CreditStrong Review [2024]: Can It Help You Improve Your Credit?

LOANS - PERSONAL LOANS
CreditStrong offers products to help customers build up their credit and save for the future.
Updated March 28, 2024
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CreditStrong is a credit-building company that offers alternatives to traditional credit-building accounts.1 It blends installment loans or revolving credit with an FDIC-secured savings account.

Making on-time payments with CreditStrong could help you build your credit history, which may improve your credit score. It’s worth considering if you’re looking to build credit, and it has a range of options so you can choose the one that best fits your budget. You can also close your account at any time.

Check out this CreditStrong review to understand how it works and whether it's a good fit for you.

Quick Summary

Start improving your credit almost immediately with this little-known tool

  • Helps you build revolving credit without a credit card
  • No hard credit pull required
  • Could positively impact factors that determine up to 90% of your FICO® Score
In this CreditStrong review

Key takeaways

  • CreditStrong offers installment or revolving credit loans that help users build savings and their credit history as they make payments. It is not a credit repair company.
  • CreditStrong does not require an upfront security deposit, and customers can close their accounts anytime without penalty. It does require a one-time administration fee to open an account.
  • CreditStrong does not perform a hard pull on your credit and does not hurt your credit score.
  • CreditStrong could help build your credit profile, but if you’re only interested in saving, you’ll likely find better rates at other banks.

CreditStrong: Is it worth it?

Pros Cons
  • No credit check required
  • Multiple account options
  • You don’t receive funds upfront
  • “B” Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
Our verdict: CreditStrong provides multiple options to help you build your credit score, but it is not a personal loan that you receive upfront or a traditional credit line that you can spend. Customer complaints on the BBB website show that multiple customers have found the account terms confusing.

Although this can be an effective tool for building credit, and you’ll receive some of your monthly payments back as a savings account, it is important to review all the materials when you sign up so you know what to expect.

CreditStrong does have live customer representatives available via chat, and they were very informative when we spoke to them. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to ensure CreditStrong’s products will meet your needs.

What is CreditStrong?

CreditStrong offers installment loans or credit lines combined with FDIC Insured savings accounts. It helps customers build their credit while saving for the future and doesn’t require you to make a large deposit, as some credit builder loans or secured credit cards do.

CreditStrong is a division of Austin Capital Bank located in Austin, TX. Austin Capital Bank was founded in 2006 and is an independent community bank.

When you sign up with CreditStrong for an installment loan product, Austin Capital Bank takes out a small loan in your name and locks the funds in a FDIC-insured savings account that you can’t access until the loan is completed.

Each month, you make a payment to CreditStrong consisting of principal and interest. The principal portion is applied to the savings account and will build up until the loan balance has been met. The interest portion of your payment is how CreditStrong makes money.

After you complete the loan or decide to close your account, you can access the funds held as savings and move them into your primary savings account.

CreditStrong account details

The payments you make are reported to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), and with each on-time payment, you build credit history. Using CreditStrong may also raise your credit score by increasing your credit utilization rate and showing a history of on-time payments.

While you can close your CreditStrong account anytime without a termination fee, you will be charged a late payment fee if you miss your monthly payment.

CreditStrong offers a 14-day grace period on late payments. On day 15, CreditStrong will charge a fee. If your payment is more than 30 days late, it may be reported to the credit bureaus, negatively affecting your credit score.

If you can’t make your monthly payment, CreditStrong recommends you close your account until your financial circumstances improve.

There are three account options to choose from. Revolv helps you build revolving credit, while the Instal program builds installment credit. The CS Max account is for people looking to develop a large amount of personal credit for a business.

Revolv

Revolv is CreditStrong’s revolving credit account. No monthly payments are required, but you can opt to also set up a monthly payment, which is put into savings. You can access your savings only when you close your Revolv account, however.

