and company name), an explanation of why you're disputing the information, and a request to have the information removed or corrected.

  4. Age Your Credit
    Credit age plays a significant role in calculating your credit score. For that reason, it's important to keep existing lines of credit open and avoid opening new lines of credit if possible. According to Credit Karma, the following ranges are how your credit age impacts your score:

    • 0 to 4 years: Needs work (likely harming your score)
    • 5 to 6 years: Fair (likely has little to no impact on your score)
    • 7 to 8 years: Good (likely has a modest positive impact on your credit score)
    • 9+ years: Excellent (likely has a significant impact on your score)

  5. Pay Down Balances
    Since your balances are such a big portion of your credit score, paying down any loans and credit cards is a good way to increase your score.

    There are two ways to pay off debt most effectively: the debt snowball method and the debt avalanche method.

    • The debt snowball method refers to paying off the smallest debts first and working your way toward more expensive debts. The snowball method is beneficial due to the psychological effect of accomplishing a goal, which can keep you motivated.

    • The debt avalanche method refers to paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first. The avalanche method is beneficial because it helps you pay less interest in the long run.

The Bottom Line

Credit builder apps can boost your score quickly by helping you to understand your current score, improving your payment history, or adding new accounts to your credit report.

These apps (and credit building strategies in general) tend to work best for people with subpar credit scores in the 500s to 600s.

Consider starting with a basic credit monitoring app like Credit Karma. This will allow you to review the factors currently affecting your score before moving on to more intensive measures like a credit builder loan or revolving line of credit.

References

  1. ^ Kovo. How it works, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  2. ^ Grow Credit. Build credit fast by 44 points, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  3. ^ Grow Credit. What are my plan options? How do I choose a plan?, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  4. ^ Kikoff. Kikoff Credit Account, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  5. ^ Kikoff. How do I sign up for the Kikoff Credit Account?, Retrieved 1/21/2024
  6. ^ Self. Your credit-building toolkit, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  7. ^ Experian Boost. Experian Boost Disclosure, Retrieved 1/21/2024
  8. ^ Credit Sesame. Sesame Cash, Retrieved 1/21/2024
  9. ^ myFICO. Choose a plan, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  10. ^ MoneyLion. Credit Building App, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  11. ^ MoneyLion. Determining Instacash Limits, Retrieved 05/27/2024
  12. ^ Cheese. Cheese Credit Builder Loan APR, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  13. ^ Extra. FAQ: How much can Extra improve my score and help me get other lines of credit?, Retrieved 05/27/2024
  14. ^ Extra. Our Plans, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  15. ^ CreditStrong. Average FICO Score 8 Increase, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  16. ^ CreditStrong. CreditStrong Revolv, Retrieved 05/24/2024
  17. ^ CreditStrong. CreditStrong Instal and CS Max, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  18. ^ Magnum. CreditStrong Magnum, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  19. ^ StellarFi. Pricing, Retrieved 05/28/2024
  20. ^ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. How do I dispute an error on my credit report?, Retrieved 6/4/2024

Write to Justin Barnard at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

Credit Builder Accounts & Certificates of Deposit made/held by Lead Bank, Sunrise Banks, N.A., SouthState Bank, N.A., First Century Bank, N.A., each Member FDIC. Subject to credit approval. Self Secured Visa® Credit Card issued by Lead Bank or SouthState Bank, N.A., each Member FDIC. See self.inc for details.

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