Self Credit Builder Loan Review 2024 (2024)

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Self Credit Builder Account

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On Self's website

Insider’s Rating



Build credit while building savings, starting at $25 a month.

Regular Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

15.51% to 15.92%


$25 - $150 monthly

Recommended Credit


Loan Amount Range

Sample loans: $25/mo, 24 mos, 15.92% APR; $35/mo, 24 mos, 15.69% APR; $48/mo, 24 mos, 15.51% APR; $150/mo, 24 mos, 15.82% APR. See 3 Results are not guaranteed. Improvement in your credit score is dependent on your specific situation and financial behavior. Failure to make monthly minimum payments by the payment due date each month may result in delinquent payment reporting to credit bureaus which may negatively impact your credit score. This product will not remove negative credit history from your credit report.

$600 to $3,600


  • Four different plans
  • Customers eligible for Visa secured credit card
  • No hard credit check
  • Available in all 50 states


  • Relatively high APRs for credit builder loan
  • Only 24-month payment periods available

Insider’s Take

Self's credit builder loan is one of the few credit-builder loans available in all 50 states. Self offers four payment plans between $25 and $150 per month, all of which take 24 months to complete. Self doesn't perform a hard credit inquiry, and it reports to all three credit bureaus, but that's the bare minimum for a loan designed to build credit.

Product Details

  • No hard credit report pull
  • Reports to all 3 bureaus
  • Build credit AND savings
  • Join over 1 million credit builders
  • Unlock a Secured Credit Card after meeting eligibility criteria
  • 24 months loan duration

Credit invisibility can often be a negative feedback loop where you can't get a loan because you don't have credit, but you can't build credit because you can't get approved. Enter the credit-builder loan, which has you paying the entire loan off before you get your money. This structure protects lenders from risk, so they can accept people with bad or no credit, and the borrowers' payments still get reported to credit bureaus so they can improve credit scores.

Large banks like Bank of America or American Express usually don't offer credit builder loans, so borrowers usually have to look regionally, like a local credit union. However, as one of the loans we included in our guide on the best credit-builder loans, Self's credit-builder loan is one of the few available nationwide. See how Self can help raise your credit score and if it's right for you.

Read more: Loans for no credit.

Self Credit Builder Loan Overview

Self, an Austin, Texas-based startup founded in 2014, is an online lender that offers credit-builder loans that help customers with little or no credit build up their payment history. Self claims that the average customer raises their credit score by 49 points.

Self's credit builder loan is one of the few credit-builder loans available in all 50 states. Self offers four payment plans between $25 - $150 monthly, all of which take 24 months to complete. Self doesn't perform a hard credit inquiry, and it reports to all three credit bureaus, but that's the bare minimum for a loan designed to build credit.

Self's biggest draw is its Self Visa® Credit Card that you are eligible for after you make three on-time payments and have paid at least $100 into your credit-builder account. The secured credit card also comes with a $25 annual fee and an APR that hovers around 29.24% Variable.

On the other hand, Self's relatively high APRs from 15.51% to 15.92% make it a tough sell. Additionally, the Better Business Bureaugave Self a F rating for the high volume of complaints the company received. Customers on Self's BBB page gave the company an average of 3.37 stars out of five across nearly 600 reviews. The company fares worse on Trustpilot, receiving an average of 1.8 stars. Most negative reviews cite poor customer service, issues retrieving funds after completing the loan, and high fees.

The BBB has put out an alert on Self over the numerous reports of fraud and difficulty receiving payments coming from consumers. As of August 25, 2023, the Self has communicated with the BBB, detailing its efforts to improve fraud detection and customer communication.

Overall, Self is one of the more accessible credit-builder loans on the market. Still, it's worth your time to look at all options, particularly local options, for better rates and potentially more reliable service.

How Self Credit Builder Works

Self credit builder works by issuing a loan to be paid off over 24 months. As you make payments on-time and in full, you will qualify for the Self Visa® Credit Card, and Self will report your payment activity to the credit bureaus as an installment loan. Here are the details:

The first step is to choose a loan based on how much you want to pay monthly.

