Updated October 15, 2023

Kovo vs Self vs Kikoff

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Forget big credit repair companies. Kovo, Self or Kikoff may be your holy grail in building and improving your credit. But what's the catch?

Ready to build your credit history? Credit builders like Kovo, Self, and Kikoff can give you a hand.

Kovo is a simple option if you're into exploring online courses. But Self is the option to choose if you want to get most of your money back. And Kikoff? It's the most affordable one among the three, giving you access to a credit line.

You'll have more info about them in this in-depth review. Find out what sets them apart, how they stack up in terms of pricing, and how they work to supercharge your credit. Start scrolling!

Who Each Credit Builder Is Best For

  • Kovo is best if you want to learn new skills.
    For a small monthly fee, Kovo gets you access to digital courses like programming and e-commerce. You can even unlock gift cards for successful loan applications and issued credit cards. Find out more

  • Self is best if you want to build credit and savings.
    Self provides the Credit Builder Account in the form of a Certificate of Deposit (CD), facilitated by their banking partners. This way, unlike with Kovo, you get your money back (minus interest and fees). Find out more

  • Kikoff is best if you're on a budget.
    Kikoff is the most affordable credit builder. It provides a $750 credit line for a small fee[1], which you can use to buy educational items from the Kikoff Store. You can purchase ebooks on personal finance, skills building, and wellness. Find out more

How does credit building work?
Credit builders like Kovo, Self, and Kikoff report your account payments to credit bureaus like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Your goal is to make timely payments (of your credit dues, monthly fees, etc.) to accumulate positive transactions in your credit report. This can potentially increase your credit score.

This may continue until your credit builder term ends. Each credit profile is unique, so some people will see changes faster. For others, the positive impact of credit building may be reflected months later.

Let's dive deeper into what you'll get with these credit builders.

What You Get with Kovo, Self, and Kikoff

Before breaking down each one, here's what you can get from all three credit builders:

  • Credit building features to build your payment history
  • Credit monitoring features
  • Reporting to credit bureaus
  • No hard credit check
  • Instant approval process
  • Online accounts and mobile apps
  • Automated payment options
  • Different promos and rewards

Hard inquiries vs. Soft inquiries
Some credit builders, lenders, or creditors perform a hard credit check to assess your creditworthiness. This transaction reflects on your credit report and too many hard inquiries can impact your credit negatively.

Kovo, Self, and Kikoff are ideal for those struggling with bad credit because they only perform a soft inquiry into your credit. Meaning when Kovo, Self, and Kikoff perform a credit check, it does not reflect on your credit report.

Kovo, Self, and Kikoff do have their edge over one another. Here are their differences.

How Kovo, Self, and Kikoff Differ

Kovo, Self, and Kikoff vary in what they offer, extra features, and the credit bureaus they report to.

What you getDigital coursesCredit builder loansRevolving credit line
Other credit
building options
Not availableSelf Secured Visa® credit card, Rent and Bills ReportingCredit + Cash Card, credit builder loans
Credit bureaus
they report to
3 main credit bureaus3 main credit bureausCredit Account: Equifax & Experian
Credit Builder Loan: TransUnion & Equifax
Credit + Cash Card: 3 main credit bureaus
Starting price$10/mo$25/mo$5/mo
Additional feesxx

To go further in-depth, here's an overview of each credit builder— starting with Kovo.

Why Choose Kovo

Kovo is a credit builder that costs $10/mo for 24 months.[2] By paying your Kovo Installment Plan, You can access courses like:

  • Intro to Programming
  • Job Interview Skills, Interview Strategy & Answer Scripts
  • E-commerce Bootcamp Academy

To build your credit, Kovo reports the installment payments to Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis. That means it's best to pay on time since any late and missed payments will reflect on your credit reports.

Also, Kovo features several partners offering loans and credit cards. You can check out Kovo Network for these partners. The best part is you can earn as much as $1,225 worth of rewards in gift cards from them.

