The 6 Best Credit Building Apps to Increase Your Credit Score
For some, a credit score is a prized achievement, with ratings stretching into the 700 or 800 value range. For many people though, a credit score is a number that could be improved.
While most Americans have a credit score less than 700, obtaining a higher score can help you secure better terms on loans, including lower interest rates. But what if you need help with your credit score? As the saying goes, is there an app for that?
Luckily, there are indeed various apps to help you improve your credit score. Using an app can take time to increase your credit score, but an app can assist you with preparing for a more robust financial future.
These are the best credit building apps to increase your credit score:
- Credit Karma
- Grow Credit
- No-cost updated look at your Experian score
- Subscription for real-time credit monitoring
- Free Experian Boost to increase credit score
Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus that collects and reports your financial information as a three-digit number — aka your credit score.
A credit score helps other companies determine how risky it is to loan you money based on your credit and payment history.
In the free Experian app, you can check your most recent Experian credit score and scores from Equifax and TransUnion, which are updated yearly. Understanding where you stand is the best way to start building your credit score.
If you opt to pay for the Experian app, you can obtain your latest credit score from the other two bureaus. The subscription is expensive but offers a full picture of your current credit situation.
One free feature we love is Experian Boost, which adds recurring bills to your credit report to help increase your credit score. You’ll need at least three recurring payments, like utility bills or ongoing subscriptions to HBO Max or Netflix.
- Free look at TransUnion and Equifax scores
- Picks loans and credit cards based on your score
- Inspects impacts on your credit score
If you’ve ever wrestled with your credit score, you’ve likely used or at least heard of Credit Karma. This personal finance company helps Americans discover their credit scores at no cost.
Though Credit Karma’s credit score reporting can be inflated due to using the Vantage scoring system, instead of the more common FICO credit score. Still, your Vantage credit score can be enough to give you a rough idea of where you stand.
Another noteworthy quirk: Credit Karma only reports TransUnion and Equifax scores. You’ll need to separately check your Experian credit score, either online or in the Experian app.
The real reason we love Credit Karma is that the app shows you the negative and positive factors affecting your scores, allowing you to see issues so you can correct them and improve your credit score.
The service also has built-in tools for discovering credit cards and loans that best match your current financial situation and credit score.
- Offers loans to help you build credit
- Multiple payment options for different budgets
- Loan check doesn’t affect on your credit score
The Self app lets you get into truly building your credit score by making on-time loan payments.
This subscription-based app enables you to take out a small loan and pay it back to help you build credit. (You even get most of the money back in the end.)
To start, apply for a Credit Builder account with Self and obtain a credit builder loan. Don’t worry. There won’t be any hard pulls on your credit report. Once approved, you can pick a payment amount and loan total to begin making payments.
For example, you may pay $25 a month for 24 months. As the payments are made, Self reports your on-time payments to the three primary credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), helping to increase your credit score.
You get your money back minus any fees and interest at the end of the payment period. In our example, you’d pay $600 into your Credit Builder account and get approximately $520 back after 24 months with an interest rate of 14.14%.
- Offers loans to increase your credit score
- Low, standard monthly payment
- Reports low credit utilization to credit bureaus
Kikoff is another app that helps increase your credit score by having you pay down a credit builder loan. The Kikoff process helps credit bureaus learn that you have a trustworthy payment history and good credit utilization.
Similar to Selt, Kikoff works by setting up a credit line that you can’t access, unlike a traditional loan. Instead, Kikoff gives you a $750 line of credit and you pay $5 a month, while Kikoff reports that you are paying the account properly. There’s no credit pull and you pay 0% interest.
Unlike Self, you won’t get your money back or a payout at the end, but the overall cost is similar. Think of the $5 as a subscription fee to use Kikoff. Best of all, the $5 monthly payment makes building credit cheaper and accessible to more people.
Having a credit account with Kikoff shows positive payment history and tips your credit utilization percentage in your favor. Kikoff will report that you only use 10% of the $750 line of credit provided, which credit bureaus love to see.
Additionally, your Kikoff account will not expire, so your average account age increases as long as it remains open.
- Credit Builder Plus to increase credit scores
- Get a portion of your loan immediately
- Subscription includes other features
We’ve talked about MoneyLion before as it’s a solid neobank option and provides access to automatic investment accounts, zero-interest cash advances and debit card rewards.
We haven’t focused on MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Plus feature though, which aims to help increase your credit score.
Like Self and Kikoff, Credit Builder Plus allows you to establish a credit history or rebuild your credit score without a hard credit check.
First, you apply for a credit builder loan up to $1,000. Unlike other credit building apps we reviewed, MoneyLion gives you a portion of the loan upfront.
You then pay off the rest of your loan over 12 months with automatic payments that help you build a history with the three credit bureaus. Once your full loan has been paid off, you can access the money you paid into the account.
It’s a powerful program with a single downside: Credit Builder Plus costs $20 a month plus your loan payments — but you do get access to additional MoneyLion features.
- Build credit by paying subscriptions
- Pay off up to $150 in subscriptions monthly
- Access to exclusive deals and discounts
In case the name doesn’t give it away, the Grow Credit app is a powerful solution for … well, helping you grow your credit.
However, the Grow Credit program works a bit differently than other credit building options on our list. Typically, you have to take out a loan that you pay back to yourself, minus fees and interest. Grow Credit works by providing you with a Mastercard to pay your subscription fees.
You can use the Mastercard to cover your recurring subscriptions — such as Netflix, HBO Max and Spotify — then pay off the monthly Mastercard bill and watch your credit score increase.
You can use the Grow Credit app for free with a monthly spending limit of $17. Paid memberships, such as the Accelerate Membership, allow you to pay off up to $150 in monthly subscriptions.
Paid memberships start at $1.99 a month and give you access to additional features such as your FICO score and discounts from subscription partners.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Experian and Credit Karma can help you closely monitor your credit reports and understand where your credit score is now.
Apps such as Kikoff, MoneyLion, Self and Grow Credit can help you increase your credit score or begin building credit if you don’t have any.
Increasing your credit score takes time because you’re building a history of on-time payments.
Credit building apps — such as Self, Kikoff, MoneyLion or Grow Credit — can help increase your credit score with time. Each app works differently, but all aim to establish a payment history with credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
No app is faster than the other, so pick the credit builder program that works best for you.
Yes, apps that build credit can be highly beneficial, especially for those with little or no credit. Credit building apps typically give you a loan that you basically pay back to yourself to establish a clean payment history with the three major credit bureaus.
Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.