You can select from four monthly payment amounts, which you'll make for 24 months:

Payment amountAPRTotal PaymentsTotal Savings
$25 monthly15.92%$600$511
$35 monthly15.69%$840$717
$48 monthly15.51%$1,152$985
$150 monthly15.82%$3,600$3069

After you've made your pick, fill out an application for a credit-builder account, which is backed by Self's FDIC-approved financial partners. Once approved, you can activate your account.

At that point, Self will issue your loan — but instead of giving you the funds directly, it'll put the money into a certificate of deposit (CD) where it earns interest. The interest isn't great enough to cancel out your APR, but it shaves some expenses off the top.

You will qualify for the Self Visa® Credit Card when you've made three on-time payments and deposited at least $100. The money you've deposited to pay off the loan secures your credit card and doubles as your credit limit. You can increase that credit limit as you continue to pay off your loan.

Self reports your payment activity to the credit bureaus as you make your monthly payments. Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO credit score and 40% of your VantageScore, so the ability to show bureaus that you can deliver timely payments can go a long way toward getting you on the right track credit-wise. The loan will also be reported as an installment loan, which can help add diversity to your credit accounts.

When you've paid off the loan, the CD will unlock, and the money you've paid will be returned, minus any unpaid fees and interest. Your money is usually returned within 10-14 days, but it may take up to 30 days for Self to return your funds.

Self Rent and Utilities Reporting

While making payments toward your credit builder loan will help you build payment history, Self's new rent and utilities reporting through LevelCredit will allow you to build credit using monthly expenses you're already making. The service is competitive with some of the best rent reporting services.

For no charge, Self's rent reporting service will report your rent payments to the three credit bureaus. You can opt into the paid plan for $6.95 monthly to add utility payments to your TransUnion credit report. Along with reported utility payments, paying users also receive $1 million in identity theft insurance and credit monitoring through TransUnion. Users can also add up to 24 months of prior rent payments at your current lease for a one-time $49.95 fee.

Users do not need to sign up for a Self credit builder loan to gain access to rent reporting.

Self Credit Builder Pros and Cons

Self credit builder pros include flexible payment options, nationwide availability, and access to the Self Visa® Credit Card. Cons include relatively high APRs and non-refundable fees.

Self credit builder pros

Payment flexibility: While Self offers four payment plans, they also don't penalize you for paying your loan off early or canceling your credit-builder account.

Wide availability:Self is available in all 50 states, which is rare for providers of these kinds of loans. Additionally, Self has relatively few requirements to qualify. Some lenders provide a credit-builder account with a wider paid subscription program. Other lenders will have specific region-based requirements. For Self, you just need:

  • To be at least 18 years old
  • To be a permanent US resident
  • Have a Social Security number
  • Have a bank account

Includes Self Visa® Credit Card: The Self Visa® Credit Card also sets Self apart from other credit-builder loan providers. You can use this to show additional payment history and further build your credit. That said, this secured card needs to be used carefully since your credit limit will initially be low with a minimum deposit of $100. If your utilization ratio gets too high, above 30% at the most, you will hurt your credit.

Self credit builder cons

Relatively high APR:With APRs between 15.51% to 15.92%, the Self credit builder loan is on the high side compared to other credit-builder accounts on the market. Compare that with something like Digital Credit Union's credit builder, which has a 5.00% APR.

Non-refundable fees: The Self Visa® Credit Card also has a $25 annual fee.

Bad customer service:Self has a high number of negative reviews, flagging poor customer service, and trouble getting money back after the 24 months are up.

How Self Credit Builder Compares To Its Competition

While Self is one of the more established credit builder loans with availability in all 50 states, that's quickly becoming less impressive as more credit-building products hit the market. Meanwhile Self's high interest rates and poor customer service are starting to raise more eyebrows.

Here's how Self compares to other credit-builder loans in cost, monthly payments, and loan length:

CompanyInterest and FeesMonthly PaymentsLoan length
Self15.51% to 15.92%APR$25 - $150 monthly24 months
Fizz Debit CardNo Fees or InterestN/AN/A
CreditStrong$15 setup fee and 15.51% - 15.73% APR$24-$48 monthly24-48 months
MoneyLion$19.99 monthly subscription fee and 5.99% - 29.99% APR$83.33 monthly12 months
DCU5% APR$20.83-$250 monthly12-24 months
FreeKick$0-$99 annually$1,000-$2,500 annually12 months

Self vs. CreditStrong

Self and CreditStrong are leading providers in credit builder loans. Self is available in all 50 states and CreditStrong is available in 48. The two services are also very similar in fee structure, charging a setup fee and interest on the remaining loan balance.

