Kikoff Credit-Builder Review 2024

Kikoff offers a $750 line of credit, plus some add-on products, to help you build credit.
By NerdWallet 
Updated
Edited by Kathy Hinson

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The hardest part about building a credit history is getting access to credit in the first place.

If becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card isn't an option for you or you can't afford the deposit on a secured card, Kikoff offers a simple way to build credit: The Kikoff Credit Account.

The San Francisco-based online lender’s Kikoff Credit Account gives you access to a $750 revolving line of credit that you can use to build a credit history. It's like a credit card, the company's website says, but without interest. However, there is a $5 monthly charge.

You can only use the line of credit to make purchases on Kikoff's online store. The company reports payments to the three main credit bureaus, and users get access to VantageScore credit scores to track their progress.

Kikoff says there’s no hard credit check involved and no need to link a bank account.

If you already have credit but need to build it after some missteps, Kikoff is one of several options you can explore. Here’s a summary of the Kikoff line of credit.

Line of credit amount

$750.

APR

0%.

Min. credit score

None.

How a Kikoff Credit Account line of credit works

Kikoff offers a $750 revolving line of credit to all applicants. There's no credit check involved, and $750 is the only amount you can get.

There are limitations: You cannot access the money through a check or other method; you can only use the credit limit to make purchases on Kikoff's online store. Think of it as a payment option at checkout. The Kikoff store contains educational items on personal finance with prices starting at $10. (NerdWallet's advice: If you go this route, choose a $10 purchase, and pay it off over five months to build some credit history; then revisit and decide if the impact on your credit score makes it worth continuing.)

The revolving line of credit shows up like a credit card account would on your credit reports. Payments are reported to the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. That helps build your credit history. Your scores are calculated from information in your credit reports.

The most important factors affecting your scores are making on-time payments, followed by how much of your revolving credit limits you use, known as your credit utilization. Payment is due every month (Kikoff sends reminders), and you can make payments using a debit or credit card. New Credit Account users typically have less than 10% utilization on their accounts, which is considered an excellent rate, according to the website.

Kikoff also gives borrowers access to a free VantageScore 3.0 to track their progress. You can also use NerdWallet to track your free VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion and see your credit report weekly.

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Kikoff fees and penalties

Unlike a traditional credit card, Kikoff's line of credit does not carry any interest. If you do not pay off the monthly balance or pay just the minimum, you won't accrue interest.

As with any other form of credit, paying late or missing a payment can hurt your scores. Normally, paying a bill 30 or more days late can seriously damage your credit and you may have to pay a late fee to your lender.

Kikoff doesn't currently charge a late fee, but it will report late payments to credit bureaus. If someone becomes delinquent on their payments, the line of credit can be frozen. After 180 days of no payment, Kikoff may close the account and it can’t be reopened. 

How to apply for a Kikoff line of credit

You can apply on Kikoff’s website by providing personal details such as your name, phone number, address and Social Security number.

There is no hard credit check involved and you don't need to provide access to your bank information. Once your identity has been verified and you are approved, you can view your credit limit balance, track your credit score, utilization and payment date through your online account.

Other Kikoff credit-building tools

You can add on other credit-building products once you have your Kikoff Credit Account set up:

  • A $10 per-month credit-builder loan with no annual fees or interest.  Kikoff reports your monthly payments to Equifax and TransUnion. After 12 months of payments, you get the money you paid returned to you.

  • It also offers a secured credit card “that works like a checking account and debit card.” You deposit money up front, which then equals the credit limit of the card. With a deposit of $50 or more, payments are reported to all three credit bureaus.

  • Rent reporting to Equifax is included if you link the bank account you use to make rent payments, provide a valid lease and submit landlord information. For a onetime $50 fee, you can get rent payments over the past 24 months reported.

Kikoff vs. Self

Self is a lender that also offers credit-builder loans to help people establish credit. Like Kikoff, Self offers an add-on secured credit card. However, Self doesn’t offer a product similar to Kikoff’s Credit Account.

Both Kikoff and Self are available in all 50 state. Here’s how their products compare:

Credit Account

  • Offered by Kikoff; no similar product from Self. 

  • $750 line of credit.

  • $5 monthly charge, no interest.

  • No credit check. 

  • Reporting: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

  • Spending is limited to the Kikoff Store products.

Credit-builder loans

Kikoff (available to Credit Account holders as an add-on):

  • Loan amount $120.

  • 0% interest, no late fees. 

  • No credit check.

  • Reports to TransUnion and Equifax.

  • Loan term: 1 year.

  • Free payments with bank transfers, or a 50-cent fee to pay by card.

Self:

  • Loan amount $600 to $3,600.

  • $9 administrative fee; APRs around 15% (see the Self website for current pricing).

  • No hard credit check that might affect your score.

  • Reports to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

  • Loan term: 2 years.

  • Free payments by bank transfer; variable fee to pay by debit card.

Secured credit cards

Kikoff (available to Credit Account holders as an add-on):

  • $50 minimum deposit to have the account reported to credit bureaus.

  • No hard credit check.

  • No interest or annual fee.

  • Reports to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

  • Fee-free access to funds at more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs worldwide; $2.50 fee outside of the Allpoints network (in addition to any ATM fees).

Self (available to credit-builder loan holders as an add-on):

  • $100 minimum in credit-builder loan account and 3 on-time payments.

  • No hard credit check. 

  • 29.24% Variable APR and $25 annual fee.

  • Reports to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

  • Cannot be used as a debit card at ATMs.

Other ways to build credit

  • Become an authorized user: If you have a family member or friend with a high credit score and long credit history, ask them to add you as an authorized user on their credit card.

  • Get a secured credit card: Consider applying for a secured credit card, a type of card that's backed by an upfront cash deposit.

  • Ask someone to co-sign a loan for you: You can get a loan or a regular credit card using a co-signer. Make sure you and the co-signer understand that the co-signer owes the full amount if you don't pay.

  • Get credit for paying utilities or rent: You can explore using services like Experian Boost or a rent-reporting company to get your bills counted toward your scores. (Note that Kikoff has a rent-reporting service, but it reports only to Equifax and not all three major credit bureaus.

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