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Credit Strong is a company that promises to help you build your credit history and improve your credit score, all with no minimum score requirements. But are this company and its claims legitimate?
By using a Credit Strong account, which is equal parts personal loan and savings account, existing customers have been able to successfully build, or rebuild, their credit simply by keeping up a positive payment history.
Here we’ll detail all of the Credit Strong features, both the good and the bad, and let you determine if Credit Strong is a legitimate and worthwhile credit repair solution for you.
Is Credit Strong Legit?
Yes, Credit Strong is a legitimate company whose goal is to help their customers build credit using a customized credit builder loan. They have been in business for over 4 years and currently have a B rating on the Better Business Bureau website.
That said, many of their BBB reviews are not that great. Most of this stems from customers not knowing how a credit builder loan works, as well as complaints that Credit Strong’s interest rates and fees are too high.
Credit Strong’s reviews on Google are much better, with a mix of those complaining about the fees and interest, versus those praising the company for helping them build their credit.
The company itself is actually a division of the 5-star rated Austin Capital Bank which is FDIC insured. It is a community bank located in Austin, Texas.
Austin Capital Bank has also appeared on the Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for 5 years in a row. Which could mean that there is a bright future ahead for the bank as well as Credit Strong and its customers.
How Does a Credit Builder Account Work?
A credit builder loan is a type of secured loan. Secured means that the money being loaned is backed by cash (i.e. deposit) or collateral.
In the case of a credit builder loan, the funds are secured by cash. But don’t worry, you won’t need to fork over any cash to open this loan.
Instead, when the loan is approved, the funds are directly deposited into a locked savings account. Each month, as you make loan payments, you unlock a portion of these funds. Then, at the end of the loan repayment period, all of the funds are returned to you, minus any fees.
For example, if you took out a 12-month loan for $1000. Your monthly payment would be $89. (FYI – most people opt for the $15 per month payment plan when they get started.)
At the end of the 12 months, you’d unlock the $1000 loan minus what you paid in interest charges. Under this scenario, it would be between $600-$700.
If you close the account early/before the full 12 months are up, there is no early termination fee and you’re not on the hook for the full amount. But you’ll also only get back a small portion of what you paid.
To be clear – you don’t get a lump sum of money when you sign up for a credit builder loan. You just start making payments. So in practice, it’s like a month-to-month subscription that builds your credit.
Most of the negative reviews were from people who didn’t understand that.
When they saw the word “loan” they thought they would get a bunch of money, because they didn’t pay attention to what they were signing up for.
For additional details, check out our Credit Strong Review.
How Many Points Does Credit Strong Boost Your Credit Score?
How much Credit Strong will boost your score depends on what your credit score looks like to begin with.
If you have no credit, your score will go up quickly. With just 12 months of on-time payments, you could reach a score in the mid-600s.
If you have bad credit caused by a thin profile, then your credit score will likely increase on the faster side as well.
If your bad credit score is caused by missed payments or bankruptcy, then your score will be slower to improve.
Per Credit Strong’s own research, their average customer saw a credit score increase of 25 points within 3 short months.
Reading through Credit Strong reviews, customers are reporting credit score increases of anywhere between a few dozen points to a 300+ point credit score increase.
It is important to note that once you open an account, it may take as long as 60 days after your first payment for your account to appear on all three credit bureaus. So, if you don’t see a change to your score right away, then give it just a little more time.
How Does Credit Strong Appear on Credit Reports?
As you begin making payments on your credit builder loan, your account will be added to your credit reports.
It should appear under the loans section as an installment loan issued by Austin Capital Bank SSB. This is the bank that Credit Strong is a division of.
The date you opened the account will be reported as the age of the account, the loan amount will be reported as the original loan amount (sort of like a credit limit), and your loan payments will be reported as payment history.
This information should appear on all three of your credit reports.
Nowhere on your credit report will this loan be displayed as a “secured” loan, nor will there ever be a credit check or hard pull from Credit Strong.
When you have finished paying off your credit builder loan, then your zero dollar balance, along with the account closing date, will be added to your credit report.
Even after your account is closed, the loan account will remain on your credit report to show proof of your ability to pay off debt.
Does Credit Strong Do a Hard Pull?
Usually, when you are opening a new credit account, the lender performs a credit check or hard pull of your credit report. This hard pull can actually damage your score, particularly if you have several of them in a short time period.
Credit Strong doesn’t do a hard pull of your credit.
This means that having poor credit or even no credit can’t disqualify you from getting approved for their credit builder loan.
Because the loan funds are secured, they have no need to pull your credit.
