Let me guess Dream Catcher… you want to build your credit, right?

Nope, I’m not psychic; easy guess because credit is the #1 request for help in my inbox.


Everyone wants better credit, and even folks with great credit, want great-er credit. Lol!

The big fuss? Bad credit makes for a very expensive life; you end up paying way more for the things you want/need than folks who have solid credit in their corner.


Examples: Some companies require security deposits for low credit… interest rates (on cars, homes, credit cards, etc.) may be higher… and some jobs won’t even hire you if your score is below a certain number. Yup! 


Click here for a sneak peek at my fave credit-building bestie that Forbes, MSN, and Nerdwallet LOVE too.


I know all about that bad-credit life because when I was in my twenties, my credit was rocking out in the 800s… and then the 2009 recession hit. I lost my job, home, and savings and my credit score dropped to the 500s. Yikes!

One of the many ways I tried to build my credit back up -in hopes of a better credit score- was to charge things to my credit card and then (hopefully) pay the charged amount off at the end of every month to show our peeps at the credit bureaus that I was learning how to use credit responsibly.


The problem with that method is that it takes for-ev-er… and you have to purposely spend money every month as part of your strategy to better credit. No Bueno!

 But that was really the only option I knew of… until I met “Self”!! 


No, I’m not being philosophical here… Self Inc. is my favorite partna for building credit while building savings with your OWN money



 What is Self?

 Self (previously known as Self Lender) helps with building savings … and credit too!


Here’s the breakdown of how Self’s two power credit tools -a credit builder account + a bonus secured credit card- work:


CREDIT TOOL #1: Self Credit Builder Account* (CBA) 


  1. Apply for a no-credit-check Credit Builder Account (available nationwide)
  2. Choose your payment plan. You can build credit while building savings starting at $25* per month!
  3. Make your payments on time as you pay off your Credit Builder Account. Each monthly payment builds credit history and savings. (And your payments are reported to all 3 major credit bureaus!)
  4. Unlock your savings at the end, minus interest and fees.


Bonus: You’ll get your credit score at no cost!


Note 1: They are going to ask you for your SSN. That’s normal procedure when you apply for any loan. Self abides by strict protocols that govern your safety and security over your data.

Note 2: Self DOES NOT use your credit score to qualify you. They are checking to make sure you are 18+ and have a SSN.

Note 3: Anytime you apply for credit, you get an inquiry. Thankfully, Self is NOT a hard credit pull. Hard pulls stay on your credit report for 2 years. Self is a soft pull, so there is no inquiry reported. They don’t use your credit score to qualify you. That’s why it’s not affected. (see note 2)

Note 4: When you open your credit builder account, I suggest you take one out for the lowest amount possible so your monthly payments will be manageable. Self’s plans start at $25 per month.*


Bonus Again: Unlike a traditional loan, this one is held for you in a two-year certificate of deposit (CD).


Set up auto-pay! Every month, your super-low payment is automatically taken from your bank account to pay toward the loan.

At the end of the term, the CD will mature and unlock, and you’ll GET YOUR PRINCIPAL BACK, (minus interest and fees).


Sidebar: You can pay off the loan earlier if you like too. You can pay it off anytime within the 24 months***. When you do, you’ll get the principal from the CD back (minus interest and fees and an early redemption fee).

Das it!


Basically, it’s a loan, but YOU DO NOT get the money. Instead, Self secures it in a CD.

The purpose is to show creditors you can pay back and off what you owe. Self is genius, right?!


The Real MVP Bonus: Your credit history can benefit from responsibly paying on and eventually off, an installment loan with fixed payments. Doing so shows future creditors that you, my friend, are potentially worthy of future credit because you proved it 24 months in a row. Woot Woot!


Bonus on Bonus: Your Credit Builder Account may also increase the “types of accounts” on your credit report, which can positively affect 10% of your credit score.(1) Lenders like to see positive repayment behavior on a good mix of different types of credit accounts.


CREDIT TOOL #2: Self Secured Visa Credit Card** 

Moving on to the second way that Self helps you get your credit together –– the Secured Self Visa(R) Credit Card! 

