Key takeaways

  • The average American has a credit score of 718, according to FICO.
  • However, TransUnion data shows that as many as 45 million Americans were 'credit invisible' at last count, meaning that they don't have any information on their credit reports.
  • Being credit invisible doesn't mean you have bad credit — it means you don't have a credit score at all.
  • Top credit-building apps can help you build credit with bills you're already paying, including utility bills, subscription services and even rent.

The minute you decide to apply for a credit card or a loan of any kind, you learn just how important your credit score truly is. Having a good credit score, which starts at 670 on the FICO scale, makes it considerably easier to get approved for various types of funding. A good credit score can also help you qualify for lower interest rates, which allows you to pay less in interest over time compared to someone with a lower credit score.

If you don’t yet have a good credit score — or any kind of credit score at all — there are many ways you can start building credit for the future. One of those is to use a credit builder app, which helps you take out a loan to build your score, tracks your score over time and provides the education you need to build and maintain good credit.

How do credit-building apps work?

Credit-building apps work in various ways to help you improve your credit score. You’ll generally find four types to choose from:

  • Credit monitoring services. Before you start repairing or building your credit, you should know where you’re starting from. Credit monitoring apps help you do that. Typically, these apps offer suggestions as to how to improve your credit and let you see your current score daily, weekly or monthly. They may also alert you to new accounts opened in your name, hard credit inquiries and new public records, like bankruptcies or lawsuits.
  • Credit building lenders. Some lenders offer small loans meant to help you build your credit. Here’s how it works: First, the lender deposits the entire loan amount into an account. You make fixed monthly payments for a set period of time, and then receive the full loan amount at the end of the loan term. The idea behind credit builder loans is to regularly make small payments over a short period of time in order to increase your credit relatively quickly.
  • Credit reporting services. The credit bureaus all offer apps of some kind, and certain bureaus even offer programs — such as Experian Boost — to help you boost your credit by reporting alternative payment data. They’ll do this by looking at payments that aren’t typically considered on credit reports, such as your rent and utility payments.
  • Bill payment apps. There are also bill payment apps like StellarFi. This kind of app has you connect a checking account and some of your regular bills and subscription services. The app company then pays your bills on your behalf, and you reimburse them with your connected account. Those payments and then reported to the credit bureaus to help you build credit.

6 best credit-building apps 0f 2024

  1. Experian Boost
  2. Kikoff
  3. Self
  4. StellarFi
  5. MoneyLion Credit Builder
  6. Grow Credit

1. Experian Boost

Who this is best for: Individuals with a history of rent and utility payments

Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, offers the easiest possible way to boost your score. Experian Boost reports payments that typically aren’t included in your credit score, like your rent, utilities and subscriptions. All you do to potentially receive this boost is sign up and connect the account(s) from which you pay your bills or rent. You can choose the positive payments you want to be reported, and you’ll see your results instantly.

While Experian Boost is not a replacement for responsible credit use, many users see a small bump in their score. This won’t fix poor credit, but since it’s free, it can’t hurt to give this credit-boosting app a shot.


  • Free to use
  • Common bills like rent can boost your score
  • Provides access to your free Experian credit score


  • Results can vary, and you may not have enough payments to make a huge difference in your score
  • Only impacts your Experian credit report and score
  • Gives Experian access to your personal spending data

2. Kikoff

Who this is best for: People who want a small, low-maintenance monthly payment

Kikoff’s main product, the Kikoff Credit Account, is a revolving line of credit that you can draw from like a credit card. You’ll get a credit line of up to $750 that you can borrow from to make purchases from the Kikoff store. Then, you can make online monthly payments that may help your credit slowly tick up. When you sign up, there’s no credit check, and most users will be approved instantly.

The account costs $5 per month to keep open, but the good news is that the $5 is part of your credit line, meaning you’ll build credit — even if you don’t borrow anything on top of that $5 monthly fee. You also won’t pay any interest or late fees, making it easy to focus on paying down your small purchases. On average, Kickoff reports that their users can raise their scores by 58 points.


  • Instant approval and no hard credit inquiry
  • Easily grow your credit while getting access to a small credit line
  • May have a big impact on your score


  • $5 monthly cost
  • Limited line of credit up to $750
  • You can’t use your $750 line of credit for purchases outside of Kikoff, only items from the Kikoff store

3. Self

Who this is best for: Those who would prefer a credit builder loan

Self offers a credit builder loan, meaning you’ll pay down the small loan, and once you’ve made all your payments, you’ll get access to the money. While you’re making these payments, Self holds your money in a CD, or certificate of deposit.

You can choose $25, $35, $48 and $150 for your monthly payment, depending on your budget and how much you want to have available to you once you pay off the loan.

One major downside is that Self isn’t going to be your cheapest option, charging a one-time admin fee of $9 and ongoing interest rates in the double digits.


  • No hard pull on your credit score
  • You choose your payment term and amount
  • Cancel or pay off whenever you need to


  • Requires a one-time $9 admin fee and ongoing interest charges

4. StellarFi

Who this is best for: Consumers who want to build credit with regular bills

StellarFi is a mobile app that lets you get credit for the regular bills you pay, including your utility bills, subscription services, auto loan payment and more. This service requires you to connect your checking account to the app, after which you’ll let StellarFi know about the bills you want them to pay. StellarFi will then pay your bills on your behalf, after which you’ll use your connected checking account to pay them back. From there, they’ll report your payment to them to the credit bureaus, thus helping you build credit for the future.

