Updated August 31, 2023

Self Review: Is It Good?

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Wondering about Self's credit-building claims? Discover in-depth information in this review and decide if it's legit.

5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • No hard credit check
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Get your money back (minus interest and fees)
  • Cancel anytime
  • High APRs
  • Charges late fees, convenience fees, and closing fees

Bottom Line

Flexible credit builder that can turn expensive with fees

If you don't have a credit history, creditors probably won't give you a chance. How can you build credit without someone giving you a break?

Enter Self - a credit monitoring and credit building system that helps people with low or damaged credit increase their credit score.

Read on to see if Self might be the right service for you.

What Is Self?

Self is a free credit monitoring system. But they also offer credit building loans. This is where they make their money.

Self credit monitoring service gives you on-demand access to your credit score. It gives you access to your credit history at all times. Self also offers suggestions on how to improve your credit. They provide all of this free of cost.

However, the credit building loan is the real meat and potatoes of Self. They provide loans regardless of your credit score.

The main purpose of the loan is to help build or improve a low credit score. In other words, they give you a chance no matter how many other lenders turned you down.

See Current Offer >>

Is Self legit? If you have low or no credit, Self can really help you build your credit up. You essentially pay back a loan to yourself over the course of 2 years. At the end of the period, you get your money back (minus interest and fees). This works because it helps you build a history of on-time payments.

How Self Works

For $25/month, you can rebuild your credit. The Self loan isn't your typical loan. Think of it like a loan in reverse. You don't receive the proceeds from the loan upfront. Instead, it's placed in a Certificate of Deposit for you. The maturity date equals the term of the loan.

You then make payments over the course of the term of the loan (24 months). At the end of the term, the CD matures. You receive your money back (minus interest and fees)

As you make payments, Self reports them to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you make your payments on time, this will help build up your credit score. Small steps really do pay off. And Self makes the whole process as easy and painless as possible.

Some people think of it like a forced savings program. In order to receive the savings, you have to make timely loan payments. At the end of the term, you will receive the amounts paid for the loan (minus interest and fees).

Who Benefits from Self?

Self is ideal for people who have little to no credit. If you've ever tried to apply for credit only to be turned down because you don't have any credit, you are a good candidate. How are you supposed to prove you are credit worthy if no one will extend credit?

This is where Self helps the most. They don't pull your credit to determine eligibility.

It can also be a good option for those with damaged credit. With a poor credit history, many creditors will turn you down for new credit. Without new credit, it's nearly impossible to rectify your score. Self can help by providing you with the credit building loan.

Before you jump on board though, make sure you meet the following requirements:

  • You are at least 18-years old
  • You have a valid bank account
  • You can afford the monthly payments that vary between $25 - $150 per month
  • You could benefit from a forced-savings account

Sounds pretty doable, right? Increasing your credit score isn't so hard--if you get the right help.

To start building credit with a savings account, check out Self.

Opening an Account and What It Costs

Opening a Self account takes about five minutes. They need the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Amount of income

Once you provide this information, Self runs a check on ChexSystems. Similar to running your credit, this system checks your bank account history. This keeps an eye on how you treat your bank accounts. They look for overdrafts and bad checks. However, unless you let your overdrafts sit unpaid, you should be in good shape.

If your ChexSystems report comes back clean, Self will ask you which loan amount you want from a predetermined list of options:

  • $511 ($25 paid over 24 months)
  • $717 ($35 monthly payment over 24 months)
  • $985 ($48 monthly payment over 24 months)
  • $3,069 ($150 monthly payment over 24 months)

You then enter your payment information. You can use a checking account or debit card. However, using a debit card will cost you a convenience fee based on your monthly payment plan. Using your checking account is best.

How the Credit Builder Loan Helps

The moment you take out the Credit Builder Loan, you have a FDIC-insured Certificate of Deposit opened in your name. Like any other CD, you cannot touch the money until it reaches maturity. In this case, it's 24 months.

The bank deposits the full amount in the CD, allowing it to earn 0.10% interest over the next 24 months. While the interest is really peanuts, the real benefit lies in the payments you make towards the loan.

As long as you make each loan payment on time, Self reports the timely payments to the credit bureaus. According to Self, clients who open a Credit Builder account and make on-time payments see an average credit score increase of as much as 49 points.

This only works, however, if all aspects of your credit are in line. For example, if you have a credit card with another company that you let default, your credit score will fall. This is independent of what the Credit Builder loan can do for you. It's up to you how you handle all aspects of your credit profile.

Tip: It's best if you do not pay the Credit Builder Loan early. The main benefit is the timely payments reported to the credit bureau. If you pay it off early, you negate the benefits of the loan. Plus, you cannot touch the CD until maturity or you risk paying a penalty.

Pros and Cons of Self

As with any financial product, there are pros and cons of Self.

Pros

  • All payments are reported to the credit bureau to help you build a credit profile.
  • You have a "forced" savings account.
  • You don't need a credit check to get approved.
  • The interest rate is often less than that of a credit card.
  • An installment loan may diversify your credit mix, which further helps your credit score.
  • Check Your Rate >>

Cons

  • If you have a negative history with bank accounts, you may not qualify.
  • Late payments are reported to the credit bureaus and could damage your credit.
  • It costs you 5% per monthly payment if you miss the grace period of 15 days.
  • The interest earned on the CD is next to nothing.
  • You have to pay to take out the loan versus other free ways to build credit.

How It Compares to Other Options to Build Credit

Self isn't the only way consumers with thin or damaged credit can build credit.

  • Secured credit card: This option isn't free upfront, but it can be if handled correctly. Your credit line equals your deposit. You can find secured credit cards that require as little as $200 deposited. If you pay the balance off each month, you don't pay any interest. You can also get your deposit back if you upgrade or close your account.

  • Co-signer on a loan: If you have a willing co-signer for a loan, you may be able to get approved for a standard credit card or installment loan.

  • Authorized user: Ask to become an authorized user on a parent, sibling, or other close relative's credit card. Make sure you ask the credit card company beforehand if they report payment history for authorized users, though.

Bottom Line

If you've exhausted all other "free" options to build credit, Self can be helpful. If you don't have anyone who can co-sign a loan or make you an authorized user, you have two options: a secured credit card or Self. If you don't have the money to open a secured credit card, Self may offer the lower cost way to build your credit.

Make sure before you take this option that you can afford the monthly payments. Paying for a loan that you will only pay late will damage your credit score and cost you money. When taken responsibly, though, the service can help you improve your score in a short amount of time.

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.
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Write to Kim P 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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