How It Works

What is a Credit Strong account?

A Credit Strong account is the fusion of a secured consumer installment loan and a savings account. During the life of your Credit Strong account you build both credit history and savings.

How exactly does a Credit Strong account work?

When you open a Credit Strong account:

  • Austin Capital Bank gives you an installment loan and places the borrowed funds in a savings account in your name
  • You do not receive the funds on day one, they are instantly deposited into the savings account
  • A lock is placed on the funds in the savings account to secure the loan
    Each month you make a single, fixed monthly payment of principal and interest on the loan
  • The principal portion of your loan payment is credited towards the lock on your savings account and the interest portion of your payment is how we cover the costs of providing the service to you
  • During the term of your account we report your loan payment history to all three major credit bureaus and you earn interest on your savings account balance
  • When the loan is paid in-full, the lock is removed from the savings account and the funds become available to you

You end up with payment history for an installment loan on your credit report, which accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score, and the money you’ve saved up in your savings account.

What is the total cost of my Credit Strong Account?

Below is a chart that provides more details:

The tables above illustrate the first 24 months of each account type so you can easily compare the accounts.

  1. Loan Amount The total amount of the loan that will be deposited in your savings account. A lock is placed on the loan proceeds in the savings account to secure the loan. This is the loan amount reported to the 3 major credit bureaus.
  2. Admin Fee The amount of the non-refundable administrative fee charged at account opening that covers the cost of opening and activating your account.
  3. Loan Interest Rate: This is the interest rate charged on the loan. This is how we earn money to provide the service.
  4. APR: Annual Percentage Rate
  5. Sum of Loan Payments: This is the sum of the first 24 monthly loan payments, excluding the Admin Fee.
  6. Savings Progress: This is the approximate value of the funds available for withdrawal in your savings account if you have made all your loan payments on time, incurred no additional fees, and closed the loan at the earlier of; account maturity or 24 months. This amount does not include the interest earned on the savings account and closing your account early will diminish your potential ‘length of credit history’ which accounts for 15% of your FICO Score.
  7. Savings Interest Rate= 0.20%
After I open my Credit Strong account, what should I expect?

First, thank you for trusting Credit Strong to help you build strong credit and savings. Here’s what you should expect:

  1. You will receive your current FICO credit score in the Credit Strong credit dashboard within 2 weeks of opening your account. You will see the date of your next score refresh in the dashboard.
  2. Your first monthly loan payment will be due one month after you open your account. When possible , accounts are set up on auto-pay when opened. You can manually turn off auto-pay by going to My Account/Payments tab. We recommend that you set up auto pay so your payments are made on time.
  3. Typically your Credit Strong account will appear on your credit report 30-60 days after you make your first payment.
    Note: We provide your payment information to the three major credit bureaus, but it can take them some time before they process the information and add the account to your credit report. Unfortunately, each credit bureau decides when your payment information is processed and reported on your credit report and we are unable to expedite this process for you.
  4. Remember the most important part of your credit building journey is to pay on time. Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score so it is important to avoid any late payments on your Credit Strong account loan or it may harm your credit score.
What happens at the end of my Credit Strong account?

When you have paid your loan off in-full, you will receive a notice that your loan has been paid off and the lock related to the loan is removed from your savings account. You can leave your money in your savings account earning interest or request a transfer of the funds.

Can I pay back my Credit Strong account early?

Yes. There is no prepayment or early withdrawal penalty for paying down, or paying off, your Credit Strong account loan early.

You should be aware that payment history is the most important factor for your FICO credit score and by paying off your loan early you will reduce the number of payments reported to the credit bureaus, potentially reducing the positive impact of the Credit Strong account loan on your credit score.

Is Credit Strong legit? How do I know this isn’t a scam?

Credit Strong is a division of Austin Capital Bank. Austin Capital Bank is a 5-star rated FDIC insured Texas State Savings Bank, located in Austin, Texas. As an FDIC insured bank, Austin Capital Bank is subject to rigorous federal and state oversight and examinations on a regular basis by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending.

