UPDATED: September 25, 2022

If you have bad credit, the first thing you need to do is take a breath. You’re not alone, and there are ways you can gain access to loans. Rebuilding your credit is highly plausible with credit-builder loans, such as Credit Strong.

Although widely known, we’ve seen some mixed reviews about it and decided to dig a little deeper. After all, you wouldn't want to sign up blindly without understanding the details. 

Getting a loan for credit building means you must remain committed to repayment, as missing your payments can make your credit score go even lower. 

That said, we've done in-depth research on how Credit Strong works, checked its official sources, and read dozens of reviews from real users.

We’ve also discovered the best tip for building your credit, so don’t miss out on anything! 

What is Credit Strong?

Credit Strong is a division of Austin Capital Bank's finance technology, established in 2006 as a community bank. This bank serves Texas communities and, according to its website, is recognized as one of the fastest-growing and best-performing banking institutions in the state.

It’s worth noting that Credit Strong operates in every state except Vermont, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, thanks to Austin Capital Bank’s reach and support. 

It’s also FDIC-insured, which means that it’s heavily regulated. This likely means that your money and financial information will remain safe and secure. Many users also state that Credit Strong is legitimate, and you’ll get your money back.

Because of all this, the credit-builder can also provide loans to consumers who need help boosting their credit scores. 

As a user, you can build credit through installment loans that get deposited into your savings account. Credit Strong doesn’t pay money upfront. You’ll have to pay in fixed installment amounts monthly, and when you’ve paid fully, you’ll get your money back minus interest. 

Because it’s a loan, expect to pay interest on top of the monthly installment amount. However, this gives you the chance to increase your credit score because Credit Strong will report your payment history to all three credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. 

How Credit Strong works

Most people assume that applying for loans means going through a hard credit check and not qualifying if their credit score is low. But Credit Strong allows you to get a loan even with poor credit. 

Credit Strong also doesn’t do a hard pull and will not hurt your credit score.

You’ll need to submit requirements (more on this later), and once you get the lender’s approval, your loan amount will go into a savings account. 

However, this account will remain locked, and you won’t have access to it until you pay it off fully. The previously mentioned interest can vary from 5.85% to 14.89%, depending on the account you open.

The idea is that you repay first the loan amount you’ve applied for each month, including the interest. Credit Strong will deposit your payments into a savings account and report them to the credit bureaus so you effectively build a positive payment history. 

When you’ve completely paid off your loan, Credit Strong will release the money from the savings account, and you’ll have access to the loaned amount. 

You can then transfer the money into your preferred bank. After you’ve paid everything off, you hit two birds with one stone: accessing the money you’ve saved and building your credit history. This can have a significant impact on your credit score.

Another great feature of Credit Strong is that you can cancel anytime without penalty. Should you choose to cancel before the end of your repayment term, Credit Strong will refund the amount you deposited minus the interest. 

You also don’t have to worry about facing negative marks on your credit reports, so long as you’ve paid on time before closing your account. However, you won’t build a significant credit history if you cancel your account.

You can also pay early without early deposit fees, but on-time payments more positively impact your credit score.

What amount does Credit Strong allow you to borrow?

Credit Strong offers a variety of loans, which come with respective terms. You can subscribe to $1,000 and $2,000 loans with terms of up to ten years, but you can also choose to loan up to $10,000, which you can also repay over ten years.

The larger loan amounts ($5,000 and $10,000) are excellent for people with a lot of cash and who want to build their credit significantly.

Many users like this wide variety of loan amounts, as they can choose a plan that suits their needs and budget. 

How does Credit Strong help you improve your credit?

Every on-time payment you make with Credit Strong improves your payment history, which accounts for 35% of your credit score.

Because of this, you can expect your credit score to improve gradually, but keep in mind that the amount your credit score rises still depends on several factors.

For one, the amount your credit score rises will always depend on your current credit situation. If you have ten years’ worth of bad credit habits, don’t expect your credit score to improve drastically. 

Pro tip: Making on-time payments to lenders like Credit Strong can help raise your credit score significantly because your payment history is one of the most vital factors in your FICO score

Similarly, if you only need to amend a few errors on your credit report, expect to see changes within a few months.

Another factor to consider is the loan amount you request from Credit Strong. You shouldn’t expect to build an excellent credit score by just taking out a $1,000 loan, which you can pay off in two years. 

You’re better off applying for a $10,000 loan with a 10-year payment term. However, you may have to pay a larger monthly fee.

While it’s impossible to predict how much your credit score can improve with a Credit Strong credit builder loan, it’s essential that you focus on making consistent, on-time payments because that’s an important factor that can change your credit report’s trajectory. 

To put it into numbers, let’s look at a quick study. According to Credit Strong’s website, the company studied over 50,000 customer accounts and found that:

  • On average, users experienced a 25-point increase within three months of opening their Credit Strong account
  • After nine months, customers experienced a 40-point increase 
  • A 70-point increase can happen a year

Again, however, it’s important to remember that the 50,000 customers pay their monthly dues on time! 

How much does Credit Strong Credit-Builder actually cost?

As previously mentioned, Credit Strong offers several plans you can customize depending on your budget and needs. You can take out loans ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, and the terms can reach up to 10 years. 

You have to pay a non-refundable administration fee once you open your account.

