Credit Builder Program -- on hold for 2020

Due to funding issues, our Credit Builder program is on hold as of August 2020. You can read about the program below, but we are not accepting applications at this time. Our staff currently has no information about when the program will be back up and running. We thank you for your patience and understanding!

Build Your Credit for a Brighter Financial Future!

A credit builder is a small, secured loan that you pay off over 12 months. We report your monthly payments to the credit bureaus and provide you with credit coaching to improve your credit score.

Is the Credit Builder Right For You?

You might be ready if you answer "yes" to all of these questions:

  1. I am an Oregon resident

  2. I am ok with waiting 12 months to get my money.

  3. I am at least 18 years old, or at least 16 years old and my parent or legal guardian will cosign.

  4. I am ready to prioritize building my credit score

  5. I either don’t have a credit score or I have a low score

  6. I can afford the monthly payment of $16.67 

  7. My credit report fits one of the following descriptions:

    • I have no credit: no open, active credit (credit cards or loans I am using and making payments on) 

    • I only have a few open credit lines (this is called having a "thin file")

  8. I can afford and am willing to pay the application fee of $25 ($40 for couples) (this fee must be paid before you enroll or meet with staff)​​

  9. I am willing to pay the processing fee of $30 (this is deducted from the check we send you at the end)

    • $16.67 monthly payment x 12 months = $200​

    • $200 - $30 processing fee = $170 check we send to you after 12 months

Ready to apply? Follow the form below!

We also offer occasional in person Credit Builder Orientations. Check for upcoming events and register here: 

If you have more questions, check out the FAQ here.

If you already completed the orientation, click here to apply.


Frequently Asked Questions


A credit builder is a small, secured loan that you pay off over 12 months. We report your monthly payments to the credit bureaus and provide you with credit coaching to improve your credit score.


What are the Benefits?

  • We report your monthly payments to the 3 major credit bureaus, which helps you improve your credit.

  • We provide one-on-one financial coaching to help you achieve your credit goals

  • We offer optional classes and additional coaching if you're looking for a little more help.

  • We track improvement in your credit score at 6 months and 12 months

  • After 6 months of on time payments, we can refer you to one of our banking partners for a secured credit card if you desire.

What is a secured loan?

  • Unlike a traditional loan, where you get your money up front and then pay it off over time, a secured loan is its own collateral. That means we hold on to the money in a special account, and you get it at the end of the program after making 12 monthly payments. Holding the funds as collateral allows us to offer this loan even to those who have had credit issues in the past, because there is very little risk -- for us and for you

How does this help me build credit?

  • You build your credit by making on time, monthly payments on debt that is reported to the credit bureaus. We report your monthly payments to all 3 credit bureaus to show that you are trustworthy and can be counted on to make your payments as agreed. This in turn shows other lenders in the future that you can be trusted, making them more likely to lend you money.

How much will my score go up?

  • The average increase is 22-42 points, depending on where you start out.

  • Those who start with no credit score average a score of 677 after 1 year.


Can a credit builder hurt my credit?

  • Generally speaking no. If you have a high score (over 700), you may initially see your score decrease because opening new accounts can affect your score. However, this is temporary and should correct itself within 6 months.

  • However, missing payments can lower your score! Be sure you can afford payments and have a plan for making payments on time in order to avoid damaging your credit. We recommend autopay using your bank account!

Will making a bigger payment improve my score more or faster?

  • No. The size of the payment makes no difference to credit growth.

If I apply with a partner/spouse/family member, do we both benefit?

  • Yes! Payments will be reported to both of your credit reports and will benefit you both equally.

How does it work?

  • The main things you need to know are:

    • $30 fee deducted from your loan at the end for processing/credit reporting/program maintenance

      • This reduces the amount you get back

      • You pay $16.67/mo payment for 12 months for a total of about $200

      • You will get back $170 - the other $30 is the processing fee

      • This fee, along with the application fee, helps us run our programs!

    • Includes 3 personalized credit coaching sessions (optional)

    • You don't receive any money up front (you get your money at the end of the 12 months)

    • 12 month term (12 monthly payments)

    • $25 application fee ($40 for two people)

    • 0% interest rate

  • Follow the form near the top of this page to watch the orientation.

  • Apply! Click the button below to download the application as a fillable PDF. When you're done, email it to and you'll hear back within a few days!

  • Meet with staff to review your credit report and sign loan documents.
    • Click here to email us for an appointment. Virtual appointments are available if you're outside Portland. 
    • Only set up an appointment after you've submitted your application.
    • Have a bank statement, one month's proof of income, and your ID ready.
    • You will pay your application fee at the time you schedule your appointment.
  • Start Payments. 19-45 days after your appointment, your loan payments will start (you'll get the exact date at your appointment).

    • You will not receive a check at your enrollment. This loan is 100% secured. That means you don’t get your money until you make all 12 loan payments. Consider it a kind of “assisted savings”, so you have a whole year to figure out the best use for your loan money!

  • Monitor and grow. We will pull your credit three times: at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. You have the option to set up an appointment to review your report and credit score at those times (you are responsible for setting appointments up).

  • Get paid! About 3 weeks after making your last loan payment, you’ll receive a check for the amount of your loan minus the processing fee. You can use this money for whatever you like! Here are some ideas:

    • Pay off or settle a collections account.

    • Pay down debt.

    • Start or add to a savings account.

    • Start a college savings fund for your kids.

    • Start a car repair fund.

    • Use the money for closing costs or other home buying expenses, like your home inspection.