February 25, 2024

Cheese Credit Builder Review

Read more about Cheese
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Cheese lets you build credit and savings at the same time. It's also one of the most affordable credit builders, but what's the catch? Read on to find out.

5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Reports to 3 credit bureaus
  • 12/24 months term
  • Get your money back
  • VantageScore only
  • Not available in all states

Bottom Line

Simple credit builder with minimal fees and charges

What if you are only starting to build your credit? Your thin credit history can make it hard for you to get approved for anything.

You may struggle to apply for large loans or credit cards, for example. But Cheese can help with that.

That said, even if Cheese can help build your credit, it's not the best option if you need thorough credit repair.

Keep reading to learn how it works and how it compares to other credit builders.

What Is Cheese?

Cheese is a credit builder that works like a reverse loan. You make monthly payments towards your chosen loan, but you get your money back in the end.

You can choose your loan amount between $500, $1,000, or $2,000. And you can select 12 or 24 months as your loan term.

Because you get your money back, you're building your credit and savings over the course of your term. You can monitor payments and track changes in your credit through the mobile apps.

What worries you most about trying a new financial product like Cheese?

Who is Cheese Best For?

Cheese is best for those who:

  • Want to save some money and build credit simultaneously
  • Have limited or thin credit history
  • Are looking for credit builders with limited fees and charges

Cheese is not ideal for you if you need extensive repair on your credit. It's better to consider credit repair companies to dispute and remove negative items dragging your credit.

Having said that, there are other downsides (and upsides) when working with Cheese. Read on.

What do you find most appealing in a credit builder service?

Cheese Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Start building credit on Day 1
    Cheese is fast! You can open an account, choose your plan, and pay immediately. The payment reflects the next business day.

    This means you can start building credit with Cheese right away. In comparison, other credit builders may take a few business days to reflect your first payment amount.

  • No hidden fees
    Cheese doesn't charge any admin or membership fees.[1] You also don't need to pay late fees in case of late payments or early payoff for your account.

    You only need to be mindful of your monthly deposits and APR for your chosen credit builder loan. Also, you can cancel at any time without worrying about cancellation fees.

  • No hard pull on your credit
    Cheese does not require a credit check when you apply. You don't need to worry about your application affecting your credit score.

Cons

  • Expensive interest rates
    Cheese credit builder loans have an APR of 5–16%, depending on the state. The APR may not be as small as you expect.

  • Provides VantageScore only
    Your FICO score is the most common credit score used by lenders. The credit score you see in Cheese may slightly differ from your FICO score.

  • Not available in all states
    Cheese is available in all states except the following: AL, IN, KY, NV, PR, VT, VI, WA, WI.[2]

How Cheese Works

  1. Select your deposit amount ($500, $1,000, or $2,000) and term length (12 or 24 months).
  2. Make your payments ON TIME every month.
  3. Cheese reports your payments to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Does Cheese report late payments to the credit bureaus?
Yes, Cheese reports all your activities to the three main credit bureaus, including missed payments and late payments. It's best to always pay on time to build a better payment history on your credit report.

When you sign up for Cheese, you need an external bank account. Cheese sets this linked bank account into autopay. This means you need to make sure that there are enough funds in your account.

Also, you can keep track of your credit changes through the mobile app whenever you add on-time payments to your account.

Once you finish your term, you get your full loan amount minus the calculated interest. Cheese will transfer your deposits into the linked bank account.

iOS and Android apps
Cheese is available on iOS and Android. You can access your account on mobile for easier and more accessible credit monitoring.

What happens when you cancel Cheese?

You can cancel your credit builder loan or close your account early without penalties. You can get your savings minus the APR calculated at that point in your term.

However, remember that closing your Cheese account may negatively impact your credit.

Cheese will no longer report your payments and accounts to the credit bureaus, which affects your overall payment history.

Cheese Pricing and Fees

Cheese only charges the APR as its fee. The APR ranges from 5–16%, depending on your state.[3]

APR per state

APRSTATE
5%GA, IL, OH, WV
9%HI, PA, MA, TX
12%CA, NC, NJ, NY, SC, VA
16%AK, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, IA, ID, KS, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, ND, NH, NM, OK, OR, RI, SD, TN, UT, WY

Cheese Credit Builder Loans

You have 6 flexible loan plans to choose from, and you have a fixed monthly installment depending on your chosen loan.

AMOUNTTERM
$50012 months
24 months
$1,00012 months
24 months
$2,00012 months
24 months

Let's say, for example, you open a $500 loan in a 24-month term. You live in California, which has an effective APR of 12%. This is how much you'll end up spending every month:

$24 per month
Get back $500
Admin Fee or Membership Fee$0
Total Payment$576
Term Length24 months
Get Back$500
Final Cost$76

Final costs and monthly fees vary by state. But the same rule applies: the loan amount you apply for is the same amount you get back once you finish your loan term.

Is Cheese a real bank account?
No, Cheese is not a real bank account. It is a credit builder that gives you several loan plans, so you can keep paying every month, potentially improving your credit. Nevertheless, Cheese used to offer debit cards, which it has since discontinued to offer to consumers.

How crucial is affordability in your choice of a credit-building tool?

Is Cheese Worth It?

Cheese is worth it if you want a simple way to build credit, and you can set aside a small amount for your monthly payment.

