Credit Strong offers credit builder loans. These “loans” won’t help you buy things. In fact, you don’t get any money until after you close the account, at which point you get the principal portion of your payments back.
As the name implies, the purpose of their accounts is to build your credit. Signing up for one adds an installment loan to all three of your credit reports and gives you an opportunity to make timely payments, establishing a positive payment history.
Credit Strong provides credit builder loans with no credit check. They can help build your credit score by diversifying your credit mix and improving your payment history with timely payments. Credit Strong will be most effective if you have a thin credit file with few or no installment loans. You will pay interest, and it’s not an effective way to save money, despite their claims.
Easy to qualify
No credit check
Effective at building credit
Wide variety of account options
Expensive compared to secured credit cards
Credit Strong is legit, and their accounts can definitely boost your score if you use them correctly. They’re especially effective if your credit profile is lacking in installment debt.
They also have a dozen options to choose from, which lets you prioritize whatever’s most important to you (i.e., lowest monthly payment or highest loan amount).
However, you’ll have to pay interest and fees for the privilege, so it’s not the cheapest way to raise your score.
A secured credit card would be a cheaper option, but if you want to place both revolving and installment credit on your record – which will give you a better credit mix – you could opt for both a secured card and a credit builder loan.
What is Credit Strong?
Credit Strong’s primary purpose is to build credit, and it does a reasonably good job. They claim to have studied 50,000 of their customers’ accounts and found that people saw the following changes to their FICO Score 8 on average:
- A 25-point increase within three months
- An almost 40-point increase after nine months
- Just shy of a 70-point increase after a year if they made all payments on time
👉 People who started the process with no score and paid on time for a year finished with a credit score between 630 and 650.
These are solid results but not irreplicable. You could probably get the same or better results by sticking with a traditional installment loan for a year.
The advantage of Credit Strong is that it’s easy to qualify for their accounts. They hold onto your loan proceeds until the end as collateral, so they don’t even have to check your score.
In addition to helping you build credit, Credit Strong claims that they help you save money. That’s true in some sense, but only in that signing up for your monthly Credit Strong payments commits you to put some of your paychecks aside.
Once you’ve paid off your account, you get back the portion of your monthly payments that went toward paying off the principal amount of the loan.
⚠️ In reality, you’d save far more money if you just committed to putting the same amount each month into a savings account, so don’t use Credit Strong as a way to save money.
Build credit while you save money. No credit required, no security deposit, easy approval!
How Does Credit Strong Work?
Credit Strong accounts work like reverse installment loans. Instead of getting your loan proceeds upfront, you get them at the end, after you’ve paid off the balance. In the meantime, you make monthly installments toward principal and interest.
Here’s a more in-depth explanation of how Credit Strong works.
How to Sign Up for Credit Strong
Signing up for Credit Strong is a lot easier than applying for a traditional installment account. They don’t pull your credit report or check your credit score, so the only requirements for getting an account per their website are:
- Have a cell phone number, Google Voice account, and email address
- Be 18 years old and a permanent U.S resident with a physical U.S. address
- Have a valid social security number or individual taxpayer identification number
- Have a checking account, debit card, or prepaid card in good standing
☝️ Credit Strong is available in every state except for Wisconsin and Vermont. These states have laws that prevent secured consumer lending or make it too costly to implement.
You can sign up by filling in the application form on Credit Strong website.
How to Use Credit Strong
While your Credit Strong account is open, you make payments on it like any installment debt. The amounts go to both principal and interest, with more going toward interest in the earlier years.
You can make your payments through your checking account or debit card, including some prepaid cards. There are often fees if you pay with a card, so it’s better to use your bank account.
👉 Tip: You can set up an autopay to make sure you never miss a payment. If you don’t, you have a 14-day grace period before they’ll report you as late and charge you for it.
As you make your payments, Credit Strong reports them to all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. They’ll give you your Transunion FICO 8 Score monthly so you can monitor your progress as you go.
How to Cancel Credit Strong
One of the primary benefits of credit builder loans like Credit Strong is that they generally let you cancel your account at any point. That significantly reduces the risk of you hurting your score because you can’t afford your payments.
There are no fees for canceling, and you’ll get back any principal that you’ve accumulated to that point. The easiest way to tell Credit Strong that you don’t want to continue is to call their customer support at (833) 850-0850.
👉 Important Note on Cancellation: If you cancel your loan you will get back the money that has been applied to your loan principal. In the early stages of repayment, Credit Strong applies most of your payment to interest. If you cancel early you may get back only a small amount of what you put in.