CreditStrong offers slightly better interest rates and more flexible loan terms. While CreditStrong's Instal loans can last anywhere between 24 to 48 months, Self only offers 24-month loan terms.

However, Self's secured credit card is secured by the amount you've already contributed to your credit builder loan. This is a great perk which adds a revolving line of of credit to your credit report without a hard inquiry. It's also cheaper than CreditStrong's Revolv account, costing just $25 annually compared to Revolv's $99 annual fee.

Read our CreditStrong review here.

Self vs. Fizz

It's hard to argue with a free service, which is exactly what Fizz offers. Fizz is a debit card that reports your transactions to all three credit bureaus. It does not charge any interest on your balance and there's no setup fee. Fizz also has guard rails in place so you don't overspend without paying off your existing balance.

The one advantage Self has over Fizz is that Fizz is a revolving line of credit. If you already have a credit card, Fizz won't be nearly as helpful compared to Self, which is an installment loan. However, for simple, cheap credit building, Fizz is a better deal.

Read our Fizz review here.

Who Is Self Credit Builder For?

The Self credit builder is for a specific consumer. If you have no credit or a damaged credit score in need of repair and you have a flexible budget, Self could be a convenient option for you.

If you're not sure you'll be able to make your payments, it's probably not the best time to start a Self account. The service reports your payment activity and whether or not your payments are on time. Missing a payment may cause your credit score to drop. Self also charges a late fee, 5% of your monthly payment.

Self, and any other credit-building loan, is a means to an end. Yes, you can view Self as a way to save money and build credit, but if you want to save money, Self is far from the best savings account. You can also find better secured credit cards than the Self Visa® Credit Card. The best secured credit cards come with no annual fee, better APRs, and even some benefits.

Self Credit Builder Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How fast does Self build credit?

With each payment you make to Self, you build credit. All Self payment plans take 24 months to complete. However, if you don't have a credit score, it will take approximately six months before your credit file is scorable by the credit scoring algorithms.

Does Self credit builder boost your credit score?

The results of your Self credit builder will vary, but you will likely see a boost in your credit score as you add positive payment history information to your credit report. You will also add an installment loan onto your credit report, which can help if you only have revolving credit accounts like credit cards. According to Self's website, the average customer sees a 49-point boost in their credit score.

Is Self credit builder legitimate?

Yes, Self credit builder and its services are legitimate. It's one of the few services of this type available nationwide.

Jennifer Streaks

Senior Personal Finance Reporter and Spokesperson

Jennifer is a Senior Personal Finance Reporter and Spokesperson for the Personal Finance vertical at Business Insider. She started her career covering personal finance at Black Enterprise Magazine, went on to CNBC where she covered personal finance, women and money and tech and then Forbes, where she reported on personal finance, business, tech and money matters related to the economy, investing, credit and entrepreneurship. Jennifer is also the author of Thrive!...Affordably: Your Month to Month Guide to living your Best Life without breaking the bank. The book offers advice, tips and financial management lessons geared towards helping the reader highlight strengths, identify missteps and take control of their finances. In addition, she has extensive experience as an on-air financial commentator and has been a featured expert discussing credit and savings, investing and retirement, mortgages and all things money and personal finance. She has an ability to discuss and simplify complex financial issues and make them easier to understand. Follow her on Twitter @jstreaks.

Paul Kim

Senior Associate Editor at Personal Finance Insider

Paul Kim is a senior associate editor on Business Insider's personal finance team. He edits and writes about insurance. When he's not writing, Paul loves cooking and eating. He hates cilantro.

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Self Credit Builder Loan Review 2024 (2024)


What are the downsides of self credit builder? ›

Self credit builder cons

Non-refundable fees: The Self Visa® Credit Card also has a $25 annual fee. Bad customer service: Self has a high number of negative reviews, flagging poor customer service, and trouble getting money back after the 24 months are up.