Now, Credit Strong may opt to do what is called a soft pull. This type of pull may appear on your credit report, under soft pulls, but does not affect your credit score. Other companies do this as well, for instance, your landlord, employer, credit card issuer, etc.
The reason Credit Strong does a soft pull of your credit is just to verify your identity. Make sure that you are who you say you are and that your social security number matches.
How Does Credit Strong Compare to its Competitors?
Credit Strong is not the only credit building company offering customers secured loans. There are several others on the market.
Self Financial is one company that offers credit builder loans. They don’t have as much variety in loan amounts and repayment periods, but they do offer a secured credit card (Self Visa credit card) in conjunction with their secured loan.
The online banking company, Chime, offers a unique credit-builder account. Instead of working like a loan, Chime’s account works more like a prepaid card and reports like a credit card.
When you open the card, you transfer over funds, and as you make purchases, the amount is deducted from your funds. The purchases are then reported at the end of the month to the major credit bureaus as a credit card payment.
MoneyLion is another company that offers a credit builder loan. Their credit builder loan is more limited in that you can only apply for up to $1000 and the repayment period is set to 12 months.
Their account doesn’t come with any admin fees or interest charges, instead, you’ll have to pay a $20/month subscription fee for access to this account, in addition to receiving access to a savings account, investment account, rewards earning program, and more.
While there are other companies offering credit builder accounts, Credit Strong is the only one offering customizable loans to fit every budget and credit building goal.
Credit Strong Account Options and Pricing
Credit Strong offers a variety of plans to suit their customers’ needs. Whether you are looking to build your credit over the long term or get in and out of a secured loan as quickly as possible, they have a plan for that.
Below is a breakdown of each of the plan types, amounts, loan terms, and fees.
The Subscribe plan starts with a monthly payment as low as $15. You can customize this plan, choosing a loan value of $1000 or $2500, and a repayment period of up to 10 years.
The one-time, non-refundable administration fee for this loan is $15. The APR rate for the larger loan is 7.89%, while the smaller loan comes with an APR of 13.5%
This plan is designed for those looking for a straightforward way to just build credit.
Build & Save
The Build and Save plan comes with payments starting as low as $48/month. With these plans, you can choose from 3 set plans:
- $1000 repaid over 24 months at 14.89% APR
- $1000 repaid over 12 months at 14.04% APR
- $2000 repaid over 24 months at 14.43% APR
All of these plans come with an $8.95 admin fee.
These plans are designed to build your credit while also building up your savings as quickly as possible with the least amount of interest charges paid.
The Magnum plans are higher value loans. You can choose a $5,000 loan or a $10,000 loan and repayment periods can be customized up to 10 years.
The Magnum plans have the lowest APR rates of all their plans, with the lower value having an APR of 5.91% and the $10,000 plan having a 5.85% APR. These plans also have the highest admin fee at $25.
Magnum plans are designed to help those that are building credit for business purposes. With their high values, you can show potential lenders that you can handle larger obligations.
Who Should Use Credit Strong and Is It Worth It?
Credit Strong’s credit builder loans are designed for those trying to build credit.
With no credit check and low fees, this makes them ideal for those with bad credit or no credit history at all.
Those with good credit just looking to improve their score by a few points more should look at other ways of building their credit.
For those their service and product can benefit, the potential credit score increase is the determining factor in if it is worth it.
Those who manage the account well can see a credit score increase ranging between 25 points to over 100, though the exact number will depend on the makeup of each individual’s credit score.
And, if you have less than stellar credit and are trying to qualify for business financing, then Credit Strong’s Magnum plan can be a worthwhile resource to use in proving your responsibility to manage high-value debt.
If you aren’t good at managing on-time payments or if you already have several installment loans reporting on your credit, then Credit Strong’s credit builder loan will not be worthwhile for you.
A Credit Strong account has the power to improve your overall credit history and score. By having this installment loan report your monthly payment history, you can quickly build credit.
And because the lender doesn’t require a credit check, there is no ding to that portion of your credit score.
The fact that the Credit Strong accounts operate kind of like a savings account means that you get to build your savings and your credit rating at the same time.
No, not all of the Credit Strong reviews out there praise the company’s service, but all of them agree that this is a legitimate company with a credit builder loan that can help you improve your credit score.
Amanda Garland is a personal finance blogger living in Dallas, TX. 10 years ago she was living paycheck to paycheck and knew nothing about how credit works. She learned some hard lessons in her fight for financial stability. Now she has a friendly competition going with her husband to see who can reach a credit score of 850 first. She is also a poet, having obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.