Are you looking to start your credit-building journey or rebuild your credit score? This Refresh Financial review is for you.
You probably know the implications of having a poor credit score in Canada – high interest on loans and mortgages, unfavourable loan terms, disqualifications for exclusive financial products, and so on.
As a result, it is important to maintain a good credit score and take all the necessary steps needed to improve it if you have a low credit score.
Refresh Financial is one of the proven vehicles for improving credit scores in Canada. Regardless of how poor your credit score is, Refresh has the tools you need to get back on track.
But is this the perfect option for you? What are the pros and cons of using Refresh Financial?
In this Refresh Financial review, I explain everything you need to know about the company including how it compares with other credit building services in Canada.
Who Is Refresh Financial?
Refresh Financial is a Kelowna-based fintech company founded in 2013 to help Canadians achieve their financial goals while building their credit scores.
The company was acquired by Borrowell, one of the Canadian top free credit score service providers, in 2021. With that, Canadians now have more credit building solutions including free access to their Equifax credit score on Borrowell and TransUnion credit score on Refresh Financial.
Through Refresh Financial, you can access credit building loans, a secured card and a wide range of credit building resources regardless of how poor your credit score is.
Refresh has stood the test of time in offering proven credit-building solutions that has helped over 100,000 Canadians.
But before you proceed to sign-up for Refresh Financial, it’s essential to evaluate the pros and cons which I cover in this review.
How Does Refresh Financial Work?
Refresh Financial customizes its offering to each user’s personal situation. When signing up on the platform, Refresh will ask you a series of questions in order to provide you with a customized solution.
Based on your responses, Refresh will match you with one of its credit building solutions, such as a secured card or a credit builder loan.
The interesting part is, Refresh doesn’t conduct a credit check when assessing your situation or application. This helps prevent your credit score from further damage.
After matching you with one of its credit building solutions, Refresh will report your progress directly to the credit bureaus which will then improve your credit score if you use the credit responsibly.
Is Refresh Financial Legit and Safe?
Refresh Financial is a legit and safe credit-building service provider. It is a member of the Canadian Lenders Association (CLA) so you can be sure you’re dealing with a reputable credit building company.
With an A-rating on BBB and 100,000+ users, Refresh Financial provides legit and attractive credit-building solutions that have stood the test of time.
Finally, Refresh Financial enjoys the backing of its parent company, Borrowell, which is a popular and reputable free credit score service provider in Canada.
Refresh Financial Credit Building Solutions
The following are the current credit building solutions offered by Refresh Financial:
1. Refresh Credit Builder Loan
This is a secured loan dedicated to improving your credit score. Unlike a personal loan, you won’t receive any cash upfront. Rather, you will make regular loan payments to a secured account and get access to the cash at the end of the term.
Refresh will report all your payments to Equifax and TransUnion. You can deposit from $1,667 to $15,852 to your secured account for 36 to 60 months through bi-weekly payment.
The advantage of this loan is that it helps you build your credit history while saving. The annual percentage rate on your savings is 19.99% and you can access your money at any time.
That said, there are currently 4 different plans for the Refresh credit builder loans as shown in the table below.
|Bi-Weekly Payment||Term||Total Payments||Savings Received|
You can start with as little as $21.37 biweekly ($43 per month) or as high as $121.94 biweekly. Whichever one you choose, you should see some improvement in your credit score with regular on-time payments.
The Refresh Financial credit builder loan is available in all parts of Canada except Québec, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.
2. Refresh Secured Card
The Refresh secured card works like every other secured card. That is, no upfront credit is provided. You have to make a security deposit and get a line of credit to make it work like a regular credit card.
Depending on your deposit, you could get a $200 to $10,000 credit limit to make your everyday purchases just like you would with a regular credit card.
After that, your payment history on the Refresh secured card will be reported to credit bureaus which will likely improve your credit score.
The interesting part is, the card has guaranteed approval when you make the minimum security deposit.
To improve your chances of seeing positive results within a few months, you should maintain less than a 30% credit utilization and make your repayments on time.
The Refresh secured card has a 17.99% interest rate, $3 monthly maintenance fee and $12.95 annual fee. The following are the other fees associated with the card:
3. Refresh Black Tier
Refresh Black Tier is a comprehensive toolkit comprising all the resources you need to improve your credit score in one dashboard. It offers access to:
- TransUnion credit report
- Daily credit score updates
- Credit score goal manager
- Real-time credit and fraud protection alerts
- Credit simulator
- Over 60 financial education resources on building credit, debt, wealth and so on.
With the Refresh Black Tier, you can track your credit progress and view your Refresh products in one dashboard.
The toolkit costs $16.95 per month but it has a 30-day free trial to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Pros and Cons of Refresh Financial
By now you might have noticed some of the obvious pros and cons of Refresh Financial. Let’s take an overview of each of them below:
- Robust credit building solutions: Regardless of how bad your credit score is, Refresh can bring you back on track with its robust credit building solutions such as a credit builder loan and a secured card.
- Approval guarantee: Save yourself from doubting as your application will be approved once you meet the requirements.
- Free credit score check: You can check your Equifax and TransUnion credit score for free through Refresh Financial.
