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If you have bad credit, you’re not alone. Plenty of consumers across Canada have poor credit that hinders their financial freedom. But while bad credit can put a damper on your ability to get approved for new credit, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever.  

No matter what position you’re in, there are ways to improve your credit scores, including a variety of credit-building programs. 

Key Takeaways

  • Bad credit can be improved through responsible credit use and through credit building programs. 
  • You can build your credit through a secured credit card, rent payments, savings loans and many other credit building programs. 

Best Credit Building Programs In Canada

If you have a bad credit score, there are programs available that can help you rebuild your credit:

KOHO Credit Building ProgramBest for those who want to build credit on auto-pilot or hands-free.Learn More
Neo Secured Credit CardBest for those who want a secured credit card with cash-back benefits.Learn More
Capital One® Guaranteed Secured Mastercard®Best for those who want a simple, easy-to-use secured credit card.Learn More
Chexy Best for those who want to build their credit through their rent payments and credit cards.Learn More
Landlord Credit BureauBest for those who want to use their rent payments to build their credit.Learn More
Spring FinancialBest for those who want a debt-free way to build credit and save money. Learn More

KOHO Credit Building Program

KOHO is a fintech company in Canada that offers two Credit Building Programs to help Canadians build healthy payment histories. Users can also choose to activate both options to supercharge their credit-building efforts.

Credit Building

KOHO will open a line of credit in your name, you won’t be able to access any money, this is just for credit building purposes. 

Once the line of credit is open, you’ll make monthly payments (the program subscription fee) toward your line of credit. All your payments will be reported to a major credit bureau in Canada, which will help you build a positive payment history. 

Secured Credit Building 

With the Secured version, users must set aside $30 to $500 in their account to act as security. Once the line of credit is activated, you can use it to make purchases and repay what you owe at the end of the month. These payments are reported to a credit bureau and can help build a healthy credit history. 

How To Apply For KOHO’s Credit Building Programs? 

To be able to subscribe to either of KOHO’s Credit Building Programs, you’ll need to:

  • Open A KOHO Account – First sign up for one of KOHO’s three saving and spending accounts. Depending on your goals, each account comes with a variety of perks and a monthly fee. You are required to open an account as it will be used to automatically withdraw your monthly subscription fee or your monthly payment for your secured line of credit.
  • Fund Your Account – Be sure to fund your account with enough money to cover your subscription fee and monthly payment.

Grow Your Credit With A Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards work just like regular credit cards, except you’ll need to provide a sum of money as security. Often, although not always, your security deposit will act as your credit limit.

As you make payments, the lender will report them to one or both of the credit bureaus. This, in turn, will help you build a positive payment history which can positively impact your credit scores.

Best Secured Credit Cards To Help You Build Credit

Annual FeeInterest RatesMin. Deposit
Neo Secured Credit$0– 19.99% – 26.99%
– QC: 19.99%-24.99%
Capital One® Guaranteed Secured Mastercard®$5921.9%Varies 
Neo Secured Credit

Neo Secured Credit

Unlike many other secured credit cards, Neo Secured Credit has all the advantages of a regular credit card such as cash back rewards, travel insurance, and purchase protection. 

Welcome Offer

Neo is offering new customers the opportunity to try Premium free for 3 months. Apply for a Neo Secured Credit card, upgrade to Premium, and get your first 3 months free.

Neo Secured Credit card holders will be able to earn: 

  • 1% cashback on gas and groceries and 0.5% guaranteed monthly minimum cashback with partners.
  • An average of 5% cashback with Neo partners.
  • Up to 15% cashback on first-time purchases with partners. 

Moreover, if you want higher cash back rewards and perks, you can opt for the Neo Premium plan. Or you can choose specific perks such as travel insurance by subscribing to Neo Perks. 

capital one- low interest

Capital One® Guaranteed Secured Mastercard®

Those looking for a simple secured credit card should look no further than the Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard. For a low annual fee of $59, you’ll be able to shop and make payments like a regular credit card. 

You’ll also have access to certain travel benefits such as Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance, car rental insurance, baggage delay and travel assistance.  It also comes with other everyday benefits like price protection, purchase assurance and extended warranty. 