The service has a $99 annual subscription fee and starts with a credit limit of $500. You can’t spend this line of credit, however. The subscription fee covers reporting a line of credit of $500 to the three credit bureaus for a year.

If you choose to make a monthly payment, you could increase your credit limit and build savings. When you make three on-time payments in a row, CreditStrong will increase your credit limit by $100, up to $1,000 total. This could help to improve your credit utilization rate.

Revolv is a good option for people trying to build their credit or rebuild after negative marks on their credit history and who don’t have many revolving credit (credit card) accounts.

If you are primarily interested in building your savings, you will earn more and have an easier time accessing your money if you use a high-yield savings account and make an automatic monthly deposit.

Instal

CreditStrong’s Instal product is an installment loan. Having a good mix of credit, including installment and revolving credit accounts, could help you improve your credit score. When you create an Instal account, CreditStrong opens an installment loan for $1,000 or more and locks it in a savings account.

Customers can choose the length of their loan, either 24, 36, or 48 months, and pay a monthly fee based on that length of time. Building $1,010 in credit for 48 months will cost $28 a month. Building $1,100 over 36 months costs $38 a month, and building $1,000 in credit with a loan term of 24 months costs $48 a month.

Part of your payment goes into the locked savings account, helping you build a cash cushion, while the rest goes toward interest. Each account option has a $15 non-refundable administration fee and has an APR between 15.51% and 15.73%.

When the account is paid off, your savings are unlocked, and you can choose to continue building your credit history with Instal or move your savings into your primary bank account and close the CreditStrong account.

If you choose Instal 28 for $28 monthly, you’ll build credit over 48 months. Your savings account balance will progress like this:

Payment of $28 per month Savings account balance
Month 1 $15.55
Month 24 $431.31
Month 36 $699.43
Month 48 $1,010.00

As with Revolv, Instal may be helpful for people looking to build credit. You’ll likely pay more to participate in Instal than you would pay in interest on some of the best personal loans available, and you don’t have access to the loan funds through CreditStrong until the end of your loan term.

CS Max

CS Max is another CreditStrong loan account. It’s open to people who want to build a large amount of credit over a long time. It reports up to $25,000 in installment credit to the three credit bureaus and maximizes the possible credit amount. It is not designed to build savings.

For $49 a month, CS Max account holders can have a $2,500 installment loan reported and create up to 60 months of payment history. This type of loan can help you demonstrate your ability to pay back larger amounts of money and potentially increase your credit for business purposes.

For $99 a month, a $5,000 installment account is reported to the credit bureaus. For more significant amounts of credit, a monthly payment of $199 will create a loan amount of $10,000, and to have a $25,000 loan amount reported, you’ll pay $449 a month.

CS Max is for people who want to apply for a large personal loan or a credit card with a large spending limit. It is not a good idea if you plan to make a large purchase soon, like buying a home, or otherwise need to prioritize your debt-to-income ratio.

Each account option has a $25 non-refundable administration fee and an APR between 3.02% and 7.31%.

For a $25,000 loan balance and a charge of $449 a month, your savings account balance will look like this:

Payment of $449 per month Savings account balance
Month 1 $386.91
Month 24 $9,555.90
Month 36 $14,551.47
Month 48 $19,697.99
Month 60 $25,000.00

Like the Instal account, the CS Max account funds are available when you close your account or at the end of your loan term.

How to get started with CreditStrong

The CreditStrong application process is straightforward and takes only about five minutes.

To sign up, you’ll need:

  • To be at least 18 years old and a permanent U.S. resident
  • A working phone or Google Voice number
  • A verifiable email address
  • A checking account, debit account, or prepaid card in good standing
  • A valid Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)

Although CreditStrong does not do a hard pull of your credit, you’ll still need to provide your Social Security number. CreditStrong will use that information to report your payments to the credit bureaus, provide your FICO score, and pay interest on your savings account.

CreditStrong is available in most states but cannot be used in Vermont or Wisconsin.

