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Chime Credit Builder Card is practically debt-proof since you can only spend money you’ve transferred from a linked Chime checking account. But with no access to cash upfront or down the line, you might want a backup option that helps boost your credit AND provide emergency funds. Many credit builder loans like Chime can provide both, but with so many products to choose from, which one is right for you? We’ll answer that question right now.
Chime’s Credit Builder Secured Visa® Card helps improve your credit score but only lets you spend what you’ve already put aside. You can’t go beyond your means which adds handrails to this no credit check, no interest and no minimum security deposit card.
You’ll also need to be OK with opening a Chime account which requires $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits1. But since doing so makes you eligible for Chime SpotMe – which provides fee-free overdrafts up to $200 – there are plenty of reasons to join beyond improving your credit score.
Of course, the Chime Credit Builder Card can help you build your credit score. Cardholders see an average increase of 30 points after eight months!2
Why have 14 million people ditched their high-fee bank for Chime?
With over 14 million customers, Chime is the largest digital banking platform in America, but if you’re looking for cash upfront or a way to build savings, you won’t find those here.
So, are there other apps and cards like Chime Credit Builder Card?
Absolutely. With low or no fees, the best credit builders provide a jolt to your credit score while you build savings in the future. Others give you a portion of your loan upfront if you need cash ASAP.
Read on for the best alternatives to a Chime Credit Builder Card.
Credit builder loans vs. Credit builder cards
If you’re looking to boost your credit score, odds are you’ll be weighing up between a credit builder loan and a credit builder card (or secured card). Both options can help when you lack credit history or a solid credit score, so deciding which is best often comes down to whether you need funds right away or not.
Credit Builder Loan: Instead of receiving funds upfront (like a traditional personal loan), these products deposit all or some of your funds in a locked interest-bearing savings account. You make payments to the lender typically over 6 to 24 months (though some repayment schedules may be longer). Once you’ve made payments in full, you get access to your savings (minus interest or fees) to use in any way you want. Each payment is reported to the major credit bureaus; building up a track record of on-time payments may increase your credit score.
Credit Builder Card: Instead of borrowing against a maximum credit limit (like a traditional credit card), these products work by setting your credit limit equal to the amount you’ve set aside. This prevents overspending with your payments reported to the major credit bureaus. These cards are tailored to people with low credit scores, so you won’t be rejected if your credit score is less than stellar. Credit builder cards are also designed to help you build credit, though they tend to have a smaller impact than successfully making payments on a credit builder loan.
Credit builder apps and cards like Chime Credit Builder Card
We unpack the full features, pros and cons of Chime’s handy credit-boosting card in our full Chime Credit Builder Card review, but if you don’t want to open a Chime checking account or set up direct deposit with a new bank, it helps to know what else is available. Whether you’d like a little extra cash or a chance to bump up your savings, read on for the best credit builder apps and cards like Chime Credit Builder Card.
Kikoff Credit Account – Build credit for just $5/month
Kikoff’s alternative to credit builder loans will cost you just $5 a month, which should fit into even a tight budget.
Kikoff Credit offers a 12-month membership that costs $60 and is payable monthly – so you’re spending five bucks each month to improve your credit score. There is no credit check to qualify.
Unlike a credit builder loan, Kikoff Credit provides you with a $750 revolving credit line. The catch here is that you can ONLY use your line of credit to make purchases in Kikoff’s online store. This store sells eBooks on the topics of finance and personal wellness for $10 to $20, but there’s no obligation to buy anything if you don’t want to. You cannot use your Kikoff credit line to make purchases from other merchants or to access cash.
Your monthly $5 membership fee payments (plus payment for any purchases made in the Kikoff store) are reported to Equifax and Experian and may help boost your credit score. On average, Kickoff Credit customers with credit scores below 600 increase their credit scores by 58 points5, helping them qualify for better car loans, mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, and more.
Kikoff Credit’s Best Bits:
- Easy to qualify – No credit check
- Get started for just $5/month – No hidden fees or interest
- Build payment history with Equifax and Experian – May improve your credit
- View and manage your account with the Kikoff Credit app
Build your credit for just $5/month >>> Check out Kikoff Credit
Grow Credit – A no-interest credit card for a few small expenses
If you’re one of the 75 million Americans with a Netflix account, you can boost your credit by paying for your subscription. And don’t worry if you’re borrowing someone’s logins, with Grow Credit, you can use many of your favorite subscriptions you pay for each month to help improve your credit.