The Secured Self Visa(R) Credit Card card could be a great, next step for building credit for someone who has had financial challenges.


The secured Self Visa (R) Credit Card becomes available to credit builder account holders who meet eligibility guidelines. Card eligibility requirements include: having an active Credit Builder Account in good standing, making 3 on time payments, having $100 or more in savings progress, and satisfy income requirements. All requirements are subject to change. 


To recap…

  1. Open your Self Credit Builder Account. 
  2. Make at least 3 monthly payments on time. 
  3. Have $100 or more savings progress in your account. 
  4. Have a CBA account in good standing. 
  5. Satisfy income requirements.
  6. Get your Self Visa(R) Credit Card. 
  7. Because the card is connected to the Self Credit Builder Account, you are ALREADY ELIGIBLE(no credit check required). 


The Self Visa Credit Card has some major perks and benefits:


Check-in on your credit usage

You won’t get carried away with this one! The Self dashboard has a credit utilization meter in the mobile app dashboard to keep you on track with how much of your credit you’re using. (Tip: It’s best to stay under 30%).


You have the power to build your deposit

The Self Visa Credit Card uses the money that is already in your Self Credit Builder account to fund your credit line, unlike other secured credit cards, which typically require you to put a security deposit of $200 or more upfront before you can use them. If you open a Self Credit Builder account, you can use your regularly scheduled monthly payments to build up your security deposit over a period of several months instead of having to make hundreds of dollars in one lump sum.


Choose your credit limit

 You pick the credit limit for your card based on the amount that you deposited in your credit builder account. For example, if you made $500 in payments on your Self Credit Builder Account, you would be eligible for a credit limit of up to $500 without putting up any additional money. This might also help you manage your credit utilization, as you can set a credit limit that makes sense based on your spending habits.


No additional money upfront

Your Credit Builder Account savings progress secures your card and sets your limit. 


Bonus Plus:  Self reports to all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. *insert happy-dance*


And, if you utilize both of Self’s power credit tool features… it’s like a double boost to your credit over time because you could have two positive credit lines reporting at the same darn time (your credit builder account AND your secured credit card account).  


IMPORTANT NOTE: It is critical that you are in a position to commit to your selected monthly payment plan. You don’t want to defeat the purpose of having access to such a powerful credit builder by NOT making your payments leading to negative information reported to the credit bureaus.


I LOVE happy credit/savings endings!!


Are you getting my drift on how easy it can be to have some credit and saving SELF- confidence? Download Self here and let’s go!

My Lisa Rule: I have 4 sisters and Lisa is the baby (well she’s not a baby anymore). Of all of my sisters, I’m the most protective of her. Before I share any product or service with you, it must pass my Lisa Rule.

What’s the Lisa Rule? If I would not advise Lisa to use a product or service, I won’t advise you to. YOU are my Lisa. I feel protective of you and your financial journey.

Self passes my Lisa Rule. Yes, I am an affiliate of Self, and I earn a commission off of referrals, but I would not recommend a product or service that I didn’t believe was helpful and useful. 


*Credit Builder Accounts & Certificates of Deposit made/held by Lead Bank, Sunrise Banks, N.A., SouthState Bank, N.A., First Century Bank, N.A., each Member FDIC. Subject to credit approval.

**Self Visa® Credit Card issued by Lead Bank, First Century Bank, N.A., or SouthState Bank, N.A., each Member FDIC. See Self.inc for details

***Sample loans: $25/mo, 24 mos, $9 admin fee, 15.92% APR; $35/mo, 24 mos, $9 admin fee, 15.97% APR; $48/mo, 24 mos, $9 admin fee, 15.72% APR; $150/mo, 24 mos, $9 admin fee, 15.88% APR. See self.inc/pricing

  1. www.ficoscore.com/education#WhatYour

About the Author Tiffany Aliche

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, is an award-winning teacher of financial education, America’s favorite, personal financial educator, and author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Get Good with Money. The Budgetnista is also an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The One Week Budget and the Live Richer Challenge series and most recently, a children's book, Happy Birthday Mali More.

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