Self Personal Loans Review

Self, formerly known as SelfLender, is a unique company that mixes personal loans with certificates of deposit to help you build credit. If you’re looking to borrow cash to make a purchase, you’re going to need to get a personal loan elsewhere. With Self, the company gives you a loan and opens up a 12- or 24-month CD with the money in your name. When you finish paying off the loan in 12 or 24 months, the CD is returned to you with interest.

The sole purpose of Self personal loans is to help you build a history of on-time payments at an affordable rate. The unique concept is ideal for people with no credit or people looking to improve their current credit score. If you’re in need of money to borrow, though, this is not the right company. Self can link you with third-party lenders but does not facilitate traditional loans on its own.

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In this article

    Self at a glance

    LenderLoan AmountAPRTermsKey Benefit
    SelfNA15.65%12 – 24 monthsUnique credit building concept

    Rates accurate as of July 21, 2020

    What we like about it

    In the past, one of the only options you had to build credit from scratch was to try and get approved for a credit card. Now, though, Self personal loans give you a way to build credit with an installment loan. Two of the important factors that go into your credit score are on-time payments and credit mix (revolving and installment). With Self, you’re able to check off both boxes with small monthly payments that you get most of back at the end of the term. Overall, this is a really cool way to build or repair your credit with a credit builder loan instead of looking for a bad credit loan.

    Things to consider

    The big drawback here comes with fully understanding the purpose of the product. If you’re looking for money to make a purchase or consolidate your debt, you won’t be able to accomplish that with Self. The company never hands you over the money that you’ve been lent. Instead, the company puts the money into a 12- or 24-month CD account automatically. If you’re using the account as it is intended to build credit, this isn’t a negative at all. However, if you come to Self looking to get money to use for a financial need, you aren’t going to find what you’re looking for.

    What you need to know

    With a credit builder loan from Self, you’re never going to see the money you’ve been lent until the end of your loan term. All loans with the company are 12 or 24 months in length. There are four loan sizes dictated by how much you want to pay monthly — monthly payments of $25, $35, $48 or $150. The two lower tiers are 12-month loans, and the two higher tiers are 24 months. Each loan comes with a non—refundable $9 administrative fee. If you want to close your account early, there is a mandatory fee of less than $5 for administrative purposes. Self personal loan rates are 15.92% APR, but you do earn interest on your CD to help offset the cost.

    Applying for a Self personal loan is easy. All applications are processed on the company’s website.

    1. Collect the application information. To apply, you will need a bank account, debit card or prepaid debit card. You’ll also need a valid email address, phone number and your social security number.

    2. Fill out the application. Navigate to the Self website and complete the online application. What’s great is that at no point during the process is there a hard pull on your credit.

    3. Accept your loan terms. When you get approved, sign your loan, and you’re ready to go. The company states that no one will be denied based on their credit score.

    Collateral and criteria

    Self states that no one will be denied for a Self personal loan based on their credit score. In fact, the company does not do a hard credit pull at any point during the application or loan process. Loans through Self are unsecured and do not require you to put up any collateral. The bank does not have any secured loan options available for a lower interest or APR rate.

    Self vs. 1st Financial Credit Union

    If you’re looking for another credit builder loan option, 1st Financial Credit Union may be a viable option. Much like Self, the credit union offers loans that are put into a separate account and held as the collateral for your loan. Loan amounts are available between $300 and $1,000. The APR rate on the loan is 12%, but 50% of that is refunded if you make on-time payments for the life of the credit builder loan. All loans are 12 months in length. 1st Financial Credit Union also offers traditional loans with rates starting at 9.24%.

    Self vs. LightStream

    You can also use a traditional personal loan to build your credit, but you will need to have more financial discipline. With Self, the money is never given to you, which means no risk of spending it. But if you do need money for something and want to build your credit at the same time, you can try a traditional personal loan from a company like Lightstream. If you’re looking for a small way just to build credit, Self is a better bet. But if you need money and want to build credit in the process, LightStream is the better fit.

    Check Your Personal Loan Rates

    Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. It’s quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

    Get Started

    with our trusted partners at

    We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at with comments or questions.



    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best personal loans of 2020.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for the same product from the same brand to have multiple SimpleScores. For instance, if we compare NetCredit’s personal loans according to our criteria for the best personal loans, it scores a 2.3 out of 5. But when we compare NetCredit according to the criteria for the best bad credit personal loans, it scores considerably higher, since the criteria for the latter review are more lenient (lenders who serve borrowers with bad credit will always offer higher rates, so we needed to adjust our category methodology to account for different industry standards).

    Questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at


    We looked at the maximum APR for each lender — the lower their maximum rate, the higher their score.

    Loan Size

    We awarded higher scores to lenders with more generous loan sizes.

    Customer Satisfaction

    We leveraged the J.D. Power 2019 Personal Loan Satisfaction Study℠ to see how customers rated their experience with each lender. (If a lender wasn’t included in J.D. Power’s study, we skipped this aspect and averaged the four remaining aspect scores.)


    We awarded higher scores to lenders with the most channels for customer support.


    We looked at the three most common fees — origination, late payment, and pre-payment — and penalized lenders for each fee charged.

    Jason Lee

    Contributing Writer

    Jason Lee is a U.S.-based freelance writer with a passion for writing about dating, banking, tech, personal growth, food and personal finance. As a business owner, relationship strategist, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base and skill sets with the rest of the world. Follow Jason on Facebook here

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Loans Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to,, and elsewhere.