Grow Credit offers a no-interest virtual credit card… but one that comes with strict spending rules.
Instead of swiping your card anywhere Mastercard is accepted and putting your credit score (and bank balance) at risk, a Grow Credit card ONLY has a $17 monthly limit. And this limit can ONLY be used on streaming and subscription services (there are over 100 popular ones to choose from).
Grow Credit will “lend” you the money to pay for your favorite streaming and subscription services then deduct the amount from your bank account so you’re paying on-time – and on-time payment history is the largest component of your credit score. Since you’re often paying for services that you’re already using, you can improve your credit without changing your lifestyle or agreeing to longer repayment schedules that traditional credit builder loans require. There is no credit check and you may qualify for a no-fee plan based upon your bank account history; otherwise Grow Credit membership costs just $1.99/month!
Grow Credit’s website lists over 100 qualifying subscription services including:
Streaming Video: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max
Music and Audio: Spotify, Audible, iHeartRadio, Pandora
Food Delivery: Uber Eats, GrubHub, Postmates, DoorDash
Grow Credit’s Best Bits:
- Easy to qualify -No credit check
- No interest, no annual fees, no late fees
- On-time payments reported to credit bureaus – apps like Grow can help improve your credit
So does Grow Credit work?
According to a platform study conducted in March 2021, the average user experiences a FICO score increase of 51 points after 12 months of using Grow Credit (though other factors may have impacted scores as well.6
Start building credit for free >>> Check out Grow Credit
MoneyLion Credit Builder Plus – Save & build credit with cash upfront
MoneyLion Credit Builder Plus provides loans up to $1,000 at rates ranging from 5.99% to 29.99% APR7. Unlike many other credit builder loans which lock away 100% of your funds, you’ll receive some money from your credit builder loan upfront so you’ve got cash now instead of waiting until your loan is paid off.
A unique feature of a Credit Builder Plus membership is that you’ll also get access to MoneyLion’s 0% APR cash advances for up to $300 each pay period. The membership is required and costs $19.99 per month, which is in addition to your loan payments. You’ll also receive personalized credit building support and the ability to earn rewards up to $19.99/month – so you can offset the cost of your membership entirely!
More than half of Credit Builder Plus customers see their credit score increase by more than 42 points within 60 days 8of opening an account, so you can cover today’s expenses while you improve your credit and build up your savings.
The best bits:
- Easy to qualify – No credit check
- Access 0% APR cash advances for up to $30
- Loans up to $1,000 – get some of your funds upfront
Get funds while you save and build credit >>> Check out MoneyLion Credit Builder Plus
Credit Strong – Low priced credit builder loans starting at $15 a month
Wished your credit was stronger? Credit Strong can help.
- More than 25 points within three months.
- More than 40 points after nine months
- Almost 70 points after twelve months (for account holders who made all of their payments on-time)
Offering several credit builder loan sizes to choose from, Credit Strong deposits your funds in a locked savings account with no cash available upfront. Once your loan is repaid in full (including interest), the accumulated savings balance is yours to use in whatever way you like.
Although you can’t access any money upfront as part of your loan plan, where Credit Strong stands out is with its range of monthly payment options. With Credit Strong’s popular Build 1000 plan you can start rebuilding your credit for $15 a month – easily one of the lowest monthly payments on any widely available credit builder loan.
Here’s what a loan like Credit Strong Build 1000 plan would look like for you…
You would make 120 monthly payments of $15 (plus a one-time $15 administrative fee), which totals $1,815. You will receive back $1,000 at the end of the plan, so the total finance charge is $815. The loan has a 13.5% APR - dramatically lower rates than personal loans for borrowers with shaky credit, which often charge up to 36% APR!
Credit Strong’s Best Bits:
- Easy to qualify
- No credit check
- Choose from loan sizes and monthly payment amounts
- Reports on-time payments to major credit bureaus, which may improve your credit score
SeedFi Borrow & Grow – Affordable credit building plan
SeedFi’s Borrow & Grow plan is a conventional credit builder loan with the added benefit of accessing a portion of your funds upfront. If you need cash for an urgent expense, the chance to build savings while paying off your loan can be invaluable – but there are a few hoops to jump through for a loan like SeedFi.
