Are you wondering if Self Lender is a legit credit builder loan option that’s worth your time? Are you wondering if you can trust them?
If you’re thinking of using Self Lender to help build your credit, then you need to know how they operate, how they can help you, and what the costs and fees are.
In this Self Lender review, we’re going to tackle all the pros and cons of using a credit builder loan service like this one.
What is Self Lender?
Self Lender is a credit monitoring platform. They track your credit score, and give suggestions on how to improve it. The suggestions are accurate, and it’s easy to pull your score on demand.
Self Lender partners with two companies who offer products that you can use to build your credit score. People with established credit can find credit card and personal loan offers through Credible.
Self Lender also offers credit products to people with bad credit or no credit. Self Lender has a unique relationship with multiple FDIC insured banks. Through the partnerships, they offer Credit Builder Accounts. Credit Builder accounts help people who need to build their credit through installment loans.
Self Lender Pros
- Reports to three major credit agencies
- Increases your credit score
- No hard inquiry required
- Friend referral program
Self Lender Cons
- Late payment fees
- Administrative fees
- Missed payments can hurt your score
Self Features and Benefits
Self does not have an income requirement to open an account.
You will not be denied a credit builder account if you have either poor credit or no credit. Eligibility for a Self credit builder account is determined through the ChexSystems database of past retail banking history. Self’s bank partners use ChexSystems to determine your eligibility. This system functions as something of a credit report monitoring of your history of banking relationships.
In general, Self reports that it will take at least six months of on-time payments to establish a FICO score. They also caution that if you already have a credit score, it may drop slightly upon taking the credit builder loan, since it will represent a new and unproven obligation.
Self reports customers with an $1,100 credit builder account in good standing have experienced an average credit score increase of 45 points within the first six months. They also report subprime customers experience a credit score increase of 20 to 25 points over the life of the loan.
Your credit score will be available on the Self dashboard.
Making Monthly Payments
You link your bank account to your Self account, and you can either make one-time payments each month, or set up automatic payments.
When you open a credit builder account with Self you can designate a beneficiary for any funds paid into your account.
You are free to pay back your credit builder account at any time. There are no extra fees or penalties for doing so. Once you do, you will receive the proceeds of the CD, plus accrued interest. However, the bank holding the CD will charge an early withdrawal penalty.
Self recommends against early repayment, since the primary purpose of the credit builder program is to build or improve your credit score. That should happen when the full payment term is complete.
The site offers a blog that deals with credit and personal finance topics, like budgeting, credit cards, debt, financial health, student loans, auto loans, mortgages and more.
Self Referral Program
If you refer a friend, you’ll earn $10 when they complete their first successful credit builder account payment.
Self Lender Reviews
Dont report consistently to credit bureaus. Charges you to pay past balance with debit. Paying with linked bank account takes a week. My score dropped more than it rose.KELTOI70
I signed up for the minimum plan for 25 dollars a month. I wish I signed up for a higher plan. Within a week of paying the initial payment, it showed up on all of my reports as promised. My score went up by two on one report and by nothing on the others. Hopefully as I pay, it will get higher.Medwar07
I started with making $25 monthly payments and then would randomly send more and my score increased right away. I have now finished it and requested to get my money via direct deposit and I got it within a week of making my final payment. No complaints.RLC45
Why Self Works Better than a Secured Card, Co-signed Loan or Prepaid Card
Some people who have either bad credit or no credit rely on other types of cards to build credit. One is a secured credit card. This type of arrangement will do the same thing Self will do, reporting monthly payments to all three credit bureaus. In the meantime, you could use the secured card the same way you would a regular credit card.
The disadvantage with a secured card is that you have to fund a savings account as security. If you don’t have the cash, you won’t be able to get the card. And you won’t have access to those funds until either your credit line is paid, or the bank releases the security lien on the account.
The one advantage a secured card has over a Self account is that the card can be used as a credit card. But you’ll also pay interest on that card, and it can be higher than the APR charged on the various Self plans.
Still another way to build credit is getting a loan with a co-signer. This will result in the lower interest rate and better terms. But if you don’t have a cosigner with good credit willing to cosign for you, this obviously won’t work. In addition, if you make any late payments, or default on the loan, it will affect your co-signer’s credit and he or she will then be responsible for paying the remaining balance of the loan. That could ruin an otherwise good friendship, or even a family relationship.
Finally, some people with no credit or bad credit try to get by with prepaid cards. While these can function like credit cards, they don’t help to build your credit history. Also, much like secured cards, you can’t spend any more than the amount you add to the card.
Self Lender Fees & terms
Self Lender is very transparent about its fees and terms, but you should never go into a credit agreement blindly.
These terms are fairly standard for lines of credit in that they do have fees, interest, and late fees.
Just remember that your terms will vary according to the loan amount you choose.