1. Start by going to CreditStrong.com and clicking the Start Building Button

CreditStrong Screenshot

2. Select your preferred plan: Revolv, Instal, or CS Max, and hit apply

CreditStrong Screenshot

3. Provide your email address, full name, and birth date

CreditStrong Screenshot

CreditStrong Screenshot

4. Provide your phone number and address

CreditStrong Screenshot

CreditStrong Screenshot

5. Select a password

CreditStrong Screenshot

6. Provide your Social Security number and confirm your identity

CreditStrong Screenshot

7. Link your bank or debit card to your CreditStrong account.

8. Complete the account registration and set your monthly payment details

Alternatives to CreditStrong: Self and Digital Federal Credit Union

If you want to focus on building your savings account more than your credit, CreditStrong likely isn’t a good fit. Additionally, if you need a personal loan to help you handle current expenses, you need to look elsewhere. As you research how to get a loan and find ways to improve your credit score, explore all your available options.

If CreditStrong isn’t right for you, consider an alternative like Self or Digital Federal Credit Union.

Self

Self2 is a credit-building company.3 When you sign up for a Credit Builder Account, Self opens a certificate of deposit in your name, keeping the funds locked away. Self’s $9 administrative fees are lower than CreditStrong, but it offers only 24-month terms. You can make payments of $25, $35, $48, or $150,4 and your savings will grow as you complete each payment.

Self offers a Rent and Bill payment option for credit building. When you sign up, you select which accounts you want to include, like rent, utilities, or your cell phone. As you make on-time payments, Self will report your payments to three credit bureaus, helping you build your credit. Rent reporting is free, and additional bill reporting can be added for a monthly fee of $6.95.

Visit Self | Learn more in our Self review

Digital Federal Credit Union

This online credit union offers credit builder loans up to $3,000 with a 5% interest rate and terms of 12 to 24 months. As you make payments, your loan balance decreases, and your savings balance increases. As a bonus, your savings balance can earn Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) dividends based on the current dividend rate.

Your estimated monthly payment is $43.87 per $1,000, and DCU also offers traditional checking, savings, and personal loans, among other financial products.

Visit DCU

FAQs about CreditStrong

Is CreditStrong safe?

Yes, CreditStrong is safe and its partner, Austin Capital Bank, is FDIC insured. FDIC protects each depositor up to $250,000 per account category per banking institution in the event of a bank failure.

CreditStrong says that all its products are built using its Trident technology platform, which provides services using bank-grade security for all personal information, including 256-bit encryption.

Does CreditStrong affect my credit score?

CreditStrong does not perform a hard credit pull when you open an account, but using CreditStrong might help you increase your credit score. Paying your credit-related bills on time is one of the most significant contributors to your credit score, and the longer your history of on-time payments is, the better your score is likely to be.

CreditStrong may also help improve your credit score by increasing your credit utilization ratio, credit mix, and length of credit history, all of which factor into your credit score.

How long does it take for CreditStrong to work?

CreditStrong says it typically takes 30 to 60 days after making your first installment loan payment for it to appear on your credit report. CreditStrong reports your loans to the three credit bureaus, but each bureau decides when to process the account and add it to your credit report.

CreditStrong review: bottom line

CreditStrong provides an option for revolving and installment loans and higher amounts for those looking to build a large amount of credit. Although you may find alternative savings or credit-building accounts that offer fewer fees or a better interest rate, CreditStrong may be a good option if you primarily want to focus on building or rebuilding your credit with the goal of seeing a credit score increase.

Be sure to research your options thoroughly, and if you sign up with CreditStrong, select the product and payment terms that will work best for you and your credit journey.

Author Details

Kate Daugherty Kate Daugherty is a professional writer with a passion for providing others the head start they deserve on their financial journeys. Largely self-taught, Kate relied on books, blogs, and trial-and-error to learn how to budget and save for the future, all while working to pay back about $15,000 in student loans.

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