Best Credit Builder Programs

Best Credit Builder Loan

CreditStrong

CreditStrong

5
5/5

Best Rent Reporting Service

BoomPay logo

BoomPay

5
5/5

Best for Building Credit with Bills

StellarFi

StellarFi

5
5/5

Build Credit with Bills

Grow Credit

Grow Credit

4.5
4.5/5

Personalize Credit Repair Software

smartcredit logo

Smart Credit

5
5/5
Best Credit Builder Program

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What is good credit? Score-wise, the experts say it is 670 and above. This makes for a great goal, but how do you get there?

Ideally, to achieve a good credit profile and score, a balance of 3 revolving credit accounts (i.e. credit cards) and 1 installment account (personal loan, auto loan, etc.) is the best mix.

Making timely payments, and keeping your utilization low (around 10%) is also critical. These things combined can put you on the path to a perfect 850 FICO credit score. 

But if you are just starting out, carrying a lot of debt, or trying to rebuild your credit, trying to hit the 670 mark, let alone 800+, can seem nearly impossible.

The good news is there are credit builder programs and products out there that can help you, even if you have bad credit.

The Best Credit Builder Programs

Compare Credit Builder Programs

TypeScore IncreaseCost
CreditStrongCredit builder loanBig$15/month
Extra Debit CardDebit card that builds creditBig$149/year or $199/year
StellarFiBill ReportingBig$4.99/ month
SmartCreditCredit Improvement PlanningBig$19.95/month
BoomPayReports rent to credit bureausBig$3/month
SelfCredit builder loanBig$25/month
Grow CreditReports bills to credit bureausBigFree
Experian BOOST Bill reportingSmallFree
Secured Credit CardsCredit cardBig$300+
Authorized UsersCredit cardBigFree

What Is the Best Credit Builder Program?     

Credit building programs are designed to help you improve your credit report and increase your credit score. There are a variety of different credit builder programs out there, and the one that is best for you will depend on your individual needs.

It used to be that secured credit cards and credit card authorized user access were the only way for people without credit to build it. But thanks to new credit-building programs, that’s no longer the case.

Now, anyone can report their rent payments to the credit bureaus. There are debit cards that build credit. And there are loans specifically designed for people building their credit – these didn’t use to exist!

Also Read: Debit Cards That Build Credit

Or, if you just need that final push to get your score high enough to qualify for a better interest rate on a loan, then maybe you can visit the purple cow (and John Cena) at Experian BOOST.        

Credit Strong Credit Builder Loan        

Credit Builder Program Highlights
Average credit score increase: 25-70 points
Timeline to Score Increase: 3 months
Cost: $15/month

CreditStrong offers a variety of credit builder loan amounts and plans that can help you accomplish your goals. They include

  • Revolv: a revolving credit builder account 
  • Instal: a credit builder installment loan
  • MAGNUM: a larger credit building installment loan

Each of their loan plans locks away the funds for your selected loan amount in a savings account. Once you finish the loan term, you get the full value of the loan returned to you (minus any fees).

Also Read: Best Credit Building Apps

CreditStrong did a study of their customer base and found that, on average, their customers see a 25-point increase within three months of signing up. Within 12 months, customers see an average 70-point increase.

And if you’re new to credit? Customers with no credit score saw their score go up to about 640 after 12 months of on-time payments.

That’s quite the success rate!

For those with an installment loan looking to improve their credit mix, CreditStrong offers the Revolv account. It reports a $500 revolving credit account to all three credit bureaus. There’s no credit check and no debt. 

There’s an annual subscription fee of $99, but all the monthly payments you make will go into that secured savings account. The best part is, after three consecutive on-time payments, your credit limit will increase by $100!

If you are just looking to add an installment loan to your credit report to build a better credit score, then their Build and Save option with its low loan values ($1000 or $2500) and a customizable loan term (up to 10 years) might be a good fit for you.

You can do a monthly payment for as little as $15 per month, and cancel anytime for free.

The Build and Save plan is similar to the Build plan, but with a shorter repayment time (24 months to 36 months), you get your funds faster ($1000 or $2000) and lose less money to interest fees.         

For those wanting to build a good credit history ahead of launching a business, CreditStrong offers their MAGNUM plan (not to be confused with the ice cream bar).

This is a high-dollar credit builder loan ($10,000) that can demonstrate to a prospective lender that you can handle serious commitments.

CreditStrong also provides resources to help you learn more about credit and other finance topics.