While StellarFi offers a 30-day trial for $0.99, monthly costs after that range from $4.99 to $19.99 for a premium plan. The good news about this app and service is the fact you don’t have to pay interest charges or put down an upfront deposit. There are no hidden fees outside of the monthly service fee, either.


  • No hard credit check
  • No interest charges
  • 30-day trial available for $0.99


  • Monthly fees of $4.99 to $19.999
  • Reliance on a third party to pay your bills

5. MoneyLion Credit Builder

Who this is best for: Consumers who want to save money and build credit with a credit builder loan

MoneyLion offers a range of financial services and products for consumers, and this includes a credit builder loan. This loan lets you begin building credit without a hard credit inquiry, and loan amounts can range up to $1,000. However, you don’t actually get access to any loan funds. Instead, you make a monthly payment to MoneyLion for 12 months and have your payments reported to the credit bureaus. This money is held in a Credit Reserve account on your behalf, and you get access to the cash once your final payment is made.

You can get a MoneyLion credit builder loan with a Credit Builder Plus membership, which costs $19.99 per month. Also note that credit builder loans charge a high interest rate that increases your total costs for this service.


  • No hard credit check
  • Build credit over 12 months with monthly payments
  • Access credit-building tools


  • High APR for loans
  • $19.99 monthly membership fee required

6. Grow Credit

Who this is best for: Building credit through monthly subscriptions

Grow Credit is an app that focuses on helping you build credit through the monthly subscriptions you already pay for. This app reports to the three credit bureaus and claims it can increase your credit score by up to 44 points.

This account requires you to get a debit card that you’ll use to pay for eligible subscriptions. From there, you’ll add subscriptions you pay for and have those payments reported to the credit bureaus. There’s a free membership available, but it has a monthly limit of $17 (meaning that it’s really only good for 1-2 subscriptions). You can build credit faster with a $4.99 monthly plan that allows up to $50 in subscription payments or a $9.99 monthly plan that lets you build credit with up to $150 per month in subscription payments. The premium plan also lets you build credit with your monthly cell phone payment.


  • Free option available
  • Build credit with the subscriptions you already pay for
  • Reports to the three credit bureaus


  • Free version has a $17 monthly limit
  • Other plans cost $4.99 to $9.99 per month

Other ways to build credit

Credit builder apps can be a good way to build your credit, but they’re far from the only options. In addition to these apps, consider building your credit in other ways by:

  • Paying off any overdue balances as quickly as you can. When your missed payments are sent to collections, this gets sent to the credit bureaus and negatively affects your score. Paying these off can reduce the debt you have in collections, potentially boosting your score.
  • Applying for a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require a cash deposit (often a minimum of $200) to get started, but they let you access this amount immediately as a line of credit. The card issuer then reports your payments to the credit bureaus, which helps you build credit over time with responsible use. Many of the best secured credit cards even offer rewards with no annual fee.
  • Evaluating bad and fair credit card options. Like secured credit cards, bad credit and fair credit card options may help you to improve your credit by increasing the total amount of credit available to you. Building a history of on-time payments and good utilization ratios can also help, as long as you’re careful not to run up a high balance on your new card.
  • Joining an account as an authorized user. You can take advantage of someone else’s good credit by becoming an authorized user on their credit card. That said, their activity will show up on your credit report, so make sure you trust that they’ll use the account responsibly.
  • Lowering your credit utilization ratio. Your credit utilization ratio is how much available credit you have versus how much of it you’re using. So, if you have five credit cards that are all maxed out, your credit utilization will be sky-high. The higher your utilization, the more negatively it affects your score. Working to keep your credit card balances down can help you get your score up.
  • Reviewing your credit report for any fraudulent information. Credit report errors can dramatically drag down your credit score, but you may not know about errors that exist unless you check. Fortunately, you can get a free weekly credit report from all three credit bureaus at the government-run website

The bottom line

The top credit-building apps can help you start building credit from scratch, and most of them feature plans that are free or very affordable. The best part is, you can start building credit by making payments toward a loan or through bills and subscription services you’re already paying for. Just be sure the costs associated with these apps make sense for you, relative to the costs associated with using them.

Ultimately, the key to building credit is using the tools available to you as responsibly as possible and monitoring your credit over time to stay on track. If you plan to use a credit-building app as part of your credit-building journey, do your due diligence to ensure you choose the right option for your situation.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about credit building apps

  • No one thing builds credit the quickest. A good credit score is a culmination of consistent, responsible financial habits. Make sure you’re paying bills on time, avoiding unnecessary debt and using your credit cards responsibly.
  • Credit builder apps that offer short-term loans and alternative data reporting can certainly improve your credit score. How well a credit-building app will work for you depends on many factors including your current score, why you have a low score, the app you choose to work with and the program you choose.
  • Yes, the apps on this list are all offered by legitimate companies. As with any financial decision, be sure to read the fine print and understand everything about the service before signing anything. If you plan on taking out a credit builder loan, ensure you can pay it off fully in the agreed-upon time frame.
  • You can build your credit instantly with apps like Experian Boost. But to see a substantial difference in your score, you’ll need to actively pay down debts and take on other methods of credit building for several months.
  • Bills that typically affect your score include personal loans, mortgages, credit card accounts, car loans and other forms of revolving credit. Your utilities and rent payments, unfortunately, aren’t usually factored into your score automatically (unless you fail to make payments on time). Services like Experian Boost and the apps listed above can help add your rent and utility payments to your credit report.