Building credit is tricky, and Grain is trying to make it a little easier.
One on hand, lenders want to see a solid history of credit management to lend you funds. But on the other, lenders are less willing to provide a loan without a history of responsible management. It’s a classic circle that can be challenging to break out of.
Luckily, credit-building apps can accelerate your credit journey. Grain is one credit-building app that promises to help you build credit through a digital credit card based on your cash flow.
Let’s take a closer look at Grain to decide whether or not this is the right move for your credit goals.
- Digital credit card based on your cash flow
- Only available on iOS for now
- Reports account activity to all three credit bureaus
Up to $1,000
15% - 17.99% APR
Revolving Line of Credit
What Is Grain?
Grain is an app that provides a digital credit card based on your income. That's a fancy name for a line of credit that is deposited to your checking account so you can use your same debit card with this new line of credit.
Instead of checking your credit score, you can be approved through your cash flow. If approved, Grain will not issue a physical debit card. Instead, the company provides a line of credit to your existing checking account.
The team at Grain says, “We've fallen into the bait and switch traps of the credit industry ourselves - spending years paying off large amounts of bad debt at high interest rates, which is why we built something better. A platform that puts your interests before shareholder bottom-lines.”
What Does It Offer?
If you are looking to build credit, Grain could be a useful option. Here’s what Grain can offer you.
Revolving Line Of Credit
Working with Grain starts by linking your current debit card to the platform. Grain works with over 10,000 banks, so it is more than likely that your bank will be on the list.
Once linked, Grain will analyze your cash flow. Depending on the cash flow to your account, Grain may pre-approve you for a revolving line of credit. If approved, you’ll be able to transfer credit to your checking account to use as you see fit.
Grain will set up an automatic minimum payment at 10% of the amount borrowed. However, you can choose to pay it off immediately to avoid interest charges.
Reporting To All Three Credit Bureaus
Grain will report your credit activities to all three credit bureaus each month. Since you’ll have auto-payments set up to keep up with your Grain payments, you should see a history of on-time payments build on your credit report.
Of course, missing payments would lead to a negative mark on your credit score. With that, it is critical to ensure that your payments are scheduled and go through. Otherwise, your credit score could suffer from an easy mistake.
App For iOS Users
As of February 2022, the Grain app is highly rated by iOS users. With over 31,000 reviewers, the app has earned 4.7 out of 5 stars. Based on these reviews, it is safe to say that iOS users will have a pleasant experience with the app.
But currently, there isn’t an Andriod version of the app for users. With that, a large number of potential users won’t be able to enjoy what Grain has to offer.
Are There Any Fees?
When building credit through a service, it is very difficult to avoid fees. So, it isn’t surprising that you’ll face some relatively hefty fees when working with Grain.
You’ll encounter a 1% finance charge each withdrawal. As you use your line of credit, there is a 15% APR (or 17.99% APR if you don't use auto-pay).
There also may be a a sign up fee of 7.5% of your unsecured credit limit. Plus, an annual service fee of 8% of your credit limit.
Finally, there are also late payment fees of up to $5.
All of these fees can really add up. Keep them in mind if you decide to work with Grain.
How Does Grain Compare?
Grain is not the only credit-building option out there for those that want to stick to spending with their debit card. Another good option is Grow Credit, which offers a free way to build credit for those that already pay for subscription services like Hulu or Netflix.
Credit builder loans could be a smart move if you want to try a different approach. Credit Strong offers credit builder loans with amounts that range from $1,000 to $5,000. Instead of a revolving line of credit, a credit builder loan is a unique installment loan. You’ll receive the loan funds at the end of the term after you’ve built up the savings over time.
Ultimately, the best credit-building tool is different for everyone. But if you are looking for a debit card option that works with your iOS phone, then Grain is a good fit.
APR or Fee
15% to 17.99%
$0 to $9.99/mo
5.85% to 14.89%
Max Loan Amount
How Do I Open An Account?
You’ll need to download the Grain app on the iOS app to get started.
Once downloaded, you’ll need to upload documents that prove your identity. For example, you could provide your government-issued ID, a utility bill, a bank statement, or a selfie.
Next, you’ll link your bank account. Then, Grain will scan your transacation history and determine whether it can offer a revolving line of credit. If so, Grain may or may not ask for a deposit to secure the line of credit. And that’s it! It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
Is It Safe And Secure?
Yes, Grain uses 256-bit bank-level encryption to protect your information. Plus, Grain is FDIC insured to make sure that your funds are safe no matter what.
With all of these protections in place, you should feel comfortable working with Grain.
How Do I Contact Grain?
You can reach out to Grain through their customer support form. Or call the Grain Help Line at 1-833-755-0809.
Another way to connect is through social media. Grain is available on Twitter and Instagram @grain_tech, Facebook @graintech, and LinkedIn @grain-technology.
The jury is out on whether or not you’ll find a smooth customer service experience. The company has glowing reviews in the Apple App Store. But it’s scored 1 out of 5 stars through the Better Business Bureau.
Is It Worth It?
Grain offers a solution for those looking to build credit without making any changes to their method of spending. You can continue to use your regular debit card and still potentially boost your credit through Grain.
A big drawback is the fees. But you’ll find that most credit building services will take a similar bit out of your budget. Another issue with Grain is that it is limited to iOS users. Although that may change in the future, Grain is currently off the table for Android users.
Ultimately, Grain is a tool that can help you build credit. But you’ll still need to make regular on-time payments to reap the most rewards. Take the time to evaluate your finances to determine if building credit is your top priority right now. If so, consider Grain among other solutions such as credit builder loans and other credit-building apps.
Revolving Line of Credit
15% to 17.99%
8% of annual loan amount
Sign Up Fees
7.5% of your credit limit
Early Termination Fee
Credit Check Required
Uses your existing checking account
Customer Service Number
Customer Service Hours
Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM (EST)
Mobile App Availability
Web/Desktop Account Access
Pricing and Fees
Ease of Use
Grain is a credit-building app that helps you build credit by allowing you to use a line of credit with your existing checking account.
- No credit check required
- Revolving line of credit
- Reports to build your credit history
- iOS Only
- Relatively high fees and interest charges
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.