If you’re not sure where to start, get started with Revolv for the quickest credit score boost.

Try CreditStrong

 

StellarFi

Average Credit Score Increase: Varies by customer

Timeline to Score Increase: 30-60 days

Cost: $4.99/ month for the Lite plan, $9.99/ month for the Prime plan.

Bill reporting services don’t always report to each major credit bureau. Most times, you’ll have to use more than one to get credit for bills in different categories like rent or streaming. StellarFi puts an end to that.

When you link your bank account to StellarFi, they’ll pay bills on your behalf and report your monthly payments to the credit bureaus. That applies to all of your bills and they report to all three credit bureaus. 

With their Prime plan, you’ll get up to a $25,000 credit line reported to your credit to pay bills. Pair that with extra benefits like

  • 1-on-1 live credit coaching
  • Credit building rewards
  • Free 30-day trial 
  • Autopay for your bills

Lite is the StellarFi introductory plan that costs $4.99 a month. Even at a lower price, you still get up to a $500 bill-paying limit reported to all three credit reporting agencies. This plan is great for people with lower monthly bills. 

What’s great about StellarFi is that they automatically adjust your credit limit to reflect the ideal credit utilization rate which keeps your credit climbing. 

Try StellarFi

 

SmartCredit

Average Credit Score Increase: Varies by customer

Timeline to Score Increase: 30-60 days

Cost: $19.95/month for the Basic plan, $27.95/month for the Premium plan. 

SmartCredit won’t link to your bank account or have you pay your bills through them. Instead, they build a personalized credit improvement plan showing you how to fix and build your credit over the next 120 days. 

It’s a great tool for people with a few past credit mistakes who need guidance on changing their situation. SmartCredit brings other credit tools into the mix so you can manage everything in one place. 

They have three patented tools you can use to manage your credit: 

  • ScoreBoost: simulate your credit score and plan ahead. 
  • ScoreBuilder: take action with a customized plan for any negative items. 
  • ScoreTracker: see the progress and history of your credit score

As a bonus, they also offer

  • Privacy and fraud insurance
  • Credit alerts
  • Money management system 

The biggest benefit of using SmartCredit is that everything is in one place. Track and monitor your credit, get a customized plan, and plan out your next move all in one place. 

Although they don’t report rent or bills to the credit bureaus, they still help you build credit with actionable steps that make credit building feel easier. 

Try SmartCredit

 

Extra Debit Card

Credit Builder Program Highlights
Average credit score increase: Anywhere from 5-100 points
Timeline to Score Increase: 1-3 months
Cost: $149/year or $199/year

The Extra Debit Card is the first debit card that builds credit. It reports your debit card payments to the credit bureaus, which raises your credit scores.

It’s great because:

  • Almost anyone qualifies, even if you have bad credit or no credit
  • You can’t get into debt like you can with a credit card
  • You get to keep your current bank account

When you get your debit card, it links to your current bank account. After you make a purchase, it automatically takes the money from your bank account within one business day.

It is accepted anywhere that takes Mastercard, which is pretty much everywhere in the US.

It’s great because there is no credit check and no security deposit. It costs $149 per year for their Credit Building plan and $199 a year for their Rewards + Credit Building plan.

The Rewards plan lets you earn rewards for all of your purchases and gives you exclusive access to their Rewards Store.

Extra reports payments to Experian and Equifax. Unfortunately, it doesn’t report to TransUnion at this time.

The Extra Debit Card makes it so that anyone can be accepted and potentially earn rewards.

For this reason, it’s one of our top credit builder program picks.

Try Extra

 

BoomPay

Credit Builder Program Highlights
Average credit score increase: 40 points
Timeline to Score Increase: 15 days
Cost: $25 for past payment reporting, $3/month for ongoing reporting

Rent payments don’t usually get reported to the credit bureaus. So paying your rent doesn’t normally help you build your credit.

That’s where BoomPay comes in. BoomPay is great because it allows you to build credit from paying your rent.

For a one-time $25 fee, it reports up to 24 months of past rent payments all at once to all 3 credit bureaus. It connects to your bank account with secure, read-only access, and verifies that you paid your rent every month.

This gets reported to the credit bureaus, and within two to three weeks, your credit score goes up!

Your landlord/property manager doesn’t have to get involved. (Or even know about it!) All that you need is your lease and bank access.