Read more at: www.creditstrong.com/about-us/

Can I have multiple Credit Strong accounts at the same time?

Yes, you may have up to two active Credit Strong accounts at one time. You’ll need to have made your first payment and paid the administration fee for your initial credit builder loan in order to create a second account. If you previously had a Credit Strong account that is now closed, you can still open a second account.

Can I make withdrawals from my Credit Strong account?

During the term of your loan a lock is placed on your savings account to secure the loan and the funds are not available for withdrawal. At maturity of the loan, or when the loan is paid off, the lock is removed and the funds in the savings account are available to you.

Can two people co-own or co-sign on the same Credit Strong account?

No. The installment loan and deposit account that combine to create your Credit Strong account are individual personal accounts. You may not have a co-signer or co-owner of either account. Additionally, you may not transfer ownership of either account while your Credit Strong account is active.

Applying for a Credit Strong Account

How long will it take to apply for and open my Credit Strong account?

You should be able to complete the application process and open your account in less than 5 minutes.

If for some reason you aren’t able to complete opening your account, you can always pick up where you left off in the application process later by simply coming back to https://apply.creditstrong.com and logging in. You will automatically be taken to the step in the process where you previously left off and can complete your application. *

Is Credit Strong available in my state?

Credit Strong accounts are available in most states in the United States except for North Carolina, Wisconsin and Vermont.

More Details*:
Vermont: Deposit secured consumer lending is against the law.
Wisconsin: The state law requires spousal consent for consumer loans that we cannot accommodate in the online application process.
North Carolina: The state has very specific laws pertaining to lending to members of the military. We are working on a solution for offering accounts in North Carolina that will meet all these state specific requirements. We felt it was the right thing to do to not initially offer Credit Strong accounts in North Carolina versus offering accounts to North Carolina residents but excluding members of the military.

As an additional note, Credit Strong is the only deposit secured consumer credit building account for residents of New York that has been approved by the New York Department of Financial Services.
*As of February 19, 2019

If I apply and I am denied, will it hurt my credit score?

No. We do not perform a credit check so applying and being denied for a Credit Strong account will not harm your credit score.

What happens if I didn’t get your verification code?

Please make sure your device is set up to receive SMS alerts. If you receive a failure message or do not receive any message, there may be an issue with your cell phone carrier. We recommend you contact your cell phone carrier and follow the troubleshooting steps below:

  • Contact your cell phone provider and ask to speak to a support agent
  • Identify yourself using your account information
  • Inform the representative that short code messages are blocked from your device and you would like to allow this action.
  • Please allow at least 5-10 additional minutes for your device to recognize the change. Restarting your device is recommended
  • Try resending another code. Your code should be delivered to your mobile device shortly.
  • If this does not work, please contact Credit Strong via online chat, email to help@creditstrong.com or by phone at 833-850-0850.
I started my Credit Strong application but didn’t finish opening my account. How long do I have to finish the account opening process?

If you started the account opening process, but didn’t complete it, you have 30 days to complete the process from the day you started. You may pick up where you left off by simply logging in at https://apply.creditstrong.com/

Why do you require my Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)?

We require your SSN/TIN so we can:

  • Provide your credit score to you.
  • Report your payment history to the three major credit bureaus.
  • Pay you interest on your Credit Strong savings account.
I’m having trouble creating my password. What are the password requirements?

Password must be at least 8 characters long and include:

  • at least one number,
  • upper and lower case letters,
  • at least one special symbol (e.g. #@$!),
  • cannot include spaces
  • cannot be the same as your username (email address)

Eligibility

What is required to open a Credit Strong account?

The following requirements are needed to open a Credit Strong account

  • You must be at least 18 years old and a permanent U.S. resident with a physical U.S. residence (address)
  • A valid social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
  • A checking account, debit card, or prepaid card in good standing
  • A mobile phone number, Google Voice account
  • An email address
Is Credit Strong available in my state?