Since Cheese reports your payments to the three main credit bureaus, opting for Cheese is a good way to create a better credit history. Just make sure to keep making timely payments.

Also, since Cheese doesn't have other fees apart from the APR, it can be an affordable option as well.

How To Open A Cheese Account

You can open a Cheese account in as fast as 3 minutes. Here's how:

  1. Go to the sign-up page.
  2. Fill in your email and continue to email verification.
  3. Finish setting up after verification and fill in your information.

Cheese Eligibility Requirements
Not everybody qualifies for a Cheese credit builder account. You first need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be a resident of the United States
  • Have a valid SSN
  • Reside in a state where Cheese offers its services
  • Have a valid email address, phone number, and address
  • Have a bank account to be connected to Cheese

Is Cheese Credit Legit?

Cheese is a legitimate credit builder. Over 48,000 users have signed up for an account, with some of them leaving positive reviews online. Plus, all your transactions within the apps are secured with 256-bit encryption.

That said, Cheese cannot guarantee an increase in your credit score even after making your monthly deposits. It's only a tool you can use to help.

Cheese Customer Service and Reviews

Cheese users have left their reviews on the mobile app pages. And there are good and bad experiences from each.

PLATFORMAVERAGE RATING
Apple App Store4.6 out of 5 ★ for over 1,700 ratings
Google Play Store3.2 out of 5 ★ for over 800 ratings

For example, Tom talked about a substantial credit score increase from using Cheese—a very positive review.

"Today, I found my credit score increased by 58 points both on Equifax and TransUnion. It only took 45 days and my credit score is 750 now!!! And, I don't even need to do anything after connecting my bank and it automatically put my monthly payment as my saving. I am sharing this with my best friends and 5 of them are Cheese happy users now!" (From App Store review)

However, it wasn't the same case for Bria Rivers. She stated that the Android app is too buggy even when signing up for an account.

"[The] app itself is quite buggy, and the sign-up process is nothing short of a nightmare. It took countless attempts to verify my phone number and email - the verification codes would either arrive HOURS later or be kicked back with an error code. ID verification should have been simple but after several failed attempts for their system to verify CLEAR photos of my driver's license, I was denied. There are far better banks out there - good luck to Cheese and their account holders!" (From Google Play Store review)

If you have issues of your own and need to get in touch with Cheese, here are some customer service channels you can try:

  • Phone: 844-525-6247
  • Email: support@earncheese.com
  • Address: 130 W Union St., Pasadena, CA 91103

If Cheese doesn't seem like the right fit, don't worry. There are other credit builders and credit builder loans that can help jumpstart your credit.

Keep reading for some of them.

How Cheese Compares

Here are some alternatives to build your credit apart from Cheese:

  • Cheese vs Self
    Among these alternatives, Self is the most similar to Cheese since it offers credit builder loans.

    Self's packages cost $25–$150 every month. The biggest difference between Cheese and Self is the fees.

    Self charges a lot of fees, including a one-time opening fee of $9, late payment fees, and payment expedition fees.[4]

    Not to mention, Self's fees don't include the interest charges for the credit builder loan. Compared to Self, Cheese is the more affordable choice.

  • Cheese vs Kovo
    Kovo is a credit builder that gives you access to digital courses for $10 a month.[5] The installment plan lasts 24 months, and keeping on-time payments helps build your credit history.

    That said, Kovo is more expensive than Cheese because you don't get your money back.

  • Cheese vs Kikoff
    Kikoff works a bit differently. You pay a $5 service fee every month. Then, Kikoff gives you access to a $750 revolving credit line to purchase products in the Kikoff Store.[6]

    Kikoff is significantly cheaper than Cheese, and it's not a loan, so there is no term or expiry. You can keep paying the $5 monthly fee even without using the credit line.

    You can read our three-way comparison for Kovo vs Self vs Kikoff to know how the three credit builders perform.

Bottom Line

Cheese credit builder loans can be one of your best options in credit building. The credit builder loans are affordable, and the terms are long enough to keep building your credit history.

But that's far from the best part. The best thing about Cheese is you get your money back!

That said, make sure to keep all your payments on time to help build good credit. Cheese reports missed and late payments to credit bureaus after all.

References

  1. ^ Cheese. Does Cheese charge any admin or origination fee?, Retrieved 01/03/2024
  2. ^ Cheese. Where is Cheese available?, Retrieved 01/03/2024
  3. ^ Cheese. How much does Cheese Credit Builder cost?, Retrieved 01/03/2024
  4. ^ Self. Pricing, Retrieved 01/03/2024
  5. ^ Kovo. How does credit building work?, Retrieved 01/03/2024
  6. ^ Kikoff. Pricing, Retrieved 01/03/2024
Self

Apply for a Credit Builder Account at Self

  • Get the Credit Builder Account that helps build credit today!
  • Choose the plan that fits within your budget
  • Monthly payments are reported to the three major credit bureaus.
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.
Kikoff

Credit Building Made Easy

  • No credit pull required
  • With 0% interest
  • Open your account in minutes
Kovo

Build Credit & Earn Rewards

  • No credit check
  • Instant approval
  • 0% APR / $0 fees
Brigit

Get up to $250 in minutes with Instant Cash

  • No interest, late fees, or tipping
  • No credit check
  • Just $9.99/mo. Cancel anytime

Write to Alex Mambaje 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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