You can get a chance to earn the following gift cards from Kovo partners if you opt for their loans and credit cards:[3]

  • Personal Loan: Up to $500 gift card
  • Student Loan: Up to $250 gift card
  • Student Loan Refinance: Up to $250 gift card
  • Auto Loan Refinance: Up to $150 gift card
  • Credit Card: $75 gift card
You may only be eligible for rewards if you've made 4 consistent on-time payments. You can claim the gift cards within 90 days of loan or card issuance.

Pros + Cons:

  • No hidden fees
  • FICO score tracker
  • 30-day refund policy
  • Available in all states
  • No termination fee
  • No mobile app available
  • 2-year lock-in commitment
  • Courses may be irrelevant
  • No Kovo Rewards in Louisiana

What if, instead of simply paying a monthly fee, you get to save those payments instead? Self can do that for you.

Why Choose Self

Self offers credit builder loans locked in a CD. Loan terms last for 24 months. And to help build your credit, Self reports your monthly payments to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Self works like a reverse loan. Make your monthly payments and Self reports those payments on your behalf. You get back most of your payments in the end (minus interest and fees). This is unlike Kovo, where you subscribe to digital courses and don't get back any of your monthly payments.

Here are your options:[4]

Small BuilderMedium BuilderLarge BuilderX-large Builder
Price per month$25$35$48$150
Total payments$600$840$1,152$3,600
Get back$511$717$985$3,069
Final Cost$89$123$167$531
Interest Rate15.92%15.69%15.51%15.82%

Self offers four credit builder loan payment plans. 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

But watch out since Self may charge other fees. Keep a close eye on your dues to avoid surprises.

Late payments can give you negative items on your credit report. Worse, you end up owing more money to Self. ALWAYS pay your dues on time because Self deducts any unpaid fees, charges, and missed payments to your account balance.

Other Credit Building Options:
Aside from the credit builder loan, Self offers other options to help build your credit.

You may qualify for a Self Secured Visa® Credit Card. You just need an account in good standing, make 3 timely payments to your credit builder loan, and have $100 or more in savings.[5]

You can subscribe to their Rent and Bills Reporting. Rent reporting is free. Additional bill reporting costs $6.95[6] Self will report your bills like rent, phone plan, and utilities to credit bureaus.

Pros + Cons:

  • "Forced" savings
  • Available in all states
  • iOS and Android apps
  • Referral bonus
  • High loan interest rates
  • Plenty of fees and charges

If you're on a budget, the next credit builder can help improve your credit for a fraction of Self's monthly fee.

Why Choose Kikoff

Kikoff's primary product is its Credit Account. It comes with a $750 revolving credit line, and you can use it to purchase ebooks from the Kikoff Store. This adds more transactions to your payment history.

Given that it's a credit line, make sure to pay your dues on time to build better credit. Although Kikoff doesn't charge late fees, Kikoff reports monthly to Equifax and Experian. Missed payments can affect your score negatively.

Note that the account comes with a $5 monthly service fee.[7] All your transactions will be reflected in your monthly statements.

Pro tip: Keep your credit utilization at a minimum and keep the account open even if you aren't buying anything! This still helps build your credit history and improve your credit.

Other Credit Building Options:
If you don't think a credit line can help you, Kikoff has other products to help build your credit.

  1. Credit+ Cash Card
    Sign up for this Kikoff MasterCard and use it like a normal debit card. Kikoff reports your transactions to credit bureaus.

  2. Credit Builder Loan
    Pay $10 every month for 12 months and get back the whole amount.[8] You build credit by making timely payments as Kikoff reports to credit bureaus.

Pros + Cons:

  • No hidden fees
  • No termination fee
  • iOS and Android apps
  • Withdraw using cash card
  • Store items may be irrelevant
  • No TransUnion report for credit line

Now that you know what they offer, here's a deep dive into how much these credit builders cost.