Credit Strong accounts are available in most states in the United States except for North Carolina, Wisconsin and Vermont.

More Details*:
Vermont: Deposit secured consumer lending is against the law.
Wisconsin: The state law requires spousal consent for consumer loans that we cannot accommodate in the online application process.
North Carolina: The state has very specific laws pertaining to lending to members of the military. We are working on a solution for offering accounts in North Carolina that will meet all these state specific requirements. We felt it was the right thing to do to not initially offer Credit Strong accounts in North Carolina versus offering accounts to North Carolina residents but excluding members of the military.

As an additional note, Credit Strong is the only deposit secured consumer credit building account for residents of New York that has been approved by the New York Department of Financial Services.
*As of February 19, 2019

How do you determine if I’m eligible for a Credit Strong account?

As long as we can properly identify you, you are eligible for a Credit Strong account. We do not use any type of consumer report or credit report to determine eligibility (meaning – we don’t pull your credit).

What is the minimum income required to open a Credit Strong account?

There is no income requirement to open a Credit Strong account.

Will I be denied if I have no credit score or a low credit score on my consumer credit report?

No. Account approval is not based on credit scores provided by any of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion).

You may be denied if we cannot adequately verify your identity, your administrative fee fails, or your past banking behavior does not meet our product underwriting guidelines.

Why was I denied for a Credit Strong account?

If you apply for a Credit Strong account and are denied, you will receive an ‘Adverse Action Notice’ describing the reason(s) why your application was denied. If you believe there is an error that caused you to be denied, contact information is included in the Adverse Action Notice for you to resolve the error.

Can I reapply if I was denied for a Credit Strong account?

Depending on the reason for denial, this answer may vary. For more information, please feel free to contact us at info@creditstrong.com.

If I was denied, how long do I need to wait before I can reapply for a Credit Strong account?

Before you reapply, we highly recommend that you review your Adverse Action Notice and resolve the reason you were denied before reapplying.

If you were denied for a Credit Strong account you can reapply after within 90 days or less if we get that information in the report.

Credit Score and Reporting

What credit score do you provide?

We are proud to provide you with your FICO 8 credit score from TransUnion. FICO is the credit model used by 90% of lenders to make consumer credit decisions.

Do you perform a ‘hard’ inquiry or pull on my credit report?

No. There is no credit check when you apply for a Credit Strong account.

Do you report to all three major credit bureaus?

Yes. We report your payment history directly to the three major credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Your Credit Strong account installment loan will be listed under “AUSTIN CAPITAL BANK SSB” on your credit report.

How long does it take for my credit builder loan to appear on my credit report?

Typically your Credit Strong account will appear on your credit report 30-60 days after you make your first payment.

We provide your payment information to the three major credit bureaus, but it can take them some time before they process the information and add the account to your credit report. Unfortunately, each credit bureau decides when your payment information is processed and reported on your credit report and we are unable to expedite this process for you.

Your Credit Strong account installment loan will be listed under “AUSTIN CAPITAL BANK SSB” on your credit report.

How much will a Credit Strong account increase my score?

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to give you an estimate of how much a Credit Strong account will increase your score, because everyone’s credit profile is unique.

Please be advised that even if you’re paying your Credit Strong account on-time, any negative activity from other accounts, such as late payments, delinquencies, bankruptcies or public records will likely negatively impact your credit score.

Why did my score dip after getting a Credit Strong account?

Occasionally, adding a new line of credit to your credit profile will cause a slight temporary dip in your credit score because it may reduce the overall age of your credit history. In this case, it’s typical for your credit score to quickly rebound and increase with on-time payment history for the Credit Strong account loan.

I don’t have a credit score on the Credit Strong dashboard, what’s wrong?

We pull your FICO 8 credit score monthly. When you first open your Credit Strong account you may not see a credit score for up to two weeks.