For an ongoing fee of $3 per month, BoomPay can also report your ongoing rent payments to the credit bureaus.

This is one of the fastest ways that you can boost your credit. BoomPay claims that their customers see an average credit score increase of 40 points within 15 days.

If you have no credit score at all, they claim that BoomPay could boost it up to a credit score of 670.  

Try BoomPay

 

Self Credit Builder Loan        

Credit Builder Program Highlights
Average credit score increase: 32 points
Timeline to Score Increase: 6-12 months
Cost: $25/month

The credit builder loan offered by Self Financial (formerly called Self Lender) is similar to Credit Strong’s Build and Save Plan in that it works like a savings account. You can customize the value of your loan using the dollar value of the monthly payment you would like.

For example, a $25 monthly loan payment would get you a $600 loan, while a $150/month payment would get you a loan for $1800.

The repayment terms on these loans are 12 or 24 months. They don’t have the option to have loans with terms up to 120 months, like Credit Strong.         

And, if your credit needs work beyond just obtaining a loan, Self offers a Visa credit card that is backed by your credit builder loan. As you make regular payments on the loan, your loan funds are used to secure your credit card.

So you can leverage your credit-builder account to get your first credit card. This can boost your low credit score twice as fast!

Try Self

 

Grow Credit

Credit Builder Program Highlights
Average credit score increase: 10-100 points
Timeline to Score Increase: 30-60 days
Cost: Free plans or paid plans up to $8/month

Grow Credit allows you to build credit on monthly bills that you already have. Their free plan allows you to build credit through subscription bills including:

  • Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime
  • Spotify and Pandora
  • DoorDash, GrubHub and Uber Eats

With their paid plans, you can report other types of bills like cell phone or internet bills from companies like:

  • Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint
  • Comcast Xfinity, Cox and Spectrum
  • Geico or AAA
  • DirecTV

The way it works is that they issue you a Mastercard credit card that can only be used to pay one of these pre-approved bills

They report your monthly payments to all three credit bureaus, and your credit grows just the same as if you were using a normal credit card.

Grow Credit is the best way to build credit from paying your monthly bills! 

Try Grow Credit

 

Experian BOOST™

Credit Builder Program Highlights
Average credit score increase: 13 points
Cost: 100% Free

The Experian BOOST program, well known for its commercials featuring John Cena riding a purple cow, lets you quickly boost your credit score.

The way it works is that you link your bank and/or credit union accounts and Experian evaluates bills like utilities and subscriptions that don’t normally appear on your credit history unless you are delinquent.

Using this information; how much you pay, how regularly you pay, and how long you’ve been paying can give you a boost to your FICO credit score.

The downside is that this information is only added to your Experian report, and the boost amount is not very much. According to their own website, the average increase is 13 points. If you pay your bills using a credit card instead of a debit card, you might not see a boost at all.

The reason that we included this on the list is that it is quick, easy, and free. If you pay utility bills or watch Netflix or Hulu+, it’s a painless and risk-free way to score a few extra points.

Sign Up Here

 

Secured Credit Cards         

Another option for building your credit is to open a secured credit card.

A secured credit card uses a cash deposit (that you put down) as insurance to the lender in case you don’t pay your balance. Even though you put a cash deposit down, all the charges you make are still using the credit line the bank or credit union gave you on the card.

When your statement cuts, you then make payments just as you would a regular credit card. This means that a secured credit card will report to the credit bureaus just like a regular credit card would.

When shopping around for a secured credit card, there are a few features you want to watch out for. Some secured credit cards have annual fees. And many of them have a high interest rate that could cost you a sizable chunk of change if you carry a balance.

A secured card that offers you the option to upgrade to an unsecured product later on is the best since it allows you to get your deposit back by converting your card into an unsecured credit card.

Become an Authorized User on Someone Else’s Credit Card        

One option for building credit history is to become an authorized user on someone else’s card, usually a family member.

This is an especially appealing option for young people, including college students (under 21) who find it difficult to qualify for their own credit card.

While becoming an authorized user can help your credit, being an authorized user is not weighted the same as having an account in your own name. So credit score changes are not as good as they are for owning your own card.

Also, using this method to help build your credit only works if the primary account holder (the person who holds the account you became an authorized user on) pays the bill on time and keeps a small balance. Otherwise, their bad habits could damage your fledgling score.

If you have a responsible parent, spouse, or sibling willing to let you on their account as an authorized user, it can be a fast and easy way to boost your credit.

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