Can you be denied for a credit builder loan? ›

It's possible to be denied for any type of loan, including a credit builder loan. While your poor credit score or nonexistent credit history might not be grounds for denial in this case, if you can't prove sufficient income for the loan, you might be denied.

How do I get out of self credit builder? ›

Call 877-883-0999 and choose option 1. Please note, if you call from a number that is not on file with Self, you will need to verify your identity prior to receiving the option to cancel your account. You will then be prompted to verify your account information.

What credit score do I need for a credit builder loan? ›

You won't need good credit scores to be approved for a credit-builder loan, which means they're perfect for those with poor or no credit history.

Is it good to pay self credit builder early? ›

Paying a few days early won't hurt your credit score. You can pay up to one month in advance with no negative affect on your credit. Making more than one extra monthly payment shortens the length of your plan, which may impact your credit since it shortens the length of your credit history at Self.

Does paying more on self build credit faster? ›

With the Self Credit Builder Account, you can typically choose to deposit $25, $35, $48 or $150 per month over a 24-month term (length may vary). However, taking on a larger loan doesn't necessarily mean you'll build or rebuild your credit faster.

What is the maximum amount of a credit builder loan? ›

Credit builder loans are small loans to build credit that have a term of six to 24 months, with amounts ranging from $300 to $1,000.

Can you spend money from credit builder loan? ›

Once all the payments are made, the lender releases the full loan amount to the borrower, who can then use it as an emergency fund or to meet another savings goal. Credit-builder loans are typically offered by smaller banks and credit unions.

Do you get the money up front with a credit builder loan? ›

A credit builder loan is different from a typical loan. Instead of you receiving money upfront, your lender deposits the amount of the loan (typically $300 to $1,000 according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) into a savings or CD account that you can't access until your loan is repaid.

Will closing my self credit builder account hurt my credit? ›

If you close your Credit Builder Account in good standing, then it will no longer report payment history to the credit bureaus monthly.

What happens after you complete self credit builder? ›

After all payments are made, you get access to the money minus the finance charges (the administrative fee and the interest you are charged). If you decide to close your account before it's paid off, you can access the money in the CD, minus fees and interest, and the amount you still owe.

How many times can you use self credit builder? ›

Right now, you can only have one Self Credit Builder Account open at a time. After you complete one Credit Builder Account though, you can apply for another, with a few exceptions. You can also access the Self Visa ® Credit Card a few months after opening a Credit Builder Account if you're eligible.

Can you use credit builder with no money? ›

No, you cannot use your Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card with no money. To use your card, you need to have available credit to cover your purchases. Also, if you attempt to make a purchase that exceeds your available credit limit or available balance, the transaction will be declined.

Is a credit builder loan worth it? ›

Key takeaways

Benefits of credit-builder loans include flexible acceptance criteria, the chance to improve your credit and the ability to build savings. Potential downsides to credit-builder loans include a drop in your score if you don't repay it on time, fees and no immediate access to money.

What is a good APR for a credit builder loan? ›

Compare the Best Credit Builder Loans
LoanAPR RangeLoan Terms
Credit Strong Best for Long Repayment Terms6.99%–15.61%2–5 years
Digital Federal Credit Union Best Credit Union5.0%1–2 years
MoneyLion Best for Small Loan Amounts5.99%–29.99%1 year
Self Best for Large Loan Amounts14.14%–15.58%2 years
1 more row

What are the disadvantages of self financing? ›

Drawbacks of Self-Financing

While self-financing has many benefits, it also has some drawbacks, including: Limited access to capital, which can limit the company's growth potential. Increased risk, as the company is solely responsible for funding its operations and growth.

Is self credit card good for building credit? ›

Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. Self can help. By opening a Credit Builder Account and making your monthly payments on time, you can build positive payment history.

Do you get all your money back from self credit builder? ›

After all payments are made, you get access to the money minus the finance charges (the administrative fee and the interest you are charged). If you decide to close your account before it's paid off, you can access the money in the CD, minus fees and interest, and the amount you still owe.

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