When you start looking for an apartment, take out a loan, or apply for a credit card, you realize how important it is to have a good credit score. The only way to get the best loan terms is to have a good credit score, which starts at 670 on the FICO scale. Good credit typically entails lower interest rates, allowing you to pay less over the life of your loans than someone with bad credit.
If you don’t already have a good credit score, there are several ways to start building one. One of these methods is to use a credit builder app. These apps allow you to track your credit score, take out loans to improve your credit, and get the education you need to build and maintain good credit.
How do credit-building apps function?
Credit-building apps, as the name implies, help you improve your credit score in a variety of ways. Apps are classified into three types:
- Services for credit monitoring. Before you begin repairing or building your credit, you should understand where you stand. Credit monitoring apps can assist you with this. These apps typically provide advice on how to improve your credit and allow you to view your current score on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. They may also notify you of newly opened accounts in your name, hard credit inquiries, and new public records, such as bankruptcies or lawsuits.
- Lenders who help people build credit. Some lenders provide small loans to help you build credit. This is how it works: First, the lender funds an account with the entire loan amount. You make fixed monthly payments for a set period of time before receiving the entire loan amount at the end of the term. The idea behind credit builder loans is to make small payments on a regular basis over a short period of time in order to quickly improve your credit.
- Credit monitoring services. All credit bureaus have some sort of app. Certain credit bureaus even provide programs, such as Experian Boost, to assist you in improving your credit by reporting alternative payment data. They’ll do this by scrutinizing payments that aren’t typically included on credit reports, such as rent and utility bills.
Four of the best credit-building apps
Those with little or no borrowing history will benefit the most from this. SeedFi is a lender, with a Credit Builder Prime account that allows you to take out a small interest-free loan of as little as $10. When you receive your next paycheck, you repay SeedFi, and this positive payment is reported to the credit bureaus. The service is completely free, which is a huge plus.
SeedFi also provides an intriguing loan option for those in need of a small, relatively short-term loan. Borrow & Grow loans provide you with immediate access to the funds you require upon approval. A portion of your loan will also be deposited into a savings account. Once you’ve paid off the loan, you’ll have access to the savings account you’ve been contributing to, ideally establishing an emergency fund so you don’t have to take out another loan the next time. With interest rates ranging from 12.96 percent to 29.99 percent, this isn’t the cheapest loan option, so look into a different lender or even a credit card for bad credit.
Who this is best for: people who have a history of making rent and utility payments.
Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, provides the simplest way to improve your credit score. Experian Boost includes payments that aren’t typically included in your credit score, such as rent, utilities, and subscriptions. All you have to do to be eligible for this bonus is sign up and link your account(s) where you pay your bills or rent. You can select which positive payments to report, and your results will be displayed immediately.
While Experian Boost is not a replacement for responsible credit use, many users notice a slight improvement in their credit score. This will not improve your credit, but it can’t hurt to try this credit-boosting app for free.
- Rent, for example, can help your credit score.
- You can get your free Experian credit score here.
- Results may vary, and you may not have enough payments to significantly improve your score.
Who this is best for: people looking for a low-maintenance monthly payment.
The Kikoff Credit Account, the company’s main product, is a revolving line of credit that you can use like a credit card. You’ll be given a credit line of up to $750 that you can use to make purchases at the Kikoff store. Then you can make online monthly payments and watch your credit slowly improve. There is no credit check when you sign up, and you will be approved immediately.
The account costs $5 per month to maintain, but the good news is that the $5 is part of your credit line, so you’ll build credit even if you don’t borrow anything on top of that. You will also not be charged any interest or late fees, making it simple to focus on paying off your small purchases. Kickoff reports that on average, their users improve their scores by 58 points.
- Benefits include instant approval and no hard credit inquiry.
- You can easily build your credit while also gaining access to a small credit line.
- Possibly a significant increase in your score
- The monthly fee is $5.
- A credit line of up to $750 is available.
- You cannot use your $750 credit line for purchases outside of Kikoff; only items from the Kikoff store Self are permitted.
This is ideal for those looking for Credit Builder Loans. Self provides a Credit Builder Loan, which means you’ll pay down the small loan and then get access to the money once you’ve completed all of your payments. Self keeps your money in a CD, or certificate of deposit, while you make these payments.
You can make a monthly payment of $25, $35, $48 or $150, depending on your budget and how much money you want to have after you pay off the loan.
One significant disadvantage is that Self is not the cheapest option, with a $9 admin fee and interest rates in the double digits. There’s no reason to choose this service over SeedFi’s Credit Builder Prime account, which provides essentially the same service without interest or fees.
- There will be no hard pull on your credit score.
- You decide on the payment term and amount.
- Cancel or pay off whenever necessary.
- Fees include a one-time $9 administrative fee and interest.
- Small loan amounts
Other Ways to Improve Your Credit
Credit builder apps are excellent ways to improve your credit, but they are far from the only ones. Consider building your credit in other ways, in addition to using these apps:
- Paying off any past-due balances as soon as possible. When your late payments are sent to collections, the information is reported to the credit bureaus, which lowers your credit score. Paying these off can reduce the amount of debt you have in collections, potentially improving your credit score.
- Assigning yourself as an authorized user to an account. By becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, you can benefit from their good credit. Their activity will appear on your credit report, so ensure that you trust them to use the account responsibly.
- Bringing your credit utilization ratio down. Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of available credit you have compared to how much of it you use. So, if you have five credit cards, all of which are maxed out, your credit utilization will be extremely high. The higher your utilization, the lower your score will be. Working to keep your credit card balances low can help you improve your credit score.
- Examining your credit report for any potentially fraudulent information. Surprisingly, 34% of people say they’ve discovered at least one error on their reports. Depending on the error, this could lower your score. Check your credit report on a regular basis. Annualcreditreport.com provides a free full report every year.