Kikoff Review: Credit Building for $5 a Month

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3.5
SCORE
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Quick Take: Kikoff is a San Francisco-based company offering a subscription-based revolving line of credit worth $750 to help people build their credit. The line of credit can be used to purchase items from the company's online store. Kikoff then reports the repayment of these purchases to two credit bureaus. Since no bank account is required to apply for Kikoff, it has become a popular option for people with poor credit scores who do not qualify for most requirements set by banks.
  • Fees
    3.8
  • Functionality
    3.0
  • Ease of Application
    4.0
  • Customer Support
    3.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • No interest
  • No credit check
  • No additional fees beyond monthly subscription
  • Can help build credit or improve existing credit
  • Officially recognized by Experian and Equifax
  • 100% commitment to data protection and security

Cons

  • Capped at $750
  • $5 monthly subscription fee
  • Not available in some states
  • Credit only good in the Kikoff store
  • Kikoff store products not listed on their website
  • No telephone support

What Is Kikoff?

Kikoff is an online credit builder offering a revolving line of credit of $750. It helps people improve their credit score by making purchases in Kikoff’s online store that the company then reports to credit bureaus.

In most other cases, it is difficult to get a line of credit if you have a poor credit score. However, Kikoff does not check your credit before giving you a line of credit.

How Does It Work?

When you apply for a Kikoff membership, you get a revolving credit line of $750. It’s essentially an ongoing credit line that stays open for as long as you want.

To improve your credit score, you can make purchases from the Kikoff store on this line of credit. Rather than charge interest, Kikoff charges a $5 monthly subscription fee — the minimum commitment is 12 months — that is applied to your balance. Your payments, then, are $5 per month while you maintain your membership, but you’ll have to repay any remaining balance in full if you decide not to renew.

Kikoff reports to Equifax and Experian. Your revolving line of credit from Kikoff shows as a revolving credit account, like a credit card, on your Experian and Equifax credit reports.

Since timely payments are an integral part of building your credit, Kikoff sends you reminders for monthly payments and offers the option to set up AutoPay so you don’t have to worry about forgetting. Credit utilization rates also affect your score. Kikoff reports a low utilization each month — as low as 2% if you purchase the least expensive items from its store.

Plus, you’ll get a free credit report once a month, so you can monitor how your credit score has improved since you made the account.

Who Can Use Kikoff?

Kikoff is intended for people who are interested in building their credit. It is available to users in all U.S. states, except for Delaware and Indiana.

Fees and Penalties

Kikoff does not charge any interest or late fees, but failing to make on-time payments will hurt your credit score.

The only fee charged is your $5 monthly subscription fee, which you’ll pay for a minimum of one year. However, you’ll have to make purchases from the Kikoff store to build credit. Product prices start at $10.

How To Apply

Simply go to Kikoff’s website and click the “Sign up” option. After that, you have to give some personal information, such as your phone number, name, address and Social Security number.

Kikoff will need to verify your identity. Once you are approved, you can set up your account online and begin monitoring your balance, credit scores, payments and more.

Although you don’t need a bank account to qualify for a Kikoff account, you will need to link a payment method to make payments on your purchases.

Note that if you link a credit card, you’ll increase the balance on that card each time you make a Kikoff payment, possibly negating any benefit you might gain from your Kikoff account and increasing the costs associated with the account — especially if you don’t pay off your credit card in full each month and end up paying interest.

Kikoff vs. the Competition

The most notable competitor of Kikoff is the online credit builder called Self. Here is how they compare:

Features Kikoff Self
Credit Check No No
Line of Credit Amount $750 Minimum $600
Access to funds Through Kikoff store only None until end of the loan term
Cost $5 per month $9 administrative fee, plus interest ranging from 15.65% to 15.97% APR
Reporting Equifax and Experian Equifax, Experian and TransUnion

The most significant difference between Kikoff and Self is that, while Kikoff is a credit line used for making purchases, Self is an installment loan — meaning you make payments until your term is up, then receive the money. Both Kikoff and Self report payments to the credit bureaus, which is how they can increase your credit score if you pay on time.

Self charges an administrative fee and an APR that varies based on the length of your loan, so you end up paying more than you receive. When your loan term is complete, you gain access to your funds, less administrative fee and interest, currently totaling $46 to $146, depending on loan amount and term.

Self also offers a secured credit card, which you can opt-in to once your account balance reaches a minimum of $100. Your account balance acts as collateral for the card, meaning your credit limit can’t be higher than your balance — and if you default on payments, the money you’ve saved in the loan would be used to pay off your card balance.

Credit Building Alternative Methods

Here are some other ways to build credit if you do not want to use Kikoff:

  • Secured credit card: A secured credit card is backed by a cash deposit upfront and is available for people whose low credit scores might not allow them to qualify for unsecured credit cards.
    • If you make your payments on time, banks will usually enable you to upgrade to unsecured credit cards in a few months, upon assessment. What’s more, you use the card the same way as you would any credit card, and you won’t pay a monthly subscription fee like the one Kikoff charges.
  • Get credit for paying rent: If you pay rent on your home and do not want to put down an initial deposit for a secured credit card, you can leverage the services of a rent-reporting company to make your rent count towards your credit score.

Final Take

The service offered by Kikoff might be beneficial for people who want to build credit and are unable to get a secured credit card. The catch is that in addition to paying a $5 monthly subscription fee, you must buy products you may or may not want or need from the Kikoff store. The Kikoff site does not indicate the types of products it sells. Therefore, Kikoff may be best considered a last resort.

Kikoff FAQ

Credit builders like Kikoff can help you establish the credit you need to get a credit card or car loan, or perhaps even rent an apartment. But they're less straightforward than other credit builders, like secured credit cards. The answers to these frequently asked questions can help you decide if a Kikoff account is a good choice for you.
  • What is Kikoff?
    • Kikoff is a fintech company offering a $750 revolving line of credit that helps you build credit by reporting your payments to credit bureaus.
  • How does Kikoff work?
    • Kikoff is a membership program with a $5 monthly subscription fee. Once you've been approved for an account, you can use your line of credit to make purchases in the Kikoff store.
  • What can I use my Kikoff account for?
    • You may only use your Kikoff account to make purchases from the Kikoff store. Kikoff notes that products start at $10, but it does not indicate the types of products it sells. Therefore, you may have to purchase products you don't want to build credit using your Kikoff account.
  • Can I open a Kikoff account with no money?
    • Yes, but you'll need to link a payment method to your account to pay your balance.
  • Is Kikoff really free?
    • No. Although Kikoff doesn't charge interest or late fees, it does charge a $5 monthly subscription fee, with a minimum subscription period of one year.
  • Is Kikoff legitimate?
    • Kikoff is a legitimate company. It launched in June 2021, according to American Banker, with backing from NBA star Stephen Curry, Wex payments company CEO Melissa Smith and Teresa Ressell, who formerly served as chief financial officer of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Daria Uhlig, Amber Barkley and Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Scott Jeffries is a seasoned technology professional based in Florida. He writes on the topics of business, technology, digital marketing and personal finance. After earning his bachelor’s in Management Information Systems with a minor in Business, Scott spent 15 years working in technology. He's helped startups to Fortune 100 companies bring software products to life. When he's not writing or building software, Scott can be found reading or spending time outside with his kids.
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