April 2, 2022

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.

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?

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."

Credit Strong Features

Credit Strong has six unique plans with their own combination of interest rates, loan amount, and term length.

  • Amount: $1,000 to $10,000
  • Terms: 12 to 120 months (10 years)
  • APR: 5.851% to 15.73% (depending on plan)
  • Type: Secured
  • Credit Check? No
  • Fees: Variable admin fee between $15 and $25 (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.

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 (see table below).

  • 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.[1]

All Subscribe and Build & Save tier loans carry a $15.00 fee, while both MAGNUM tier loans charge a $25.00 fee.

There are no other fees associated with Credit Strong, but each loan carries a substantial amount of interest due to the combination of loan term length and high interest rate. For this reason, the most cost-effective Credit Strong plans are the Build & Save options.

Plan NameSubscribe 1000Subscribe 2500Build & Save 1000Build & Save 2000Build & Save 1100MAGNUM 5000MAGNUM 10000
Amount$1,000$2,500$1,000$2,000$1,100$5,000$10,000
Term10 years10 years24 months24 months36 months10 years10 years
Fee$15$15$15$15$15$25$25
APR13.50%7.75%15.51%14.74%15.73%5.907%5.851%
Total Cost$815$1,115$167$319$283$1,625$3,225

Credit Strong Customer Reviews

Rating SourceRating
Google3.2 stars
Trustpilot2.8 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)

Which of the following have you experienced?

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.

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.

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
  • APR: 5.00% fixed rate
  • 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 loan, 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:

Plan NameSmall BuilderMedium BuilderLarge BuilderX-Large Builder
Get Back$520$724$539$1,663
Term24 months24 months12 months12 months
Fee$9$9$9$9
APR15.92%15.97%12.44%14.87%
Total Cost$89$125$46$146

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:

  • Amount: $500 to $1,000
  • Term: 12 months
  • APR: 11.99% fixed rate
  • 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, applying only takes five minutes, according to the company's website.

  1. Visit creditstrong.com and click "Start Building."
  2. Select the plan you want to apply for.
  3. Fill in your personal information, including name, birth date (you must be at least 18 years old to qualify), and contact information.
  4. Provide a valid checking account, debit card, or prepaid card.
  5. Pay the one-time administration fee.

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. However, there are a number of less expensive options available to help you achieve this goal.

Consider alternatives such as Self, DCU, or your local credit union to find the credit builder loan that's right for you and your finances.

References

  1. ^ "Pricing": Credit Strong, 2022.

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.

All Credit Builder Accounts made by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, Sunrise Banks, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. Subject to ID Verification. Individual borrowers must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security Number are required. All loans are subject to ID verification and consumer report review and approval. Results are not guaranteed. Improvement in your credit score is dependent on your specific situation and financial behavior. Failure to make monthly minimum payments by the payment due date each month may result in delinquent payment reporting to credit bureaus which may negatively impact your credit score. This product will not remove negative credit history from your credit report. All loans subject to approval. All Certificates of Deposit (CD) are deposited in Lead Banks, Member FDIC, Sunrise Banks, N.A., Member FDIC or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A., Member FDIC. The Self Visa® Credit Card is issued by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.

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Study: Average Credit Score

Average Credit Score

23 Startling Credit Score Statistics and Facts

Credit Score Statistics

What's your credit score?
4% Excellent (800-850)
9% Very good (740-799)
17% Good (670-739)
37% Fair (580-669)
33% Poor (300-579)
Source: CreditDonkey
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