Self Financial out of Austin, TX is well known for its credit builder loan product because it is easy to get and requires no minimum credit score. But with their limitations on loan value and repayment terms, their product may not be the best fit for every situation.
So let’s take a look at some of Self Lender’s top competitors and the credit building products they offer.
Self Competitor Credit Builder Loan Features
Primary Product or Service
Credit Builder Loans
Credit Builder Loans
Line of retail credit
Other Products & Services Offered
Secured Visa Credit Card
Marketplace for other types of loans
Investment account, credit builder account
Savings account, credit builder account
Fees on Credit Builder loan
$9 admin fee
$15 – $25
$19.99 membership fee
Interest rate on Credit Builder Accounts
5.83% – 14.92%
5.99% – 29.99%
Up to $1800
Up to $10,000
Up to $1000
No set limit
$500 line of credit
Loan Repayment Terms
Up to 24 months
12 months to 10 years
Other Important Credit Builder Facts
Visa tied to your Self credit builder account
No credit check
Will cancel membership at any time once the loan is paid off
Works like a Secured credit card
Doesn’t report to TransUnion
For more information on Self Lender’s credit building services, check out this Self Lender review.
Credit Strong’s credit builder loans work in the same way that Self Lender operates their credit builder loans, but with a few key differences.
Where Self Lender has a very limited set of plans, Credit Strong offers you multiple credit building options. Some of these options can make a big difference in your credit score.
Credit Strong takes the cake because:
- It has long-term term lengths – this is HUGE for building your length of credit history!
- Plans start at only $15/month
- They are a division of Austin Capital Bank – a 5-star rated bank
Their base “Subscribe” plan allows you to take out a loan for $1000 or $2500. You get to choose a repayment length between 12 months and 10 years. This could make your monthly payment as low as $15 on the $1000 dollar loan.
Next up, they offer $1000 and $2000 “Save and Build” plans with repayment terms between 12 and 24 months. This allows you to build your credit history with an installment loan reporting every month and at the end of your repayment term, you get $1000 or $2000 respectively.
And because your loan term is shorter than the up to 10 years offered on the Subscribe plans, you’ll pay less in interest over the duration of the loan.
The final account option Credit Strong offers is their “Magnum” plan. These accounts are higher in value; $5000 or $10,000. Like the Subscribe plan, you can choose a repayment length between 12 months and 10 years.
These Magnum accounts are designed to not only help you boost your credit score but to also show loan officers that you are capable of handling larger obligations. This can be extremely helpful for self-employed borrowers and those trying to take out a business loan.
Unlike Self and Credit Strong, MoneyLion is a financial institution primarily focused on mobile banking. They offer a variety of traditional bank services including investment accounts, cash advances, a debit card that earns rewards, and more.
Among the services MoneyLion offers is their credit builder loan type called Credit Builder Plus.
Unlike Credit Strong, or Self Lender’s credit builder loans, the terms on the MoneyLion product are very limited. The max loan value is $1000, and the only repayment length offered is 12 months.
There is also the $19.99 membership fee to consider. But you can earn this money back through their Lion’s Share Loyalty program although this will require opening a Roar Lion bank account.
One feature that MoneyLion offers that the other credit builder loan products on this list do not, is immediate access to a portion of your loan funds.
Most credit builder loans take your loan amount and lock away the funds until your repayment term is up. Only then do they release the funds to you, the borrower. So even as you are making monthly payments, you are often limited in what you can do with your credit builder funds.
MoneyLion actually unlocks a portion of the loan for you right away, and you can draw it out of your account which can be helpful if you have unexpected bills to pay. They also offer 0% APR cash advances on your Credit Builder Plus account.
Like MoneyLion, Chime’s focus is on mobile banking. Their primary product is a fee-free checking account. And I do mean fee-free. There are no maintenance fees, no ATM fees, no foreign transactions fees, and no overdraft fees.
In addition to their checking, or “Spending” account as they call it, Chime offers a Savings account and a Credit Builder account.
Chime’s Credit Builder account differs greatly from the others on this list. Instead of the traditional installment account, this account works more like a secured credit card would.
To use Chime’s Credit Builder account, you will first need to have opened a Spending bank account. You can open the Credit Builder account and transfer money from your Spending account. They then issue you a Visa credit card.
The card is secured by the money you transferred over. As you make purchases, this money is used to automatically pay off your purchases. So in this regard, it works more like a prepaid card, but reports like a credit card.
Since the account is tied directly to your Chime bank account, there are no membership, admin, or loan origination fees to worry about either. And no interest charges.
The downside to this type of account is in how it reports to the credit bureaus. There is no set credit limit on this card, and Chime does not report your positive cash balance as a credit limit either. So this credit builder account can only help with credit history and not credit utilization.
Considering this, Chime is really best for those completely averse to fees and those who only need their score bumped up by a few points.
The service Kikoff offers is not a true Credit Builder account. It is not a loan and you don’t build savings. Instead, what Kikoff offers is a credit line that they report to the credit bureaus so that you can establish good credit history and increase your FICO score.
With their service, you get a $500 credit line. You then need to purchase something through their store. Purchases can be as small as $10.
Once you’ve purchased something, Kikoff gives you interest-free repayment options. For instance, you can choose to make 4 months of $5 payments on a $20 purchase. Kikoff then reports your payment history to Experian and Equifax.
While Kikoff’s service is completely fee and interest-free, there are some downsides.
Kikoff is the only lender on this list that requires you to spend money. And your spending is limited to their store.
Even if there are items in their store that you want or need, you don’t have the option of shopping around for the best deal. And with such a low limit, if you purchase an item that costs $400, then this will kill your credit utilization rate on this account.
Yes, Kikoff credit accounts can help improve their clients’ credit scores. But the whole point of building credit is to save money, not spend it. Encouraging people to spend money they don’t have on stuff they don’t need is how many people end up with bad credit to begin with.
What is the Best Credit Builder Loan?
So, after comparing these four lenders against Self Lender, which one do we think is the best when it comes to credit building services? Credit Strong is the clear winner.
With the wide variety of credit builder loan amounts and customizable repayment plans, they likely have a plan to suit anyone’s credit building or rebuilding needs.
Their fees are reasonable, they will never do a hard pull of your credit report, and they report to all three credit bureaus. Also, when your credit score graduates to good or excellent, they can help you find a good rate on business loans, student loans, and other types of personal loans.
So, if you are looking for a great credit builder loan, and Self Lender’s product doesn’t meet your needs, then maybe take a look at Credit Strong to see if they have a plan that will work for you.
- How Much Does Self Raise Your Credit Score?
- Self Lender Review
- Self Credit Card Review
- Self Lender Complaints
- Credit Strong vs Self
- Self Lender Dropped My Credit Score: What Should I Do?
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.