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Credit-builder loans lender review methodology

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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

Just as the name suggests, credit-builder loans are a type of installment loan designed to help you boost your credit score. Unlike traditional loans — which give you a lump sum upfront — your funds are deposited into a secured account, which remains locked until you finish paying the loan back. Once the loan is paid off, the lender will transfer you the funds, minus any applicable fees.

Credit-builder loans are available from a variety of sources, from credit unions to online-only lenders. To help consumers on their search, the Bankrate team has taken on the task of vetting multiple lenders in the credit-building space to select our top picks.

How does Bankrate evaluate credit-builder loan lenders?

To evaluate credit-builder loan lenders, our team uses a 16-point scale known as the Bankrate Score. This scoring model takes into account three key factors: availability, affordability and customer experience. 

How does Bankrate assign lender stars?

Bankrate’s editorial team collects data on multiple lenders, pertaining to the three key factors evaluated in our ranking system. Then, lenders are rated with a score from one to five — the latter being the highest. For instance, the lower the APR and fewer fees, the higher that lender will score, whereas the higher the APR and number of fees, the lower it will rank.

It’s also worth noting that although Bankrate may have partnerships with some of the lenders featured, these relationships do not influence our decisions. Lenders are strictly scored based on hard data and expert analysis. Our goal is to provide you with a transparent review so you can find the best product for your needs.


  • States serviced.
  • Minimum and maximum loan amounts.
  • Repayment terms offered.
  • Funds availability.
  • Number of concurrent credit-building accounts allowed.

Why we consider this

Availability factors allow us to determine a lender’s ability to serve multiple consumer profiles and needs. These factors also shed light on how accessible a lender’s products may be, when compared to others in the industry.



  • APR ranges.
  • Fees.
  • Minimum monthly payment.
  • Exclusive rewards and discounts.

Why we consider this

Affordability factors give us an insight as to how competitive a lender’s products are within a select space, as well as who their products may be the right fit for. We go beyond interest rates and fees to get the full picture on the overall cost.


Customer Experience

  • Lender reputation within the industry.
  • Customer support options and service hours.
  • Mobile app rating and availability.
  • Cancellation policy.

Why we consider this

Customer experience factors help us understand a lender’s ability to satisfy customers’ needs, as well as the ease — or lack thereof —  that they may experience while applying, managing or canceling their products.