Updated February 20, 2023

Credit Strong Review

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Take an in-depth look at credit builder loan company Credit Strong. Review how it works, fees and interest rates, competitors, and customer reviews.

5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Reports to 3 credit bureaus
  • No credit check
  • Cancel anytime
  • Costly way to build credit
  • Late payment can hurt credit
  • No early withdrawal

Bottom Line

Credit builder loan to help build credit history and savings

Looking to build your credit score with a credit builder loan?

Credit Strong promises quick applications, low payments, and free credit checks.

But can they deliver?

Discover everything you need to know about the benefits and risks of Credit Strong in this review.

Why is it important to build credit?
With low or no credit, it can be difficult and costly to make important purchases, such as securing a car loan, mortgage, or even finding a decent apartment to rent.

What is Credit Strong?

Credit Strong was founded in 2019 as the first combination of credit building and an account installment loan with an FDIC-insured savings account.

Credit Strong is officially a division of Austin Capital Bank, an independent community bank headquartered in Austin, TX. They have branches throughout the central Texas region.

What's your credit score?

Credit Strong Is Not A...

Credit Strong can help you build credit, but it's not for everyone.

  • They can't repair your past mistakes.
  • And they're not offering personal loans.

Credit Strong is not a credit repair service. They don't remove past credit mistakes. Instead, you'll focus on building better credit with regular on-time payments. They then report these payments to the 3 major credit bureaus.

Credit Strong also isn't offering personal loans. You won't receive any money when you sign up for their service. You could apply for a personal loan if you need to borrow money. You'd also be building your credit if you paid it off on time.

Instead, Credit Strong deposits your payments into a savings account, so by the time you leave, you will have built up some savings.

You will pay some fees to use their service, though. You can look deeper at the fees below.

Who Qualifies for Credit Strong?

Almost anyone can qualify for a Credit Strong loan making it a good option for people with bad or no credit.

If you can't qualify for other loans or credit cards, it's a solid choice to increase your credit score.

Alternatively, Credit Strong might be a good fit if you struggle to save money. You will pay fees and interest, so it's not free like a savings account. But the monthly payments force you to save money, while you grow your credit.

How Does Credit Strong Work?

Credit Strong can build your credit score by helping you create a consistent history of on-time payments. Here's how it works:

  • When you sign up with Credit Strong, they create an installment loan for you.

  • Payments you make on this loan are reported by Credit Strong to all three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

  • You pay the loan like you would with any other kind of installment loan, like a mortgage, car loan, or personal loan.

  • After a history of on-time payments, you've built credit!

How is my credit score calculated?
According to FICO, an individual's credit score is made up of 35% payment history, 30% amount owed, 15% credit age, 10% credit mix, and 10% new credit. Credit Strong targets the most influential piece of the credit score "pie."

How Much Will Credit Strong Improve Your Score?

The average Credit Strong customer will increase their FICO score by at least 25 points within 90 days of opening their account.[1]

In 9 months, you could increase your score by 40 points. If you make all your payments on time for a year, the average credit increase is close to 70 points.

For new account holders, you can typically bring your score up to 630 or 650.

To gather this data, Credit Strong reviewed over 50,000 customer accounts.

Credit Strong Features

Credit Strong has three unique products.

  • Amount: $500 to $25,000
  • Terms: 12 to 60 months
  • Type: Revolving, Installment
  • Credit Check? No
  • Fees: Variable admin fee between $15 and $25 (depending on plan)
  • Monthly Payment: $8.25/mo (billed annually) - $449/mo (depending on plan)

What is a credit builder loan?
A credit builder loan is different from a regular loan because you do not receive the loan upfront and pay it off later. Instead, you pay monthly installments for the term of the loan and receive the principal at the end of the loan term.

How long do you have to improve your credit?

Pros and Cons of Credit Strong

Let's take a look at the major benefits and disadvantages of Credit Strong.

Pros:

  • Improved credit score: The company cannot guarantee a specific credit score increase due to the individual nature of credit scores. However, there are many customer reviews citing double-digit score increases over time.

  • No credit check: Unlike most other credit builder loans that are available, Credit Strong does not perform a credit check to see if you qualify. This will help you avoid a hard inquiry that could temporarily lower your credit score.

