Kikoff vs. Self: Which App is Better for Building Your Credit Score?

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Alexander Porter

The main difference between Kikoff and Self is the type of credit-building product used and the amount of credit available. Kikoff uses a revolving line of credit up to $750, whereas Self offers multiple Credit Builder Plans for amounts between $600 and $3,600. Both apps may help build your credit score through on-time monthly payments.  

Self claims its users see an average credit score bump of 49 points, while Kikoff claims its users improve by 58 points on average – both of which could make it much easier to get approved for loans and credit cards, qualify for larger credit lines, and even pay lower interest rates and fees.

What is the Kikoff app?

The Kikoff app is designed to help you build your credit history and improve your credit score. 

Kikoff works by offering a credit line of $750 –  which means it functions like a Kikoff Credit Card.  The catch is that you can only use your line of credit in the Kikoff credit store to buy ebooks on topics like personal finance or health and wellness. 

By making on-time monthly payments (with no interest or fees), you establish a positive payment history, which is a key factor in credit score calculations. 

Kikoff’s low credit line helps maintain a low credit utilization ratio – the portion of your total credit line that you’ve borrowed against – which is another factor influencing your score. 

The user-friendly app requires no credit check for signup so you won’t be punished if you’re still building your credit history. You will need to pay a flat monthly subscription fee of $5 ($60 a year). At the end of twelve months, your membership is complete. 

If you’ve made on-time payments to Kikoff, you may see an increase in your credit score, which can help you access more affordable loans and credit cards in the future. Kikoff customers with credit scores under 600 increase their credit scores by an average of 58 points2 by making consistent on-time payments on their accounts.  58 points is a significant credit score increase that could help you qualify for better car loans, mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, and more!

Build your credit for just $5/month >>> Check out Kikoff Credit  👈

App NameKikoff
Type of LoanRevolving line of credit
Loan Amount$750
Required Credit ScoreN/A
FeesMonthly payment of $5

What is the Self-credit builder app?

Self-partners with an FDIC-insured bank to offer credit builder accounts – essentially loans with fixed monthly payments – that are specifically designed to help build your credit score.3

Self offers multiple Credit Builder Plans where you’ll pick a monthly payment amount, make your payments, and get your money back (minus interest and fees) at the end of the 24-month payment plan. Self reports your monthly payments to the three major credit bureaus which helps build a positive payment history on your credit report. 

So is it worth it? Well, Self-reports that its customers see an average credit score increase of 49 points!4  

While that’s a little lower than Kikoff’s average score increase, we’ll note that they each calculate the number in slightly different ways. Boosting your credit score by about 50 points can significantly improve your odds of approval for many loans and credit cards, and may help you qualify for lower interest rates and fees.

The Self app tracks your credit score for free and allows access (pending income and eligibility criteria) to a Self Visa® Credit Card with responsible account management. 

You choose what portion of your savings (must be $100 or more) is used to secure your card and set your limit. Self will send out a physical card to your address and you can start using it wherever VISA is accepted online or in-store.

Build your credit and savings >>> Check out Self 👈

App NameSelf
Type of LoanCredit Builder Loan
Loan Amount$600 to $3600
Required Credit ScoreN/A
APR15.51% to 15.92% based on payment plan

What Makes Kikoff and Self Similar?

Credit-building apps can feel like the Holy Grail when it comes to repairing your credit score – but which option is right for you?

To help make your choice easier, here are some of the key similarities between Kikoff and Self:

  • Both apps focus on credit building: Both apps are designed to help you build a credit history and improve your credit score by reporting to the three major credit bureaus.
  • Neither app runs a hard credit check: Neither app requires a hard credit check to sign up, making them accessible even when you’re dealing with limited credit history or lower scores.
  • Both apps offer alternatives to credit cards: Both apps offer alternative methods to traditional credit-building options, like credit cards. Kikoff utilizes a credit line within the app, while Self uses a secured loan approach through their Credit Builder Accounts.
  • Both apps offer automated payment options: With optional autopay, Kikoff, and Self help you stay on track without worrying about bill payments or due dates.
  • Both apps offer accessible mobile apps: Both Kikoff and Self come with user-friendly mobile apps for managing your credit building journey and monitoring your credit score.

Kikoff vs. Self: What are the Differences?

Kikoff and Self vary in what they offer, extra features, and the credit bureaus they report to. If you’re struggling to decide which app is right for you, here’s a breakdown of their key differences:

Credit Building Approach:

  • Kikoff: Utilizes a revolving credit line of $750 that allows purchases only within the app’s store. You build credit by making on-time payments for these purchases.
  • Self: Focuses on building credit through its “Credit Builder Account” where you save money and Self “loans” it back to you, building a positive payment history on your credit report.


  • Kikoff: Charges a monthly subscription fee of $5 (you’ll pay a $60 yearly membership fee in total).
  • Self: Charges no monthly fees but has individual fees for features like credit card access and reporting rent/utility payments.

Additional Services:

  • Kikoff: Offers a secured credit card with rewards and no annual fee (optional).
  • Self: Offers rent and utility payment reporting (paid service).

Pros and Cons Compared

Kikoff ProsKikoff Cons
✓ No interest on revolving credit line✗ Line of credit can only be used to buy Kikoff products
✓ No credit check required✗ Doesn’t report to all 3 credit bureaus
✓ Low monthly fee ($5 minimum) 

Learn More >>> Read our full Kikoff app review 👈

Self ProsSelf Cons
✓ Multiple payment plans to choose from✗ Can’t access money until the end of the term
✓ No credit check required
✓ Comes with free credit monitoring 

Learn More >>> Read our full Self app review 👈

Which Credit Building App is Better?

Putting the “better” label on Kikoff or Self will depend on your specific needs and current credit score. 

We downloaded both apps to test out their credit building products and while both apps can help potentially boost your credit score, they offer different tools and advantages.

Kikoff is the more straightforward and cost-effective option with its revolving line of credit a simpler option for those new to credit or looking to rebuild with minimal complexity and cost. 

Self’s range of Credit Builder Plans and loan terms offer greater flexibility for different financial situations and goals. This flexibility allows you to tailor your credit-building journey to your specific needs,

Choosing the best app will depend on your specific needs and budget, so take the time to check out each app and choose the one that’s right for you.

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  1. As of February 13, 2024. Offers may change and may not be available to all users. Eligibity requirements apply. See KashKick's Terms of Service for full details.
  2. Credit Score Increase: Based on Kikoff customers that used the Credit Account product and made consistent on-time payments during the 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.
  3. All Credit Builder Accounts made by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, Sunrise Banks, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, SouthState Bank, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or First Century Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. Subject to ID Verification. Individual borrowers must be a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident, or non-resident U.S.

    Alien and at least 18 years old. A valid bank account and Social Security Number are required. All loans are subject to ID verification and consumer report review and approval. 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. All loans are subject to approval. All Certificates of Deposit (CD) are deposited in Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Sunrise Banks, N.A., Member FDIC, SouthState Bank, N.A., Member FDIC or First Century Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.

    Lead Bank. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender

    Sunrise Banks, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender

    Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.

  4. Average outcome for customers who opened a 12-month Credit Builder account in Q1 2021, starting VantageScore 3.0 under 600, who made on-time payments. Other factors, including activity with your other creditors, may impact results. On-time payments do not mean full program completion and past performance based on this study does not guarantee future results. A credit score increase is not guaranteed.

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