If you do not see a credit score in your Credit Strong dashboard after two weeks, it means you most likely do not have a sufficient credit profile or payment history to generate a FICO 8 credit score. Payment history is the most important component of your credit score. It typically takes about 2-3 months of reported payment history for a consumer to establish a credit score, although in some instances it may take up to 6 months.

If you do not see your FICO 8 score in your Credit Strong dashboard after 6 months please contact us.

How do I dispute a posting on my credit report?

To dispute a posting on your credit report you can dispute by mail or online. To dispute by mail, send the financial institution a copy of your credit report, copy of identification, a letter stating what you are disputing, and a copy of bank statements or other supporting documents. To dispute an item online, click on the reporting agency you would like to dispute with and fill out the application in its entirety.

https://www2.myfico.com/ccc/correctionoverview/transunion-experian-equifaxdispute.aspx

What do I do if my identity was stolen?

If your identity was stolen you will need to complete an Federal Trade Commission Affidavit on FTC.gov and file a police report. You will need to send both of those documents, along with a copy of your identification and a letter stating your identity was stolen to either the financial institution by mail or the credit reporting agency using the below link.

https://www2.myfico.com/ccc/correctionoverview/transunion-experian-equifaxdispute.aspx

Payments

When do I make my first payment?

Your first Credit Strong account loan payment will be due one month from the date you opened your account.

To view your payment due date:

  • Login to Credit Strong
  • Click on “Accounts Summary“
  • Click on the “Make a Payment $“ button
  • In the left column this information will be shown as “Next Payment Amount”
  • Click the “Make a Payment” button
How do I make a manual one-time payment?

To make a one-time manual payment:

  • Login to Credit Strong
  • Select “Accounts Summary” in the left navigation
  • Click on the “Make a Payment $“ button
  • Enter the amount to be paid, by default this is the monthly amount due.
  • Click “Confirm Payment”
  • Only one manual payment can be made at a time.

Please note that when you pay with a debit card or prepaid card you will incur a convenience fee. To avoid the convenience fee, please link a bank account in your payment settings.

How do I manage my auto-pay settings?

We recommend using auto-pay for your Credit Strong account loan payments so that you never miss a payment.

With our auto-pay feature payments will be withdrawn from your bank account, debit card, or prepaid card automatically on a set date each month.

To set up automatic payments:

  • Login to Credit Strong
  • Select “Accounts Summary” in the left navigation
  • Click on the “Make a Payment $“ button
  • Set auto pay to “On”

Please note that when you pay with a debit card or prepaid card you will incur a convenience fee. To avoid the convenience fee, please link a bank account in your payment settings.

How do I change my payment type from bank account to debit/prepaid card or vice versa?

To change the source for your payment:

  • Login to Credit Strong
  • Select “My Information” in the left navigation
  • Select the “Payment Type” tab
  • Click the “Change Linked Payment Method” button
  • Select “Link Checking Account” or” Link a Debit Card”
  • Enter new information to change source of payment
  • Select “Link Checking Account” or” Link a Debit Card” again to confirm changes.
Can I make my payment for next month or future months?

No. You are only able to pay the amount due for the current month. Any overpayments that you make will be applied to the principal of your Credit Strong account loan and reduce the term of the loan.

Please note that while there is no prepayment or early withdrawal penalty for paying down or paying off your Credit Strong account loan early, additional payments may reduce the number of payments reported to the credit bureaus, potentially reducing the positive impact on your credit profile.

What should I do if I don’t think I can make my monthly payment?

If you have opened a Credit Strong account and you believe you will be unable to make consistent monthly payments on-time, we recommend you close your account and try again when your financial circumstances improve.

You may terminate your Credit Strong account at any time with no prepayment or early termination fee. Please note that any payments received more than 30 days late will be reported as ‘late’ to the credit bureaus.

Will I be charged a fee if my payment is late?

