Kikoff is a San Francisco-based online lender that provides customers with a $500 revolving line of credit to help build their credit history. According to the company’s website, it works like a credit card without interest or fees.
Purchases are solely made on Kikoff’s online store, with items starting at $10. Payments report to two credit bureaus. Kikoff also gives customers access to their VantageScore to help track their progress.
So, does this online lender have what you need? Let’s take a closer look at all this platform has to offer in this Kikoff review.
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How does Kikoff Work?
Kikoff provides applicants with a $500 revolving credit line without a credit check. A credit pull is typically required with a traditional credit card.
The $500 Kikoff credit line is the most you can receive.
There are other limitations you should be aware of. For example, you can only use the credit line to make purchases on Kikoff’s online store.
The company’s online store has items like e-books on topics like personal finance available for purchase. The selections range in price from $10 to $20. You can choose from payments as low as $2 per month.
Just like unsecured credit cards, your line of credit shows up on your credit reports. It appears on the major credit bureaus, Experian and Equifax reports.
You build credit by making monthly payments on time. Positive payment history is the biggest factor that determines your credit score.
Kikoff borrowers also get access to their credit score with a free VantageScore credit score.
Borrowers can use access to their credit score to track progress as they build credit. Generally speaking, it takes around 30 days to establish credit with VantageScore 3.0.
A FICO credit score can take around six months for a borrower who is new to credit to establish.
Below are the major features and offerings that Kikoff has for potential borrowers.
No Credit Check
As long as you meet Kikoff’s membership criteria, there’s no credit pull to open a Kikoff account. Among the membership requirements is being 18 years old or older, a legal resident of the United States, and having a Social Security Number.
$500 Line of Credit Instantly
A Kikoff credit account gives everyone who qualifies access to a $500 revolving line of credit. It can be used to buy digital products at the Kikoff store.
Kikoff helps keep its member’s credit utilization low. Most members will buy $10 to $20 worth of products at the Kikoff online store.
The credit utilization ratio for members will be less than 5%.
No Membership Fees and Interest-Free Loans
You don’t have to pay anything to become a member and access the Kikoff store. All members receive a $500 line of credit that allows them to purchase digital products with interest-free loans.
Unlike personal loans or other credit products, there’s no interest. After you purchase a digital product, it can be paid in installment payments as low as $1 a month.
For example, if you buy a $20 e-book, you can pay $2 a month for ten months. Additionally, there are no extra fees. Even if you make a late payment, there is no fee.
Line of Credit for Online Store Purchases
A Kikoff membership will gain access to its online store. That’s the only place you can use the line of credit.
The store offers mostly financial literacy and general wellness digital products. So if your goal is to use the loan amount on making a purchase elsewhere, you need to elsewhere.
Credit Bureau Reporting
With a Kikoff line, your timely payments are reported to Experian and Equifax. Since these payments aren’t reported to TransUnion (the other major credit bureau), you won’t be building credit history with them.
Access to Credit Score
When using a credit-builder product like Kikoff, it is important to be able to track your progress. Kikoff members receive access to their VantageScore for free.
So as you’re making on time payments, you can literally see yourself building a better credit score over time.
There are several different ways to build credit and other financial products used for building credit. Here are a few options:
- Apply for a secured card – You make an upfront cash deposit for access to a credit card. These cards are best for credit builder purposes because it’s easier to get approved than a traditional card.
- Ask to become an authorized user – Some credit cards will report the history of authorized users to the bureaus. Especially if this is done early on, it can help increase the account age of your credit history.
- Look into getting credit for utilities or rent – Services like Experian Boost help consumers receive credit towards their credit score for paying their bills on time. Keep in mind that there’s generally a charge or fee for this type of service.
- Get a co-signer on a loan – If you need personal/student loans or a regular credit card, try to get someone to co-sign for you. This individual must have good credit in most cases.
- Look for a Credit Builder loan – Some credit unions, local banks, and fintechs offer credit builder loan products that are designed to help people build credit. Typically your payments are reported to the bureaus, resulting in an increase in your credit scores.
Kikoff Pros and Cons
Pro: Credit Builder solution for those with No Credit
Credit building for individuals who don’t have a credit score is challenging. You can’t open a credit card account in many cases unless you can find a co-signer. A secured card typically has high interest rates and an annual fee.
Kikoff has few membership requirements and no credit checks. This makes them ideal for individuals who are starting out.
Pro: Designed for Low Credit Usage
With how credit works, you need to keep your utilization ratio at or below 30%. For credit building, its the second most important factor. Kikoff only offers digital products that are between $10 to $20. Your payments are minimal, so you should never touch anywhere near double-digit credit utilization.
Pro: No Fees or Interest
There are no late fees or other penalties for Kikoff credit accounts. It’s an interest-free loan that you pay back in installments.
Pro: Reports to two major Credit Bureaus
Kikoff sends your monthly payments to Experian and Equifax. This builds your payment history with these major credit bureaus, so you build your credit scores.
Con: Credit Amount limited to $500
Your credit limit is capped at $500. That’s a relatively low limit. You can determine the amount of the monthly installments. That at least gives some flexibility in how you use the line.
Con: Limited to Online Store
Your $500 credit limit is only eligible for purchases made at Kikoff’s store. The main things you’ll find in its store are e-books about personal finance. Credit builder loans, personal loans, and other credit products generally let you use the loan amount more freely.
Con: Credit History not reported to all Credit Bureaus
Your payment history isn’t reported to TransUnion. Therefore if a lender pulls a credit check from a TransUnion credit report, you won’t have any history. As a result, you may struggle to get approved for new loans if the financial institution relies on TransUnion reporting.
FAQ: Kikoff Review
What do you pay for on Kikoff?
There is no administrative fee like other credit builder products (Self) or other types of fees. Unlike a secured credit card, you don’t have to pay interest on your balance, annual fee, or a security deposit.
After getting instantly approved for an account, the account is free. The only thing you pay for is purchases made on their online store.
Is Kikoff easy to use?
Opening up a Kikoff account is easy and fast. Whether you have bad credit or are just starting out, you get instant approval as long as you meet its membership requirements.
You’ll receive a Kikoff line of $500 that is good for purchases from their online store. You can make payments as low as $1 a month.
Who does Kikoff report payments to?
Kikoff reports to two out of the three major bureaus. Your payments aren’t reported to TransUnion and won’t show up on its credit report.
This could be a disadvantage in certain situations. For example, some mortgage lenders use primarily TransUnion to review applicant information.
Does Kikoff have good customer service?
Kikoff has an FAQ page that can help answer general questions about using Kikoff. They don’t offer support over the phone.
Bottom line: Should you use Kikoff?
Kikoff is best for people who are trying to build their credit from scratch. Not having a credit score or poor credit makes your options limited when trying to reach your financial goals, like getting an auto loan.
Kikoff doesn’t check your credit and its membership requirements are relatively easy to qualify for. However, since you can’t use the credit limit to get access to cash, it might not be the right choice for you. You’re also limited to purchasing items on their online store. Hence, Kikoff is primarily useful if the sole reason for opening the account is building or rebuilding your credit.