Best Personal Finance Apps to Build Better Credit
Last Updated: January 11, 2017
Having and keeping good credit takes hard work and it is something you need to work on continuously. Not only do you need to review your credit reports regularly and remove any incorrect information, but you need to keep building better credit. If you think you’re already doing everything you can to improve your credit — or you know you should be doing plenty more — a good next (or first) step is the right personal finance app. From banking and budgeting, to debt management and credit monitoring, there’s an app you can download on your mobile device to help you rebuild or build up your credit.
Thirty-five percent of your FICO credit score is determined by your payment history. So one of the best ways of improving your credit is paying your bills on time. That not only means scheduling payments accordingly, but making sure you have the funds in your checking account to cover them.
Keeping a close eye on your bank accounts is also the best way of identifying fraudulent activity. Keep in mind that thieves who have access to your bank accounts could also have access to other personal information they can use to open credit accounts in your name that will end up on your credit reports (i.e., do damage to your credit scores).
A banking app can help in all of these areas:
- Scheduling payments
- Checking balances
- Checking the authenticity of transactions
Check your bank’s website for a link to its mobile app. If you don’t see one, call and ask about it. You might have just missed the link or, if yours is a small bank or credit union, they may not have a mobile app (yet).
If you don’t have a workable budget, your credit score is likely to suffer. How else are you going to ensure you have the money pay your current bills, not to mention old debt that’s dragging down your credit score? Budgeting also helps you meet credit-building goals, like saving for a down payment for a house or car.
Whether you have an old-school budgeting system or no budget at all, think about upgrading to a budgeting app. They not only help you set budgeting goals by category, but keep track of your transactions. So at any given time, you can look and see how much you have left to spend in any given category at any point during the month.
All of the following budgeting apps offer comprehensive budgeting tools and connect directly to your bank accounts:
- Mint (for iPhone and Android users) — Free
- LearnVest (for iPhone users) — Free
- YNAB – (for iPhone and Android users) — $5/month or $50/year
The following two budgeting apps don’t have as many bells and whistles as Mint, LearnVest, or YNAB. For instance, they don’t connect to your bank accounts, meaning you have to enter every transaction manually. In every other respect, though, you might find them simpler to use if budgeting is new to you:
Debt Management Apps
Thirty percent of your FICO credit score is determined by how much debt you owe. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to your credit utilization ratio. The rule of thumb? Don’t use more than 30 percent of your available credit at any one time. The further away you are from that number, the more you could probably use a debt management app to help you create a pay down plan, track your progress, and keep you motivated.
You may find just the level of debt management help you need in the budgeting apps listed above (particularly from Mint), but a couple of good apps specific to debt management include:
Credit Monitoring Apps
No matter how good or bad your credit is today, it can change anytime — for better or worse. That’s why seeing your credit reports just once a year isn’t nearly enough.
For instance, what if something gets inaccurately listed on your credit reports? Or someone opens an account in your name? Those are things you need to know about immediately so you can take action and minimize the damage.
And if you’re in the middle of the credit repair process, it’s nice to see how your efforts are paying off.
So, in addition to the reports you are entitled to through AnnualCreditReport.com every 12 months, consider signing up for free credit monitoring apps that will give you access to your credit report information (and scores) all year long:
- Credit Karma (for iPhone and Android users) — Free
- Credit.com (for iPhone users) — Free
- Credit Sesame (for iPhone and Android users) — Free
- WalletHub (for iPhone users) — Free
To help you choose, read our reviews of these credit monitoring services.
One note of caution before you download these apps, or any others. There are fake apps out there created by fraudsters looking to access your personal and financial information. Ideally, you want to find the download link on the company website. If you can’t find it there, and you rely on a search in your phone’s app store, be on the lookout for misspelled names, misspelled words in the description, and few or no reviews (all of the apps recommended here should have plenty of them).
Finally, it’s important to note that no personal finance app can do the work of the credit repair process: finding and disputing inaccurate information in your credit reports. Learn more in our free guide to DIY credit repair.