Here are Credit Strong’s plans:

PlanMonthly paymentsAdministration feeMaximum loan term
Subscribe 1,000 ($1,000)$15$15120 months (10 years)
Subscribe 2,500 ($2,500)$30 $15120 months (10 years)
Build & Save 1,100 ($1,100)$38$8.9512 months (10 year)
Build & Save 1,000 ($1,000)$48$8.9524 months (two years)
Build & Save 2,000 ($2,000)$96$8.9524 months (two years)
Magnum 5,000 ($5,000)$55 (flexible)$25120 months (10 years)
Magnum 10,000 ($10,000)$110 (flexible)$25120 months (10 years)

Credit Strong’s loan terms are flexible, and you may opt for different monthly payment plans. Stretching the loan for up to 10 years can let you pay lower monthly rates.

How can you apply for a Credit Strong loan?

Most first-time users worry about not being able to meet the minimum income requirement to open a Credit Strong account. Thankfully, there’s no income requirement, as Credit Strong exists to help you gain a better financial prospect.

It also doesn’t consider your credit score, but you need to prepare or meet the following items to open a Credit Strong account:

  • You’re a permanent U.S. resident with a physical address
  • You’re at least 18 years old
  • You have a Social Security Number
  • You have a taxpayer identification number
  • You have a bank account
  • You have a mobile phone number and an email address.

Meeting these requirements isn’t your only task, though. You should check if Credit Strong is available in your state. If you live in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Vermont, however, you won’t have access to Credit Strong.

Here’s how to sign up for Credit Strong:

Step 1: You must fill out the application form on the Credit Strong website. You will then be redirected to a product selector, where you can choose the best loan amount based on your financial goals.

Step 2: After completing your application, Credit Strong will conduct an assessment of your past bank activities to help verify your application. Take note that it doesn’t check your credit scores or a hard inquiry. 

Step 3: Once approved, you can now access credit builder loans. Payments can be made through your debit card or checking account. 

How can you cancel your Credit Strong account?

To successfully end your Credit Strong account, contact Credit Strong's customer service number at (833) 850-0850. Explain your situation as clearly as possible and why you no longer wish to continue. 

Thankfully, credit builder loans like Credit Strong allow you to cancel your account anytime. Many people overlook this benefit, but this can significantly reduce the possibility of damaging your credit if you can’t afford the monthly payments anymore. 

Any late payments can drastically affect your score, causing your efforts to go in vain. There are also no cancellation fees, and you can gain back the accumulated principal. 

Credit Strong pros, cons, and customer reviews

Credit Strong is a real company with seemingly many benefits, but it’s best to explore its pros and cons before you open an account. 

Numerous users on independent forums and review sites like Reddit, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Trustpilot say that Credit Strong is legit, but it has mixed reviews.

Here’s a compilation of what users have to say about its strong and weak points:

PROS

  • You can enjoy an improved credit score, but keep in mind that there’s no guaranteed credit score point range. It all depends on your credit score’s nature, but some users report seeing a double-digit score increase over their loan period. 
  • You don’t have to worry about a credit check. We’ve found that other credit builder loans in the market require credit checks and hard inquiries, but Credit Strong doesn’t. 
  • You can cancel anytime with no penalties or termination fees. Because it’s a credit builder, you’re funding the loan yourself. This means that you have the freedom to cancel the loan with no penalties or termination fees. So long as you have a clean record before closing, your credit score won’t be affected. 
  • You can build your savings. Although your monthly payments come with interest, you’ll receive your principal at the end of the term. Once the funds are released, you now have a huge amount to deposit into your savings. 

CONS

  • Although most of us now rely on our mobile phones, Credit Strong currently doesn’t offer a mobile app. You must access your account through the official website.
  • You need to loan large amounts. The minimum loan amount starts at $1,000, which can be difficult to pay monthly. According to users who live paycheck to paycheck, adding another monthly payment obligation at that amount has been difficult. It might be best to explore other options that offer much smaller loans. 
  • You can’t have access to your funds. Your Credit Strong loan amount will remain locked until you’ve fully repaid the loan amount. If you want to access it, you’ll need to terminate your account.

Alternatives to Credit Strong

If you’re not convinced about Credit Strong, we’ve gathered some recommendations for your to check out:

Credit Strong vs Self

Self is another fintech company specializing in credit builder loans, but it only provides credit builder loan repayment plans of 24 months. 

It’s also important to note that when you apply for a Self loan, the lender will run a credit check on you. Thankfully, it only conducts a soft pull, which shouldn’t affect your credit score. 

Unlike Credit Strong, it operates in all states. It’s a viable option for those investing lower amounts but has a higher overall interest rate.

Credit Strong vs Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)

With shorter terms than Credit Strong, a much lower interest rate, no fees, and no credit check, we find that the DCU offers a good credit builder loan opportunity. 

Once you complete your loan repayment, you can open a DCU Savings account using your entire principal plus any available dividend payments.

All these sound good so far, but you must be a DCU member to be eligible. You can become a member by:

  • Working for a DCU partner employer
  • Having a family member who’s a DCU existing member 
  • Donating to a participating charitable organization 

Our Verdict

From everything gathered so far, we can say that Credit Strong can be a good option for anyone looking to build credit. With its easy approval process, you never have to worry about a credit check. A large portion of your monthly payments will later turn into additional cash in your savings account. 

The only thing you need to consider is the minimum loan amount. A payment of $1,000 can still be too much for your first loan, and if you want to improve your credit score, you may want to consider Self or secured credit cards for lower loan amounts. 

It’s also important to remember that you will be losing money. After all, the interest rates you will be paying will go straight to Credit Strong. 

At the end of the day, you’ll be investing in a credit builder—might as well use it to your advantage rather than the opposite. This means investing in an amount you know you can pay off and won’t affect your credit score negatively.

For many, Credit Strong could be a viable option. But it’s up to you! 

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