  • Cancel anytime: Because you're funding the "loan" yourself, Credit Strong will let you cancel at any time with no penalties if you are struggling to make payments. However, this may impact your score.

  • Helps build savings: You receive your principal back in the form of a savings account at the end of the loan, helping to turbocharge your savings goals.

Is Credit Strong safe?
Yes, your deposits are fully FDIC insured through Credit Strong's partnership with Austin Capital Bank.[2]

Cons:

  • Expensive: While the monthly cost is relatively low, you will pay a significant amount of money over the life of your credit builder loan in the form of interest.

  • No mobile app: Customers have to use the company website to access their account as there is no mobile app available.

Credit Strong Fees

Each Credit Strong loan has a one-time, non-refundable administrative fee that you will pay upon signing up.

Instal accounts carry a $15.00 fee, while CS Max account charges a $25.00 fee. There are no other fees associated with Credit Strong. The cheapest way to get started is the Instal account.

Credit Strong offers three products:[3]

Revolv.($99/yr)

  • Best option for: those who want to build credit fast; who have an installment loan and credit card
  • Instantly build revolving credit (adds $500 to $1,000 revolving credit)
  • no monthly payment required
  • helps improve credit utilization and credit mix
  • helps grow your savings
  • free FICO score monthly

Instal. ($28/mo, $38/mo, $48/mo)

  • Best option for: those who want to build payment history
  • build installment credit and savings (adds $1,000 to $1,100 installment loan)
  • low fixed monthly payment
  • build credit history over 24, 36, or 48 months
  • free FICO score monthly

CS Max ($49/mo, $99/mo, $199/mo, $449/mo)

  • Best option for: those who have cash but need credit; who want to apply for a larger personal loan; who want to apply for credit cards with higher credit limits
  • builds a large amount of credit (adds $2,500 to $25,000 installment loan)
  • higher fixed monthly payments
  • build up to 60 months of payment history
  • free FICO score monthly

Credit Strong Customer Reviews

Rating SourceRating
Google2.8 stars
Trustpilot3.4 stars
Better Business BureauB rating

Before you sign up for Credit Strong, make sure you are aware of two important things:

  1. If you cancel your account early, you will lose the money you paid toward interest and the administrative fee.

  2. Credit scores take time to increase, and companies do not report to credit bureaus instantly.

The vast majority of negative reviews online for Credit Strong are from customers who canceled their plan early and thought they would be fully refunded by the company.

Customers who use Credit Strong for the purpose of long-term credit building have positive things to say about the company. Here is one example:

"My motivation to open an account with Credit Strong was to establish a record of on-time payments for the full term of a loan with the big 3 credit reporting agencies. I'm appreciative of the opportunity to do that with no hard inquiry on my credit report and view the interest paid as an investment in my credit profile."

—Ron T. via Google (January 2022)

How to Contact Credit Strong Customer Support

There are a variety of ways customers can get in contact with Credit Strong to ask questions or resolve issues.

  • Email: info@creditstrong.com
  • Call: 833-850-0850
  • Credit Strong also has a live chat function available from 8am to 5pm CST.

Credit Strong Card Alternatives

When it comes to credit builder loans, Credit Strong isn't the only game in town. And given the cost of these loans, you may be considering a less expensive option to build your credit.

Review Credit Strong's top three competitors: DCU, Self, and MoneyLion.

Credit Strong vs. DCU
Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) offers arguably the best credit builder loan available with shorter terms than Credit Strong, a much lower APR, no fees, and no credit check.[4]

Once you finish paying off your loan, you unlock a DCU Savings account with your entire principal plus any dividend payments your account has accrued.

  • Amount: $500 to $3,000
  • Term: 12, 18, or 24 months
  • Credit Check: No
  • Fees: None

The only catch is that you must be a DCU member to qualify. You can become a DCU member by working for a participating employer, family relationship with an existing member, or (the easiest way) by donating to a participating charitable organization.

Credit Strong vs. Self
Self is a fintech company specifically designed to provide credit builder loans. Like DCU, Self only offers credit builder loans up to 24 months.