- No credit checks: By not conducting credit checks when assessing your application, it helps prevent your credit score from further damage.
- Automated payments: With Refresh’s automated payment feature, you will not miss any payment while building your credit score.
- Expensive: Refresh Financial is a relatively expensive credit building service as you have to pay for almost every service from your pocket. This includes monthly fees, inactivity fees, bill payment fees, declined transaction fees among others.
- Limited perks: Refresh Financial secured card does not have perks, e.g. insurance coverage, like some other secured cards out there.
How to Open a Refresh Financial Account
You can open a Refresh Financial account online or through the Refresh mobile app available on Google Playstore and App Store.
Before you proceed to open a Refresh account, you need to meet the requirements below:
- Be a Canadian permanent resident
- Reach your province/territory age of majority
- Possess an active bank account
- Possess a valid government-issued ID
- Be willing to make a minimum of $200 security deposit (for a Refresh secured card)
- Have proof of monthly income
Once you meet the above requirements, follow the steps below to apply for a Refresh Financial account:
- Visit the Refresh online application page here
- Provide your personal information (such as full name, address, phone number, financial goals).
- Verify your email address
- Select your preferred credit building pack (based on Refresh recommendations)
- Upload required documents (such as your banking details, government-issued ID, and proof of address)
That’s all from your end. Refresh will then take it from there and verify your identity to approve your account.
How to Cancel Refresh Financial
You can cancel your Refresh secured card whenever you wish. However, Refresh will hold your security deposit for 60 days from the day it approves your card cancellation.
After that, it will deduct any unpaid balance and refund your security deposit to your linked bank account within 30 days.
The following are the steps on how to cancel your Refresh Financial secured card:
- Visit the Refresh customer support page
- Enter your full name, email, and phone number
- Select “Secured Card” under “What can we help you with?”
- Type “Request for Cancellation.
- Describe your issue
- Click the “Submit” button.
Refresh has not disclosed any information on its website on how to cancel credit builder loans and Black Tier subscriptions.
However, you can follow the same process of canceling the secured card and select the pack you want to cancel under the “What can we help you with?”
Refresh Financial Credit Builder Loan vs KOHO Credit Builder
KOHO Credit Builder is another alternative to consider when looking for a cost-effective credit-building solution in Canada.
Unlike the Refresh credit builder loan that locks your deposit in a secured account, the KOHO Credit Builder uses a line of credit to build your credit score.
All you need is to make available a $7 monthly fee in your account and KOHO will automatically deduct it for the credit builder subscription and report the payments to the credit bureaus.
This lasts up to 6 months and you can resubscribe to the credit builder package to continue to build your credit with the product.
With this, the KOHO Credit Builder may seem less expensive compared to the Refresh credit builder loan. However, with the Refresh credit builder loan you get some savings back at the end of the loan.
Learn more: KOHO Credit Builder Review
Refresh Financial Secured Card vs Home Trust Secured Visa
Home Trust Secured Visa is an award-winning secured card with no annual fee. You can also access up to $10,000 credit on this card as you would on the Refresh Financial secured card.
Like the Refresh secured card, you can get approved of the Home Trust Secured Visa regardless of your credit score and bankruptcy history.
Both Refresh Financial and Home Trust report your updated card activities to TransUnion and Equifax towards improving your credit score.
However, Home Trust Secured Visa has a slightly higher interest of 19.99% compared to Refresh’s 17.99% interest.
But you can lower your Home Trust Secured Visa interest to 14.90% by paying a $59 annual fee which is also higher compared to Refresh’s card’s $12.95 annual fee.
Unlike Refresh secured cards, Home Trust Secured Visa has a Zero Liability policy and a 90-day Purchase Protection. In addition, your deposits on Home Trust are also insured by the CDIC up to $100,000.
Overall, you can save more and enjoy comprehensive coverage with Home Trust Secured Visa than Refresh secured card.
FAQs on Refresh Financial Review
Sure! Refresh Financial reports your payment activities to TransUnion and Equifax each month.
You can receive your money from Refresh Financial within 10 to 15 business days directly through your bank account.
The waiting period may take extra 8-13 business days if you have an upcoming credit builder loan payment or any pending payments.
Yes, Refresh Financial makes it easy to start building or rebuilding your credit in Canada. With no credit checks to start using any of its credit building services, Refresh is worth it for Canadians with low credit score.
Verdict on Refresh Financial Review
Overall, this Refresh Financial review is mixed. It is obvious that Refresh Financial has robust credit-building solutions that can help you improve your credit scores fast.
However, the services are not cheap and may be more expensive than those of its other competitors.
If you’re trying to save cost while building your credit card, you can consider Refresh Financial alternatives such as the KOHO Credit Builder and the Home Trust Secured Visa.
Regardless of the credit building service you’re going with, ensure you work on your spending habits and financial discipline to achieve long-term results.
Liked this Refresh Financial Review? Check the following related articles for more information on how to improve your credit score in Canada.
- How to Get Your Credit Score and Credit Report for Free in Canada
- 7 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast!
- How Credit Scores are Calculated and How To Interpret Them
- Best Credit Monitoring Services in Canada
Refresh Financial Review
Refresh Financial helps Canadians take control of their finances by providing credit building solutions.