Self Financial offers a credit building program to their clients that is meant to help them achieve their financial goals. But problems with credit do not have a one-size-fits-all solution.
Despite thousands of happy customers, some of their clients have been less than happy with their credit builder account or secured credit card. And they have taken to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to make their complaints known.
Often, these complaints stem from poor customer service experiences, occurrences of fraud, or concerns about credit score improvement (or lack thereof).
So what are the biggest complaints customers have and is Self’s credit building service legitimate or a scam?
Top 5 Complaints People Have With Self
- Credit Score Drops
- Lack of Customer Service
- Lender Abruptly Closing Accounts
- Trouble Getting Paid Out
- Self Doesn’t Report as Self
The BBB currently gives Self Financial a rating of a B, which is pretty good. But there are still over 300 complaints that have been filed with the BBB over the last 3 years.
While it appears that Self is good with responding to customer complaints, nearly all are responded to within one week and subsequently closed. It is easy to see why some of the same complaints are coming up again and again.
Are these aspects of Self’s service that they could improve? Probably.
Could Self improve the presentation of their credit builder account and communication with their customers? Definitely.
Do all of their customers fully understand how credit works? Not always, unfortunately.
Below, we’ll take a look at the 5 top complaints that are recurring on Self Finanacial’s BBB page.
1. Credit Score Drops
The purpose of a credit builder loan like the one Self offers is to improve your credit history and credit score. But for some borrowers, their FICO credit score drops after they open a credit account with Self.
Many of these complaints hinge on how and when Self sends information to the credit bureaus.
While a credit builder account is designed to help borrowers build credit by reporting payment history, their initial reporting of the loan amount can temporarily lower a person’s credit score.
Other complaints regarding credit score decreases involve late payments. Many of these complaints were in regards to fraud or delays in accounts being reported as closed.
Self often resolves these kinds of issues sufficiently, but updates to individual credit reports can take months.
2. Lack of Customer Service
Customer service, or lack thereof, is a common complaint many businesses receive, and Self is no exception.
While Self offers customers contact options via email, phone, and live chat, not all of these options are always available.
Most of the complaints revolve around their slow response time to emails. Customers can often go weeks without hearing back. While in most cases, Self has resolved the issue to the customer’s satisfaction, it can take an excessive amount of time.
Other customer service complaints involve communication issues via phone. It seems that Self either currently or has previously employed a 3rd party service to handle the phone lines and customers have complained about difficult communication with non-native English speakers.
3. Lender Abruptly Closing Accounts
Another common complaint on the BBB regards Self abruptly closing people’s credit builder or secured credit card accounts with little warning or notification.
Apparently, Self has an internal process for regularly evaluating their customer’s accounts. If they note suspicious activity or potential fraud, they will close the account. Often, without warning the customer until they have already done so.
Doing so not only frustrates these customers, it can cause credit reporting problems as it can take months for the account closure to be correctly reported to all credit bureaus.
4. Trouble Getting Paid Out
When it comes time to be paid out, either because of loan completion or early account closure, the process Self uses has led to numerous customer complaints.
Many of these complaints relate to slow processing and communication on Self’s part, particularly in regards to email.
Other complaints stem from Self’s verification process. They can require customers to submit identity verification, proof of citizenship, and bank account info. This particularly seems to be an issue when customers have recently changed the lender they bank with.
The processing of these verification documents just adds to the delay in the payout.
5. Self Doesn’t Report as Self
One other complaint that routinely pops up on Self’s BBB page regards how the credit builder loan is reported.
Self Financial does not issue the loan funds themselves. Instead, they partner with other lenders that actually issue the money. This means that when the credit builder loan is reported to the credit bureaus, it can appear under a different name.
This has led to confusion with many customers and even suspicions of fraud when they pull their credit reports, find payments, and a balance reported from a lender they don’t recognize.
Considering all of the complaints on the BBB for Self, it may make you wonder if Self Financial’s credit building program is a scam or not.
To help you navigate the decision on whether or not Self’s credit builder loan and credit card are worthwhile for you, we address four common concerns many people have with how Self’s credit building service works.
Is Self legit?
Self Financial is a company based out of Austin, TX. They are a team of dedicated professionals who designed their loan program to help people on their financial journey.Their credit building service consists of a credit builder loan with customizable amounts and loan terms (repayment plans) and the optional secured Self Visa credit card.
In my own examination of reviews that say this service is a scam, most of them stem from people not understanding how credit scores work or how the program works.
If you are considering opening a Self account, or an account with any financial institution, it is important to do your research first.
Can Self hurt your credit?
As with any credit product, a Self credit builder account and/or credit card has the potential to hurt your FICO score if it is not managed properly.Making late payments or keeping a high balance on your secured credit card will decrease your credit score.
When initially opening a Self financial account, you may see a dip in your score in regards to the average age of your accounts, but this decrease is only temporary. When a Self account is managed properly, it can be a great way to boost your credit score in a short period of time.
Can I get my money back from Self?
You can close out your credit builder and secured credit card accounts at any time. In order to close out the credit builder loan, you can contact Self via phone or initiate closure through your account portal.
All money in your account will be returned to you minus any administrative fee (loan origination fee) or balance on your connected secured credit card (if you have one). Only the portion of your account that you have paid will be issued back, not the full loan value.
For example, if you opened a credit builder loan for $1000 but have only made $300 worth of monthly payments, you will get $300 back.
It should be noted that the processing of these funds can take some time, and Self Financial has been known to require documentation verifying your identity and bank account or debit card.
What happens if I pay Self off early?
While there are no penalties or fees associated with closing your account early, doing so will limit the account’s ability to help your credit. Six months is the recommended minimum timeframe to have the account open, especially if you previously had no credit.
The longer your term length, the better. Length of credit is a significant credit scoring factor. So while only making a few payments will help your credit score some, it will be helped more if you make payments over multiple years.
What the exact impact of closing your account early will have depends on your unique credit history and financial situation.
Misunderstanding the Lender’s Services
A big part of weighing the complaints Self has received is to understand the root cause of the complaints. A good portion of the complaints could have been avoided with a better understanding of how the Self program, and credit in general, works.
A credit builder loan, like Self’s, works like a personal loan. But instead of receiving funds from the lender, the money is put in a type of savings account. As monthly payments are made, you get the benefit of building your credit history and your savings begin to be unlocked.
Self’s secured credit card works with their loan in that it uses unlocked funds for the deposit and to establish your credit limit. This card works just like a regular credit card with statements, payments, and interest rate charges on any balance that you carry.
Using both products, your credit history will reflect an installment loan and a credit card, and if managed well, these products will have a beneficial impact on your payment history and credit utilization (credit card only). They can turn bad credit into good credit quickly.
Lending to those with damaged credit or no credit is always risky. That’s true both for the lender, and also for a borrower who doesn’t quite understand the program or how credit reports and scores work.
Read the fine print, scour the reviews, and know all you can before you apply for a Self loan.
- How Much Does Self Raise Your Credit Score?
- Self Lender Review
- Self Credit Card Review
- Self Competitors
- 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.