Your payment is due on the payment due date. We provide a 14-day grace period from your payment due date. If you make your full payment before 8:00 p.m. CST on the 14th day of the grace period (and the payment is not returned), you will not be charged a late fee.
If a loan payment is 15 or more days past due , you will be charged a late fee.

If a loan payment is more than 30 days late, you will be reported as “late” to the credit bureaus and it may negatively impact your credit score.

If you have opened a Credit Strong account and you believe you will be unable to make consistent monthly payments on-time, we recommend you close your account and try again when your financial circumstances improve.

What does it mean if my payment was returned due to a "non-payment account" or "non-transactional account" error?

If you attempted to make your Credit Strong account loan payment from a Savings or Money Market bank account, your bank make have rejected the payment. Savings and Money Market accounts are considered non-transaction accounts under federal regulation and allow only limited withdrawals.

If you are uncertain as to why your payment was returned, you will need to follow-up with your bank to obtain an explanation as to why they rejected the payment.

We recommend you use your checking account or a debit card to make Credit Strong account loan payments. Checking accounts are considered ‘transaction accounts’ under federal regulation.
Please note that you will be charged a fee for returned or failed payments.

What type of payment methods does Credit Strong accept?

We recommend you use your checking account or a debit card to make Credit Strong loan payments. We also accept select prepaid cards such as Visa and Green Dot Bank.

We do not accept payments from savings accounts or American Express.
Please note that when you pay with a debit card or prepaid card you will incur a convenience fee. To avoid the convenience fee, please link a bank account in your payment settings.

Please note that you will be charged a fee for returned or failed payments.

My Account Information

How do I reset my password?

To reset your password:

  • Visit apply.creditstrong.com/password/reset
  • Enter the email address listed in your Credit Strong profile
  • You will then receive an email notifying you of reset request that includes a green button
  • Click on the green reset button
  • Once you get to the new screen, enter a new password that follows the “must haves”.
  • Confirm your new password
  • Select “Confirm”
  • Your password has now been reset

If you are unable to reset your password or you don’t receive a password reset email, then please call us at 833-850-0850 during normal business hours Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm CT.

How do I check my account balance and information?

You can review your account information, balances, loan schedule, check your FICO credit score, and download account documents on your Credit Strong dashboard at https://apply.creditstrong.com/login

Is my account FDIC insured?

Yes. All Credit Strong deposit accounts are held in Austin Capital Bank, a 5-star rated FDIC insured bank.

Can I cancel or close my account early?

You may cancel or close your Credit Strong account at any time with no prepayment or early termination fee. Please note that any payments received more than 30 days late will be reported as ‘late’ to the credit bureaus.

When canceling or closing your account you should be aware that payment history is the most important factor for your FICO credit score and by closing your account early you will reduce the number of payments reported to the credit bureaus, potentially reducing the positive impact of the Credit Strong Account loan on your credit score.

Contact us at 833-850-0850.

Is there a fee for canceling or closing my account early?

No. You may close your Credit Strong account at any time with no prepayment or early termination fee.

How do I close my Credit Strong account?

If you have a question about your Credit Strong account or application, please contact our customer support team at (833) 850-0850 Monday – Friday 8am to 5pm CST, or you may use Live Chat on our website to reach them at www.CreditStrong.com/contact-us.

Chat messages and voicemails delivered outside these hours will receive a response on the next business day.

Can I temporarily suspend my Credit Strong account?

No. You cannot suspend or temporarily make your account inactive. If an unplanned event, for example a job loss or medical emergency, makes you unable to make your monthly payments on time please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your specific circumstances.

You may terminate your Credit Strong account at any time with no prepayment or early termination fee. Please note that any payments more than 30 days late will be reported as ‘late’ to the credit bureaus.

Can I update my beneficiary information on my Credit Strong account?

Right now you can input the beneficiary information only during the application process. You can call Credit Strong customer support at (833) 850-0850 or contact us via online chat for further information.

