Building credit can be a difficult process, and plenty of apps and products promise to help users improve their credit scores. But most of these credit-building options provide help at a huge fee. Kikoff, by contrast, charges no interest and no fees. And it instantly approves people for a $500 line of credit provided they meet some basic criteria.
The only catch with Kikoff is that it only reports to two out of three credit bureaus, and the line of credit can only be used in the Kikoff digital store. Is this interest-free loan worth it? We explain the pros and cons of this product, so you can decide whether to use it.
- Customers get immediate access to a $500 line of credit.
- Use the credit to buy e-books and other low-cost digital products from the Kikoff digital store.
- Pay no interest or fees, and pay off the line of credit over a few months.
- Kikoff reports to Experian and Equifax
What Is Kikoff?
Kikoff is an online lender dedicated to helping people build and rebuild their credit. The San Francisco-based lender was founded in 2019, and it doesn’t operate like a normal lender.
The company doesn’t issue conventional loans. Instead, it extends $500 lines of credit to most applicants. The line of credit can be used to buy digital products from the Kikoff store. While Kikoff’s “members” pay their loans in installments, they don’t pay interest or fees. Kikoff earns its money from the digital products it sells in the store.
Kikoff reports all payment history to two of the three major credit bureaus, Experian and Equifax. This can help customers who make timely payments build their credit.
Unlike most lenders, Kikoff approves all citizens and legal residents of the United States who are over age 18. This means that anyone can have the opportunity to build their credit.
What Does It Offer?
Kikoff is a lender that wants to make credit building accessible to more people. It doesn’t make money from its lending products. Instead, it offers interest-free loans for people to buy digital products from its store. By reporting the transactions and payments to the credit bureaus, Kikoff helps people build credit.
No Credit Pulls
Everyone who meets Kikoff’s membership criteria (legal resident of the United States, Social Security Number, 18 and older, etc.) will receive a $500 line of credit to use in the Kikoff store. The company doesn’t pull user credit, so applying for the new loan neither hurts nor helps credit.
No Membership Fees
People who join Kikoff are called members. Members do not have to pay fees, but they are eligible to shop at the Kikoff digital stores.
Instant Access To A $500 Line Of Credit
All Kikoff members get instant access to a $500 revolving line of credit. While you could rack up a huge bill paying for self-help e-books, that’s not the goal. By offering a $500 line of credit, Kikoff helps users keep their overall credit utilization low. Most people will only buy $10-$20 worth of products. That means a customer’s credit utilization will be below 5% in most cases.
Use The Line Of Credit To Buy Digital Products
The Kikoff line of credit can only be used in the Kikoff store. Members can buy digital products (mostly e-books) focused on financial literacy and general wellness. If you were hoping to use the loan to buy something you need, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Members can only buy digital products such as e-books from the Kikoff store.
No Interest Or Fees On The Loan
Once you buy a digital product, you can pay off the loan in installments. Loan payments can be as little as $1 per month. If you buy a $10 book, you will pay $1 per month for ten months. There are no additional fees, even if you make a late payment.
Must Have A Social Security Number To Open An Account
Kikoff is technically open to most citizens and legal residents in the United States, but customers must have a Social Security Number to open an account.
Payment History Reported To Two Major Credit Bureaus
Kikoff reports payment history to Experian and Equifax, two of the major credit reporting bureaus. It does not report to Transunion. This means that people who use Kikoff are not building credit history at Transunion. This could mean that a person may struggle to take out new loans in the future.
Are There Any Fees?
Kikoff does not charge any fees to its customers. However, you have to buy a digital product from the Kikoff store for Kikoff to start reporting your credit utilization to the credit bureaus. Digital products cost between $10-$20 per product.
The products in the Kikoff store are Self-Help products focused on financial literacy, investing, trading, entrepreneurship, and other financially adjacent topics. Kikoff earns money when people buy these digital products.
How Does Kikoff Compare?
Kikoff’s business model is difficult to compare to most credit builder accounts. With a $500 line of credit, most people who make regular purchases will see their credit score grow at Experian and Equifax. However, the company doesn’t report to Transunion. That’s a huge gap that Kikoff underexplains. People who use Kikoff may see improvements in the “VantageScore” credit score. But this amounts to a vanity metric if it doesn’t result in the ability to borrow money at inexpensive rates. Many people may think their credit score is growing, but they may fail to borrow money from real lenders when the lender pulls their credit report from TransUnion.
By contrast, other credit building loans are much more expensive. Self, for example, has interest rates ranging from 14-15%, but borrowers will build credit at all three credit bureaus.
Kikoff’s model seems great in theory. Providing zero-interest financing for digital products ensures that Kikoff earns money and that people build credit. In practice, low-cost credit builder loans are likely to be better options.
How Do I Open An Account?
Kikoff is available in all states except Delaware, Indiana, and Nevada. Citizens and legal residents who are 18 or older can create an account by downloading Kikoff from the App Store or the Google Play Store.
If you prefer, you can also signup through the Kikoff website.
Once you’ve provided and confirmed your email address, you will need to provide basic information, so Kikoff can determine whether you meet its requirements. Once the basic information is cleared, you become a Kikoff member, and you get instant access to a $500 line of credit.
The line of credit can only be used in the Kikoff store.
Is It Safe And Secure?
Kikoff uses encryption and multi-factor authentication to keep user data secure. While the company cannot guarantee your data security, it is held to the standards of all lenders. Banks are held to some of the highest data security standards, so users who feel comfortable banking online can likely feel comfortable using Kikoff.
How Do I Contact Kikoff?
For basic questions about the product, check out Kikoff’s detailed support portal. The portal provides critical information about opening and managing accounts.
Customers can contact Kikoff customer support by emailing [email protected]
Kikoff can also communicate with customers using text or email.
Is It Worth It?
Kikoff has a high-value proposition. For $10-$20 (paid over the year), you can improve your credit score at two out of three credit bureaus. On one hand, it seems like a no-brainer. The cost is minimal relative to the benefit.
However, I am concerned that people will overestimate the expected benefit of using Kikoff. Car and home lenders look at credit reports from all three credit bureaus, and a huge difference in scores will raise red flags for the lender. Using Kikoff for a year won’t be enough to help most people qualify for Auto or home loans.
But Kikoff may be a good credit launching application. With credit history at two bureaus, a Kikoff user may qualify to open a real credit card with a traditional lender. Then the person can use that card to build credit with all three bureaus.
Limited to their own stores
Web/Desktop Account Access