Credit Strong Pricing
Credit Strong offers three types of accounts, each of which targets a different audience. Within each category, there are at least two options. They are:
- Build accounts that prioritize keeping your monthly payment down
- Build and Save accounts that have the shortest repayment terms
- MAGNUM accounts that have the lowest APRs and highest principal amounts to help users prepare for building business credit
|BUILD 1000||BUILD 2500||BUILD AND SAVE 1000||BUILD AND SAVE 1100||BUILD AND SAVE 2000||MAGNUM® 5000||MAGNUM® 10000|
|Max Term||10 years||10 years||24 months||36 months||24 months||10 years||10 years|
💡 If the table above looks confusing, be sure to read our article on costs of credit builder loans to get familiar with the terms and see how each of these factors influences the amount of money you’ll end up paying.
You always have the option to pay your balance in advance or cancel your account entirely, so the repayment terms aren’t a requirement. Cancellation will reduce the account’s impact on your credit by reducing the number of timely payments you make.
The account will remain on your credit report after it is paid off, but its impact on your credit score will be greatest while the account is active.
Build credit while you save money. No credit required, no security deposit, easy approval!
Credit Strong Customer Reviews
Like many credit-related products and services, Credit Strong receives mixed customer reviews. It’s hard to find an accurate average rating for them because crowdsourced reviews often include fake profiles, and upset people are more likely to leave comments.
However, there are some noticeable trends.
👇 For example, a lot of their negative reviews are due to confusion over how the accounts work. People who apply expecting to get an installment loan are, of course, going to be severely disappointed.
Here’s an example from Google Reviews.
Similarly, people often fail to look at the amortization tables that break down their principal and interest on their accounts. They cancel early and are surprised that they won’t get back most of their money.
Here’s an example from the Better Business Bureau.
There are some complaints from people who have difficulties logging into the account or found the customer service people unhelpful. But for the most part, users who understand the nature of credit builder loans are often satisfied with their results, more or less.
Here’s another example from Google:
The lesson from these reviews is simple: if you understand the product before you sign up, you’re less likely to be disappointed.
Credit Strong Alternatives
There’s no shortage of credit builder loans on the market, and all of them follow a similar pattern. You can apply and qualify without a credit check. Once you get approval, you make payments until you’ve paid off the principal balance, at which point you’ll get that amount back in cash.
There are differences in their terms, though. Here’s an overview of some other options.
|Self||MoneyLion||Digital Federal Credit Union|
|Minimum Monthly Payment||$25||$43 plus $19.99 monthly membership fee||$43.87 per $1,000 in principal|
|Principal Amounts||$600 to $1,800||$500 to $1,000||$500 to $3,000|
|Max Repayment Term||24 months||12 months||24 months|
|Annual Percentage Rate||15.91% to 15.97%||5.99% to 29.99%||5%|
|One-Time Admin Fee||$9||N/A||N/A|
|Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
Before applying for a credit-building account, make sure you confirm that it reports to all three credit bureaus. Some products don’t.
Learn More: Read our detailed comparison of the best credit builder loans available today to see how Credit Strong measures up.
Is Credit Strong Worth It?
Credit Strong can legitimately help you rebuild a damaged credit score or create one from scratch. It’s most effective if you have a thin credit file with few or no installment loans.
If you are starting out with credit building you may have revolving credit, like a secured card or even being an authorized user on someone else’s card, on your record. If you don’t have an installment loan on your record (like a student loan or car loan) a credit builder loan could be an effective way to improve your credit.
☝️ The main problem with Credit Strong is inherent to credit builder loans in general. You’re paying money for the privilege of building your credit.
Say you take the $15 Build Credit Strong account and keep it open for a year. You’d end up putting $180 into the account after twelve months, but if you cancel then, you’d only get back $52.
If you use a secured credit card instead, you could build your credit without paying interest. It won’t diversify your credit mix if you lack installment accounts, but it should be about as effective at improving your score over time anyway. Payment history is more important to your credit score than credit mix.
The downside to secured cards is that you have to fund a deposit (which will tie up some money) and undergo a credit check. You also don’t have the luxury of canceling your account for free if you think you’re going to miss a payment.
However, you can get a secured card with a deposit as low as $200. Because of the cash collateral, they’re easy to get even with bad credit. Once you have the account, you can spend as little as you need to build credit without risk.
If you do decide that a credit builder loan is the right move for you, Credit Strong offers a very useful product that’s worth considering. The main question you’ll need to answer is whether you want to use a credit builder loan or not.