Pricing and Fees

Comparing the costs side-by-side may help you narrow down the credit builder that suits your budget. Below is the pricing summary for the Kovo, Self, and Kikoff.

Monthly fee$10$25-$150$5
Cost for opening account
Duration24 months24 monthsDoes not expire
Total Cost$240$89-$531 (after payout)It depends

Self has the highest monthly fees among the three credit builders. Its smallest credit builder loan costs five times as much as Kikoff's credit building service fee.

However, Self becomes the cheapest option once you finish your term, since you get most of your money back (minus interest and fees).

For instance, you choose the smallest builder at $25 per month. Once you complete 24 months worth of payments, you get back $511. Your total cost in the end is $89, considering Self locks your payments into a CD. It's like paying for less than $4 per month.

Be cautious! Monthly fees aren't the only thing you need to consider. You need to pay on time, or else Self becomes your most expensive credit builder. Other fees can balloon the total cost of your Self account.

Interest rates15.51% to 15.92% depending on package[9]
Late fee5% of monthly payment[10]
Failed payment fee$15 on bank account payment failure[11]
Convenience fee for debit card payments$1.20 to $4.75 depending on package[12]
Convenience fee for cash payments$2 per cash transaction[13]
Closing fee~$1 for early withdrawal and closing[14]
Annual charge$25 for Self Secured Visa® Credit Card[15]

To know more about whether these fees are worth it, check out what customers have to say about them.

Customer Reviews

Below are some ratings from selected platforms online.

Kovo4.90 out of 5 ★ for over 200 Reviews.io ratings
Self3.53 out of 5 ★ for over 600 BBB ratings
Kikoff4.40 out of 5 ★ for over 800 Trustpilot ratings

All three credit builders have received both low and high ratings. But many customers left good feedback on the good effects of using their chosen credit builders.

According to Norris, paying $10 monthly to Kovo has helped her see an increase in her credit score.

"When I first saw make a monthly payment of $10 and I said to myself will that really make a difference let's be real $10 over the course of making those constant payment I have seen my credit score increase it's not the amount of money they looking at they looking at the frequent payments and this has helped me greatly."
— Norris I.

On the other hand, Shanta comments how helpful Rent and Bills Reporting (Self subscription) has been in improving her credit score.

"My credit has improved significantly & this is my third year increasing my credit score through Self. Ive also qualified for two credit cards that I couldnt get approved for before this great opportunity. Im thankful for Self reporting my paid bills as well to help increase my score because every landlord doesnt report payments to credit unions. Its a win all around because the money taken out your account is given back at the end of your term." — Shanta C.

Lastly, Kelly mentioned that Kikoff has boosted her credit score in a year, and that she highly recommends the platform.

"I have had this for over a year. My credit score has gone up over 68 points in that time between the loan and the credit builder account.

I cannot comment on how long it takes to get your savings back once you pay off the loan because I am still paying on mine.

Hopefully, if what others say is true, they will start processing those faster.

I have no negative experience at this time, and I highly recommend for raising your credit."
— Kelly Whaler

If you're set on opening an account with one of these credit builders, first check if you're eligible to apply.

Eligibility Requirements

Here are the terms and conditions before you can open an account for each credit builder.

Kovo Requirements:
To apply for Kovo, you should:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Have a valid SSN
  • Be allowed to access services under the laws of United States or other applicable jurisdiction
  • Provide information that is true, accurate, current, and complete
  • Register for yourself only
  • Never sell, transfer, or assign your account to somebody else

Self Requirements:
To apply for Self, you should:

  • Reside in the United States where services are provided
  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Can form a binding contract with Self
  • Be allowed to receive services under the laws of the United States or other applicable jurisdiction

Kikoff Requirements:
To apply for Kikoff, you should:

  • Be a legal resident or citizen of United States
  • Be physically present in the United States at time of use
  • Be allowed by law to use Kikoff

If you have any concerns about your credit builder, you can always contact their customer support.