How do you protect my privacy and security?

Credit Strong is a division of Austin Capital Bank, a FDIC insured bank. As a United States based insured depository institution, Austin Capital Bank is held to the strictest standards and protocols for protecting your personal, financial, and credit information and money.

All Credit Strong products are built on Austin Capital Bank’s Trident technology platform.

Trident technology allows Austin Capital Bank to securely offer financial services via the internet with bank grade security for all your personal, credit, and financial information. As part of a bank, all accounts and funds managed on the Trident platform are fully insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to the highest allowable FDIC insurance limits.

The Trident Technology Platform encrypts sensitive personal and financial information at multiple levels in its databases and application as well as using a HTTPS/SSL 256 bit encryption layer with your web browser to protect your information while in transit between your web browser and the Trident Technology Platform.
In addition to the security protocols and technology described above, Austin Capital Bank and the Trident Technology Platform are subject to regular IT audits and penetration testing by both Federal and State Agencies as well as expert third-party information security firms.

All employees of Austin Capital Bank are subject to criminal background and credit checks before they are eligible to join the bank.

Contacting Credit Strong

How do I contact Credit Strong?

Depending on your inquiry, find the right department at www.CreditStrong.com/Contact-Us

If you have a question about your Credit Strong account or application, please contact our customer support team at (833) 850-0850 Monday – Friday 8am to 5pm CST, or you may use Live Chat on our website to reach them at www.CreditStrong.com.

Chat messages and voicemails delivered outside these hours will receive a response on the next business day.

I want to partner with Credit Strong-Austin Capital Bank. Who do I contact?

Credit Strong offers an affiliate program. You can read more about it here: https://www.creditstrong.com/affiliates/

For different partnerships, please contact us at www.CreditStrong.com/Contact-Us or www.austincapitalbank.com and provide us with your contact information and a brief summary of your partnership idea.

How can I suggest a product or feature?

We love customer feedback and suggestions! We are constantly improving our products and service. If you have an idea on how we can improve service or a new product or feature we should offer, please contact us at:

I think I found a bug or error in the software, what should I do?

Please contact us immediately with a description of the bug or error by:

While we strive to offer a bug free platform and have a rigorous quality assurance and testing program for all software and upgrades before they become publicly available, we’re human and sometimes mistakes can slip by us. We appreciate you bringing any bugs/errors to our attention.

How can I file a complaint?

If you have a concern about a product, service, or your account, please contact us:

  • Please call us at (833) 850-0850 during normal business hours Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm CT
  • Online Live Chat Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm CST, excluding holidays – Chat messages delivered outside these hours will receive a response on the next business day

If you want to file a complaint:

We strive to provide exceptional products and customer service and apologize that your experience has not met your expectations.

To file a complaint about a product or service you have received, you may submit your complaint in any of the following ways:

  • Submit a secure message via online chat at CreditStrong.com
  • Submit a secure message via secure message form at CreditStrong.com/contact-us
  • Write us at: Credit Strong, 8100 Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin, Texas 78757

To file a formal complaint against our parent company, Austin Capital Bank SSB, you may follow the process below:

Consumer Complaint Notice

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT

Austin Capital Bank SSB is chartered under the laws of the State of Texas and by state law is subject to regulatory oversight by the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending. Any consumer wishing to file a complaint against Austin Capital Bank SSB should contact the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending through one of the means indicated below:

In-person or by U.S. Mail:
2601 North Lamar Boulevard
Suite 201
Austin, Texas 78705-4294
Telephone Number: (877) 276-5550
Fax Number: (512) 936-2003

Electronic submission via the Department’s website:
https://www.sml.texas.gov/consumerinformation/tdsml_consumer_complaints.html*

*Please be advised that by clicking the link above you will leave Credit Strong’s website. The link is provided only as a courtesy. Credit Strong does not endorse or control the content of third party websites.

Still need help?