May 16, 2024

DCU Credit Builder Loan Review

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DCU's Credit Builder Loan aims to give your credit a boost in just 12 to 24 months. But does this member-only service deliver? Read on to find out.

5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • 12-24 months repayment term
  • Available in all 50 states
  • No need to pay during the first 60 days
  • Must be a DCU member
  • Potential membership fees
  • Late fees

Bottom Line

Credit builder loan with low interests exclusively for DCU members

Building your credit can seem daunting if you don't know how to begin. Not to mention, credit-building tools like apps and loans aren't free—so you need to know what you're getting yourself into.

That said, DCU's credit builder loan can help you build your credit and improve your credit history easily. The catch is that you need to be a DCU member to apply.

The eligibility requirements can be a setback. Plus, you may need to shell out more cash for the membership. At the end of this review, you should be able to decide if all the requirements are worth it.

What is DCU Credit Builder Loan?

DCU's credit builder loans are flexible loans that range from $500 to $3,000, with repayment terms from 12 to 24 months. They have an APR of 5%, which is lower than other credit builder loans.

You can also earn dividends from your loan funds at the published dividend rate.

These loans are offered to DCU (Digital Federal Credit Union) members to help them build savings and credit simultaneously.

What is DCU?
DCU stands for Digital Federal Credit Union, and it's a nonprofit cooperative founded in 1979. The credit union offers services for banking, lending, insurance, and real estate to its (now over 1 million) members.

It's the chosen credit union by more than 700 companies, communities, and organizations. It's also one of the top 20 largest credit unions in terms of assets.[1]

Who Is It Best For?

DCU's credit builder loan is ideal for you if:

  • Your company, organization, community, or condominium association is a participating member of DCU
  • You have a relative who is already a DCU member
  • You want to build credit and savings at the same time

Note that DCU's credit builder loan is strictly for members only. Here's how to determine if you're eligible for a membership.

Have you ever used a credit builder loan to improve your credit score?

Membership Eligibility

You can become a DCU member and apply for a credit builder loan if you:

  • Work for or retired from a supported employer
  • Belong to a member organization
  • Live in a participating condominium community
  • Live, work, or attend school in one of the eligible communities

DCU published a list of its supported employers, organizations, associations, and communities on its website. You can consider joining an organization for eligibility. But take note of the organization's fees.

If you're on the fence about applying for a membership, you can further weigh the pros and cons of the loan to see if it's worth it.

Pros And Cons

Pros:

  • Reports to the 3 credit bureaus
  • APRs start at 5%
  • No hard credit check
  • No origination fee
  • No loan payments within the first 60 days
  • A+ rating from BBB
  • Available in all 50 states
  • iOS and Android apps available

Cons:

  • Late fees
  • Strictly for DCU members only
  • Borrow up to $3,000 only
  • Can't access your funds immediately
  • Potentially insignificant dividends

What factor matters most to you when choosing a credit builder loan?

How the DCU Credit Builder Loan Works

Here's how the DCU can help boost your credit:

  1. Choose loans from $500-$3,000 and select your loan terms for 12–24 months.
  2. Make on-time payments for your loan every month.
  3. DCU reports your monthly payments to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

DCU does not require you to pay your loan for the next 60 days after receiving your funds. This can help you out if you're on a tight budget.

Once you start paying for your loan, you can access your money from your savings account. This will also give you the chance to earn a small dividend from your savings.

Use the calculator below to find out how much you need to pay every month based on your loan amount and repayment term.

Personal Loan Calculator

Pricing And Fees

DCU's credit builder loans have fixed loan rates starting at 5% annually. There are no hidden fees. But ensure you make monthly payments on time to avoid late fees.[2]

In addition, if you are an employee from a participating employer, or live in any participating community or eligible condominium, there are no fees for joining DCU.

That said, if you want to become a DCU member by joining an organization, you need to pay a membership fee. Memberships range from $10–$120.[3] Some organizations charge this fee yearly.

Is It Worth It?

DCU's credit builder loans can be worth it if you're a DCU member. This way, you won't need to worry about additional membership fees just to qualify. Membership fees of participating organizations can range from $10 to $120.

Additionally, they can be worth it if you're looking to save money and improve your credit at the same time. DCU's credit builder loans have one of the lowest APRs compared to their alternatives.

Terms are also flexible, with fewer fees than other credit builder loans. Plus, your payments get reported to the 3 main credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

What's your main goal for improving your credit score?

How To Get Started

You need to be an eligible member and 18 years old to apply for DCU's credit builder loans. Here's how you can sign up:

  1. Go to the sign-up page.
  2. Check and sign the electronic agreement.
  3. Enter your phone number and the last 4 digits of your SSN.

DCU will review your application and send your approval. This may take some time. You can check your application status on DCU's website.

Does DCU do a hard pull?
No, DCU does not perform a hard pull on your credit when applying for DCU credit builder loans.

Is DCU Legit?