SeedFi’s Borrow & Grow is available in 36 states only, so you’ll need to ensure you’re eligible. You’ll also need a minimum of $10,000 in annual take-home income to apply.
Borrow & Grow Plan loans for first-time borrowers range from $1,750 to $8,000, with $300 to $4,000 accessible immediately and the rest of the loan locked in a savings account until you repay in full. Repayment periods range from 10 to 48 months, and APRs range from 12.96% to 29.99%. 9
For example, you may qualify for a $7,000 loan with $3,500 available to you immediately and $3,500 locked in a savings account until your loan is repaid. You would make 79 biweekly payments of $130 (plus one final payment of $35) over 37 months. The loan has a 26.99% APR.
SeedFi’s Best Bits:
- No hard credit check
- Returns late fees at the end of the loan
- Fast funding – get a portion of your loan proceeds up front
Get up $4,000 and build positive credit history >>> Check out SeedFi’s Borrow & Grow Plan
How we picked these apps
To come up with this list, we picked the top credit building apps and cards like Chime Credit Builder Card, hit the ‘downloaded’ button, and started comparing features and reading T’s & C’s. We considered total funds, fund availability, APRs and loan repayment schedules. We also looked for additional features that might help people looking to rebuild or establish their credit. These include soft or hard credit checks, borrowing limits and additional financial features. We may receive a referral fee if you purchase or use some of the products described in this article.
WAIT! High overdraft fees aren’t the only way your bank is costing you money.
With inflation overheating, you’ve probably heard that interest rates are climbing sharply. That means that for the first time in years, it’s a great time to shop around for a high interest savings account.
The national average interest rate for savings accounts is currently 0.23% APY – that means that if you have $2,500 in a savings account, you’d earn just $5.76 after one year! Move those hard-earned savings to an FDIC-insured bank paying 3.50% APY and you’d earn $81.73 more!
Don’t let your hard-earned savings sit there doing nothing. Check out the rates that you can earn at other banks:
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- To be eligible to apply for Credit Builder, you need to have received a qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account within the last 365 days of your application. The qualifying direct deposit must have been made by your employer, payroll provider, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit. Bank ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits are not qualifying direct deposits.
- On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Chime will report your activities to Transunion®, Experian®, and Equifax®. Impact on your credit may vary, as Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations.Based on a representative study conducted by Experian®, members who made their first purchase with Credit Builder between June 2020 and October 2020 observed an average FICO® Score 8 increase of 30 points after approximately 8 months. On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score.
- Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month and Visa debit card activation. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won't cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See terms and conditions.
- Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
- Credit Score Increase: Based on Kikoff customers that used the Credit Account product and made consistent on-time payments during account lifetime. This data is based on observed VantageScore 3.0 credit score changes. Payment behavior can have an impact on your credit score, and individual results may vary. Data current as of March 2022.
- Data is based on an analysis of 13,125 users’ monthly FICO pulls, cohorted and anonymized through March 2021. Individual results will vary.
- Credit Builder Plus membership ($19.99/mo) unlocks eligibility for Credit Builder Plus loans and other exclusive services. A soft credit pull will be conducted which has no impact to your credit score. Credit Builder Plus loans have an annual percentage rate (APR) ranging from 5.99% APR to 29.99% APR, are made by either exempt or state-licensed subsidiaries of MoneyLion Inc., and require a loan payment in addition to the membership payment. The Credit Builder Plus loan may, at lender’s discretion, require a portion of the loan proceeds to be deposited into a reserve account maintained by ML Wealth LLC and held by Drivewealth LLC, member SIPC and FINRA. The funds in this account will be placed into money market and/or cash sweep vehicles, and may generate interest at prevailing market rates. You will not be able to access the portion of your loan proceeds held in the credit reserve account until you have paid off your loan. If you default on your loan, your credit reserve account may be liquidated by the lender to partially or fully satisfy your outstanding indebtedness. May not be available in all states.
- Credit score improvement is not guaranteed. A soft credit pull will be conducted that has no impact to your credit score. Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus. Data was sourced from credit score data from over 74,000 Credit Builder Plus members with an active loan between August 7, 2019, and February 18, 2021. Credit score improvement is not guaranteed. Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus. MoneyLion is not a Credit Services Organization. Credit Builder Plus is an optional service offered by MoneyLion.
- Advertised rates and terms will be subject to change without notice. Your actual APR and other loan terms will be shown to you as part of the online application process.