Customer Support

Kovo is the most accessible, with an available email, phone, and address for customer support. Self's support is only available on a schedule. While you can only contact Kikoff through email.

Phone(855) 965-56861 (877) 883-0999
7AM–6PM, Mon-Fri
(415) 361-4040
Address9450 SW Gemini Dr, Suite 87907, Beaverton, OR 97008-7105901 E 6th St Ste 400, Austin, TX 78702-320675 Broadway Ste 226, San Francisco, CA 94111-1458

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are some questions usually asked by customers looking to compare Kovo vs Self vs Kikoff.

What is the difference between Kovo and Self?
Kovo works as an installment plan where you pay $10 per month for 24 months and get access to digital courses. Self works like a reverse loan ranging from $25 to $150 per month, but your payments go to a CD, and you get your money back (minus interest and fees).

What is the difference between Self and Kikoff?
Self is a credit builder loan ($25–$150 per month) where your payments go to a CD. Kikoff is a $750 revolving credit line (with a $5 monthly service fee) you can use to purchase from the Kikoff Store. With Kikoff, you can't get your payments back.

What is the difference between Kovo and Kikoff?
Kovo gives you access to digital courses by paying $10 monthly for 24 months. Kikoff gives you access to a $750 revolving credit line with no specific term. You can keep paying $5 monthly to maintain the credit line.

Can you actually buy stuff with Kikoff?
Yes, you can buy stuff with Kikoff. But the catch is that you can only purchase items in the Kikoff Store. The Kikoff Store sells educational items on financial literacy.

Do you get your money back from Kovo?
No, you can't get your money back when you pay for Kovo Installment Plan. For $10 every month, you can access different digital courses and build better credit history for paying the installments on time.

Is Self a good way to build credit?
Self is a good way to build credit if you pay your loan dues on time. Every month, Self reports to the three main credit bureaus. On-time payments show the credit bureaus that you have the capacity to pay back what you owe.

Is Kikoff a real credit card?
Kikoff is a credit line, but it does not have a physical card. You can access your credit line via mobile apps. It does, however, offer Credit+ Cash Card, which is a physical cash card that works like a debit card and a checking account.

Bottom Line

In summary, choose:

  • Kovo: if you want a straightforward way to build credit and earn rewards. The value of the gift cards is more than five times the entire cost of a Kovo Installment Plan.
  • Self: if you want to build your credit and get your money back (minus interest and fees). Paying your loan amount builds savings.
  • Kikoff: if you are working on a budget. You slowly improve credit by paying the $5 service fee monthly, maintaining a low utilization ratio, and aging your accounts.

Neither of the three fit your needs? You can browse more credit builder apps and credit builder loans to explore your options.


  1. ^ Kikoff. Credit line, Retrieved 10/2/23
  2. ^ Kovo. Is it a contract?, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  3. ^ Kovo. Kovo Rewards, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  4. ^ Self. What does it cost?, Retrieved 04/30/2024
  5. ^ Card eligibility requirements include having an active Credit Builder Account in good standing, making 3 on time payments, having $100 or more in savings progress and satisfying income requirements. All requirements are subject to change. Self. Self Secured Visa® Credit Card, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  6. ^ Self. Rent and Bills Reporting, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  7. ^ Kikoff. Pricing, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  8. ^ Kikoff. FAQ: How does Kikoff work?, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  9. ^ Self. What does it cost?, Retrieved 04/24/2024
  10. ^ Self. Will I be charged if my payment is late to my Credit Builder Account?, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  11. ^ Self. Why was I charged a fee on my Credit Builder Account?, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  12. ^ Self. Is there a fee to pay my Credit Builder Account with a debit card?, Retrieved 04/24/2024
  13. ^ Self. What's the fee for making cash payments to Self?, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  14. ^ Self. Is there a fee for closing my account early?, Retrieved 9/20/2023
  15. ^ Self. What are the Self credit card fees?, Retrieved 9/20/2023

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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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