When you apply for a Self credit builder account, the company will perform a credit check. However, they use what is called a "soft pull," which should not have any impact on your credit score.

Self has four loan options:[5]

Plan NameSmall BuilderMedium BuilderLarge BuilderX-Large Builder
Get Back$520$724$992$3,076
Term24 months24 months24 months24 months
Fee$9$9$9$9
Total Cost$89$125$169$533

Sample loans: $25/mo, 24 mos, $9 admin fee, 15.92% APR; $35/mo, 24 mos, $9 admin fee, 15.97% APR; $48/mo, 24 mos, $9 admin fee, 15.72% APR; $150/mo, 24 mos, $9 admin fee, 15.88% APR. See self.inc/pricing

Given the similarities between Self and Credit Strong — and the much lower cost of Self across the board — this alternative comes out on top.

Read more: Self Review

Credit Strong vs. MoneyLion
MoneyLion is another fintech company similar to Self and Credit Strong. However, MoneyLion offers several different financial products in addition to credit building loans.

MoneyLion's credit builder loan, called "Credit Builder Plus," has the following features:[6]

  • Amount: $500 to $1,000
  • Term: 12 months
  • Credit Check: Yes — soft inquiry
  • Fees: $19.99 per month

The biggest difference between MoneyLion and other credit builder loans is that MoneyLion charges a $19.99 monthly membership fee to use its services. This fee alone (let alone interest payments) makes it more expensive than DCU or Self.

How to Open a Credit Strong Account

If you think that a Credit Strong account is right for you, signing up is a quick process. You can also set it to autopilot so you can build your credit without lifting a finger.

How To Sign Up

Signing up for CreditStrong takes just a few minutes. They don't pull your credit report and approval is almost guaranteed.

  1. Visit creditstrong.com and click "Start Building."
  2. Fill in your personal information, including:
    • Name
    • Email
    • Birth date (you must be at least 18 years old to qualify)
    • Address
    • Phone Number
    • Social Security

  3. Select the plan you want to apply for.
  4. Provide a valid checking account, debit card, or prepaid card.
  5. Pay the one-time administration fee.

Once you're approved, you can set up autopay and start building your credit.

How To Use

Once you're signed up to Credit Strong, it's easy to use. You can set up autopay to make your payments without adding another thing to your to-do list.

Set up autopay by:

  1. Logging into your account
  2. Select Accounts from the menu
  3. Select Account Details
  4. Choose Update Autopay Settings
  5. Turn autopay On

If you prefer to manually pay your bill each month, you can also do that.

If you forget to pay your bill, then Credit Strong will actually hurt your credit instead of helping you.

How To Cancel

You can cancel your Credit Strong account anytime by calling 833-850-0850.

There is no prepayment or early termination fee.

However, you will not receive a refund of your initial administration fee. You also won't reap as many of the credit benefits of using Credit Strong.

Is Credit Strong available everywhere?
No. Credit Strong is not available in Vermont or Wisconsin, as these states have laws that make it prohibitively expensive to provide secured consumer loans.

The Bottom Line: Is Credit Strong Worth It?

As long as you make on-time payments for the duration of the loan, Credit Strong can help you improve your credit score over time by providing you with a history of on-time payments.

References

  1. ^ Credit Strong. How Long It Will Take to Raise Your Credit Score, Retrieved 2/19/23
  2. ^ FDIC. BankFind: Austin Capital Bank SSB, Retrieved 2/19/23
  3. ^ Credit Strong. Pricing, Retrieved 2/19/23
  4. ^ DCU. Credit Builder Loans, Retrieved 2/19/23
  5. ^ Self. What does it cost?, Retrieved 2/19/23
  6. ^ MoneyLion . Credit Builder Plus, Retrieved 2/19/23
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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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Compare:

What's your credit score?
5% Excellent (800-850)
8% Very good (740-799)
16% Good (670-739)
40% Fair (580-669)
31% Poor (300-579)
Source: CreditDonkey poll of 1,331 respondents
How long do you have to improve your credit?
91% 1 to 3 years
3% 4 to 6 years
6% 7 to 10 years
Source: CreditDonkey
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