Yes, DCU is a legitimate credit union. It is insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a federal agency in the United States. It also has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).[4]

This financial cooperative has been around for over 40 years and has an established membership base across the US. It is the largest credit union headquartered in New England.

In addition, the DCU app from the Apple Store has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars from over 49,000 ratings. It also has over 100,000 downloads from the Google Play Store. These downloads and ratings can testify to its great service.

Speaking of ratings, keep scrolling for examples of feedback from DCU's customers.

Customer Reviews

RATINGS SOURCEAVERAGE RATING
Apple App Store4.9 out of 5 ★ from over 60,000 ratings
Google Play Store4.6 out of 5 ★ from over 5,900 reviews
Better Business Bureau1.21 out of 5 ★ from over 70 reviews

DCU has mixed reviews from different online platforms. Although it has received positive ratings on its mobile apps, these ratings focus on the apps only—not on the credit builder loans.

That said, some positive comments commend DCU's reliability and credibility as a credit union. Mobile apps are helpful, and the customer service team is responsive, as in Pamela's case.

"I love DCU. I have been with them for a couple of years now. Used the quick loan and paid it back early. It's so nice to have that available. I wish I could get a personal loan with them or refinance my car that's costing me a fortune. . . Customer service is great. Never had any issues with them. . . They are a good bank."
(From Google Play review)

Unfortunately, the more recent reviews highlight that DCU has gotten worse in the past few years. Customer experience has changed, particularly since the pandemic hit.

The mobile app glitches. Plus, customers get charged with fees they don't know about, like in Simon's case.

"Predators who prey on their customers. If your insurance lapses for a week they will charge you $2,000 and not say anything to you. When you call and spend [10 hours] trying to get it taken care of, they expect you to personally take [the burden] of submitting all your insurance paperwork. They don't care about customers at all and will prey on anybody they can. Fees and interests will randomly jump up. Avoid them at all costs. Get a loan [somewhere] else." (From a BBB review)

In case you encounter issues of your own, here's how you can contact DCU.

How to contact DCU

DCU has several customer support channels:

  • Phone: 800-328-8797
  • Fax: 508-263-6392
  • Address: 853 Donald Lynch Boulevard, PO Box 9130, Marlborough, MA 01752-9130

DCU also offers chat support on its website. Or just send them an email through the mobile app.

How DCU Compares

There are other financial services that offer credit builder loans. Compare some of them side-by-side with DCU below.

DCU Credit Builder Loan vs Cheese
Cheese can be one of your cheapest options for building credit. Cheese offers you 3 credit builder loans at $500, $1,000, or $2,000, with 12 and 24 months as your loan term.

In comparison, DCU offers credit builder loans from $500 to $3,000, with similar repayment terms.

If you want to save on fees, Cheese may be a better fit. It only charges its loan APRs as its fees, which isn't the case for DCU. That said, Cheese's APRs range from 5% - 16% (varies by state).

DCU Credit Builder Loan vs Self
Self offers 4 credit builder loans that cost $25–$150/mo for 24 months.[5] Self holds your loan in a Certificate of Deposit (CD), and when your term ends, you receive most of your payments back, minus interest and fees.

With Self's highest plan, you can get back almost the same amount as a $3,000 DCU credit builder loan. The big advantage is you don't need to worry about memberships with Self.

However, Self has an APR of:
15.92% APR for $25/mo plan;
15.69% APR for $35/mo plan;
15.51% APR for $48/mo plan;
15.82% APR for $150/mo plan.

Self also charges more fees than DCU.

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.

DCU Credit Builder Loan vs MoneyLion
With MoneyLion, you can borrow as much as $1,000 for a 12-month term. But first, you need to sign up for a Plus membership that costs $19.99/month.[6]

If you want to access a portion of your funds immediately, MoneyLion is a better choice. Unlike DCU or other credit builder loans, you don't need to wait until your term ends to get some of your funds.

The downside is that MoneyLion has an APR that ranges from 5.99% - 29.99%. You may end up paying higher for MoneyLion than DCU, in addition to a large monthly membership fee.[7]

Bottom Line

DCU is a great option if your budget is tight, but you still want to improve your credit. You can get a loan for as low as $500. APRs start at 5%, which beats other credit builder loans.

You do need to be a DCU member to apply. This could be a con if you dislike the extra membership fee. But you may also end up enjoying the other benefits offered by DCU.

References

  1. ^ DCU. Our Story | DCU , Retrieved 01/14/2024
  2. ^ DCU. Credit Builder Loans, Retrieved 02/16/2024
  3. ^ DCU. Member Eligibility, Retrieved 03/08/2024
  4. ^ Better Business Bureau. Digital Federal Credit Union, Retrieved 02/16/2024
  5. ^ Self. Credit Builder Loan, Retrieved 03/02/24
  6. ^ MoneyLion . Raise your credit score with our Credit Builder Loan., Retrieved 03/09/2024
  7. ^ MoneyLion. Credit Builder Plus membership, Retrieved 05/18/2024
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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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