Build Credit With Your Rent Payments

Rent is the largest monthly expense for most Canadians. Wouldn’t it be great if it could help you build a healthy credit score? The good news is it can. Using one of the options below, you can have your rent payments reported to a credit bureau to help you improve or build your credit history. 


Chexy offers renters the opportunity to pay their rent with a credit card. Plus if you have a rewards credit card you can earn rewards, points, or cash back while paying your rent. Want your rent to help you build health credit? Chexy also offers a Credit Builder option. Users who pay their rent with a credit card can activate the Credit Builder subscription in their account. The cost is $4.99 a month and rent payments will be automatically reported to Equifax each month. 

Welcome Offer: Chexy is offering new clients their Credit Builder feature for free for 6 months. All you have to do is sign up and use the code 6FORFREE.

Landlord Credit Bureau (LCB)

The Landlord Credit Bureau is a credit reporting agency. This means it can accept rental history information from tenants and allow landlords to view the information to help with their screening process. 

Tenants interested in having their rent payments help them build credit can create a FrontLobby account. This is a digital digital platform that works with credit bureaus to report rent payments. The cost is $4.00 a month

Build Credit With A Credit Building Savings Loan Programs

With a credit building savings loan, you make low payments to the program provider who will report all your payments to the major credit bureau(s). This will help you build a positive payment history which can help improve your credit scores. 

It’s important to remember a credit building savings loan is not an actual loan. Each payment is stored in a trust and is given back to you at the end of the program, minus any interest and fees.

spring financial logo

Spring Financial – The Foundation 

With the Spring Financial Foundation program, you’ll be able to save $750 over a 12-month period. Each monthly payment you make toward the 12-month program is reported to the credit bureau which will help build your payment history. 

You’ll also have access to your Equifax credit score so that you can track your progress. At the end of the program, you’ll not only have $750 saved, but you’ll automatically qualify for Spring Financials Evergreen Loan ($1500 cash advance at 18.99%).

How To Improve Your Credit Scores

Five common factors generally affect the calculation of credit scores

  • Payment History – Perhaps the most influential factor is a person’s payment history. It takes into account missed or late payments, how long they were overdue, and how often.
  • Debt-To-Income Ratio – The amount of credit you’ve used versus how much you have available may play a role in your credit score calculations. 
  • Credit History – The age of your credit accounts can also impact your credit scores. On average, it accounts for around 15% of your credit scores. This is why it’s typically recommended to keep old credit accounts open, even if you’re not using them
  • Credit Inquiries – When you apply for new credit, the lender will pull your credit report, this is a “hard” inquiry. This can have a negative effect on your credit score, even though it may only be temporary. Further, applying for several different credit accounts within a short time can also be bad for your score.
  • Public Records – This typically accounts for around 10% of your credit score calculation. It takes into account a variety of derogatory remarks such as bankruptcies, consumer proposals, tax liens, and accounts in collections. 

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to build credit from the ground up or rebuild your credit, there are plenty of credit building programs for you to take advantage of.  Just remember, there’s no guarantee that any one product will improve your scores. Credit scores fluctuate for many reasons, just be sure to make a consistent effort to build it.

Credit Building Program FAQs

How long does it take to rebuild credit in Canada?

The amount of time it takes to rebuild credit varies per person. Serval factors affect the amount of time it takes including how bad your credit is, what you’re doing to improve it and simply the passage of time. For example, someone with a couple of missed payments will likely be able to improve their credit a lot faster than someone who’s completely defaulted on a loan. 

Do credit builder programs work?

Credit building programs can work, however, there’s no guarantee. Depending on the credit scoring model used, your credit scores can vary significantly from one credit scoring provider to another.  Moreover, if you’re still missing payments or maxing out your credit cards, the potential negative effects of these actions can counteract any positive results from the credit building program. 

How fast will a secured card build credit?

Each person’s credit score may react differently to a secured credit card. While some may see a bump in their credit scores in as little as one month, others may not see any changes until much later. Some may see their credit scores fall, however, that may only happen if you miss payments on your secured card or have a high credit utilization ratio. 
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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