For people with poor or no credit, trying to get a loan or open a credit card account can seem like mission impossible.
It's a classic "chicken and egg" problem. You need to make consistent on-time payments on a line of credit to build a strong credit score. But without a strong credit score, how will you ever get approved for such a credit line?
One solution is Credit Strong, which essentially allows you to make "payments" to yourself. And Credit Strong will report your loan payments to the three major credit bureaus to help you build credit. Plus, at the end of your repayment term, you'll have a nice nest egg of cash savings waiting for you!
Interested? In this article, we’ll look at how it all works.
- Good for consumers with bad or no credit
- Reasonable fees and rates
- Strong selection of plans to choose from
Credit Strong Details
$1,000 to $18,000
5.83% to 14.89%
12 months to 10 years
Who Is Credit Strong?
Credit Strong is a secured-lending fintech that helps people build credit with Credit Builder loans. It is a division of Austin Capital Bank, which was founded in January 2006. Currently, it's able to fully lend in all states, with the exception of North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Vermont.
Credit Strong is not registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) but does have a BBB profile. There are 12 complaints under its profile, but its team has been responsive to all complaints.
What Do They Offer?
Credit Strong helps people build credit through installment loans. But instead of giving the money to you upfront, it's deposited it into a savings account. Then you begin making fixed monthly payments.
The loan incurs interest but so does the savings account which helps to offset your total cost. By making a series of payments on their loan, customers have a chance to increase their credit score. And Credit Strong will report the customer’s payments to all three credit bureaus.
Not A Credit Repair Service
Credit Strong’s service shouldn’t be confused with a credit repair service. Credit repair services help remove negative marks on a person’s credit report. Credit Strong doesn’t do any credit repair. It's only reporting a customer’s payment history to the three major credit bureaus.
If the customer has good credit management, its reporting can help increase the customer’s credit score. But if you miss payments on your Credit Strong loan, the system can work against you.
Credit Strong will report delinquent payments to the same three credit bureaus that receive its reports on timely payments. This can actually result in decreasing your credit score. Just as it's important to maintain on-time payments with creditors, you also want to be sure to do the same with Credit Strong.
Loans Without Upfront Money
Credit Strong isn’t a traditional lending service. Not only do you not receive any money upfront, but you also pay fees that are higher than that of a comparable traditional loan. If all you need is a personal loan, you're better off getting an unsecured loan from a bank or credit union.
Credit Strong is specifically designed to help people increase their credit score and establish a positive payment history. First, you pick a "loan" amount and term. For example, with their Subscribe 1,000 plan, you make $15 payments for 10 years to build up a savings of $1,000 that is returned to you at the end of your term.
Of course, making 120 payments of $15 equals $1,800 in total cost. So you're essentially paying $800 in interest to save $1,000 and build credit along the way. That might not sound like a great deal. But one of the really nice things about Credit Strong is that you can cancel at any time without penalty.
If you cancel before the end of your repayment term, you'll receive a refund for all the money you deposited minus the interest. And as long as your didn't have any late or missed payments before your account was closed, no negative marks will be added to your credit reports. Also, if you decide to pay off your Credit Strong loan early, there is no early payoff fee.
How Fast Will My Credit Score Increase?
There are currently two competing credit score systems - VantageScore and FICO Score. The FICO score is by far the most widely used and probably the one you’ll want to watch as you work to improve your credit. Here's how to monitor your FICO score.
With either credit scoring system, payment history is an influential scoring factor. If you've never used credit before, it will take at least 6 months for FICO to give you your first credit score.
However, if you're just looking to slightly improve your score to qualify for a credit card or other form of financing, even just a few on-time payments with Credit Strong could push you across the finish line.
Are There Any Fees?
Yes, Credit Strong currently has seven plans. The fees and interest rates for each are detailed in the table below:
Build & Save 1,000
Build & Save 1,000
Build & Save 2,000
How Do I Open An Account?
You can visit https://www.creditstrong.com to open an account. Credit Strong says that it takes about 5 minutes to complete the application. Your credit will not be affected by applying as Credit Strong will not check your credit. However, you will need to have a checking account, debit card, or prepaid card in good standing in order to qualify.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes, Credit Strong accounts are held in Austin Capital Bank, which is FDIC-insured. FDIC insurance offers up to $250,000 of deposit protection per account. And since none of Credit Strong's loans come in amounts anywhere near that level, your entire account will be insured.
Is It Worth It?
For anyone wanting to build credit, Credit Strong could be a good solution. It's easy to get approved for a credit line without a credit check and a significant portion of your "loan" payments later become cool cash in your pocket.
Just make sure to compare Credit Strong's interest rates and fees with other companies that offer Credit Builder accounts like Self. For more a detailed comparison of the two companies, check out our review of Self.
As for the savings account earning interest, don’t expect to make any money. After the loan fees are taken into account, the net will be an overall expense. If interest is what you're after, consider one of our favorite high-yield savings accounts instead.
Credit Strong Features
$1,000 to $18,000
5.83% to 14.89%
12 Months to 10 Years
$8.95 to $25
Early Termination Fee
Credit Check Required
Available in all states except:
Minimum Income Requirement
Reports to Credit Bureaus
Yes, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
Customer Service Number
Customer Service Hours
Mon–Fri 8 AM to 5 PM (CST)
Mobile App Availability
Credit Strong Review
- Pricing & Fees
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service
Credit Strong helps people build or improve their credit while simultaneously growing their savings.
- Reports to all three credit bureaus
- No credit check
- Payment terms as long as 10 years
- No fees for early termination or prepayment
- Interest rates may be higher than traditional loans
- Must have a bank account, debit card, or prepaid card in good standing to qualify
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.