“A year ago I never thought I’d be where I’m at right now.”
When Illianna was 18, she got her first credit card and ended up racking up debt and missed payments. She joined Kikoff last June to repair and build credit. After less than a year, Illianna’s score has jumped up almost 200 points–up to 620.
Illianna’s a 21-year old college student in Jersey City. She’s balancing a part-time job at Sweetgreen, and wants to eventually become a chef. Her grandfather, the head chef at a college’s cafe, inspired her by showing her that food brings people together.
Illianna loves that the food industry is constantly changing, pushing her to learn and grow. And she’s experienced a lot of growth this past year with her credit, finances, and money mindset.
Walk us through what your credit was like before Kikoff’s credit builder account.
Once I turned 18 I was rushing to do everything for myself–my phone plan, my living expenses, my credit card. I was just ready to leave home. There wasn’t a specific reason I applied for a credit card, and when I got it everyone was like, don’t speed too much, make payments on time.
I was starting my freshman year of college and living in a dorm. Then I stopped working because I was juggling five classes, so I wasn’t making money and just living off the credit card. For months I started falling behind on payments–and my credit utilization was through the roof. My score dropped down to the 500s, then the 400s.
Why did you decide to join Kikoff’s credit builder account?
I wanted to repair my credit. My family never taught me anything about it, so everything I learned was through my own research. I saw you all on Instagram last June. Honestly it sounded too good to be true, but I was like, I’m not losing anything by signing up. I shouldn’t miss out. My score went up 30 points in a month. Right away I told my girlfriend to join.
I got to a 589 when I opened the Credit Account in January, and now I’m at 620. My girlfriend went from a 588 to 696.
“My score went up 30 points in a month.”
I love how easy the Credit Account is. You don’t have to do much. I have AutoPay, which just automatically pays my $2 balance back every month. To start building your credit you buy an e-book about personal finance, which is really helpful. Right now my girlfriend and I both have one about starting an online business. Kikoff is giving us the information to help set up our futures.
And I tell everyone that there’s no credit check to be approved for Kikoff. You’re pretty much guaranteed to get the account, so why pass up on the opportunity?
How has your life changed with Kikoff?
When my credit score first started going up, I didn’t feel stuck anymore. I had hope. My girlfriend and I are living proof that, in a few months, you can completely change your credit. Just know that’s possible, know it’s not over for you at a 400 credit score. You can still build yourself back up.
“I’m grateful that I messed up so early in the game and was able to fix it all with Kikoff.”
One of my goals during the pandemic was to make more money, and I got a raise at my job. I realized that anything can happen and you always need to be prepared. I’m paying off my old credit card debt. I’m building my credit, my savings. I’m grateful that I messed up so early in the game and was able to fix it all with Kikoff.
What are your goals for the future?
I’m building my credit to get a lease for a better apartment. I have my driver’s permit test next week, and I want to eventually buy a car. I want to become a chef and also dip into food photography. Eventually I’d love to start my own restaurant.
I need to apply for a credit card with good travel rewards. I want to travel travel travel, taste food everywhere. Right now all I know is New York and New Jersey. People around the world use ingredients I don’t even know yet, or that I wouldn’t know to use in that way.
Kikoff has opened doors. More credit card companies are reaching out to me, asking to sign up. I’m getting better offers. I love you guys.