Here’s a breakdown of each one:
|Monthly payment: $25 (24 months)
Non-refundable administrative fee: $9
Interest rate: 13.16%
APR (Annual Percentage rate): 14.92%
Finance charge: $84
Total amount of payments: $600
|Monthly payment: $48 (12 months)
Non-refundable administrative fee: $15
Interest rate: 10.34%
APR (Annual Percentage rate): 15.65%
Finance charge: $46
Total amount of payments: $576
|Monthly payment: $89 (12 months)
Non-refundable administrative fee: $12
Interest rate: 12.32%
APR (Annual Percentage rate): 14.62%
Finance charge: $80
Total amount of payments: $1,068
|Monthly payment: $150 (12 months)
Non-refundable administrative fee: $12
Interest rate: 10.69%
APR (Annual Percentage rate): 12.03%
Finance charge: $112
Total amount of payments: $1,800
And here’s an explanation of what each one of these fees & charges mean:
- Non-refundable administrative fee. This is the fee you’ll pay when you open your account. And as you can see from the charts, it varies from $12-$15, depending on the amount of your loan.
- Interest & APR: The interest charges may look a little confusing, but there is actually a difference between an interest rate and APR. The interest rate is the amount of interest you’re charged, but your APR is the interest plus other fees you’ll incur. Most other lenders like credit card companies only charge APR on balances remaining past the due date. But Self Lender calculates these fees in from the very beginning.
- Finance charge. The finance charge is the total cost of borrowing—basically, the interest plus the fees.
- Late fees. Self Lender allows you a 15-day grace period past the payment due date. But if you go past that, you’ll be charged a late fee that is 5% of your monthly payment amount.
How Does Self Lender Work?
To take advantage of Self credit building loans, you need to follow these simple steps:
- Create a Self Lender account
- Make monthly payments
Self Lender will report your on-time payments to the three major credit bureaus. This will improve your personal credit score.
Once you have paid out the Self credit builder loan, you will have access to the money you deposited (minus fees and interest).
Who Is Self Lender Best For?
Self Lender is best for people with no credit history and people with a poor credit score. Having a better credit score will increase your chances of loan approval, as well as your chances of getting approved for a credit card with better terms and lower fees.
How to Open a Self Account
The application process takes less than five minutes.
To open an account with Self you’ll need the following:
- A bank account or debit card or prepaid card
- Email address
- Phone number
- Social Security number
- Be a valid permanent U.S. resident with a U.S. physical address
- Be at least 18 years of age
They recommend beginning the process with a linked bank account for electronic monthly payment purposes. If you use a debit card, there will be a convenience fee of $0.30, plus 2.99% of amount of the payment.
How to apply for a Self Lender loan
Applying for a loan with Self Lender is easy.
Just click this link, and then hit the orange “Get Started” tab on their homepage.
You’ll then be directed to a page where you’ll fill out your banking information (for automatic payment withdrawals), social security number, phone number, and address.
Next, you’ll be asked to choose the terms of your loan.
You’ll commit to an amount of $25, $48, $89, or $150. Then you’ll just click on the “apply” button at the bottom of the page.
As we said earlier, they don’t check your credit, but they do run a ChexSystems report to see if you have a negative banking history.
The whole process takes just a few minutes, and you’ll have a decision immediately.
Credit Builder Loan
While a credit builder loan is one of the least costly ways to build your credit, it may not be for everyone.
If you have a negative ChexSystems history, for example, Self Lender may not approve your account. Also, if you need access to funds right away, putting money into a CD may not be the best option for you.
In any case, you might just want to explore your options, or you might want to add other types of credit to your portfolio since credit mix factors into your score.
- Secured credit cards. Secured credit cards are accounts where you make a deposit equivalent to your credit limit. Usually, you’ll get your deposit back at the end of a specified amount of time if you consistently make your payments on time.
- Store credit cards: There are some credit cards with more lenient qualification criteria, and a store card is usually one of them.
- Authorized user. You can ask your parents or spouse to add you as an authorized user on his or her credit cards. This way, their positive credit habits will also be reflected on your report.
- Co-signer. Almost any lender will allow you to use a co-signer who meets their credit criteria.
Credit builder loans vs secured credit cards
Credit-builder loans differ from secured cards in a couple of ways.
First, with a secured card, you’ll have access to a line of credit right away. But with a credit-builder loan, you won’t get your money until the end of the term.
And when you apply for a secured card, you have to deposit the entire amount of your credit line upfront. But a credit-builder account allows you to start with just one low monthly payment.
The second main way they differ is in the amount of their fees.
Secured credit cards usually require an annual fee, which can range from around $30 to $80, depending on the card.
And while credit-builder accounts do come with fees, they’re usually much lower. Self Lender’s fees are between $9 and $15. Also, this fee is a one-time fee, regardless of whether your account is active for one year or two.
Given these factors, you’d have to decide for yourself which option is better for you.
Credit builder loans tend to be a cheaper option, but secured credit cards give you an immediate line of credit.
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